SXSW 2020 REVIEW: Cursed Films Season 1 – All 5 Episodes Rated and Reviewed

Cursed Films is one of the 39 SXSW 2020 Film offerings that can be watched for FREE over the 10 day virtual festival from April 27-May 6, 2020 at Amazon Prime Video.

This can also be watched as part of the Shudder subscription (see: Shudder Promo Codes FREE 30 Day Subscription (LIMITED TIME ONLY!) – Watch The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs Season 2).

This is a five episode documentary with each approximately 30 minute episode covering curses around a different movie. Three of the five are horror movies, one is an action film and the final one is the Twilight Zone film. I was familiar with alleged curses surrounding two of the films, but not the other three. A review of each episode is below.

Episode 1 – The Exorcist ⭐️⭐️⭐️½
Air date: April 2, 2020
Run time: 29 minutes

A number of people related to those working in and around the film died at the time it was being made, leaving some to believe the film itself was cursed. Linda Blair talks about how the scene where she’s thrown about on the bed, there was a failure in the protective suit that caused her back to be fractured. Were these deaths just coincidental or related to the film being cursed?

A priest was brought in to bless the set during part of the filming.

Verdict: Not cursed. Not sure I believe there was any kind of curse on this film — no more than I believe what happened in the film was anything more than entertainment — but there were certainly some weird and unusual coincidences.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️½

Episode 2 – The Omen ⭐️⭐️
Air date: April 9, 2020
Run time: 27 minutes

Satan’s greatest trick was to keep himself invisible, but this movie makes the antichrist into a child. During the filming those making the film were told that the devil would do whatever he could to make sure the film wasn’t made. Two planes on the way to filming were hit by lightning. More strange things happening in 1975 when the film was made are discussed, including a bomb set off by the IRA blowing up a restaurant where several were planning to eat.

The animal handler was attacked and killed by a tiger. Tragic, yes, but the work of the devil? Another person associated with the film decapitated 66.6 miles from a town named Ommen. So, they made a film named Omen and someone was near a town called Ommen?

Verdict: Not cursed. Again, coincidences, yes, but demonic interference? No. Will admit some of these coincidences are hard to ignore, but I don’t believe this film was cursed. I mean, if you’re Satan and you want to spread belief in the occult and underworld, why would you care if a movie about the antichrist being manifested in a child bother you? Why do you want or need to be in hiding? God can be everywhere and we can worship him, but Satan doesnt want this popularity? I’m not saying anything about the religious implications here, but it doesn’t fit logic.

Of the five episodes, this was the weakest to me.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️

Episode 3 – Poltergeist ⭐️⭐️½
Air date: April 9, 2020
Run time: 27 minutes

A malfunctioning clown that really choked the boy. The deaths of child actress Heather O’Rourke and Dominique Dunne. Real human skeletons used in the pool scene. Julian Beck, the old man, died of stomach cancer.

Curses do weird things to people, no doubt there. A construction worker who buried an opposing team MLB jersey in Yankee stadium stirred up people so much that they jackhammered the concrete to remove it. I’ll give you this: baseball is littered with superstition.

Verdict: No curse. The two actors that died under odd circumstances very clearly weren’t cursed, one was murdered by a boyfriend, the other a victim of an undiagnosed medical condition. Julian Beck dying of cancer? Cancer and heart disease are still today in 2020 the leading cause of deaths worldwide. That’s not cursed, that’s a highly probable event, unfortunately.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️½

Episode 4 – The Crow ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Air date: April 16, 2020
Run time: 28 minutes

This was my second favorite episode of the series and covers the mystique surrounding legendary martial artist, Bruce Lee. The circumstances around Bruce Lee’s death at such a young age is not a curse. To think his last movie, unfinished, had him being shot by a real gun in a movie and then his son is killed in the same way while filming the movie, The Crow, is at best bizarre and may be indicative of some kind of curse.

Verdict: If there is such a thing as a curse, this is one area I might be able to believe in, especially if another descendant of Lee’s dies as their talent is rising in show business. I mean what are the odds of three people in the same family would die as their star is rising in Hollywood?

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Episode 5 – The Twilight Zone Movie ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Air date: April 16, 2020
Run time: 29 minutes

This is the most publicized tragedy of any of the films. Vic Morrow and two child actors were literally cut into pieces by a helicopter downed in a stunt gone bad. I’d seen the footage on YouTube and it’s explicit and chilling. Morrow is walking across the water carrying two children, explosions going off everywhere and suddenly a helicopter falls on them.

Director Jim Landis was never the same afterwards and everybody working on that set was forever scarred by this horrific event. Was it some kind of Twilight Zone curse?

Verdict: Not a curse, just very, very, very bad judgment by many involved. The courts didn’t find Landis criminally negligent but as a parent and grandparent, I’d have had a hard time not voting to put him behind bars. You don’t put children in that kind of situation, it’s just criminally stupid. Alas, he was judged by his peers and found not guilty. Not a curse, thought, not even close.

This is the best episode for me. It covers enough of the accident to understand what it’s about and it actually shows the footage of the accident. Warning to the squeamish, watching that real death scene will shock and disturb.

Oddly enough, the episode I liked most had the least chance of involving any kind of curse. Not even sure it fits this series, but pretty hard if you’re talking about films that have had bad things happen during their creation this has to be in the top 3.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Summary of Season 1

An entertaining series, but it doesn’t convince me any of the films were cursed. If the overall rating was on support for the title, I’d say it was a failure, but I’m rating on whether or not the first season was entertaining. It was mostly entertaining. The last two episodes were strongest followed by the first episode and then #2 and #3 were less so.

I don’t know if there are enough films to cover to continue making additional seasons with the subject of being cursed as one can argue one of them here has nothing to do with curses (The Twilight Zone movie), but there have been many, many films made, so I’m sure if they go deeper into the horror genre in particular, they can find a wealth of perhaps lesser-known films to explore.

All in all, this is recommended. The total run time of all five episodes are less than several longer films. Just don’t expect to believe that any of these films are truly cursed.

Overall Season 1 rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

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