“Cursed Films” Now Available on Blu-ray in the UK! Purchase at Amazon.com By Click the Cover Below.
What do “Poltergeist,” “The Omen,” “The Exorcist,” “Twilight Zone: The Movie,” and “The Crow” all have in common? They’re just not successful horror-thrillers with extraordinary actors and directors, they’re also tagged as some of the worst cursed movies of our time. Severe ailments, planes struck by lightning, bombings at previously booked restaurants, egregious injuries, and even death, lots of death, have surmised belief that the otherworldly powers or the omnipotent universe has waged warnings and, if gone ignored, has blown the kiss of the death. For years, these films held power of people because of a string of unfortunate incidences that link back to rumors that possibly incite mystical retribution for using real corpses, telling stories about the birth of the antichrist, and even family lineage curses by ancient Chinese spirits. There’s no shortage of superstition in the world, a country practically built on the idea of a martyred Jesus rising from the grave, and Hollywood is no exception that the bad things that happen in life will always course people to find a reasonable explanation even if that explanation is an untenable supernatural one.
When we think of curses as a whole, we’re generally point and look to the obvious occult brewing with black magic of vindictive witches, ancient incantations to evoke demonic bidding, Gypsy ill-wills that have lycanthropy teeth, or ominous warnings inscribed by long-ago Egyptian priests keep mummified remains from being marauded by intruders. These hexes and jinxes are storylines popular in movie culture since the beginning of the first movie pictures, used to entertain, excite, and thrill to the furthest extent of the means. Who would have known there is a reality bound, darker side to the curse mythos that has been insidiously rooted in the illustrious and dream making film industry? Cursed films have been the talk of Tinsel town, ambulance chasing tabloids, and the short-lived internet fandom for years, decades now even, surrounding the mysterious misfortunes of certain films. The Shudder 5-episode docuseries, “Cursed Films,” goes into the weeds with retrospective interviews from cast, crew, religious experts and even mavens of black magic and witchery. Jay Cheel wrote, directed, and edited the series removes the characters from the story and focuses on building the humanity of the affected, dives into possible reasons for the film or individuals involved to be cursed, and the unfortunate outcomes that have resulted in the loss of life surrounding the project. Muse Entertainment Enterprise, one of the companies behind CBS hit U.S. comedy “Ghosts,” serves as the production company behind the 2020 released Shudder exclusive series.
With any documentary, the cast are plucked right out of history, fast-forward into the present, to tell their firsthand account of events. Directors, producers, special effects and makeup specialists, and those beyond the realm of the film industry recollect and provide their own interpretation of a beleaguered saga with an interviewer, assumed to be “Cursed Films'” writer-director Jay Cheel, posing the questions to get open access to the inner thoughts of the grieved and impressed to give in full detail their wholehearted accounts. Cheel is able to nab different perspectives that play into the divisive nature of the whole cursed narrative, such as with those, mostly cast and crew, who don’t invest into the transcendental nonsense that has sense become either a minor or major stain on their careers. Others see the unexplainable coincidences to be godsent and beneficial to the production. For example, “The Omen’s” star Gregory Peck’s plane and producer Mace Neufeld’s plane were both struck by lightning in route to the London set only a few days apart. Neither plane sustained life-threatening damage and, thus, strokes of good luck and fortune seemed to be attached to the project along with other instances of death and destruction that averted harm from those involved with the film. Still, many still feel “The Omen” is a cursed film, mostly on the internet horror communities where conspiracies, misinformation, and false narratives run rampant like COVID in the early years. Often when Cheel obtains the perspective a black magician or a witch, Cheel’s attempting to gain not only an understanding of that world from real world practitioners but also to embellish a great melodrama into the episodes. Then, there’s the emotionally poignant Richard Sawyer segment. As the production designer on John Landis’s “Twilight Zone: the Movie,” Sawyer saw firsthand the tragedy that befell one of the film’s segment stories. Lead actor Vic Morrow (“Humanoids of the Deep,” “1990: The Bronx Warriors”) was cut down, along with two children, during a scene with a helicopter that went terribly wrong, and Sawyer’s account is powerfully traumatizing and great representation of how this series should be affect and chill viewers to the heart and to the bone.
“Cursed Films” reveals the terrible mishaps and misfortunes of limelight. If a private person is dies due to illness, accident, or foul play, there’s usually not a major production made out of the occurrence and no grand, “Final Destination” design beyond our understanding is erected to give it all meaning. Under the public eye and recorded by every entertainment medium known to mankind at the time of filming presents public scrutiny, public panic, and public speculation that plots points and charts graphs toward a giant, flashing sign that says, in big bold letters, CURSED! To any given horror fan, much of Jay Cheel’s docuseries is already common knowledge for the most part with the fresh and emphatic take from at the scene interviewees who add compassion and empathy as a shield against those who still think the sweet-faced Heather O’Rourke was doomed by some malison brought to fruition by India-removed skeletons. To the non-horror fan, much of Jay Cheel’s docuseries will have that new car smell and can be engrossed by Cheel’s spin of oppositions that never lay claim to either side as truth but only further what Zelda Rubenstein and Richard Sawyer tried to dispel with reason and tangible accounts is that there is some underlying curse reaching up and grabbing the throats of these films to point of choking the very goodness out of the cast and crew’s souls and only provide morbid curiosity to those seeking out the works stuck in a perpetual cycle of occultism.
Become reeled in by the notorious historical compendiums of “Cursed Films” in the first season that aired in 2020 and is now finally on Blu-ray home video in the UK from Acorn Media International. Though listed as a PAL release, the AVC encoded Blu-ray is presented in a 2.39:1 aspect ratio and is in 1080p, high-definition resolution, so a PAL encoding description would be inaccurate for a HD release. Image quality varies between the clean digital recordings with the interviews in interiors and exterior settings, polished transfers snipped from your favorite classic (and “cursed”) movies, and the raw, unpolished frames or clips that were cut from the film or remained as behind-the-scenes supplemental. All-in-all, picture quality is fine and clear in any regard with no issues of compression on the various mediums. The English language DTS-HD 5.1 surround sound stakes prominences on the dialogue for this is a docuseries reliant on firsthand accounts. Some historical footage can be staticky and flat but fits into the documentary design that pulls clip examples from the archives. “Cursed Films” isn’t going to be actioned packed or atmospheric but the composing duo of “Kicking Blood,” Justin Small and Ohad Benchetrit, offer an engaging soundtrack that could tell the story without the interviewee’s tale of sadness, mysticism, etc. English subtitles are available. For each episode a director’s audio commentary is available as a special feature. The physical feature comes in a slightly thicker Blu-ray snapper with the cover art, which is the same as the U.S. RLJE release, of an unspooling film reel displaying iconic tokens from each movie. The 141-minute and region B playback release houses the film’s certified 15 rating for strong horror, strong language, strong injury detail, sex references, domestic abuse, suicide, and bloody images. Whether you believe in curses or not, “Cursed Films” is a peradventure that’s powerful and uncanny to this very day that’ll have you straddling the fence of labeled condemned films.