The idea of cursed films has long been a subject that has fascinated horror fans, if one checks on the topic, numerous television programs covered the topic such as “E: True Hollywood Stories” episodes from the 1990s. The films examined herein, all hold a strong bond with the fans, as they still have an overlapping of myth versus truth, and truly only those on set can ever really tell what actually happened, and for some the heartache of the occurrences still bring pain. Nevertheless, the series is directed by Jay Cheel, who brings an energized feel about these movie legends that will help separate fact from fiction especially for the younger viewers, whose perspective is altered thanks to the internet, that premiered on Shudder. I need to thank RJLE Films for sending a Blu-ray of season 1, which does not influence this review in any manner. I need to note one strange occurrence, I’ve watched a lot of television series boxsets, and this is the first time the order changed between episodes shown on the actual net service and the Blu-ray. Allow me to explain, the series according to both Imdb.com and Shudder’s site, present the order as follows The Exorcist, The Omen, Poltergeist, The Crow, and Twilight Zone: The Movie, however per the disc it starts with Poltergeist, followed by The Omen and then The Exorcist, before returning to the normal order, sadly no input exists why the order changed, and since this is Blu-ray review I need to go in the order its presented in, regardless of the actualities.
Each of the episodes presented have a slew of notable individuals discussing the films, as previously stated the original cast and crew members, but also includes Phil Nobile Jr., editor-in-chief of Fangoria, Ryan Turek a rep of Blumhouse Pictures as well as film critic/screenwriter April Wolfe (Black Christmas ), podcasters, fans, plenty of authors on religious and physiological topics, and finally some individuals who practice the black arts all presented to help to understand the shadowy existence of these films.
Now I will not go into extraordinary depth for each episode as I will allow that for your own discovery. However, Poltergeist  noted the murder with some depth of Dominique Dunne, and suggests the curse stretched itself over the entire franchise, for example a real-life shaman Will Sampson, was asked to perform Native American exorcism on the set of Poltergeist II: The Other Side  who then a year later died on complications of transplant surgery and Julian Beck who portrayed the scary Kane character died from stomach cancer before part two was fully completed. Likely the saddest, the death of Heather O’Rourke, the child actor, which one could see in the emotions of director Gary Sherman, who was informed by the studio he had to finish the film, and use a double for Heather’s unfilmed scenes. Even an archive interview with Zelda Rubinstein called the curse suggestion nuts and disrespectful to families and friends that still mourn. Although, make-up artist Craig Reardon, who worked on the first Poltergeist and Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), sets it firmly for the viewer his opinion on the subject with the remark (paraphrased) bullshit. He even comments about the usage of real skeletons, stating it’s economically the better choice and insanely expensive to mold each bone of the human body. He noted how House on Haunted Hill  used more than one real skeleton, as did Universal Studios’’ Frankenstein , these a just a kernel of knowledge one learns in the series.
Next, The Omen , without a doubt one of those movies that contain many odd occurrences, from planes struck by lightning or how one’s luck aided in missing a plane that crashed shortly after take-off and smashed into a car driven by the pilot’s wife that carried his daughter. Overall, the segment is interesting but contains a lot of pieces that many have heard before including being filled with all the near-misses, close calls i.e. explosions, hearing Richard Donner, the director speaking about the film was very nice. Others mentioned this, that the devil’s biggest trick is to show he didn’t exist, however I disagree, he was cast out of Heaven, after going against the Lord for he gave more attention to his children, this affected his ego and vanity. The movie generated so much attention in the black arts and in some manners a blessed set for world domination at the box office and countless press articles, that fed Lucifer’s ego easily.
Then The Exorcist , which swirled with plenty of controversy, hence director William Friedkin (who was unable to participate in the interviews as he was working on documentary / horror film entitled The Devil And Father Amorth ), that it was true he devised a plan to unnerve his cast and get to performed at heighten levels. This is nothing new directors used all sort tactics before this flick and well afterwards, sometimes actors need more prodding to achieve that over-the-top fear factor. Linda Blair’s interview was very informative including the stunts that she and Ellen Burstyn did which gave them separate injuries and mentioned how she was hounded by sorts of individuals from maddening fans, stalkers, and religious figures, that it required the studio to give her security. Many considered her damaged and even demonically possessed, however three years later the boy who actually plays the character Damien, the devil’s spawn, was largely ignored by everyone – why the double standard, it dates back to the bible, where a woman is depicted as the evil one, indulging in her lusts, she goes against the Lord, and creates sin. One needs to note there’s an odd portion of paid-for-exorcisms that occurs, which better covered with the director’s commentary left on for this portion.
Horror Icon Michael Berryman, who’s character Skull Cowboy was cut due to Lee’s death has an interesting interview for The Crow , which had the tragic death of Brandon Lee, and skilled technicians showed how the accident occurred. It notes and suggests how the prop master personnel were in-charge of the firearms, not clearing the cylinders of the guns and the projectiles, as the arms master was supposed to do that; they were truly well-informative interviews. In fact, as the son of a U.S. Marine, a rule that everyone needs to know every firearm is armed and has the capability of killing unless it is checked by you and this safety measure should be a requirement and a requirement to have a certified course for anyone on a film set, using any weapons. Some other critics wish there was more interviews especially concerning the actor Michael Massee, who played Funboy, unknowingly fired the fatal round killing Lee; however in hindsight I feel this actor still suffers from sort post-traumatic syndrome and perhaps nightmarish dreams. The segment noted several bizarre accidents on the set occurred to the crew from burns to hand injuries.
Finally, the last segment, the infamous Twilight Zone: The Movie  which including several individuals in the entertainment business giving thoughts on set-safety that included Kane Hodder, who spoke about a full body burn and the longest one of his career, as he played the character Jason, in Friday the 13th, Part VII: The New Blood  and Lloyd Kaufman, who was dressed as a woman, since he was in character for a film, but stressed the importance for the keyword SAFETY, and demonstrated it repeatedly on set. This segment, is extremely brutal, as it includes actual footage of three people dying, while John Landis was at the director’s helm for the story “Time Out” which starred actor Vic Morrow, who many familiar with the actor’s career knew he spoke about a premonition of dying in a helicopter crash, and knowing one was going to be on a set he had $1-million life insurance policy in effect. It was stated that Vic should’ve had a stunt double who carried to fake children, but when the accident occurred the parents of the actual kids were on set witnessed the tragedy. Cheel mentioned and showed clips of the trial and how everyone involved didn’t want to be on screen for an interview, Steven Spielberg, officially ended his relationship with Landis and production designer Richard Sawyer was still struggling to this day, and as a result of the accident it led to significant changes on film sets. Sadly, the actual film contains no title card for what happened, like they now do on both movies and television series, out of respect.
I think the series showed a positive opening for all the series, which officially got a greenlight for season two, which has me even more curious what movies will be consider next time. My only complaint is the episode start about the film, and then gets sidetracked into filler material, it works so-so each time its deployed. For example, in one segment the filmmakers have an individual place a curse spell on film production, but they beep the title, now how is one supposed know if it works, it just becomes a murky point. One last note, don’t skip the director’s commentary it’s thoroughly detailed and gives more interesting background to the people interviewed, where it was filmed and noticing what happened on the set with the individuals.
IMDb Rating: 7.1/10
Baron’s Rating: 7.5/10