Horror movies can be downright scary. But in some cases, the events that took place on horror movie sets were more terrifying than the fictional films they produced. In fact, many of the biggest and most successful horror movies of all-time had a number of truly strange and horrifying things happen during filming, or shortly afterwards. In several cases, these incidents involved someone dying. Whether the deadly events that have befallen horror movie sets were mere accidents, cruel twists of fate, or some sort of evil curse, remains up for debate. But there’s no disputing the facts of what took place in the following list of 10 terrifying things events that happened on horror movie sets. Read on, if you dare.
10. The Possession (2012)
The 2012 movie The Possession is an unconventional horror movie that involves Judaism, rabbis, and a cursed Dybbuk box that attaches itself to a young girl. Jeffrey Dean Morgan, one of the stars of the film, is no stranger to playing roles in paranormal movies and television shows. He has, after all, played the father on the TV series Supernatural. But what happened on the set of The Possession left Mr. Morgan feeling very uneasy.
Some of the weird things that happened included lights exploding for no apparent reason, as well as chilly breezes wafting through closed sets for no particular reason. But the scariest incident occurred when the storage facility (where all the props were being held) caught fire and burned to the ground. An investigation into the blaze confirmed that it could not be blamed on arson or an electrical fault. So what caused the fire? It was ruled “undetermined” by investigators. But it is worth noting that the Dybbuk box used in the movie was destroyed in the fire. The cast and crew later refused to allow the movie’s producers to replace the Dybbuk box for fear it was cursed.
9. The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
Dexter star Jennifer Carpenter reported that during the making of the 2005 movie The Exorcism of Emily Rose, the radio in her hotel room would mysteriously turn on and off. And each time the radio would come on, it was playing the Pearl Jam song “Alive.” Other cast members claimed that their radio and/or television also came on for no apparent reason. And, like Carpenter, they too heard the hit Pearl Jam song. The incidents bothered the cast and crew so much, that they eventually had the radios removed from their hotel rooms. Scary.
8. The Conjuring (2013)
The Conjuring is a movie based on the true story of the Perron family, who experienced unexplained ghostly activity in their home in Rhode Island in the 1970s. Several members of the family actually visited the movie set during filming. But nothing could not convince Carolyn Perron, the mother of the family, to set foot near the set. And for good reason. A number of weird and unexplained events plagued the filming of this movie.
Once, while the Perron family were on set, a strong wind came up and seemed to swirl around them. Members of crew standing nearby noticed that the trees just opposite them were not moving. Worse was to come. Just a couple days later, the hotel that the actors and movie crew were staying in caught fire and everyone had to be evacuated. James Wan, the movie’s director, recalls working late in his office one evening when his dog started growling at something. Getting up to investigate, Wan couldn’t find anything that would antagonize the dog. However, the dog kept growling and seemed to focus on an unseen entity across the room.
Vera Farmiga, who played the role of a paranormal investigator, refused to take the script home with her as she said it made her feel uneasy. She also couldn’t read it at night because she became paralyzed by fear whenever she tried. She remembers opening her laptop once and seeing three slashes across the screen, as if some creature had dragged its paw across it. Creepy.
7. Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)
Vic Morrow, who is the late father of actress Jennifer Jason Leigh, was killed on the set of the 1983 movie The Twilight Zone. But what makes this tragedy especially freaky is that Morrow predicted his own death. A year before filming of Twilight Zone: The Movie began, Morrow took out a $5 million life insurance policy on himself – telling friends and family members that he had a premonition something bad was going to happen to him on an upcoming movie.
Sure enough, while filming a scene for The Twilight Zone, a helicopter crashed and decapitated Morrow. Two child actors were also killed in the accident, which prompted a lengthy investigation and court case. It was later revealed that the two Vietnamese child actors who were killed in the tragedy had been hired illegally by the producers. It was also revealed in court that the movie’s concept artist mistakenly drew a burned out helicopter in the middle of a river in his sketches, essentially foreshadowing the accident.
6. The Amityville Horror (1979 and 2005)
Events on the set of the 1979 movie The Amityville Horror were almost as scary as what transpired in the real life haunting, on which the film was based. The first Amityville movie starred James Brolin and Margot Kidder, and was based on a true story. Brolin was not too keen on doing the movie and only accepted it after something strange happened. While reading the script one morning and getting to a scary section of the story, a pair of Brolin’s pants suddenly fell off a hanger, causing the actor to literally jump out of his chair in fright.
In 2005, this movie was remade with Ryan Reynolds assuming the part originally played by Brolin. Just before filming was due to start, a dead body washed up on shore right by the movie set. Throughout filming of the movie, Reynolds, along with other members of the cast and crew, each kept waking up at a 3:15 a.m. each morning. It just so happens that this was also the time that the real life murders took place during the actual events of the Amityville Horror.
5. Poltergeist (1982)
The events that befell the cast of the 1982 movie Poltergeist are truly sad and tragic. Both Heather O’Rourke, who played little Carol Anne, and Dominique Dunne, who played older sister Dana, died while working on the Poltergeist film franchise. O’Rourke died on the operating table when she was just 12 years old, while finishing work on the sequel Poltergeist 3. Dunne was murdered by an ex-boyfriend a day after the first movie premiered.
Today, the two co-stars are buried in the same California cemetery. Cast and crew working on the Poltergeist films were so creeped out by what transpired that producer Will Sampson had the set of Poltergeist II: The Other Side exorcised before filming began, because he felt the set was “evil.” Sampson himself then died during an operation shortly after Poltergeist II was completed.
4. The Exorcist (1973)
Arguably the most well-known horror movie of all-time, and a seminal film of the 1970s, The Exorcist is widely known to have a curse associated with it. The set certainly saw a lot of creepy events take place. These included Irish character actor Jack MacGowran, who plays Burke Dennings in the movie, dying unexpectedly just a few days after he wrapped his part in the movie, a special effects worker and a security guard dying while the movie was in production, and the entire set burning down for no apparent reason and necessitating that it be rebuilt.
Eventually, director William Friedkin had a priest come to the set and perform an real-life exorcism. But the religious ceremony seemed to do little to stop the curse, which appeared to even affect people who watched the completed movie. Several audience members had heart attacks when the film hit theaters.
3. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
Events on the set of the 1968 classic Rosemary’s Baby got real pretty quickly once shooting the movie began. During production, legendary horror movie producer William Castle received an anonymous letter that said he would “slowly rot during a long and painful illness.”
Not long afterwards, Castle collapsed and underwent surgery to combat a problem that would plague him for months. But that’s not all. Krzysztof Komeda, who composed the musical score for the film, died from a hematoma of the brain after an falling off an escarpment. Other issues on the movie included the entire cast getting sick from food poisoning and one of the movie’s producers suffering a stroke while driving home from the set.
2. Psycho (1960)
Psycho scared the bejesus out of people back in 1960, but an incident on the movie’s set rivaled anything put into the finished film. While production was underway, Myra Jones (an uncredited body double for lead actress Janet Leigh) was murdered – on the set. A handyman named Kenneth Dean Hunt, who was also working on the film, carried out the murder and then told police he had done it to impress director Alfred Hitchcock, claiming that he was obsessed with the notorious suspense and horror director. Following the senseless murder, Alfred Hitchcock gathered the cast and crew around him and said, “It appears we now have all the motivation we need to complete this film.”
1. The Omen (1976)
The Omen is a classic of the horror genre, and was one of the most popular and influential films of the 1970s. But the tale of a young boy named Damien who is the Antichrist almost wasn’t completed due to a curse that enveloped filming of the movie. Legend has it that as many bad things happened on the set of The Omen as in the completed picture.
The tragedies included the son of lead actor Gregory Peck committing suicide as filming began, a crew member being seriously hurt in a car accident while driving to the set, the scriptwriter’s airplane was hit struck by lightning en route to the film’s location, and, if that weren’t enough, an airplane in which Peck and the movie’s executive producer were traveling in was also struck by lightning in a separate incident. But none of these were the biggest tragedy to befall the cast and crew of The Omen.
The crew had decided to use a private airplane to get from one film location to another. However, just after the plane took off with a number of crew on board, something went wrong and it crashed onto a road, hitting a car, which then crashed at high speed into another vehicle. Everyone involved in the accident (11 people in total) was killed. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Peck refused to do any publicity for The Omen prior to it being released in theaters.