Thursday, September 27, 2012

Curses! (Foiled Again?)




People love to hear a story about a good curse.  A dark tale passed along resonates with humans and they almost want to believe it, perhaps to mke them feel better about their own situation.  They jump all over it, all it takes is a story.  People will automatically connect any event that is in some way loosely connected with the curse to a series of tragic and horrendous atrocities as a result of said hex.  Maybe it’s because it lets people believe there’s still a little magic left in the world, albeit of the bad voodoo variety.  Some may take comfort in knowing that if there is such darkness lurking out there, there must be a lightness that balances it.  Or maybe for reasons unknown to us some objects are just injected with evil and bound to bring doom to all who encounter it.

Submitted for your approval are a handful of tales about some famous cursed objects:


LITTLE BASTARD

James Dean was killed in a car accident on September 30, 1955 after hitting another car head on in a high speed collision.  The car was a Porsche he named ‘Little Bastard. The car became a thing of paranormal Americana.  It was said to be cursed, and serious accidents seemed to befall a host of people who owned pieces of the car afterward.

The scene of James Dean's fatal crash


 While being to delivered to a later owner, the car mysteriously fell off the wrecker and broke the driver’s legs.  A doctor bought the engine.  The first time he drove with it he was killed in an accident during a race.  The people who bought the tires and the transmission were nearly killed in accidents driving with parts from the car as well.  

Little Bastard was used in road safety campaigns.  While being stored by the state for a public safety exhibit, the warehouse burned to the ground.  The car was not damaged.  Later while being transported from Florida, the car just vanished.  It did not arrive at its destination and has not been located since.

Just before his death, James Dean appeared in a public safety commercial warning teens about the dangers of speeding.  It closed with a close-up on Dean saying, “Remember, the life you save just might be mine.”



THE POLTERGEIST CURSE

Poltergeist was released in 1982.  2 sequels followed it.  Soon after rumors began circulating about a curse attached to the movie.  The stories claimed it had  to do with the fact that actual human skeletons were used as parts of the set.  The story adds to the creepiness of films that caused me to look over my shoulder more than once and maybe even turn on a light a time or two.

The bulk of activities due to the curse relates to deaths of cast members.  While some people like to darken the aesthetic of the curse and tell you everyone in the movies died, that’s not the case.  However 4 of the principal cast members did die a short time after making the films. 

Domminick Dunne, who played the oldest daughter, died in 1982.  She was strangled to death by a jealous ex-boyfriend.  She was 22 years old. 

Julien Beck, who played Preacher Henry Kane, had one of the creepiest looks to him I have ever seen on a person.  He caused me to lose sleep as a child.  I later found out he had that creepy look because he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer before filming Poltergeist, and accepted the eerie role knowing that he wasn’t going to live much longer.  He died in 1982.

Will Sampson’s acting resume included One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest and the Indian who shed a tear in the classic anti-littering commercial.  He played Taylor, a spiritual shaman being who aided the family.  He died of kidney failure and malnutrition in 1987.

On February 1, 1988 Heather o’Rourke, who had starred as Carol Anne, the youngest daughter, passed away.  There is some confusion about the cause of her death because there were so many different diagnosis.  She was initially diagnosed with Crohn’s Diesase, then an acute form of influenza.  She died of septic shock from bacterial toxins in her bloodstream.



Skeptics argue that when you consider the total numbers of actors to appear in the films, this number isn’t statistically significant.  Believers go on to include the reports of several strange happenings on the set.  Crew members walked off and wouldn’t return.  In the scene where Oliver Robbins, playing the son, is attacked by a clown, the prop malfunctioned and was actually choking him.  It had to be removed from the set before he could calm down.  The director didn’t know this was going on and thought Oliver was doing an outstanding performance.

Will Sampson, who actually practiced Native American mysticism, performed a ritual one night to rid the set of its evil spirits.  When screenwriter James Kahn wrote the lines "Lightning ripped open the sky," lightning struck the building he was in and all the arcade games began playing themselves.

Actress Zelda Rubenstein, who played the fantastic psychic Tangina was doing a photo shoot for the movie when she felt a bolt of electricity that stopped her in her place.  When the shots came back a  picture believed to have been taken around that moment showed a strange white misty figure.   Minutes after Rubenstein received a phone call telling her that her mother had passed away.



KING TUT’S CURSE

A famous curse that still holds allure today is that of Tut’s Tomb.  In November of 1922 an expedition led by Howard Carter made what is arguably the biggest discovery in the history of archeology.  Carter made a hole in the seal of the tomb of King Tutankhamun and poked his head inside.  When asked if he could see anything he replied “Yes, wonderful things.”



The dig was funded by George Herbert, the Lord Carnarvon.  While on the site, he was bitten by a mosquito.  He later aggregated the bite and it became infected.  He began suffering a high fever and cold chills.  A doctor was sent for, but he arrived too late.  Lord Carnarvon was already dead.  Some stories add that at the moment of his death all the lights mysteriously went out in Cairo. Some reports include his three-legged dog howling and dropping dead at the moment he died.

Following Carnarvon’s death newspapers soon began running headlines eluding to a curse that was related to the tomb.  Stories varied, having it inscribed on the tomb, its antechamber, and on a stone tablet found inside.  The inscription itself varied, but most versions consisted of something like “Death’s wings will come swiftly for those who disturb the King’s tomb.”

Carter himself seemed to escape the wrath of the curse.  Some argue his curse wasn’t death, but to have to witness those around him falling victim to it.  His pet canary, which was present at the tomb’s opening, was said to have been killed by a cobra. 

Over two dozen men were said to have fallen victim to King Tut’s Curse.  For a complete list, use the following link: King Tut's Curse Victims



THE DYBBUK BOX

A more modern tale of an evil curse is of the haunted item sold on eBay called the Dybbuk Box.  In recent months the auction website has amended its policies to ban the sell of items such as potions, spells, psychic readings, portals to other realms, and haunted objects.  But back in 2001 Kevin Mannis posted for sale a wine cabinet he called the Dibbuk Box.  

The Dybbok Box

 
In a lengthy item description Mannis told the story of buying it at an estate sell.  Afterward he was approached by a young woman, the granddaughter of the woman who had owned it.  She told him about her grandmother having survived the Holocaust, and wishing to be buried with the box.  She had said it contained an evil Jewish spirit called a dybbuk.  Mannis offered to return the item to the family, at which point the young woman became very upset, refusing it back and running away.

A dybbuk is a being in Jewish folklore.  A dybbuk is not a demon, rather the sprit of a deceased person.  They are created to accomplish a goal the person did not accomplish in their life and will not rest until they are done.  These can be good things, such as bringing luck to a business, or malevolent, being used to harm others.  According to tradition, when a person dies, the dybbok box should be buried with them, to symbolize the release of the energy.

He included the story of bringing the box back to his antique furniture shop.  He opened the box and found several peculiar items inside, including locks of bound hair and dried flowers.  He went on an errand, leaving an employee to mind the store.  Alone in the shop, she began to hear glass breaking and thought there was an intruder.  She frantically called Mannis, who lost cell reception.  He raced back to the store to find all the light bulbs in the basement broken.  The employee left and refused to set foot in the store again.

The seller promised to include with the sale sworn affidavits and hospital records documenting the tragedies said to befall everyone who had come into possession of the box.  Mannis gave it to his mother as a birthday gift.  Before leaving the store she suffered a stroke and was left partially paralyzed and unable to speak.  She asked for a pen when Mannis went to visit her in the hospital and wrote “Gift evil.”

Mannis then gave the box to his sister.  She returned it within a week saying the doors wouldn’t stay shut.  His brother and his girlfriend also kept it for short periods, all reporting smelling jasmine and cat urine and having nightmares.  The dreams were all the same, with Mannis having it himself while keeping the box in his home.  In every dream the person would be with someone they knew, and when they looked them in the eyes they would transform into a terrible-looking old hag.  Shadow people were seen by those in possession of the box.

The auction caught attention of the media and the Dybbok Box became something of an internet meme.  One customer bought the box, only to re-sell it on eBay, claiming it caused all the lights in his house to burn out and his hair to fall out.  A skeptic could argue the guy could’ve been cashing in on his investment in the box’s story, but people just love a good tale of darkness and the box continued to be sought after.  Hollywood even caught wind of the story.  Sam Raimi heard about the curse and wrote The Possession, recently released and about a family afflicted by an evil spirit from a box similar to the Dybbuk Box. 

The Dybbok Box’s current owner is Jason Haxton, a museum director.  He wrote a book called “The Dybbuk Box” about the history of the wine cabinet and the strange things that have happened to the people who have owned it.


Mannis’ original eBay description can be found here: Dibbuk Box Story


Coming soon: Curses! (Foiled Again) 2.0 - the sequel

2 comments:

  1. Awesome, Mandy. Very informative and entertaining. Thank you for including the Dybbuk. You have to see the movie. Very enjoyable. I am pretty sure there were a few other things surrounding the Poltergeist trilogy. Seems like I remember hearing about some sort of helicopter crash on the set and a couple of other set-related tragedies. Interesting, to say the least. Heather actually died before the last two scenes were filmed of the 3rd movie, so in the last 2 scenes, you aren't actually seeing her. It's a stand-in...You never see her face in those last two scenes...just the back of her head. Great stuff dear. Keep it coming!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Have you seen the movie yet???

    ReplyDelete