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Blu-ray Review

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Cursed Films


Distributor: Acorn Media International
RRP: £19.99


Certificate: 15
Release Date: 27 February 2023

Acorn Media International releases Cursed Films Series One. This is a five-part documentary series exploring how certain horror films have become known for being cursed due to subject matter and a number of deaths involving cast or crew. Writer/director Jay Cheel – who contributes an Audio Commentary for each of the parts – explores the individual real-life stories of Poltergeist, The Omen, The Exorcist, The Crow, and The Twilight Zone. This Shudder original series was originally available on the streaming channel, and was received with suitable acclaim. Certainly, it is compelling viewing. The episodes include film and behind-the-scenes footage, and a number of interviews with directors, producers, editors, actors, writers, podcasters, psychologists, academics, historians, fans, critics, and practicing witches. Richard Donner (director of The Omen), Gary Sherman (director of Poltergeist III), and Linda Blair (who played the possessed Regan in The Exorcist) are just some of the names who make an appearance.

All of these films suffered more than their fair share of tragedies; some on set and others connected in some way to the films. There is a handful of people on these documentaries who offer their own evidence for why some of these films are cursed. For example, angering or highlighting the devil’s actions, summoning real demons, or somehow cursing the productions through witchcraft and black magic. However, it has to be said that this is a minority, the majority citing these accidents as desperately unfortunate mistakes and tragic accidents, and the only reason myths and legends of curses have attached themselves to these movies is their connection to the horror genre.

Among the incidents explored are the death of Heather O’Rourke (the little blonde girl) and the use of real human skeletons (a regular practice in films for decades) in Poltergeist; bombings and a real decapitation by glass in The Omen; and a series of accidents which took place in and around the set of The Exorcist. The last two episodes gave me chills, not through any supposed supernatural elements, but the close diagnosis of horrific accidents on-set. The Crow explores the possibility of a curse on the male side of the Lee lineage – Brandon Lee, of course, being the son of Bruce Lee, the circumstances of whose death has been speculated about for years. The fact that Brandon was killed by a bullet which had lodged in the barrel of a gun used on set, makes it all the more chilling… and needless. So, too, in Twilight Zone: The Movie, wherein there is a Vietnam segment with a soldier rescuing two young children from a besieged village. Behind-the-scenes footage is terrifying, as created winds upset the stability of a helicopter, the rotors of which break-off in the water, instantly killing the three.

These documentaries, totalling 150 minutes, are very well put-together and I would recommend them to all true horror fans. It is a requiem to the departed, and proves that real life can be as terrifying as fiction.


Ty Power

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