Horror Cinema: 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: 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).

Horror Cinema: 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