Cursed Films tv poster

Cursed Films

Premieres April 16, 2020


30 minutes

Directed by:

Shudder’s original documentary, Cursed Films, takes you behind the scenes of some of Hollywood Horror’s more infamous “cursed” sets. It walks the casual viewer through the true and the tantalizing, with just a skosh of sensationalized weirdness.

A common question asked on a lot of horror movie press junkets, so much that it’s a ridiculous trope within in a trope, is if anything weird happened on set. It’s a provocative brain worm meant to entice future viewers that the movie is so scary, it practically invited weird or terrible things to happen. In this 5-part documentary, writer/director Jay Cheel investigates the weirdness (accidents, deaths, etc) that causes a film or film series to be forever tagged as “cursed”, and then adds a little something extra.

E104 deals with The Crow, and E105. is about Twilight Zone, The Movie, both dropping April 16, 2020. These films are different than the installments of its predecessors in that the “curses” surrounding these films are more from their tragic accidents, rather than creepy occurrences in subsequent sequels.

The Crow (1994) became a “cursed” cult classic before it was even released with the accidental death of its star, Brandon Lee, the son of the late Bruce Lee up. Brandon was shot by a costar filming a scene towards the end of principal production and killed from a dummy round still in the chamber. Minor rewrites and clever CGI enabled the movie to be completed, which went on to be a box office hit. Producer Jeff Most, Author Bridget Baiss, SFX artist Lance Anderson and actor Michael Berryman, contribute their first-hand experiences to the narrative. There is supposedly a Lee Family Curse, which rolls The Crow into this specific documentary as well as other various conspiracy theories add to the overall story.

Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) became notorious not only for the time it was filmed, a “golden age” of maverick directors who threw caution to the wind in the hopes of capturing authentic shots, but the tragic accident. This is an “ongoing curse,” because it left surviving actors, production crew members, and is director John Landis paying an eternal debt for the lives of actor Vic Morrow and the two small children, Myca Dinh Le and Renee Shin-Yi Chen. There are no witches or black magicians or any supernatural shenanigans to round out this episode.  Head production designer Richard Sawyer, on Twilight Zone: The Movie gives an emotional account of his involvement, which clearly still haunts him. Critic Stephen Farber, SPX Artists Stefano Benonati and Max MacDonald, actor Kane Hodder, and director, Lloyd Kaufman give their accounts, theories, and perspectives on what exactly what went so horribly wrong.  Cursed Films director (Jay Cheel) leaves it up to the viewer to decide how culpable Landis was, but I guarantee if you never knew the story behind “Time Out”, you may never view Twilight Zone: The Movie the same way again.

Infused within the mythologies of these two films, Cheel frames the 30-minute episodes with slices of heartfelt sentiments and what-ifs.  Blumhouse producer, Ryan Turek, and Fangoria editor, Phil Nobile Jr add an air of grounded authenticity. Other industry professionals like Max Macdonald, Colin Eddes, and Stefano Beninati help balance the audience’s perspective. None of these episodes is a pile on, just an examination of what was a different time in filmmaking and the lasting impact they’ve had.

Shudder has extended its free trial period from 7 days to 30, so now is a great time to pop in and check out their original content! Cursed Films is well worth your time, with the initial episode, The Exorcist (E101) made its debut April 2.  Poltergeist (E102) and The Omen (E103) on April 9, and the final 2 episodes The Crow (E104) and Twilight Zone: The Movie (E105) on April 16. These may not be telling some of us what we don’t already know, but hearing these stories first hand from producers, directors, actors, FX professionals and scholars add academic legitimacy to the legends we’ve read all over the internet and collected in one place.

Expect to see clips from a wide range of action and sci-fi movies like Enter the Dragon (1973) and Bruce Lee’s final film Game of Death (1978), Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991), Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004) The Dark Knight (2008), and The Matrix (1999). E105 is peppered mostly with John Landis films, but be warned, there is footage of the death of the three actors. I’d never seen it before because that’s not where the theatrical release ends, and it’s shocking and sad.

Movie Reelist Contributor: MontiLee Stormer
MontiLee Stormer is a writer of horror, dark and urban fantasy. She’s also is a troublemaker, concocting acts of mayhem and despair for her own selfish pleasure. An avid movie watcher, she prefers horror but will see just about anything if you're buying. Poltergeist (1982) is her favorite movie and she actively hates The Shining (1980) due to its racism, misogyny, the butchering of the source material. She could host a TEDtalk on this single subject. Writing about herself in the third person is just a bonus.

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