Cursed Films tv poster

Cursed Films

Premieres April 2, 2020


Official Selection:

Directed by:

Starring: ,

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.

I was given the opportunity to preview the episodes and I can’t wait to recap them for you.

1st up: The Exorcist (S1.E1),

When William Friedkin brought William Peter Blatty’s 1971 novel, “The Exorcist” to the big screen, he likely had no idea how culturally changing the film would be. From his jarring takes and seemingly reckless disregard for cast and crew safety to the unexplained mishaps and deaths on set, Friedkin introduced the mainstream to the harrowing and dramatic world of the Catholic Exorcist, in typical 70’s hysteria. Sure cast members die and one of them ended up being a murderer, but you can’t blame that on the movie, right? Cursed Films writer/director, Jay Cheel separates the mythos from the memoir and the hysterics from the history by diving into the spontaneous urban legends that turned The Exorcist (1973) into more than a sensational horror movie.

Infused within the mythologies of these Cursed Films, Cheel peppers the 30-minute episodes with slices of rational thinking and left-field woo. For The Exorcist, author Mitch Horowitz, religions studies professors Doug Cowan and Hector Avalos and Evangelical exorcist Vincent Bauhaus provide their professional backgrounds and opinions on the banality of life battling the forces of evil. There is a sensational slant with Mr. Bauhaus and a few on-screen exorcisms, which feel like extreme immersion therapy sessions, but Cheel leaves it up to you to choose which side you’d prefer to land.

Actresses Linda Blair and Eileen Deitz are also interviewed, giving a peek into the mentality of the actors on set, the conditions they were meant to endure, and the lasting effect on both their lives. It may lead you to believe that The Exorcist isn’t a cursed film due solely to its subject matter.

Popping up throughout all episodes of the documentary are Esquire writer Matt Miller, film critic April Wolfe, actor and podcaster, Matt Gourley, Blumhouse producer, Ryan Turek, and Fangoria editor, Phil Nobile Jr adding an air of grounded authenticity.

For the mere price of a subscription, Shudder’s original documentary, Cursed Films, is well worth your time, The Exorcist (S1E1) drops April 2, Poltergeist (S1E2) and The Omen (S1E3), on April 9, and the final 2 episodes The Crow (S1E4) and Twilight Zone: The Movie (S1E5) 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.

Cursed Films debuts exclusively on Shudder on April 2, 2020, with Episode 1, The Exorcist. Some of the more violent scenes from The Exorcist are highlighted, so viewer beware. Expect to also see clips from Faust (1926), Night of the Demon (1957), Burn Witch Burn (1962), The Last Exorcism (2010), The Rite, 2011), and The Conjuring (2013). These films are used to highlight the role horror and religion play in “modern cultural thinking, as well as punctuating that all movies about exorcism owe their punch to the grandfather of them all.

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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