Horror Cinema Trivia: The Curse of the Poltergeist Franchise

“With Poltergeist‘s success came a creepy mystique that the classic film is shrouded in real-life tragedies that some interpret as a curse.

“The majority of the fuel for the alleged curse stems from the deaths of multiple cast members. In total, four cast members died during and soon after the filming of the series. Two of these tragic deaths were highly unexpected and puzzling, leading many fans to speculate on the trilogy’s eerie implications.

“Carol Anne Freeling, the young focal point of the series, was played by Heather O’Rourke. Only six years old when the first Poltergeist film was released, O’Rourke captivated audiences with her stark blond hair, doll-like appearance, and big, inquisitive eyes. Sadly, however, she was misdiagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 1987. The following year, O’Rourke fell ill again, and her symptoms were casually attributed to the flu. A day later, she collapsed and suffered a cardiac arrest. After being airlifted to a children’s hospital in San Diego, O’Rourke died during an operation to correct a bowel obstruction, and it was later believed that she had been suffering from a congenital intestinal abnormality. She will be, and has been, missed by fans around the world.

“Dominique Dunne, who played the original older sister Dana Freeling, met an equally tragic and unforeseen fate. In 1982 Dunne separated from her partner, John Sweeney. In November of that year, he showed up at Dunne’s house, pleading for her to take him back. When she refused, Sweeney grabbed Dunne’s neck, choked her until she was unconscious, and left her to die in her Hollywood home’s driveway. Sweeney was sentenced to six and a half years in prison but was released after three years and seven months.

“The other two cast member deaths, while unfortunate, were not as unpredictable or mysterious. The evil preacher Kane from Poltergeist II was played by Julian Beck. In 1983, Beck had been diagnosed with stomach cancer, which took his life soon after he finished work on the second installment of the series. The same film was met with further tragedy, after Will Sampson, who played Taylor the Native American shaman, died after undergoing a heart-lung transplant, which had a very slim survival rate.”

From A&E Biography “The Poltergeist Curse: ‘It’s Heeere…’”

Ghost Cat

This video really seems like a fake, but I like it anyway. I have lived in two apartments with ghost cats, and I’m certain that the spirit of my first cat remains with me. I have a cat, and it always freaks me out when I see one walk by at the corner of my eye and I look over to see mine sleeping or sitting in another part of the room. Luckily, because I have a cat, I think that ghost cats like me because they have their creature comforts.

Horror Decor: Jessica Harrison’s Gruesome Ladies

My Mom loved Royal Doulton figurines when I was growing up, so they have a special appeal to me. You can imagine my delight when I first came upon the work of Jessica Harrison from the United Kingdom. She takes Royal Doulton figurines and revises them into gruesome ladies. Some are holding an internal organ or their entrails in their hands pulled out from their bodies. Others have chopped off limbs or are decapitated or nearly decapitated.

“Roberta” by Jessica Harrison, 2014

Visit Harrison’s online shop to see more of her work. She is selling prints of images of these pieces, so you can add one to your home.

Horror Cinema: One Cut of the Dead

A friend invited me out to go see the new Japanese horror film One Cut of the Dead. As soon as I watched the trailer, I knew I wanted to see it.

I highly recommend it. The movie succeeded in mixing horror with comedy in a very satisfying way. I found it original and engaging — from the spooky and dark moments to the ridiculousness of the sitcom-like antics. I left the theatre feeling charmed by the whole experience and will certainly watch it again and again.

Ueda, Shin’ichirô. One Cut of the Dead, Enbu Seminar, 2017 (Japan).

Haunted Ireland: The Faceless Lady of Belvelly Castle, Cork, Ireland

“Belvelly Castle sits prominently on the shore of Great Island in Cork Harbour. It is said that in the seventeenth century Margaret Hodnett lived there. Mirrors were a status symbol with the wealthy at that time and Margaret was known for her love of these to remind her of her renowned beauty. She had an on-off relationship with a local lord called Clon Rockenby who asked for her hand in marriage many times but was refused.

“Eventually, Rockenby decided that the humiliation was enough and raised a small army and went to the castle to take her by force. He thought the Hodnetts, used to a luxurious life, would not withstand a siege.

“However, they surprised him by holding out for a full year before surrendering. When he entered the castle Rockenby was shocked to see the state of Margaret, skeletal and starved, a shadow of her former self, her beauty gone. Out of rage, Rockenby smashed her favourite mirror to pieces, as he did so one of the Hodnetts killed him with a sword.

“After these events Margaret descended into insanity, she was said to have sought out mirrors constantly to check if her beauty had returned. It never did. She died in old age at the castle. Her troubled ghost appears as a lady in white, sometimes with a veiled face and sometimes with no face at all. Those who have seen her say that she looks at a spot on the wall, then rubs it as if looking at her reflection.

“Apparently, one stone on the castle’s wall has been rubbed smooth over the years, perhaps the spot where her mirror used to hang. Belvelly has largely been unoccupied since the nineteenth century but is currently being renovated.”

From The Five MOST TERRIFYING Ghost Stories in Ireland

17th-Century Plague Doctors

“During the 17th century, plague doctors started wearing uniforms in an effort to protect themselves from their patients. Charles de l’Orme came up with concept of the long, dark robe worn with boots, gloves, and a hat in 1619.

“The idea was to keep the physician’s entire body covered. The outer layer of the costume was made of goat leather and often coated in wax. Underneath, the doctor wore a blouse that tied to his boots.

“The infamous plague masks were actually associated with air purity. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the idea that the air could be polluted became widespread and doctors sought to prevent ‘bad air,’ or the miasma, from getting to them.

“Eye holes were fitted with glass pieces so doctors could still see, and the long noses on the mask were filled with drugs and aromatic herbs, including mint, camphor, cloves, straw, laudanum, rose petals, and myrrh to filter the air. The herbs also helped with the smell, considering that the dead bodies and lanced buboes that doctors dealt with were rather pungent.”

Learn more about plague doctors at Horrifying Things Most People Don’t Know About Plague Doctors.