Here is an article taken from The Sunday Herald website:
It sounds like the pitch for a movie but, while film is at the heart of it, this story is very real indeed. The place is Holland, the year 1976, the date August 13 – a Friday, as bad luck would have it. The man is designer John Richardson, currently working on Richard Attenborough’s second world war epic, A Bridge Too Far, but most recently employed as special effects consultant on supernatural chiller The Omen. The woman is Liz Moore, his assistant. In a few moments she’ll be dead, cut in half when the car’s front wheel slices through the chassis and into the passenger seat. Richardson will survive to tell the tale – and quite a story it is too.
Less than a year earlier, he had masterminded the parade of gruesome deaths which had made The Omen a box office smash, among them the decapitation of a photographer played by David Warner. And, like everyone else who had worked on the film – including stars Gregory Peck and Lee Remick – he was well aware of the whispers and rumours which had surrounded its filming. There had been talk of a hex, a curse, a hoodoo.
Did he believe it? Not then, perhaps. But as he came to in the minutes after the crash, he saw something that must have chilled him to the bone: his passenger, dead from injuries which bore an uncanny resemblance to the ones he had prepared for Warner. And a road sign marking the distance to an otherwise insignificant Dutch town. It read: Ommen, 66.6 km.
Today, Richardson is sanguine about his experience. Others are less inclined to forget theirs. Producer Harvey Bernhard, well aware of the Hollywood gossip that had The Omen lined up as the latest in a long line of cursed films, started wearing a cross on set. “I wasn’t about to take any chances,” he says 30 years later. “The devil was at work and he didn’t want that film made. We were dealing in areas we didn’t know about and later on in the picture it got worse, worse and worse.”
Bob Munger, the man who came up with the idea for the film, had misgivings even before production started. “I warned Harvey at the time. I said, ‘If you make this movie you’re going to have some problems. 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’.”
He was right to be worried. In June 1975, just two months before filming was due to begin, Gregory Peck’s son had killed himself with a bullet to the head. The actor set off for London in September in a sombre mood which wasn’t much soothed when his plane was hit by lightning high above the Atlantic. A few weeks later, executive producer Mace Neufeld also left Los Angeles. You think lightning doesn’t strike twice? It does in this story. “It was the roughest five minutes I’ve ever had on an airliner,” says Neufeld. The curse of The Omen had begun.
There was much more to come. The hotel in which Neufeld and his wife were staying was bombed by the IRA. So, too, was a restaurant where the executives and actors, including Peck, were expected for dinner on November 12. A plane they had been due to hire for aerial filming was switched to another client at the last minute and crashed on take-off, killing all on board. A tiger handler died in a freak accident.
Even when filming finished, the curse seemed to follow the actors and technicians to different projects. Richardson we know about, but the story of stuntman Alf Joint is almost as chilling. He too went to work on A Bridge Too Far, but was badly injured and hospitalised when a stunt went wrong. He only had to jump from a roof on to an airbag, an average day’s work for someone like him. But this time, something odd happened. He appeared to fall suddenly and awkwardly. When he woke up in hospital, he told friends he felt like he had been pushed.
These and other stories surrounding The Omen have now been collected for a Channel 4 documentary, The Curse Of The Omen. Producer Alan Tyler admits that he was as sceptical as anyone else when researching the project, but says he was gradually convinced by the facts.
“What we were really shocked by is that, while there are some aspects of it where you can say, ‘I don’t really buy that’, the further into it you go, the more you’re not sure. So we went from being quite cynical to at least having doubts.”
Tyler and his team interviewed Bernhard, Neufeld and Munger as well as director Richard Donner, actor Billie Whitelaw and Richardson himself. Harvey Stevens, the young English boy who played the demonic Damien, will not speak about the hex, and Gregory Peck never went on record about it.
But, says Tyler, “The crew that we spoke to had a sense that everyone involved in the production was freaked out to some extent. They all felt that something wasn’t quite right and that included the cast. These were seasoned professionals – they had seen a lot of productions and doubtless a lot of production accidents. Yet they themselves pick this film, more than any other, as having something extraordinary about it.”
Of course, as Tyler’s scepticism demonstrates, stories of cursed films have been around almost as long as there have been publicists to make them up. What better way to market a film than mention a curse associated with it? What better way to boost longevity, especially in the age of the internet, where conspiracies and cults grow like digital lichen?
And, of course, where curses are concerned, we’re all willing participants. “People really want to believe,” says Adele Hartley, director of Dead By Dawn, Scotland’s international horror film festival. “Everyone feels a little guilty about toying with the supernatural, they think maybe we are opening some doors we shouldn’t, so it’s very tantalising. I’m almost a believer.”
From: The Sunday Herald Website
So, what do you people think? Was the production and its casts cursed by Satan and 666, 'the mark of the beast'?