March 1, 2024 | Sarah Ng

The Most Cursed Film In Hollywood History


A Cursed Production

1976's The Omen has gone down as one of the most disturbing horror films—but due to the strange and tragic behind-the-scenes stories, many believe that it was a cursed endeavor from the very beginning.

The-Omen-Msn

The Surprising Origin Story

The Omen has a rather surprising origin story. It was not the brainchild of a Hollywood director or screenwriter. Instead, Robert Munger—a born-again Christian and advertising executive—came up with the chilling tale of the antichrist, Damien.

Harvey Stephens as  Damien in The OmenTwentieth Century, The Omen (1976)

A Winning Pitch

As a religious man, Munger relished in the biblical layers of the story—but on the other hand, he was also a businessman, who knew the plot had real commercial appeal. Hollywood agreed with him.

Gregory Peck- Robert Thorn in the Omen Twentieth Century, The Omen (1976)

He Got His Foot In The Door

Producer Harvey Bernhard truly believed in Munger's pitch. After all, Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist had been massive hits. But when Bernhard began plans to start the project, Munger had a shocking reaction.

Linda Blair in The Exorcist 1973 in full makeup and Max von SydowWarner Bros., The Exorcist (1973)

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The Creator Gave A Chilling Warning

In an unforeseen twist, Munger switched his tune and began warning Hollywood not to produce this film. He believed that it would only cause deep suffering. 

Hollywood Sign In Los AngelesClementp.fr, CC BY-SA 4.0 , Wikimedia Commons

Making The Invisible Visible 

Munger reportedly said: "If the devil’s greatest single weapon is to be invisible and you’re going to do something which is going to take away his invisibility to millions of people, he’s not going to want that to happen".

Gregory Peck- Robert Thorn in the OmenTwentieth Century, The Omen (1976)

The Producer Would Live To Regret It

Of course, Harvey Bernhard did not heed Robert Munger's words of caution. He went ahead with The Omen—but it wasn't long before dark incidents, and even tragedies, began to plague the production.

Harvey Stephens as  Damien in The OmenTwentieth Century, The Omen (1976)

Gregory Peck Lost His Son

Right out of the gates, tragedy rocked the world of The Omen's lead actor, the distinguished Gregory Peck. Peck had only recently signed on to the film when his son Jonathan met a horrifying end.

Gregory Peck- Robert Thorn in the OmenTwentieth Century, The Omen (1976)

The First Real Omen

In the summer of 1975, Gregory Peck's son took his own life. Undoubtedly still drowning in grief, the actor began working on The Omen. Sadly, this loss was also the first real omen in a string of unfortunate events.

Gregory Peck- Robert Thorn in the OmenTwentieth Century, The Omen (1976)

Attack Of The Baboons

In one memorable scene, the actress Lee Remick—who plays the role of Damien's mother—is in a car with her infernal child. The car gets swarmed by baboons, and in response, Remick begins screaming her head off. Director Richard Donner later revealed that Remick's fear was 100% real.

 baboonsTwentieth Century, The Omen (1976)

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Too Close For Comfort

You see, in order to make the baboons angry, a real baboon was placed in the car with Remick. The aggressive reaction of the baboons terrified Remick. But sadly, there was an even darker chapter of this baboon saga.

Lee Remick- Katherine ThornTwentieth Century, The Omen (1976)

The Trainer's Demise

In the end, it wasn't Remick who paid the ultimate price—its was the baboons' trainer. According to the producer Harvey Bernhard, the trainer passed the day after filming the baboon scene. A tiger "grabbed him by the head" and he lost his life instantly.

Unfortunately, the production's bad luck with animals didn't stop there.

baboonsTwentieth Century, The Omen (1976)

Who Let The Dogs Out

The Omen has yet another scene with animals—one where a group of ferocious dogs chases Gregory Peck's character through a cemetery. However, a stuntman was hired to stand in for Peck, which turned out to be very good idea.

Gregory Peck- Robert Thorn in the OmenTwentieth Century, The Omen (1976)

Unexplainable Behavior

The Rottweilers used for the scene were well trained, and the stuntman wore extensive protective gear. Still, the entire scene went terribly awry. Once the dogs were let loose, their behavior changed in a chilling way.

Gregory Peck- Robert Thorn in the OmenTwentieth Century, The Omen (1976)

The Dogs Were Out Of Control

In an unexpected twist, the dogs began truly bombarding the stuntman. They were so aggressive and out of control that they ripped through the stuntman's padding. Even the trainer couldn't control them. It was a close call, but thankfully, the stuntman made it out alive.

the omen rottweiler sceneTwentieth Century, The Omen (1976)

Lightning Struck Gregory Peck's Plane

Then there was the lightning. In October 1965, Gregory Peck was on his way to London when lightning struck his plane. It was a pretty dire situation as the lightning caused one of the engines to catch fire. 

Gregory Peck- Robert Thorn in the OmenTwentieth Century, The Omen (1976)

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Lightning Became A Curse

Only weeks later, the film's producer Mace Neufeld's had a similar experience: His plane was struck by lightning. He even shared, "It was the roughest five minutes I've ever had on an airliner". Two lightning strikes was already pretty unnerving, but then it happened a third time.

Mace Neufeld in suitKathy Hutchins, Shutterstock

It Just Kept Coming

Screenwriter David Seltzer was the third member of The Omen production have his plane struck by lightning. A pattern seemed to be emerging, making it seem like there was indeed a real curse.

David SeltzerDamon D'Amato, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Four Close Calls

Somehow, there was one more close call with lightning. While working in Rome, producer Harvey Bernard almost got hit with lightning as well.

Cessna plane under the rain.Spotting973, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

The Producer's Hotel Became A Target

The curse continued to deal out damage when producer Mace Neufeld and his wife experienced a very scary incident in London. The IRA blew up the Hilton hotel where they'd been staying. 

London Hilton BombingKeystone, Getty Images

They Dodged A Fatal Situation

Thankfully, Neufeld and his wife weren't at the hotel at the time, but only days later, another dangerous explosion occurred. Neufeld, Gregory Peck, and some other producers were on their way to a restaurant—but before the could arrive, the IRA targeted it.

Gregory Peck- Robert Thorn in the OmenTwentieth Century, The Omen (1976)

Booking A Cursed Plane

Even the aerial shots for The Omen have a freaky backstory. Reportedly, the crew booked a plane—but before they could use it, the company allowed a different group to use it first. 

Gregory Peck- Robert Thorn and Lee Remick- Katherine Thorn in The OmenTwentieth Century, The Omen (1976)

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A Lucky Change Of Plans

Some sources claim that Chinese businessmen made a higher offer on the plane and got first dibs. Therefore the filming crew had to wait for the plane. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Gregory Peck- Robert Thorn and Lee Remick- Katherine Thorn in The OmenTwentieth Century, The Omen (1976)

A Brutal Plane Crash

The plane The Omen crew had planned to use ended up crashing. Upon takeoff, the plane collided with a flock of birds. It also ran through a fence and smashed into a car. Sadly, there were many fatalities—but with the number of different stories about this incident, it's hard to pinpoint the exact number.

Plane CrashZoda.gov.ua, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

The Curse Had Legs

A stuntman named Alf Joint experienced The Omen curse firsthand. After finishing his work on the horror film, he joined the crew for A Bridge Too Far. During one scene, he had to make a risky jump off a building, but had the security of a cushioned landing. The stunt went terribly wrong.

Gregory Peck- Robert Thorn in the OmenTwentieth Century, The Omen (1976)

A Stunt Gone Wrong

Alf Joint had done this particular stunt in the past, but for some reason he jumped in an odd way and missed the airbag below. Horrifyingly, he fell on the hard ground.

Gregory Peck- Robert Thorn in the OmenTwentieth Century, The Omen (1976)

He Was Pushed

Suffering from serious injuries, Joint had to be taken to the hospital. It was only when he returned to consciousness that a chilling detail about his fall came out. He claimed to have been pushed. But he wasn't the only crew member to meet with tragedy.

Gregory Peck- Robert Thorn in the OmenTwentieth Century, The Omen (1976)

An Unspeakable Accident

John Richardson had worked on The Omen's special effects. He too joined the team for A Bridge Too Far. His wife Liz Moore also worked in special effects as a sculptress. While in Holland, the couple had an unspeakable accident.

Gregory Peck- Robert Thorn in the OmenTwentieth Century, The Omen (1976)

He Lost His Wife

One fateful night, Richardson and Moore experienced a head-on collison while driving down the road. Richardson survived, but one of the front wheels came through the floor of the car and took Moore's head off.

Rocks on road road car accident.Schuyler Erle, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Her Demise Mirrored His Design

In the wake of this awful accident, Richardson made an eery observation. His wife's demise oddly mirrored a scene he'd help create for The Omen. Somehow, that wasn't even the craziest part.

The Omen movie Twentieth Century, The Omen (1976)

The Town Of Ommen

Reportedly, Richardson also saw a sign close to the car crash. It was for the town of Ommen, which just happened to be 66.6 kilometers away. 

Old Cityhall OmmenRichard Broekhuijzen, CC BY-SA 3.0 , Wikimedia Commons

Too Many Coincidences

The promotional strategy for The Omen eerily mirrors the chilling, behind-the-scenes curse. Director Richard Donner wanted the film to have a more suspensful feel than the average horror film—a string of unsettling coincidences leading to a jaw-dropping ending. Sound familiar?

The OmenTwentieth Century, The Omen (1976)

The Unsettling Advertisements

Even the film's tag lines were oddly aligned with what was happening off screen: "Remember... you have been warned" and "Good Morning. You are one day closer to the end of the world".

The Omen Twentieth Century, The Omen (1976)

A Haunted Cathedral

The Omen was such a disturbing film that it tainted some of it's real-life sets like the Guildford cathedral. Apparently, the priests struggled with attendance numbers after the film came out.

Guildford cathedralJackPeasePhotography, Flickr

A Terrified Congregation

The congregation was so affected by the film that many were too scared to attend service. But that wasn't all. Decades later, the Guildford cathedral became the setting of a real-life horror story.

The OmenTwentieth Century, The Omen (1976)

A Day Of Judgment

A dangerous man was found on the cathedral's grounds in 2008. The authorities became involved. Helicopters were necessary—and the man was taken down on the steps (the same steps that are seen in the film).

Guildford cathedral Trevor Littlewood, CC BY-SA 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Even The Remake Was Cursed

In spite of all of the rumors about 1976's The Omen, Hollywood wanted to squeeze the film's success for all it's worth. In 2006, they decided to remake it. Oddly enough, even this production had some bizarre moments to report.

The Omen (2006) trailerTwentieth Century, The Omen (2006)

A Chilling Poker Hand

Reportedly, the actor playing Father Brennan, Pete Postlethwaite, experienced a terrible tragedy during filming. Apparently, his brother met his unexpected end after playing a poker game. Chillingly, he'd drawn three sixes.

The Omen (2006)Twentieth Century, The Omen (2006)

Lost Film

The remake also mysteriously lost 13,500 feet of film. This particular scene was of Liev Scheiber discovering his evil son's birthmark. It got completely wrecked in the lab.

The Omen (2006)Twentieth Century, The Omen (2006)

The Child Actor Disappeared From Hollywood

The young actor who played Damien, Harvey Stephens, practically disappeared from Hollywood after making The Omen. He had one more role in a made-for-television film, and had a brief cameo in the remake.

Harvey Stephens as  Damien in The Omen Twentieth Century, The Omen (1976)

He Was Impossible To Contact

Apparently, Stephens was also incredibly difficult to contact. A producer working on a documentary about The Omen even hired a private investigator to try to bring him in for an interview to no avail.

Harvey Stephens as  Damien in The OmenTwentieth Century, The Omen (1976)

 



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