With the year’s most terrifying curse-frightfest Drag Me To Hell hitting DVD on October 13, we’ve compiled list of the nine most Famous Curses In Entertainment. Plane crashes and deadly plagues haven’t struck the offices yet, so we’re guessing you’ll be safe reading this. But that’s just a guess…
Poltergeist, the 1982 film which spawned two sequels and a television series, is perhaps the most cursed film of all time. An alarmingly high death rate among the cast members of the films has caused many to believe that the Devil has a taste for Hollywood revenge.
Most famously, little 12 year-old star Heather O’Rourke (Carol Anne Freeling) died of septic shock in 1988 at the Children’s Hospital in San Diego. Bacterial toxins set loose by a bowel obstruction made their way into her bloodstream, sending her into cardiac arrest. She was revived, but died on the operating table when she underwent an operation to remove the obstruction. Julian Beck, Dominique Dunne and Will Sampson are just a few others in a long line of untimely deaths related to Poltergeist.
The Madden Curse
Sports teams are known for their superstition, but it seems the NFL is the only league to involve video games in their supernatural considerations. Superstitious football fans have blamed the poor performance or the injuries of their favorite players to the fact that each of them were featured on the cover of one of Electronic Arts’ Madden football video games.
In the first game of the 2009 season, Pittsburgh Steelers star safety Troy Polamalu, a cover athlete for Madden NFL 10, has already injured his knee and may be on the bench for up to six weeks. Other Madden Curse victims include cover athletes from the past few games, including Michael Vick (2004), Donovan McNabb (2006), Shaun Alexander (2007), Vince Young (2008) and Brett Favre (2009).
In 2007, fans of San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson were so worried about his possible cover inclusion that they started a website called SaveLTfromMadden.com. Tomlinson declined the offer from EA, citing contractual reasons. Good thing for him – look what happened to Shaun Alexander.
Curse of the Billy Goat
Back in 1945, Billy Sianis, a Greek immigrant, had two $7.20 box seat tickets to Game 4 of the World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Detroit Tigers. Like any sensible man would, he decided to take along his pet goat, Murphy (or Sinovia). The goat wore a blanket with a sign pinned to it which read “We got Detroit’s goat”. Sianis and the goat were paraded around Wrigley Field before the game before taking their seats, but were soon ejected from the stadium at the command of Cubs owner, Philip Knight Wrigley, who complained about the animal’s smell (goats aren’t very hygienic).
Sianis was outraged at the Cubs snub and allegedly placed a curse upon the team, promising that they would never win another pennant or play in a World Series at Wrigley Field. Sure enough, the Cubs lost Game 4 and eventually the 1945 World Series, after which Sianis wrote to Wrigley from Greece, saying, “Who stinks now?” Following a third-place finish in the National League in 1946, the Cubs would finish in the league’s second division for the next 20 years straight. This streak finally ended in 1967, the year after Leo Durocher became the club’s manager.
James Dean’s Porsche
Film icon James Dean was killed in 1955 when his new Porsche Spyder (nicknamed “Little Bastard”) crashed head-on into another car. Rolf Wutherich, Dean’s friend and mechanic (who had been riding with the movie star) was thrown from the Spyder and survived the wreck, but Dean was pinned inside with a broken neck. After the crash, car customizer George Barris bought the wreck for $2,500. When it was transferred to Barris’ garage, the Porsche fell on one of the mechanics unloading it, breaking both his legs.
The car was set to appear in a car show, but a fire in the warehouse destroyed every car except Little Bastard, which was completely unscathed. The next day, the car was then loaded onto a truck headed for Salinas, California. The driver lost control on the trip and was thrown from the cab, where he was crushed by the car when it fell off the trailer.
Barris knew he had a cursed car on his hands, but that didn’t stop him from selling parts of it to other drivers. During a race at the Pomona Fair Grounds on October 24, 1956, Troy McHenry and William Eschrid were both racing cars that had parts from the “Little Bastard.” McHenry lost control and hit a tree, while Eschrid’s car flipped, causing him near-fatal injuries. Eschrid swore up and down that the car suddenly locked up when he went into a curve, seemingly for no reason at all.
In 1960, after being exhibited by the California Highway Patrol, Little Bastard disappeared and hasn’t been seen since.
The 27 Club
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what The 27 Club means – a group of influential rock and blues musicians who all died at the age of 27, sometimes under mysterious circumstances. Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Brian Jones and several others all met untimely deaths, nearly all of which being drug and alcohol related. It should be noted that Amy Winehouse turns 27 next year…
Bruce Lee’s son Brandon was ascending the Hollywood ranks when he died in a tragic way that paralleled his fathers and wasn’t a far cry from the plot of The Crow, the ‘90s dark-resurrection goth flick he was working on at the time. Lee died on the film’s set after being shot by a gun that was loaded with real ammunition instead of blanks. The footage was never released, but the movie was, thanks to some clever camerawork and a devoted crew. Also – in the Crow script, Brandon’s character was killed the night before his wedding; likewise, he was to marry his fiancée once filming ended on the movie.
The ill-advised television series, "The Crow: Stairway to Heaven" wasn’t immune to the curse of tragedy, either. Veteran stunt co-ordinator Marc Akerstream was killed while working on an explosion stunt.
A long line of deadly incidents occurring in connection to the movie telling of the Satan-becomes-a-man story The Omen have branched across the remake void as well. The original movie was plagued with unexplainable tragedies, including scriptwriter David Seltzer, who was struck by lightning, and star Gregory Peck, who narrowly escaped a plane crash. His son would later kill himself. On the first day of filming, several crew members narrowly avoided death in a car crash, and director Richard Donner’s hotel was bombed by the IRA.
While filming the updated version, star Pete Postlethwaite, who plays Father Brennan, was struck by tragedy when his brother reportedly died after drawing three sixes in a card game. Coincidence? Entirely possible. Creepy as hell? You bet!
Curse of the Bambino
The curse of the Bambino is, of course, based on Boston’s desperation to explain away their baseball team’s incredible streak of bad luck for the past century. The Boston Red Sox traded legendary slugger Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees in 1920. The NY Yankees had never won a World Series until signing Babe Ruth, at which point they rose to prominence as the most dominating team in baseball history. After the trade, the Boston Red Sox went without a World Series title until 2004. During their winning game – which was against the New York Yankees, fittingly enough – a total lunar eclipse occurred – a first-ever for the World Series.
The Exorcist was.plagued with difficulties from its very inception, which was not at all helped by the fact that people claimed the film was real. The pre-internet world, who hadn’t yet been desensitized to the most grisly and disturbing material one can imagine, went berzerk. There is actual footage from the first release of the film showing people passing out, vomiting, convulsing and cursing the film. That’s just the icing, however; Deaths were rampant on set, with a total of nine cast and crew members dying throughout the production. As if that wasn’t a tough enough factor to deal with, star Linda Blair was reported to have a mental breakdown, and a mysterious fire almost shut production down on the film entirely.