Some films go down in history for their notoriety, for others, their history is their notoriety. Throughout the years there are movies who have become infamous for more than audience reception. These are films whose productions or legacies were marred by accidents or tragedies, those that have over the years become the ones that people talk about in hushed voices. As the whispers built up momentum, the phrase ‘cursed film’ began to be attributed to certain productions. This concept forms the basis of Shudder’s documentary series, Cursed Films.
Now in its second season on the Shudder platform, season one arrives on Blu-ray this week. The series started with a bang by covering several of the most high-profile films to have been given the label of ‘cursed’. The films covered are The Exorcist, The Omen, Poltergeist, The Crow, and The Twilight Zone: The Movie. Each production is given an episode in the spotlight and features interviews with surviving cast and crew as well as a wealth of industry scholars and film critics.
These five films are a fantastic quintet to start off Cursed Films, with four of them being some of the most familiar in the horror genre. The fifth film, The Crow, slots alongside nicely due, not only to the Gothic appearance of the movie, but the horrible legacy of its on-set tragedy. Of all the films featured, The Crow is also the one that is perhaps most linked to a curse. Outside of the film itself, there is the often talked about Lee family curse that many believe is responsible for, not only the death of The Crow star Brandon Lee, but also his father, famous martial arts actor, Bruce Lee. The episode touches upon this ‘curse’ and when faced with the evidence, one can almost be talked into its validity.
Considering that many of the movies in Cursed Films include the death of one or more of the cast and crew involved, there are moments when the show is hard to watch. Hearing about the demise of the Poltergeist child star, Heather O’Rourke, is particularly gruelling. A life taken at a young age is never easy to hear about, but Cursed Films highlights how the press jumped on her tragedy and twisted it into something it wasn’t. Other episodes are equally melancholy, making Cursed Films an emotional rollercoaster.
The biggest gripe with Cursed Films is that the episodes all come in under the thirty minute mark. With so many incidents to be discussed, some feel rushed in their execution. The issue is one that was fixed ahead of the second series; those episodes are afforded closer to forty-five minutes. Season one though, is a whistle stop tour through each film’s infamy rather than the deep dives they could have been. The lack of episode length means that some of the movies that have a lot of cursed aspects only scratch the surface. They remain an interesting watch for those unaware of the top-line stories; however, for those already with some knowledge, it feels more like a rehash.
A great starting point for those uninitiated into the weird world of Hollywood’s urban myths, Cursed Films is lacking the meat for the more studied. Nonetheless, the choice of movies on the roster will be hard for genre fans to resist, and at only thirty minutes an episode, it makes for the perfect dinner in front of the television entertainment.
More of a starting point for those just dipping their toes into movie urban legends, Cursed Films is a short and succinct overview of some of Hollywood’s most notorious movies.
Cursed Films is out on Blu-ray and digital now.