Ghosts were spotted on the set of The Nun
For 2018 horror movie The Nun, director Corin Hardy sought out the spookiest location he could find for a troubled abbey. He picked an old fortress in Transylvania, which turned out to be more fitting than he could’ve dreamt. While filming in a medieval cell of the fortress, Hardy noticed two men lurking in the shadows, and he assumed they were members of the crew. After 30 minutes of filming, he turned around to ask what they thought of the takes – and they had vanished. Hardy has described them as “Romanian ghosts.”
Poltergeist used real skeletons in the swimming pool scene
On 1982’s horror classic Poltergeist, actress JoBeth Williams worked on a scene where skeletons drag her character into a mud-filled swimming pool. She spent five days filming, and was horrified to later discover that the crew had obtained real skeletons for the scene. “I assumed that they were prop skeletons made out of plastic or rubber,” she explained. “I found out — as did the whole crew — that they were using real skeletons, because it’s far too expensive to make fake skeletons out of rubber. And I think everybody got real creeped out by the idea of that.”
The Exorcist was plagued by freak accidents
Production of 1973’s The Exorcist came into jeopardy when a spectacular fire destroyed the entire set – with the exception of Regan’s bedroom, where the demon resides. Aside from this incident that set production back by six weeks, this film also involved several distressing accidents. Linda Blair developed scoliosis from spinal injuries incurred on-set, and Ellen Burstyn still suffers chronic pain from a coccyx fracture, also a result of a filming accident. One carpenter accidentally cut off his own thumb behind the scenes, and a lightning technician lost a toe in a separate accident.
Alien’s spacesuits almost suffocated the actors
The impressive spacesuits that featured in the 1979 movie Alien were anything but practical. Filming took place in Shepperton Studios near London during a summer heatwave, and the actors donned the heavy, nylon-lined suits for hours at a time. As if the weight, heat and claustrophobia weren’t bad enough, what made matters worse was the fact that the suits did not have a system to remove exhaled carbon dioxide. The actors were often close to fainting as a result of heat and suffocation, and the crew had nurses on standby with oxygen tanks.
The cast and crew suspected The Possession’s evil box was genuinely haunted
2012’s The Possession features an unlikely villain: a wine cabinet that houses an evil spirit. Hebrew writing upon the box translates to, “I will eat your heart”. This tale is based on a real-life story, and the owner of the real box offered to send it over to the filmmakers to star in the movie – an offer they declined. Even the replica, however, seemed haunted. Some freak occurrences including an exploding light and a freak fire were blamed on the box, leading the cast and crew to create the mantra “Don’t mock the box!”
A crew member was almost burned alive on Night of the Living Dead
In 1968’s Night of the Living Dead, fire plays an important role in the battle between human and zombie. One crew member named Gary Streiner was tasked with setting fire to a chair before the camera started rolling. As he poured gasoline over the chair, Streiner failed to notice a stray burning ember next to it, left over from a previous take. He caught on fire and threw his arms up in panic. However, actor Bill Hinzman stepped in and put out the fire, saving Streiner’s life.
Rosemary’s Baby’s producer became seriously ill during production
Rosemary’s Baby producer William Castle was harassed with hate mail before the controversial film ever reached the big screen. One letter read, “B****rd. Believer of Witchcraft. Worshipper at the Shrine of Satanism. My prediction is you will slowly rot during a long and painful illness which you have brought upon yourself.” Sure enough, soon after the film came out, Castle was hospitalised with kidney stones. As he came around from anaesthesia, he cried out “Rosemary, for God’s sake drop that knife” – a quote from the film. He attributed his sickness to the 1968 movie, describing it as cursed.
Several people were almost struck by lightning whilst making The Omen
Strange natural phenomena occurred around the making of the 1976 movie The Omen. During production, leading man Gregory Peck was travelling by plane when his vehicle was hit by lightning. Peck escaped unscathed – as did Mace Neufeld, a producer, who experienced the same event on a different plane a few weeks later. Astonishingly, screenwriter David Seltzer was also travelling by plane towards the set when he, took, experienced a lightning strike. And during the film’s shoot in Rome, a producer narrowly avoided yet another lighting strike.
The Bell from Hell’s director died mysteriously on the last day of filming
In The Bell from Hell (La campana del infierno), a Spanish-French horror movie from 1973, a family feud over inheritance sees a jaded aunt plot to murder her nephew, with a creative execution method involving a church bell. The film’s ending is ambiguous, with the trapped nephew saying “I’ll have the last laugh!” as he is left to await his death. Tragically, on the last day of production, director Claudio Guerin Hill died in an apparent accident. He fell to his death from the same bell tower that looms large throughout the movie.
An accident in the Annabelle script happened for real on set
During the filming of 2013’s Annabelle, fiction seemed to mirror fact with a strange accident on-set. While filming in The Langham apartment hallway in Koreatown, Los Angeles, a giant glass light fixture fell down onto a janitor’s head. In the movie script, a demon kills a fictional janitor in the very same hallway. “It was totally freaky,” said producer Peter Safran.
There was paranormal activity on the set of The Amityville Horror
Before the filming of the iconic original Amityville Horror even began, there were paranormal occurrences. When considering taking the role in the 1979 production, James Brolin was shocked by mysterious happenings, like his pants falling off the hanger as he read the script, convincing him that he had to take the role.
Twilight Zone: The Movie claimed three lives before filming wrapped
There’s no understating just how shocking and creepy the events that took place on the set of the Twilight Zone: The Movie were. Considered one of the worst accidents in cinema history, a horrendous helicopter crash sadly took the lives of two of the film’s child stars as well as actor Vic Morrow.
Vera Farmiga was haunted during the filming of The Conjuring
Despite the success of the project, actress Vera Farmiga suffered a great deal while filming The Conjuring. The actress found herself waking up often in the ‘witching hour’ between 3 and 4 am, as well as spotting numerous claw marks – firstly on her laptop and then on her own thigh.
The Ring Two set flooded during filming
After The Ring had become a cult classic horror film, the sequel was anticipated eagerly. While it’s debated whether it’s the better of the two films, the making of the sequel was definitely spookier. During the filming of The Ring Two, the set actually flooded, mirroring the very events of the film itself.
A late child actor apparently haunted the filming of Ghost
While not technically a horror film, this much-beloved romance is jam-packed with paranormal happenings, even behind the scenes. While filming, unexplained steps were heard as well as a child giggling. What’s even spookier though, is that the stage they were filming on was also the stage that the late Poltergeist star Heather O’Rourke filmed on as a child.
Maximum Overdrive saw a number of creepy on-set incidents
The set of Stephen King’s Maximum Overdrive had its fair share of unsettling events. The events of the film follow a radiation storm, making the surprise hurricane they experienced all the more creepy. Other strange, alarming incidents included a crew member losing an eye in a lawnmower accident, echoing a lawnmower death that occurs in the film.
Annabelle Comes Home was very traumatic for star Mckenna Grace
Annabelle Comes Home was plagued with creepy on-set happenings. Young star Mckenna Grace found a strange cut on her forehead and suffered a very heavy nosebleed following the lights going out on set. A priest even came to set to bless the film, but the production team continued to spot props moving and watches failing on set.
Brandon Lee’s death was one of many freak accidents on the set of The Crow
Famous as one of the most cursed movie sets of all time, The Crow hadn’t even wrapped shooting when Brandon Lee (son of famed martial artist Bruce Lee) died when a faulty prop gun was fired at him. As if Lee’s passing wasn’t tragic enough, production also saw a crew member electrocuted, a truck catch on fire, and a stuntman falling through a rooftop set.
The set of The Shining burned down during production
Production on The Shining proved just as unnerving as the final product. The set actually burned down during production. The still photographer, Murray Close, spoke about the incident later saying, “We never really discovered what caused that fire, and it burnt down two sound stages and threatened a third at Elstree Studios.”
The lead actress was targeted by a Pearl Jam song during The Exorcism of Emily Rose
This paranormal horror is heavily inspired by the true story of Anneliese Michel who died following exorcism attempts by her parents in 1976. During filming, the radios of actresses Laura Linney and Jennifer Carpenter repeatedly turned themselves on during the night, oftentimes specifically playing a section of Pearl Jam’s Alive over and over again, repeating “I’m still alive.”
The Insidious house was apparently a paranormal hot spot
Actress Rose Byrne was very unsettled by one of the two houses they filmed 2010’s Insidious in. Speaking about the film, she said “The house that we filmed in was so scary. Like, I’m not particularly supernatural. I’m born of two skeptics, but I can definitely feel an atmosphere, you know, if there’s an odd, weird vibe.”
Creepy faces found their way into Return to Babylon
While not strictly a horror film, the on-set antics of this 2013 silent film can definitely be described as creepy. Genre favorite Jennifer Tilly (perhaps best known as Tiffany Valentine in the Chucky franchise) claims the film was cursed. In the final film there are multiple shots that both viewers and the director have pointed out contain ghostly images and distorted faces.
The filming of The Innkeepers could be a ghost story in itself
Various people involved in the creation of 2011 horror The Innkeepers have reported supernatural occurrences on set. The Ti West film about employees trying to get to the bottom of a supposed haunting was itself plagued by slamming doors, lights flickering on and off, and even mysterious phone calls which when answered would reveal no one on the other end.
The Lords of Salem was shot in a location with a ghoulish reputation
Rob Zombie’s film The Lords of Salem follows Sheri Moon Zombie experiencing horrific visions after playing a mysterious record. However, the actress also found the experience nightmarish when the cameras stopped rolling. Sequences of the film were shot in the Linda Vista Hospital where the crew founds themselves getting strangely ill and hearing sounds in the building they couldn’t explain.
Production on The Ghost of Goodnight Lane was a true meta horror story
A story of a haunted set, apparently filmed on a haunted set? While it may seem ridiculous, that’s the story of 2012’s The Ghost of Goodnight Lane. Before they began production, five people had died on the set they were using, and during filming some crew even felt slapped with no real explanation behind it. Actor Billy Zane even heard voices calling his name.
The House of the Devil’s cast and crew stayed in a haunted hotel
While filming 2009’s House of the Devil, the cast and crew stayed in the infamous Yankee Pedlar Inn – the Connecticut hotel thought to be haunted for centuries. Director Ti West and company were struck by the sinister atmosphere and had strange experiences there, which provided West with the inspiration for his subsequent film The Innkeepers.
Production on The Conjuring 2 was just as spooky as the first
Another James Wan spookfest makes this list, and this time it was the director himself who seems to have been targeted by ghostly apparitions. Wan talked about doors on the set just opening by themselves with no explanation at all, as well as curtains moving with no wind or other reason for the movement.
The making of The Amityville Horror remake was just as terrifying as the original
Ryan Reynolds starred in the 2005 remake of The Amityville Horror, and much like on the original film, the cast and crew had some eerie experiences. Reynolds plays the troubled father of the family and strangely enough, found himself waking up at 3.15 am every night – the exact same time the possessed character wakes up in the movie itself.
The bones used in Texas Chainsaw Massacre were real
Much as was the case on director Tobe Hooper’s later film Poltergeist, a real human skeleton was used for the dinner scene in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, as this was cheaper and easier than building a prop. The set was unbearably hot too, so mixed with the smell of rotting meat many of the cast and crew found it to a painful sequence to film.
InSight gave the cast a real insight into the spiritual world
When any film shoots in an abandoned hospital, reports of eerie happenings seem inevitable. 2011’s InSight was no exception. Director Richard Gabai recalls, “It was extremely creepy…. you could feel death in that place…. I lost my producer for two hours…. He was terrified because the electricity would go on and off and the lights would flicker.”
Insidious: Chapter 2 suffered a lot of the same spooks as the first film
For the sequel to Insidious, they shot many scenes inside an abandoned hospital. However, many of the cast and crew found themselves unsettled in the premises and even heard a bell ringing on an abandoned level of the building. Those involved in the film even mysteriously reported feeling ill while filming in the hospital.
Death struck the cast of Psycho
While Psycho remains one of the most important horror films ever made, there were actually creepy occurrences on the set that would spook out even the most seasoned horror fans. During filming, one of the body doubles for Janet Leigh was killed by a handyman who was working on the set. Apparently, the man committed the murder to impress the legendary director, Alfred Hitchcock.
Someone was struck by lightning twice while filming The Passion of The Christ
No one expected the number of strange incidents that would afflict the cast and crew of The Passion of The Christ. Not only were numerous crew members actually struck by lightning, but the lead actor was afflicted with hypothermia, pneumonia, headaches, and even a dislocated shoulder, all before getting seriously injured while filming a whipping scene.
Real bees were used in Candyman
To get the iconic bee-in-mouth shots in 1992’s Candyman, director Bernard Rose wanted to use real bees. Actor Tony Todd only agreed to this on the condition that he would get paid $1,000 every time he was stung by one of the bees, and they used a dental dam to stop the bees from going down his throat.
The 2002 film Gunah was filmed in a haunted mill
Bipasha Badu ran into trouble filming the Hindi-language thriller Gunah in Mukesh Mill, a location widely believed to be haunted. The esteemed actress began experiencing difficulty remembering her lines, and while filming another actress from a different crew began behaving like she was possessed and sadly passed away.
Things went missing while filming A Girl Walks Home At Night
While filming 2014’s A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, various items including a number of props mysteriously disappeared from the set. Costume designer Natalie O’Brien said “We talked to the art department and it wasn’t them at all. I feel like either someone was down there, or it could have been a spirit or something like that.”
They set the studio on fire while filming The War of The Worlds
While filming the 1953 American science fiction film The War of The Worlds, the filmmakers utilized three struts with electricity coursing through them on each of the Martian war machines to imitate floating. This electricity was completely real and caused a fire that spread to the studio they were filming in.
Skeet Ulrich was actually stabbed during Scream
Skeet Ulrich found himself paying for the sins of his character Billy Loomis whilst shooting Scream. During the climax of the film, Neve Campbell’s Sidney Prescott stabs the killer with an umbrella tip, for which she was given a prop and Ulrich was fitted with a safety vest. Sadly, the umbrella’s safety tip malfunctioned, Campbell missed the vest and she accidentally stabbed Ulrich for real.
There may have been actual supernatural forces at work during the filming of The Craft
To ensure authenticity while filming The Craft the crew hired an actual witch to consult during production. During one scene the crew had confirmed the tide would not interfere with filming, but once the actresses began the incantations, waves emerged. There were also reports of a white owl following production through various filming locations.
The cast of The Blair Witch Project were forced to live as their characters
The three lead actors were actually instructed to head into the same forest as the characters they portray in the film and stay there for the full eight filming days. The producers would psychologically torment the actors, telling them the legend was real, feeding them less and less and even requiring them to hide for a period of time after filming wrapped.
Men Behind the Sun used footage from a child’s autopsy
1988’s Men Behind the Sun sought to raise public awareness of the atrocities committed against Japanese prisoners of war during The Second World War, by depicting them in excruciating detail. One of the film’s most infamous scenes invokes a young boy who is sedated before his organs are removed. Making things infinitely more disturbing, the editors spliced in real footage from a child’s autopsy.
An animatronic creature malfunctioned during Poltergeist II
During production for the second Poltergeist movie, an animatronic creature known as the Vomit Monster continually malfunctioned. Eventually, actor Craig T Nelson was forced to step in and pretend to vomit repeatedly for hours on end, using a practical effect that made him gag. It took ten gruelling hours to get the shot, but the next day the film was inexplicably damaged, forcing Nelson to repeat the entire process.
One of The Serpent and the Rainbow’s writers had a curse placed on him
Wes Craven’s The Serpent and the Rainbow is based on ethnobotanist Wade Davis’ experiences with Haitian voodoo practitioners, and during production one of the movie’s writers headed to Haiti to do some research. After one of the voodoo doctors he interviewed supposedly placed a curse on him, the writer seemingly experienced a psychotic break on set, eventually requiring hospitalisation.
The animatronic T-Rex in Jurassic Park nearly killed someone
The towering animatronic T-Rex in 1993’s Jurassic Park is the movie’s most triumphant achievement. The machine was powered by a system of cylinders, and when it was switched on these cylinders opened, allowing crew members to enter and carry out work. During production, technician Alan Scott was inside the t-rex when it unexpectedly powered down, and he barely managed to avoid being crushed by the closing cylinders.
Dawn of the Dead accidentally used a real skeleton as a prop
There are numerous instances of films using genuine human bones on set, but it’s somehow even creepier when it happens by mistake. When production for Dawn of the Dead wrapped, a prop skeleton was sold to a shop for use as decoration. After its new owners got suspicious of how realistic it looked they had it tested, revealing it was actually a genuine skeleton.
The truck in Jeepers Creepers kept breaking down
Despite not winning over critics, 2001’s Jeepers Creepers struck a chord with horror fans and spawned a number of sequels and reboots. While production wasn’t as plagued by supernatural phenomena as some of the films on this list, there were a few spooky incidents, such as the truck driven by the Creeper continually and inexplicably breaking down.
The star’s face got permanently scarred filming Incident in a Ghostland
While shooting a scene for 2018’s Incident in a Ghostland, actress Taylor Hickson was pounding with her fists on a pane of glass when it shattered, causing the actress to fall forwards and cut her face. She was rushed to hospital and received 70 stitches, but was left with a permanent facial scar.
Production of Resident Evil: The Last Chapter was seemingly cursed
While filming a chase sequence for 2017’s Resident Evil: The Last Chapter, stunt double Olivia Jackson crashed her motorbike into a camera arm, leaving her in a coma for weeks and necessitating the amputation of her arm. A few days after the crash, crew member Ricardo Cornelius was crushed to death when a Hummer slid off a platform and fell on him.
All the cadavers in Unrest were real
Set in a morgue, 2006’s Unrest follows a group of medical students who perform an autopsy on a cursed cadaver. All of the corpses used during the film were completely real, which the cast were both aware of and, somehow, okay with. The movie also spliced in plenty of footage of actual autopsies, something it aggressively bragged about in its marketing.
A strange wind followed the crew of The Conjuring
Vera Farmiga wasn’t alone when it came to experiencing paranormal activity during production of The Conjuring. While not quite as dramatic as the slash marks that appeared on the actress’s laptop, many members of the cast and crew reported that a strange “gust of wind” followed them wherever they went, even when they were indoors.
A fire destroyed footage from The Omen
Production of The Omen was plagued by freak accidents and strange occurrences, both on and off set, and they didn’t stop once filming had finished. Shortly after production wrapped, a fire broke out in the movie’s processing lab, destroying thousands of feet of film, including the scene revealing the Antichrist’s identity.
The star of Nurse 3D was run over by an ambulance
2013’s Nurse 3D stars Paz de la Huerta as a nurse and serial killer who murders men that cheat on their partners. In a twist of spooky irony, while filming a scene in Toronto, de la Huerta was run over by a speeding ambulance, leaving her with a fractured tailbone and spine and requiring over 20 surgeries.
Poltergeist III was filmed in a haunted tower
The third instalment in the Poltergeist franchise was filmed in Chicago’s John Hancock Tower, which many believe to be haunted by the spirits of over 100 builders who died during its construction. In true Poltergeist fashion, production was marred by freak accidents, and the building engineer who was on hand to assist the production abruptly died while sitting in his chair.
A body washed up on the beach during filming of Faces of Death
Faces of Death has attained an almost mythical status, thanks to its inclusion of footage of allegedly real deaths. However, despite the infamy, most of the deaths are actually staged. One moment that wasn’t staged occurred when a corpse washed ashore while the crew were filming on a beach. The moment was entirely unplanned, but was, of course, kept in.
Brad Pitt suffered a spooky injury filming Se7en
While filming a chase scene for 1995’s Se7en, Brad Pitt fell and his arm smashed through a car’s windshield, leaving the actor needing surgery. What makes this spooky is the fact that early drafts of the scene had in fact involved Pitt’s character sustaining an injury, but this idea had been dropped long before production began.
Multiple animals were killed during production of Cannibal Holocaust
Cannibal Holocaust was immediately banned in Italy upon the film’s 1980 release, with censors citing its depictions of animal cruelty. At least six animals were slaughtered onscreen, including a boa constrictor, a squirrel monkey and a pig. An arrau turtle was also brutally butchered in a scene that greatly upset many members of the cast and crew.
Annabelle’s director was seemingly haunted by the doll
There are numerous reports of spooky goings-on during production of 2014’s Annabelle, but one of the most unsettling examples was witnessed by director John R. Leonetti. According to Leonetti, on more than one occasion he spotted “three fingers drawn through dust” on set, which, considering the film’s titular haunted doll has three fingers, understandably rattled him.
A serial killer played an extra in The Exorcist
One of the most disturbing scenes in The Exorcist involves a realistic depiction of a carotid angiography. The scene features a real medical professional, Paul Bateson, who was later convicted of the murder of a journalist. Bateson is also suspected of being responsible for a string of murders known as the “bag killings,” which inspired Exorcist director William Friedkin’s later movie Cruising.
A murder victim might have been an extra in Jaws
In 1974, a murder victim was found buried in the Race Point Dunes in Provincetown, Massachusetts. It is believed that the victim – later identified as Ruth Marie Terry – may have been an extra in Jaws, which was filmed nearby. The clothes Terry was wearing when she was discovered seem to match an extra in the background of one of the movie’s beach scenes.
The star of Toad Road overdosed
2012’s indie-horror Toad Road tells the story of a young college student who becomes addicted to drugs and begins seeking a mythical road to Hell. In a tragic case of life imitating art, Sara Anne Jones, who starred in the film, became addicted to heroin during production and fatally overdosed just after the movie’s premiere.
The author of Poltergeist’s novelisation experienced supernatural phenomena on the set
Writer James Kahn was commissioned by Steven Spielberg to write a promotional tie-in novel to be released alongside the Poltergeist movie. Kahn later revealed that, while working in Spielberg’s office on set, he was writing the word ‘thunder’ when a real thunderclap sounded, the lights flickered and the back of an air-conditioning unit flew off and struck him.
A zookeeper was killed the day after working on The Omen
The Omen is infamous for the number of tragedies associated with its production, leading many to believe the film is cursed. One such example comes in the form of a zookeeper who was brought in to assist with some baboons in the movie’s safari park sequence. The very next day after working on the film, the zookeeper was eaten alive by a lion.
A piano bench kept moving on the set of Annabelle
There were so many seemingly paranormal events during production of Annabelle that the cast and crew were almost used to them by the end. One of the most common occurrences was a piano bench that repeatedly moved overnight, despite the fact that it was inside a locked set which no one had access to.
An actor woke with strange bruises while filming The Conjuring
While working on The Conjuring, then-child actor Joey King began waking up mysteriously covered in bruises. This was made all the more unsettling by the fact that her character in the film experiences exactly the same phenomenon. King was evaluated by a doctor, who determined that she had inexplicably developed a rare – but fortunately treatable – blood disorder.
A buzzer kept sounding in an empty room on the set of Lords of Salem
If you decide to shoot a horror move in a location that has a reputation for being haunted, you’re asking for trouble. While filming in the Linda Vista Community Hospital – a well-known paranormal hotspot – members of the cast and crew of Lords of Salem kept hearing a buzzer coming from a room, only to discover that there were no patients in it.
Thriller: A Cruel Picture featured a real eyeball being cut
1973’s Thriller: A Cruel Picture, tells the story of a girl forced into prostitution who eventually snaps and begins brutally murdering her abusers. The movie’s most uncomfortable scene involves an eye being cut out with a scalpel, and director Bo Arne Vibenius brought in a real human eyeball which he’d liberated from a cadaver. This led the cast to suspect Vibenius was unhinged.
The death of Elisa Lam mirrored Dark Water
In 2005’s Dark Water, a woman’s body is found in a water tank after brown water starts coming out of faucets. This eerily foreshadowed the death of Eliza Lam in 2013. Lam drowned in the water tank on a hotel roof, and her body was discovered after guests complained their water was coming out brown. Some also believe Lam was seeing ghosts before her death.
A plane crashed during filming of The Omen
Amongst all the freak accidents that marred production of The Omen, one stands out for sheer scale of tragedy. While travelling between filming locations, a number of crew members opted to take a private plane. Shortly after takeoff, the plane crashed into a road, hitting a car which, in turn, hit another car. In total, 11 people lost their lives in the incident.
A scripted earthquake in New Nightmare was replaced by a real one
The seventh instalment in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare features a scene early on that depicts a woman waking up to an earthquake. Around the time they were due to film the scene, an earthquake hit for real, with footage from the disaster – which claimed 57 lives – making it into the movie.
Dario Argento contracted hepatitis while filming Inferno
While working on 1980’s Inferno – a movie about a man who unwittingly enters a witch’s den while searching for his missing sister – director Dario Argento contracted a severe case of hepatitis. He was severely ill throughout much of production, and at some points in so much pain that he had to lie on his back while directing.