This week, we take a look at the true terror that plagued some of the greatest horror films of all time, causing many to believe real evil was at work.
Hello Ghoulies and Goblins. I’m Miss J, and I’m your entertainer for Top Ten Tuesday. You are visiting the best horror website around. My SINcerest apologies for missing Halloween week, but I’ll make it up to you with this week’s list. I’m bringing you the best horror stories to happen on horror movie sets, or strange occurrences that affected the cast and crew in any way or form.
A few weeks back, I made a list that was inspired by true crime events. As a result, I tried to keep away from serial-killer based movies and stick to mostly paranormal stories, strange deaths, or violent events.
So get that bowl of popcorn ready, as this list will be sure to give you the chills and make some of your all time favorite horror movies just that much more frightening.
10. Lords of Salem (2012)
This was Rob Zombie’s return to his original work after filming his adaptations of Halloween. He wrote and directed this artsy horror film that not too many people understood or seemed to enjoy. I myself saw it and can’t remember much but definitely plan to give it another go. Rob has described it has his Stanley Kubrick-inspired film — pointing out that every legendary horror director has made this type of weird visual film. But that’s not what we are here to talk about.
One of the spots that was used for filming is called the Linda Vista Hospital, and it happens to be in the city of LA (but a lot of filming was actually done in Salem.) The hospital closed down in the 90s after years of being unable to keep up with the patients, and the hospital’s death rate turned into frightening numbers. Hollywood has been using it since as a filming location, and many reports have been made of ghost sightings.
The most horrific report comes from a production designer for Lords of Salem who said that filming scenes in the hospital’s basement was a nightmare. Many scenes had to be cut due to cast and crew feeling suddenly unwell, and they would have to leave the space until the sickness cleared. They also mentioned that a buzzer would go off in one of the wings, but there are no longer any members of the hospital staff or patients on site.
Not that scary? Alright, let’s see if we can get you with the next one.
9. The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
Jennifer Carpenter plays Emily Rose, a young woman possessed by demons — or possibly just mentally ill? That’s the plot of this film, and it is battled out in a courtroom (kind of like our new series, Horror Court) of angels vs demons. Jennifer was given the part immediately after her audition because she was so convincing and scary.
To prepare for the role, she had spent a lot of time in a room full of mirrors practicing her facial expressions and body position to see which was most frightening. Jennifer was the first to report the weird fact that her alarm clock would turn off and on at late hours of the night and strangely always play the song “Alive” by Pearl Jam. Then it started to happen to the other cast and crew who were staying at the hotel, and they all got rid of the alarm clocks from their room. Actress Laura Linney reported that her tv would turn on during the night during production.
It seems like it was a spooky time on the set, but it’s nothing compared to the next movie.
8. The Possession (2012)
A young girl becomes oddly attached to a box she can’t fully open that she bought at a yard sale. She begins to change and become possessive of the box, weird occurrences begin to happen often, and things reach a frightening level of possession. Maybe if the movie itself isn’t scary enough for you, learning about what happened off camera just might.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan is the star of the film, and during a television interview he admitted that there were supernatural events on set with light bulbs exploding. Then there was the prop house that contained the box burning down, with the reason for the fire never confirmed.
Still not shaking yet? Fine, let’s kick it up a notch, shall we?
7. Amityville Horror (2005)
Now if you read my top ten on true crimes that inspired horror movies, then you already know about this horror gem. But to recap, the film is based on the real mass murder that took place in a home in Amityville, NY. The family that moved into the house afterwards claimed to have many paranormal accounts happen and had to leave 28 days after moving into their new home out of pure fear. The reason I am going with the remake and not the original is because all the reported weird occurrences that happened on the set of the original were admitted later on to be purely for publicity.
However, with the remake, just before they were to begin filming, a murdered corpse made it to shore right by where they were filming. Actor Ryan Reynolds and others later reported waking up at 3:15 am constantly during production. Actress Melissa George went on the TV show Celebrity Ghost stories to talk about her experience while filming. She said when the camera was off she was constantly feeling a supernatural presence around her. The film’s storyline has the villain throwing dead bodies into the river, and for one to float up where they were shooting had everyone on edge — not to mention the death of the real Kathy Lutz during filming.
If that doesn’t give you goosebumps, perhaps I’ll get you with our next film on the list.
6. Psycho (1960)
This movie is intense enough on its own, but the fact that someone actually murdered a cast member to impress director Alfred Hitchcock is the true frightening story here. The beautiful Janet Leigh played the famous role of Marion Crane, a woman who steals from work and runs. She ends up at the Bates Motel, and we all know what Norman Bates likes to do to women who are alone.
It was Janet’s body double that was horribly murdered. A handyman on set wanted to impress Alfred so badly that he committed the horrific act. Alfred gave a speech to the cast and crew to motivate them to continue on with their work and the film. He told them, if there was any ever reason to finish the film, it was this.
Are you getting spooked yet?
5. The Conjuring (2013)
This movie frightened everybody, there is no denying that. Especially since it is based on a true story. The real Perron family would visit the set — all except the mother because she would not have anything to do with it — and unusual activity would happen whenever they were around. The house itself has a horrible past before the Perron family ever moved in. A total of 8 family generations lived and died in that house. And they weren’t peaceful deaths either, but horrific ones: two drownings, four men froze to death, two suicides, the rape and murder of a young girl, and finally poisoning.
Unexplained occurrences began to happen before filming even begun. Director and writer James Wan had just bought a puppy and was working on the script late one night when the dog began to growl and bark at a specific spot. James said he saw nothing, but his dog clearly watched as something crossed the room. Also the hotel the cast were staying in mysteriously caught fire.
That should have a cold chill running down your back. If not, the next movie is guaranteed to get you.
4. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)
This movie is an adaptation of Ira Levin’s novel of the same title, and he was blown away by the film. The movie would grow to become a classic horror movie, and it’s all thanks to director Roman Polanski for sticking so closely to the book; he wasn’t actually aware at the time that he could make changes if he pleased, so he stuck as closely to the story as possible. Then a year later his beautiful pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, would be savagely murdered by the Manson family.
The producers for the film started to get a lot of hate mail and claims that they were the reason the devil was being brought back into the world and that they wished ill will on them. William Castle was a producer on the film, and he thought that there was a curse on Rosemary’s Baby because of the Sharon Tate murder. He also suffered a lot of different illnesses while the movie was being made. He believes this was evidence that the devil was out to get him, and he stayed in hiding for many years after that because of it. Another producer for the film unfortunately had a stroke at the wheel but survived. However a music producer wasn’t so lucky. He had a nasty fall and died from hematoma to the brain.
I know that must at least have you scared a little?
3. Poltergeist (1982)
This movie is infamous for the things that happened during and after production. I’m sure you’ve seen the movie by now. But if you haven’t, I don’t even want to give the plot away…just watch it! There are three movies in the series and one horrible remake. Not even horrible as in it’s so bad it’s good, it is just plain bad.
The original has a scene with an outdoor pool and dead bodies and skeletons. Well, the skeletons used in the scene were actually real, and the actress who has an unforgettable bathe in the muddy pool had no idea that they were real until after the scene was shot. Then there’s the untimely death of Heather O’Rourke who was the little girl in all movies and started her role as Carol Anne Freezing at just six years old. She died at the age of twelve after the third installment was finished. She had been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, and she had come down with a flu that lead her into cardiac arrest. She died on the operating table due to the toxins from the bowel obstruction that was caused leading to septic shock.
The actress that played her older sister in the first movie, Dominique Dunne died at the age of 22 after her ex-boyfriend strangled her and left her for dead in her driveway. She passed away four days later in the hospital after being in a coma. Her ex was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to six years but only ended up serving three.
There were many more deaths throughout the filming of these movies, but most were due to old age; which we all must face in the end.
2. The Omen (1976)
The Omen is such a fantastic and dark classic. If you’ve never seen the original series or 2006 remake, I highly suggest them. Damien is born into a very rich family, and they soon start to see that he has a sinister curse on him. Incidentally, he also made our top ten killer kids list. This movie caused quite the controversy with the Vatican and religious nuts when it was released, and it seemed like the cast and crew were cursed by the unholy topics they were filming.
The producer, Harvey Bernhard was visiting in Rome he was almost struck by lightning. Then actor Gregory Peck and Screenwriter David Seltzer were flying in two airplanes to the United Kingdom, and both planes were struck by lightning. Another plane that Peck was supposed to board to Israel crashed, and there were no survivors. Director Donner was staying at a hotel that was bombed by the IRA, and then he was hit by a car. On the first day of filming, many of the crew suffered a head-on car crash.
Special effects artist John Richardson, who helped with the film’s infamous decapitation scene, was also in a car crash during post-production. While he survived, the collision beheaded his passenger, assistant Liz Moore.
If you haven’t seen The Omen, then you wouldn’t know there’s a character that is killed in similar fashion, and that’s what makes this even more terrifying.
Before we get to our number one celebrity on the list, let’s take a look at some important Honorable Mentions: The Crow (1994), The Innkeepers (2011), The Ghost of Goodnight Lane (2012), Twilight Zone (1983).
1. The Exorcist (1973)
I know I’ve picked The Exorcist for lists before, but I’ll stop picking it when it stops being the best horror movie of all time, okay? Besides, The Exorcist truly deserves not only to be on this list, but in the number one spot this week because of the horrifying events that took place while filming.
Insidious events took place while the movie was being filmed, resulting in the death of nine people, including two actors who died before the movie premiered. Once it did come to theaters, they were sued by a moviegoer who fainted during the screening and broke his jaw on the seat in front of him. There have been many Christians that claimed an actual demon lived in the celluloid reels of the film. During the filming in Iraq, Jason Miller’s son was seriously injured, and many of the extras had to be replaced due to falling ill from the heat.
A three week delay was caused when the set of the two story house burnt to the ground. If that’s not enough to get you scared, how about one of the actors who played one of the radiologist doctors was actually a serial killer. Paul Bateson was actually an x-ray technician, and in his spare time he liked to murder men and dismember their bodies — wrapping the remains in plastic bags to throw them in the Hudson River.
Or, how about the fact that this movie is based on a true possession of a boy that the Vatican sent two priests to exorcise in 1949?