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…’”

Horror Cinema Trivia: The True Story That Inspired Nightmare on Elm Street’s Dreamtime Horror

“I’d read an article in the L.A. Times about a family who had escaped the Killing Fields in Cambodia and managed to get to the U.S. Things were fine, and then suddenly the young son was having very disturbing nightmares. He told his parents he was afraid that if he slept, the thing chasing him would get him, so he tried to stay awake for days at a time. When he finally fell asleep, his parents thought this crisis was over. Then they heard screams in the middle of the night. By the time they got to him, he was dead. He died in the middle of a nightmare. Here was a youngster having a vision of a horror that everyone older was denying. That became the central line of Nightmare on Elm Street.”

Wes Craven, from Freddy Lives: An Oral History of A Nightmare on Elm Street

Horror Cinema Trivia: Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte

Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte was full of traps, it was a delicate tight-rope walking assignment. I found that very interesting. Aldrich gave it a very special style, a kind of dark glittering style which fascinated me. It’s always the charming ones of evil intent who are the dangerous ones; the others you can see coming. But you can’t see Miriam [de Havilland’s character] coming, and she’s really dangerous.” – Olivia deHavilland

Olivia de Havilland and Bette Davis filming Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte.

“[After Crawford’s departure] The story, the project, everything about Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte was too good to scrap. Bob Aldrich put on persuading armor, packed handcuffs and a fountain pen, flew to Switzerland, and brought back Olivia…Olivia and I played lovers in Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte. She was a fine replacement. She and Bette worked beautifully together; [Olivia] and I had never worked together before.” – Joseph Cotten

Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, Bette Davis, 1964. TM and Copyright © 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All rights reserved. Courtesy: Everett Collection.

From the Turner Classic Movies: Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte

Aldrich, Robert. Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, 20th Century Fox, 1964.

Horror Cinema Trivia: Ti West On the Real Haunting That Inspired ‘The Innkeepers’

From IndieWire

IndieWire: The story behind the reason you made “The Innkeepers” is almost as good (and scary) as the film itself. Can you tell it for those who aren’t familiar?

Ti West: Well the hotel that inspired the film is actually in the film. What happened was we were making my previous film The House of the Devil, and we were staying at this hotel called the Yankee Pedlar Inn because it was the best option to put the crew up. It was the cheapest and nicest place we could find and about 25 minutes from our location.

We would go and shoot this satanic horror movie nearby, but the weirder stuff would happen back at the hotel. It just started off kind of goofy, but it became this thing where most of the cast and crew started to think there was something up with the hotel.

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The staff at the hotel believe it’s haunted. The whole town believes it’s haunted. So it has this kind of mystique to it. But what was charming to me about it, was that it’s this mixture of a historic, perhaps haunted building and totally bad ’70s renovation. The people who work there are in their twenties…part timers. So there’s this weird lore of the place. At the same time, the place doesn’t live up to it. So I found it really charming and interesting.

I wanted to make a ghost story. I was trying to think of how to do it cheap. Then I thought, “Why not make a movie we lived?” The place let us be there before, so they were likely to let us do it again. That’s kind of how it all came to be. They let us back in and we moved very quickly.

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Read the full interview at IndieWire: Ti West On the Real Haunting That Inspired ‘The Innkeepers’

Horror Comedy: Little Shop of Horrors Trivia

I am a massive fan of Little Shop of Horrors. I recently came across a great web page of Little Shop of Horrors Trivia. Did you know that the bizarre equipment used by the dentist has made appearances in other Warner Bros. productions? Notably as Jeremy Irons’ gynecology tools in Dead Ringers (1988) and as the Joker’s plastic surgeon tools in Batman (1989). I love this movie!

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