Like many haunted house movies before it, this weekend's "The Conjuring" is based on a true story (read our review of the film here). In James Wan's latest jump scare extravaganza, Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga play Ed and Lorraine Warren, two paranormal investigators (the latter a psychic) who have made a living (or a killing?) in uncovering the ghosts who live in old, creaky houses. Their case files have been the sources for various horror films, including "The Amityville Horror" and "The Haunting in Connecticut."
Hollywood loves a good ghost story, especially when they can find a glimmer of truth among the "boos." The importance of tangibility becomes so important, they the movies themselves have created myths of their own. Are they fabricated by the marketing team or could souls trapped in the in-between be trying to contact us using mass-consumed entertainment? You play the Warrens as we rundown the notably haunted movie sets:
The movie that dared to cast Satan in a leading role is also the movie best known for feeling the wrath of supernatural forces. During the shooting of William Friedkin's horror masterpiece, nine people died, a fire (cause still unknown) destroyed a set causing a 6-week delay, and Linda Blair suffered serious injuries after being tossed around for a bed shaking scene. Other stories from set add the mystique of the William Peter Blatty adaptation, even while having obvious explanations; One day the crew arrived the set to see everything covered in a layer of snow — the result of high air conditioning temperatures.
But circumstances start looking more like the work of unseen Hell gods when one realizes that Friedkin ran into devil-worshipers while shooting in Iraq. "They had heard that this crazy American was taking raw meat to the statue of the demon Pazuzu," he explained in an interview. "And when I told them it was for a movie, and we had hoped to attract wild dogs and vultures, they were disappointed."
"The Omen" (2006)
Richard Donner's original Antichrist tale had its fair share of unexplainable coincidences, from lightning striking Gregory Peck's plane on his way to the shoot, to the bizarre death of set designer John Richardson's girlfriend. A car crash left the woman sliced in two, just like in the film.
But when it comes to on-set disturbances, it's the remake that's the most noticeable victim. After a pivotal day of shooting, "The Omen" production team was met with a camera error that read "Error 666." Later, the lab where their film was processed would lose 13,500 feet of footage. Was it the work of the devil? Clearly someone, or something, didn't want Donner's original getting a modern makeover.
Gore Verbinski's J-Horror remake centers on a videotape that will kill its viewer seven days after he or she gazes upon its grainy, ghastly content. In a meta-twist, "The Ring" is also said to contain actual footage of ghosts. We can't promise how long you will last after watching the above sequence.
"Introducing Dorothy Dandridge"
Some haunted sets only make themselves known after the stars have hauled off possessed goods. For her 1999 biopic of Dorothy Dandridge, Halle Berry wore an actual gown owned by the first African-American Oscar winner. It was only after the film wrapped and Berry brought the dress home that the paranormal activity began to brew. The actress told Ebony Magazine in July 1999 that one night, she was awoken by the sound of boiling water. When she went to check out the noise, she saw a doll dress floating in front of her Dandridge. She knew it was a sign.
On a tangentially-related note, there are people in the world who believe that Halle Berry isn't haunted by the ghost of Dorothy Dandridge, but that the actress is actually the reincarnated spirit of her biopic character. "Cloud Atlas" — a very realistic film — is cited as evidence of Berry's instinctual connection to reincarnation.
There haven't been stories that Jerry Zucker's foray into romantic drama/sensual clay molding was plagued by actual spirits, though it was inherently a haunted production having shot on Stage 19 of Paramount Studios. The production space, that also housed "Citizen Kane" and "Happy Days," is said to be one of the most vibrantly haunted places in Hollywood, second only to Phil Spector's mansion.
Crew members of various movies and TV shows shot on the stage have reported hearing the sounds of running in the rafters and childlike laughter. Many believe this to be the ghost of "Poltergeist's" O’Rourke, who appeared on several episodes of "Happy Days." (It should be noted that the set of "Poltergiest" is often referred to has cursed in its own right. While there weren't reports of supernatural occurrences on set, the movie saw four cast members die within six years of its release.)
While shooting his horror film "The House of the Devil," Ti West and his crew experienced a parallel ghost story taking place in the hotel that housed them. The staff of the Yankee Pedlar Inn in Connecticut are convinced their lodge is haunted and, while skeptical, West couldn't help but acknowledge the slamming doors, flickering lights, and did-I-see-what-I-think-I-just saw silhouettes that plagued his crew. The atmosphere inspired West to come back for more and shoot "The Innkeepers" in and around the Yankee Pedlar. As he puts it, "Sara Paxton would wake up in the middle of the night thinking someone was in the room with her."
"Journey 2: The Mysterious Island"
Turns out, being abducted by Alien wasn't the most paranormal moment in Vanessa Hudgen's career. That title goes to the sequel to "Journey to the Center Earth," which reportedly played host to a ghost that followed Hudgens around her hotel. She would apparently hear creaking noises in her rented home's hallway each night. Searching for a source proved fruitless; Hudgens eventually chalked it up to beings from another plane of existence. "I look down and I hear it to the left, so I step over to the left, look up, look down, step over to the right, look up, look down... It kept moving around." Later speculation revealed that it was likely the ghost of former "Journey" star Brendan Fraser's career.
"Three Men and a Baby"
Nothing kills the mood of a light-hearted family comedy like the appearance of a lost soul. In the pre-Internet, grainy VHS days of "Three Men and a Baby's" home video release, rumors swirled that a scene featuring Ted Danson's Jack Holden mulling about house revealed a childlike figure sparked a paranormal investigation. Claims were and continue to be made that a nine-year-old boy committed suicide with a shotgun in the house where the Leonard Nimoy-depicted was filmed. Snopes has since debunked the otherworldly cameo, claiming the figure to be a cardboard standee of Ted Danson in a tuxedo (equally weird…) and that there wasn't a house — all of the "Three Men and a Baby" interiors were shot on sound stages. Sure, likely story. Watch the video below and see if you buy it:
"Behind the Candelabra"
An unnamed source from the set of Steven Soderberhg's Liberace biopic told the National Enquirer that while filming, Matt Damon and Michael Douglas would often feel the caress of an invisible force on their shoulder. "They swear they've felt cold damp air swish by, reeking of a potent men's cologne," the source said.
Paul Feig makes it easy for us. Well aware that Boston is as haunted a city as they come, the director was happy able to record the below video, pointing out all the ghosts in the dinner scene from his most recent comedy.