Scary Stories of Hollywood: Is There Such a Thing as a TV or Film Curse?

Hollywood, the epicenter of the entertainment industry, has long been associated with beautiful people, glitz, and glamour. But behind the seemingly perfect façade sits an industry filled with tragic accidents on sets, unexplained events, and mysterious deaths of cast members. Are these events the result of a curse by dark and malevolent forces? While skeptics dismiss these phenomena as mere coincidence, the prevalence of these incidents has left many intrigued and questioning if supernatural forces are at play.

The Crow

The 1994 movie The Crow was supposed to be the big breakout film for Brandon Lee, son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee. The dark fantasy film tells the story of a man who comes back from the dead to avenge his and his fiancée’s murder. After several strange occurrences during production and a death, many speculate the film is cursed. First, while filming at Carolco Studios in Wilmington, N.C., a carpenter, Jim Martishius, 27, was severely burned on his face, chest, and arms when live power lines hit the crane in which he was working. Later that day, unit publicist Jason D. Scott was involved in a minor car accident. And then one of the movie’s equipment trucks mysteriously caught fire. A short while later, a disgruntled sculptor, who had worked on the set apparently had a mental break and drove a car through the studio’s plaster shop. Then a storm came through the area and destroyed a big portion of the backlot movie set. But the biggest tragedy happened when co-star, actor Michael Massee, fired at Lee with a prop gun during filming. Although the revolver was loaded with blanks, the gunpowder in the blank cartridge ignited, leading Massee to unknowingly fire a bullet fragment into Lee’s abdomen. After hours of surgery, doctors were unable to save Lee, and like his character in The Crow, he died.

Although the accidents and Brandon Lee’s untimely death have been called random occurrences, some have suggested that the film’s dark themes and subject matter may have contributed to the string of unfortunate events that have plagued its legacy. From the beginning, the cast and crew were met with an eerier voicemail warning them that bad things would happen if they went forward with production. Others believe Lee’s family may have been cursed after Lee’s father Bruce Lee died under mysterious circumstances. Regardless of whether or not you believe in the curse of The Crow, the movie will always have a dark cloud surrounding its name, and the tragedies that befell it.

Diff’rent Strokes

“What you talkin’ bout Willis!?” The sitcom Diff’rent Strokes gained immense popularity in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but it was plagued by a curse that seemed to affect its cast members, in particular the child actors. Dana Plato, who played Kimberly Drummond, struggled with personal issues and substance abuse, tragically dying of a drug overdose in 1999. Todd Bridges, who portrayed Willis Jackson, battled drug addiction and legal troubles throughout his life. Gary Coleman, the beloved Arnold Jackson who delivered the lovable, “What you talkin’ bout Willis!?” line faced financial difficulties and legal disputes, and sadly passed away in 2010.

Did the three young stars of a beloved sitcom just happen to lead unfortunate fates, or was something more sinister to blame? Curse or not, Diff’rent Strokes serves as a reminder of the challenges faced by child actors and the pressure of fame. A pressure that many times continues even after a show ends when the fame and checks are no longer present.

The Exorcist

Known as one of the scariest films of all time, The Exorcist is a film that some don’t dare to watch for fear of attracting the movie’s curse. The film follows the story of a young girl Regan who becomes possessed by a demon after playing with a Ouija Board. The board has long been associated with being a doorway to hell, and some think this dark plot may be the cause for strange occurrences on set and in the lives of those involved with the production.

The film’s set caught fire during filming, causing extensive damage and delaying production. Also, multiple members of the cast and crew suffered injuries during filming. Actress Ellen Burstyn, who played Chris MacNeil, sustained a permanent spinal injury while shooting a scene where she is thrown to the ground. Actor Jack MacGowran, who portrayed Burke Dennings, passed away shortly after filming due to complications from influenza. The most tragic incident associated with the curse occurred after the film’s release. Actor Max von Sydow’s brother died on his way to see the film, and actor Vasiliki Maliaros, who played Father Karras’s mother, passed away shortly after her scenes were filmed. Linda Blair’s grandfather, who had been supportive of her role, also died during the production. In addition, some moviegoers reportedly experienced fainting spells and panic attacks while watching the film in theaters, further fueling the perception that the film carried a malevolent energy or curse.

So did the movie inadvertently open a doorway to the other side? Some say no, but others like my dad who briefly worked in DC near the house where the movie was filmed won’t dare walk by it, instead choosing to cross the street in order to avoid any negative energy.

An image of a scary doorway. A man walks through a door that looks scare on the other side.
Did The Exorcist inadvertently open a doorway to the other side?


Glee aired from 2009 to 2015, to much critical and commercial success. The hit musical show launched the careers of many young actors – several of whom did not live long enough to enjoy their newly found fame. In 2013, actor Cory Monteith, who played one of the show’s leads, died of a drug overdose at the age of 31. In 2018, actress Mark Salling, who played a recurring character, committed suicide while awaiting sentencing for child pornography charges. In 2020, another star of the show Naya Rivera, drowned while boating with her young son. The multiple deaths of Glee cast members has led to speculation about the show being cursed or haunted, but many attribute the tragedies to the pressures of fame and the emotional toll of the entertainment industry. So was the show cursed? Three deaths of a relatively small cast, you tell me…


In the 1988 dark comedy Heathers, Winona Ryder and Christian Slater portray Veronica Sawyer and Jason Dean, two teenagers who despise a clique of popular girls, all named “Heather.” Veronica and Dean resort to killing their classmates, sometimes through staged accidents involving faux suicide notes.

Strangely, two of the film’s actors deliver lines that foreshadowed their own deaths. Jeremy Applegate, who portrays high schooler Peter Dawson, prays in the movie that he won’t succumb to suicide like his classmates. However, in 2000, Applegate tragically took his own life with a shotgun. Equally unsettling is the case of Kim Walker, the actress who portrays the lead “Heather,” Heather Chandler. In the film, she delivers the line, “Did you have a brain tumor for breakfast?” In a bizarre turn of events, Walker passed away from a brain tumor in 2001.

Did a film about teen killers welcome a curse? I don’t know, but for two actors to have died in the exact same way they quoted in the film can’t be a pure coincidence. Can it…?

Leo and Me

The Canadian show Leo and Me holds a special place in the hearts of many viewers. Premiering in 1981, it marked the acting debut of Michael J. Fox, who would later become one of Hollywood’s sweethearts. However, the cast of this beloved series was plagued by a tragic and unsettling curse. Michael J. Fox, along with director Don Williams, a writer, and a cameraman, were all diagnosed with Parkinson’s – an incurable degenerative disease. While the exact cause of Parkinson’s remains unknown, experts believe that a combination of genetic and environmental factors contribute to its development. In a recent interview with Jane Pauley, Fox, reflecting on his diagnosis at the young age of 29 in 1991, has suggested that exposure to certain chemicals may have played a role. He stated, “Genetics loads the gun and environment pulls the trigger.”

Parkinson’s disease affects an estimated 10 million people worldwide, which is less than one percent of the global population. Yet, the fact that four individuals from the same show developed this condition raises concerns and sparked an investigation in 2002. The link between Leo and Me and the occurrence of Parkinson’s among its cast and crew remains an unsolved mystery. While it is impossible to pinpoint the exact reasons behind this unfortunate connection, it appears to be more than a mere coincidence, leaving a sense of sadness and intrigue surrounding the show’s history.

The Omen

When you make a movie about the devil, some say you’re opening a door that should remain closed. After a series of strange and tragic events struck the production of The Omen, some would say the 1976 horror movie learned this the hard way. The film which tells the story of a couple who discover that their son is the Antichrist, had several eerie incidents occur during its production and in the years that followed. For example, a plane carrying the film’s lead actor, Gregory Peck, was struck by lightning shortly before filming began, and Peck narrowly avoided being struck by lightning on another occasion. Then the producer and writer were on two separate flights when their planes were also struck by lightning. I guess lightning does strike twice?

The animals used on set were not so cute and cuddly. A stuntman was seriously injured by the on-set Rottweilers, and a zookeeper was killed by a lion the day after filming the famous baboon scene. Perhaps one of the biggest tragedies was the death of special effects assistant Liz Moore. She was decapitated in a car accident, much like the infamous decapitation scene from the film on which she and the special effects director John Richardson worked.

I’m not sure if this curse is real, but if I were anyone that worked on this film, I would steer clear of planes and safari parks.

Our Gang

Our Gang, also known as The Little Rascals was a hilarious show that aired from 1938-1944. The show followed the lives of a group of poor neighborhood kids and their hilarious antics. Unfortunately, the show is also known to be cursed due to the tragic fates that befell several of its cast members. The curse is often attributed to a combination of personal struggles, accidents, and untimely deaths. Some notable instances include the tragic death of Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer, who was shot in a dispute over a hunting dog, Additionally, Robert “Wheezer” Hutchins and Norman “Chubby” Chaney both died at young ages due to health complications. And most recently the untimely passing of Robert “Bobby” Blake’s wife, Bonnie Lee Bakley, which led to a highly publicized legal case.

I’m not sure of the origin of this curse or if these tragedies are merely coincidences. But I do know this show will forever bring laughter and an air of mystery to those who watch it.


The film Poltergeist tells the story of a family whose home is haunted by malevolent spirits. The house is built on a new development that was once an Indian burial ground. The cemetery may have been moved, but we learn the developer failed to move the bodies. The spirits grow angry, and poor Carol Anne is sucked into the TV. But the horror didn’t end there… Shortly after the movie’s 1982 release, a string of misfortunes and tragedies struck many of those involved. Dominique Dunne, who played the eldest daughter Dana Freeling in the movie, was strangled by her boyfriend and died at the age of 22. Heather O’Rourke, who played the youngest daughter Carol Anne, died at the age of 12 from complications of an intestinal blockage.

But what’s the origin of this curse? Jo Beth Williams who portrayed the mom Diane Freeling in the film claimed producer Steven Spielberg insisted on using real human skeletons to save on production costs. This has never been proven, but to have such a tragedy bestow two of the leading cast is odd. So are the angry spirits of the alleged real skeletons responsible for this curse? Guess we’ll never find out…

An image of a forest with an eerie fog.
In Poltergeist the house is built on a new development that was once an Indian burial ground. The cemetery may have been moved, but we learn the developer failed to move the bodies.

Rebel Without A Cause

While the film Rebel Without A Cause achieved iconic status, it has been associated with a perceived curse due to the tragic fates of its actors. Sal Mineo, who played Plato, was murdered in a senseless act of violence. Nick Adams who had a small role died of a drug overdose and Natalie Wood, who portrayed Jim’s love interest Judy, also met a tragic end when she drowned under mysterious circumstances. But it’s the death of the film’s rebel that sparks the biggest talk of a curse.

James Dean, who portrayed the rebellious teenager Jim Stark, died in a car crash shortly before the film’s release. Dean, known for living a thrill-seeking life, was killed while speeding his Porsche “Little B**tard,” through the Diablo Mountains. Dean died, but “Little B**tard” lived on. Fans who attempted to steal souvenir parts from the car suffered injuries. Moreover, while the car was displayed at a Sacramento high school, it fell off its stand and caused a student to break their hip. During its transportation to Salinas, the driver lost control of the truck, resulting in a crash. The driver was thrown free, but unfortunately, “Little B**tard” fell off the truck, landing on top of him and causing his death. The final twist occurred in 1960 when the car disappeared while being transported across the country, and its whereabouts remain unknown.

Questions arise regarding whether “Little B**tard” was already cursed when James Dean purchased it brand new, or if those who came into contact with it were merely victims of unfortunate circumstances. Some speculate that the curse originated from Dean’s violent death.

These tragic events have contributed to the belief in a curse surrounding the film, adding an aura of darkness to its legacy.

Rosemary’s Baby

Rosemary’s Baby, the classic psychological horror film directed by Roman Polanski, has been associated with a persistent curse narrative. The story revolves around Rosemary Woodhouse, a young woman who moves into an apartment building in New York City with her husband, Guy. After befriending their eccentric neighbors, a pregnant Rosemary starts experiencing strange occurrences and unsettling dreams, growing increasingly suspicious of her neighbors and the true nature of her unborn child. As her paranoia intensifies, Rosemary begins to unravel a dark conspiracy that involves witchcraft, manipulation, and the sinister intentions surrounding her baby. The film delves into themes of paranoia, the loss of control, and the horrors that can hide beneath seemingly idyllic surfaces.

The curse is often attributed to the film’s dark and occult subject, as well as the tragic events that unfolded in the lives of some key individuals connected to the production. Pregnant actress Sharon Tate, who had a supporting role in the film and was married to director Polanski, was brutally murdered by the Manson Family shortly after its release. Additionally, Polanski faced sexual abuse allegations that led to his fleeing the United States.

The validity of a film curse surrounding Rosemary’s Baby remains a mystery and will keep the debate ongoing between believers and nonbelievers.

An image of a baby mobile with lambs.
Rosemary’s Baby, the classic psychological horror film directed by Roman Polanski, has been associated with a persistent curse narrative.

Twilight Zone: The Movie

The 1983 film Twilight Zone: The Movie is known for more than John Lithgow seeing a monster on the wing of an airplane. It’s also known for a curse that has surrounded its production. The movie was an anthology of four segments, each directed by a different filmmaker. During the filming of the segment directed by John Landis, a tragic accident occurred involving actor Vic Morrow and child actors Myca Dinh Le and Renee Shin-Yi Chen. In the scene, a low-flying helicopter spun out of control after one of the detonators caused the rotor to fail and detach from the tail. Morrow and Le were decapitated by the helicopter’s main rotor blades, while Chen was crushed to death by the helicopter’s right landing skid; all three died almost instantly.

The horrific incident sparked a massive outcry and legal action, as it was revealed that Landis violated child labor laws by hiring 7-year-old Myca Dinh Le and 6-year-old Renee Shin-Yi Chen without work permits. Child labor laws prohibit children from working at night, and the children were hidden from a fire safety officer who had already made claims that the explosives would cause a potential helicopter crash. The deaths led to a lengthy trial and changes to child labor laws.

The film will forever be remembered for its eerie parallel to the original Twilight Zone series known for its mysterious and supernatural storylines, and for the deadly accident that took the lives of three talented actors.

To Believe Or Not?

While many of these events are undeniably tragic, did these productions fall victim to a curse, or are they purely coincidental? You be the judge.




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