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Mike’s Strange Cinema Cavalcade - CURSED FILMS

cursed films review
Shudder's new series examines movies with a 'cursed' reputation.

Review by Mike Vaughn

cursed films poster

Films hold a very special magic for their audiences, but can also be a breeding ground for myths, legends and maybe even curses? Featuring brand-new interviews, Shudder’s new five-part series explores films with supposed curses that plagued the set, cast and crew. Featuring interesting stories and rare behind the scenes photos, this series takes a deep dive into celluloid lore. (Just a quick note I will be taking about the series as a whole and not episode-by-episode.)

cursed films review

The idea of cursed films has long been a subject that has fascinated me, going back to the late '90s E: True Hollywood Stories episodes that covered both Poltergeist and The Exorcist's curses in great length.

[ READ MORE: Mike's Strange Cinema Cavalcade - The One Missed Call Trilogy (Part One) ]

The five episodes cover The Exorcist, The Omen, Poltergeist, Twilight Zone: The Movie and The Crow. Each episode features cast and/or crew members who talk about the supposed curse, as well as notables like film critics and oddly enough, people who practice the dark arts. There are some really impressive interviewees like Richard Donner on The Omen (1976), as well as some fun bits like film expert and horror hound Sean Clark showing off his screen used Clown-puppet from the original Poltergeist. The interviews are entertaining and very interesting with a nice cross-section from different perspectives regarding the subject matter.

cursed films review

My one complaint is that each episode starts out focusing on the film and its various legends but then drifts off into what feels like filler material. The dark occult parts of the documentaries, while interesting, detract from the behind the scenes material. Having said that, the last two episodes, The Crow and Twilight Zone: The Movie, are by far the most interesting and focused of all five.

[ READ MORE: Mike's Strange Cinema Cavalcade - The Other Lamb ]

I can't help but think that this would have worked much better as a two and a half hour documentary rather than broken up into episodes. This would have made some of the side-line subject matter feel less awkward. I was curious how the show would handle the more sensitive topics inherent to its subject matter and to their credit, Cursed Films handles it incredibly well. Clearly everything is done with a lot of respect, because after all you are dealing with events like the senseless murder of Dominique Dunne and the untimely death of child actor Heather O'Rourke, not to mention the horrible on-set event on Twilight Zone: The Movie. Its very refreshing that the shows take great care to not devalue these tragedies and it never feels like exploitative or tabloid sensationalism.

cursed films review

Overall, Cursed Films is a fun and interesting series, especially to younger viewers that might not know these stories. Shudder has been maturing in their original content and while this series has flaws, I found it entertaining. I think that there are always going to be curiosities in movies like this and the debate will probably last as long as the films' reputations. I would love to see more docu-series like this from Shudder in the future.

Cursed Films is on Shudder now.

Michael Vaughn is a rabid horror and cult fan who turned that love into a career. He is a writer, blogger and film historian and now author of 'The Ultimate Guide to Strange Cinema' which Shock Wave Podcast named their pick of the month, and Chris Alexander of Fangoria called “recommended reading.”

His other credits include Scream Magazine, Fangoria and websites like Films in Review and Bloody Flicks(UK). Please follow his Twitter @StrangeCinema65 and Instagram @gorehound_mike.