The curses of Hollywood: when the cinema turns into a nightmare

The world of cinema is not always glamorous and glitzy. Sometimes it is also the scene of dramas, mysteries and superstitions. Some films even seem to be cursed, so much they are associated with tragic or inexplicable events. Here are some examples of these “curses of Hollywood” which marked the history of the seventh art.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

This classic of fantasy cinema experienced several misadventures during its filming. The lead actress, Judy Garland, suffered harassment and abuse from the studio. The actor who was to play the scarecrow, Buddy Ebsen, had an allergic reaction to the makeup and had to be replaced. The actor who played the lion, Bert Lahr, almost died of asphyxiation by his fur suit. And most troubling: one of the extras who played a munchkin reportedly committed suicide on set, which was captured on camera.

Poltergeist (1982)

This horror saga has been hit by a series of violent and premature deaths. Four main actors died in the six years following the release of the first film: Dominique Dunne, murdered by her ex-boyfriend; Heather O’Rourke, who died at age 12 of sepsis; Julian Beck, swept away by cancer; and Will Sampson, a victim of kidney failure. Some attribute these deaths to the use of real human skeletons as props in the cemetery scenes.

The Passion of the Christ (2004)

This controversial film about the crucifixion of Jesus was marred by strange incidents. The actor who played Jesus, Jim Caviezel, was struck by lightning during filming, along with director Mel Gibson and assistant director Jan Michelini. The latter was also accidentally nailed to a cross during a rehearsal. In addition, several spectators had heart attacks or strokes while watching the film in the cinema.

The Dark Knight (2008)

This superhero film was bereaved by the death of actor Heath Ledger, who played the role of the Joker. Ledger died of an accidental drug overdose a few months before the film was released, which fueled rumors of his over-involvement in his character. Other tragic events marred the film: actor Morgan Freeman was seriously injured in a car accident; actress Maggie Gyllenhaal received death threats; and a shooting took place at a screening of the film in Aurora, killing 12 and injuring 70.

These examples are not the only ones to testify to the dark side of cinema. Other films like Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist or The Blair Witch Project have also been associated with misfortunes or paranormal phenomena. These may be coincidences or urban legends, but they are nonetheless fascinating for thrill seekers.

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