The Dark Knight Curse

A Batman beheading? Have people so quickly forgotten a recent tragedy?

Heightened awareness of decapitations has occurred in the last few days due to the incidents in Brazil, Dubai, Greece, and, of course, the bus event in Canada (during the showing of The Legend of Zorro). Also, please note earlier The Mask of Zorro features Zorro’s/Diego’s brother’s beheading. In that Zorro movie, the decapitation is done by a sadistic, psychotic Texian Army Captain named Harrison Love.

There remains no explanation of why the name “Badger” became the code word given to suspect Vincent Li of Edmonton, Alberta, by the law enforcement officers.

Chronologically, it should be mentioned that these news items were proceeded by a Batman-related beheading.

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On Saturday, June 28th, at Six Flags Over Georgia, 17-year-old Asia Leeshawn Ferguson of Springfield, South Carolina, scaled two six-foot fences and passed through restricted areas posted as dangerous to visitors. Ferguson jumped the fences and then was decapitated by the Batman roller coaster. (It should not be lost on people that the victim of the Canadian bus beheading was a young man who told his friends he “loved being a carny.”)

So we come to The Dark Knight.

On August 5, 2008, The Boston Herald reporter Stephen Schaefer asks, “Is The Dark Knight cursed?”

As those watching for the curse of threes have noticed, Heath Ledger has died, Christian Bale has been arrested and now Morgan Freeman has been in a tragic car crash.

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Schaefer writes:

The box-office behemoth, expected to pass the $400 million mark this week, is notorious as being the late Heath Ledger’s last completed movie.

Now Morgan Freeman, the 71-year-old actor who plays Batman’s techie Lucius Fox, is in serious condition following a car accident in Mississippi late Sunday night.

The Oscar-winning actor was driving his wife’s friend Demaris Meyer’s 1997 Nissan Maxima when it rolled off Tallahatchie County Highway 32, flipping over several times. Meyer was treated for minor injuries and released.

Freeman, who was driving to his Charleston home, reportedly suffered broken ribs and was air-lifted to Regional Medical Center in Tennessee.

This tragedy follows assault allegations made last month by the mother and sister of “The Dark Knight” star Christian Bale. The 34-year-old Bale denied the charges. He’ll be back in court next month.

“The Dark Knight” is dedicated to both the 28-year-old Ledger, who died of an accidental overdose last Jan. 22, and Conway Wickliffe, 41, a stunt supervisor who died in a freak accident in London while setting up a car crash.

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As an update, blogger Todd Campbell, after reading the above, has forwarded the following photographs to my attention, from the movie. He has a post on this now.

What do we find these photos have revealed?

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Embedded within the movie (or, at least, certainly in the trailers, as shown in these photos first published by Entertainment Weekly) is the Heath Ledger character, the Joker, using the Joker/Death card as his “business calling card,” as pictured, shown holding a decapitated head. (If factual, the powerful nature of these images only being in the trailer and pre-release publicity photos but not in the actual film is significant. The trailer carries the keys to mass public programming to “sell” the motion picture.)

Schaefer writes that The Dark Knight joins a grim list of “cursed” motion pictures.

The Superman hex struck Christopher Reeve, who shot to fame after starring in the 1978 movie, after he broke his neck in a horse riding accident. Television’s original “Superman,” George Reeves died in an apparent suicide in 1969.

(In June 2007, a teenager’s legs were severed when cables snapped on the Superman Tower of Power ride at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville, Kentucky.)

The 1982 horror classic Poltergeist was haunted by the premature deaths of two of its female stars. Vanity Fair celebrity scribe Dominick Dunne’s daughter Dominique was murdered by her live-in lover soon after the film was finished. And Heather O’Rourke, the film’s child star, died in 1988 at age 12 of cardiopulmonary arrest prompted by Crohn’s disease.

I have written of the “Mothman Death Curse” online and specifically in the August 2004 issue of Fortean Times, with a list of over 80-related deaths, some of surprisingly young people and others of elder members of the crew, cast, and aligned associates of the film.

From Batman to Mothman, whether or not there are curses is not important. The fact that they have become part of popular culture and that there is a dark sense that there may be such things in the modern world, in the end, may be what becomes more significant.

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About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.

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  1. I wonder if there are similar events surrounding other movies such as “titanic”?

  2. Hmmm – what are we to learn from this?

    Could it be that when we participate in, delve into or even witness activities so deeply entwined in the “Dark Side”, that our minds open Links (Hi Tech Term) to energies and phantoms that our mental Firewall (HTT) barriers normally exclude?

    Are our minds, and their collective energies some call The Universal Mind and others call God, capable of manifesting Forbidden Planet’s “Creatures from the Id” at will, or are Lovecraftian forces swirling in the ether, lurking in nefarious anticipation of our banal quests into the barbaric, awaiting our slightest invitation, however innocent, to pounce?

    Do violent books, movies and video games, Ouija planchettes, black candles, capes, garish makeup, terrifying rubber masks and tales filled with all of our normally-subdued emotions really sync (HTT) our realities with Poe’s seductive fantasies filled with death, mass murder, suicide, domestic violence, disease, insanity, fear, drug abuse, rape, war, terrorism and other horror-filled “entertainment”?

    Or are we simply becoming inured to cruelty and pain?

  3. Curse? I think the lifestyle of the actors overshadows their actions and through cause and effect influences the bad outcome. In other words most of them did themselves in through risky behavior, drugs and alcohol, and some, a mind set that they are invincible. The stunt people probably have the most dangerous job on the set even more dangerous than the pyrotechnics. The movies mentioned are not the worst ones at all for stunts gone wrong. Vic Morrow’s helicopter scene comes to mind (in the “Twilight Zone” TV series).

    The Mothman Prophecies curse, however, is just too weird to fathom – so many people associated with that movie have died. Do you know if others associated with The Mothman Prophecies have had close calls but didn’t die? Has the “curse” carried over with the same people to other later films? Interesting.

  4. You know, I had put the possibility of a “curse” out of my mind until I heard about Morgan Freeman. It brought the possibility back.

    And now Christian Bale has apparently “freaked out.” Funny, he had never had a history of aggressive, “violent” behavior before, and now, he’s accused of “assaulting” his mother and sister. Plus, he got into an altercation with a cameraman on the set of Terminator 2 over the way a scene should be shot. In his defense, it should be said that he has denied any actual violence happened and apparently the news media blew it all out of proportion. Actually, it turns out he merely a shoving match was what occurred. Still, it’s concerning.

    Let’s hope nothing unusual happens to Michael Caine, Maggie Gylenhaal, or Aaron Eckhart.

  5. Fascinating pattern here, grisly though some aspects are – like decapitation. The lifestyles of actors and showbiz types may or may not play a very big role in the patterns of events that make people cite these “curses.” In any case, some of them are very long-standing. The original 1976 film The Omen was also supposedly cursed, and there was even a British Documentary film made about that. Do a bit of reading sometime about the well-known Shakespeare play whose “curse” is so firmly established (at least in the lore of stagecraft) that virtually no one in the stage and film world dares to call it by it’s actual title, but instead refer to it as “the Scottish play.” There is a whole system of supersition which has evolved around it, which includes specific rituals to ward off the consequences of accidentally naming it, etc. That “curse” has persisted for over four centuries now, apparently since the play’s debut. In my view, the range of collective human experience is so vast that there are all kinds of dynamics we have yet to perceive, much less understand. “Curses” have been with us for untold eons, and post-Enlightenment science has yet to effectively explain or dismiss them, as far as I am concerned.

  6. I have to agree with NightFlight. Also, less popular stars or normal people might want attention, and they’d get it by associating with the celebrities in their path to get noticed. Like claiming that they’ve had a child with them (the celebrities), or having a rollercoaster relashionship with them.

  7. I believe the world is what you see in it. It is easy to look for “signs” surrounding things like movies and celebrities, but is there something really to it, or is it just our need to see curses and patterns.

    I think, especially:) with a dark movie such as the Dark Knight and it’s dance with a real psychotic, we are drawn to think that there may be something bad associated with it—again, is there a connection with the three actors, or is it just that we see a dark movie that is reallllly good, and maybe have the need to justify our own egos for liking it by finding things to make it seem cursed?

    I know I’m taking all of the fun and superstition out of the moment, but I do not believe there are invisible forces tied to a movie or actor or book or Hope Diamond that can have power enough over us to make bad things happen. That is up to the individual.

  8. I keep an open mind when it comes to curses, but unless Adam West is using voodoo dolls, I just don’t see a reason to believe in one here.

  9. Quote
    “Are our minds, and their collective energies some call The Universal Mind and others call God, capable of manifesting Forbidden Planet’s “Creatures from the Id” at will,…”/Quote

    just after the monster attacked, the captain made an exasperated statement/question:

    “hypnotic illusions don’t tear people apart!?”

    i think the writer of the movie has here included the little known fact? that demonic projection is (usually?) an act of auto-suggestive self-hallucination.

    *****************************

    take for example the book: The Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage.

    in this we appear to be shown a training method of self hypnosis with the object being to create a system of automatic (unconscious) mental reactions.

    the “sorcerer” over a period of 6 months trains his mind to manifest demonic characters which will answer his questions.

    by repetitive training he ends up with an automatic/unconscious response…so he’s bypassed the conscious mind and is getting the subconscious to do the work.

    the process involves drawing upon his own hidden depths of knowledge/memories…and it appears that often these scraps of memories have associated mental/emotional states attached to them which perhaps flavour them as distinct personalities (which are manifested).

    therefore (as you say) projecting id monsters…but you’ll need the great machine if you want them to be able to rip people apart.

    ********************************

  10. So! If, then, what we take in thru our sensory receptors becomes so vile and diabolically evil in the aggregate that our minds cannot tell it from “reality”, do we begin to respond and perform in the same way, brutally smashing our way thru life and lives until society, itself immersed beyond any rational analysis, either begrudgingly tolerates our actions (Hitler/Stalin etc), or reacts violently (Hussein) in fear?

    And how do we thinking Cryptos respond – take away the bloody video games and TV programs and movies and books and all, thus “decapitating” the monster – teach respect and tolerance – emphasize the goodness inherent in each of us – or look the other way?

  11. The Superman curse is pretty famous. I even heard that John F. Kennedy, of all people, was an alleged victim of that one. Why? Because shortly before his death he apparently approved a Superman story that dealt with the president’s physical fitness initiatives.

    Keeping with the theme of movies and car crashes, there was also an alleged curse on James Dean’s porsche. When the wreck was moved, it fell and broke a mechanic’s leg. Then, during a race two physicians were racing in cars that had been fitted with parts from the porsche. One physician died when his car crashed into a tree and another was badly injured when his car flipped over. There have been other accidents linked to the car as well. Funnily enough, the car was known by the nickname “Little Bastard.”

    Coincidence? I think there’s a chance. Lots of people have had accidents and if they were famous enough to take note and one looked hard enough, I’m sure one could find some seemingly mysterious connections of one kind or another. Ceroill summed up my own thoughts pretty well; finding significance and patterns in chaos. If you looks carefully at any tragedy and search for strange connections or circumstances, you will likely find them. At this point, I can’t say that I “believe” or “disbelieve” in curses. They are subjective and unprovable. The stories are certainly interesting to think about and speculate on, though.

  12. If I remember correctly, Mothman was sometimes described as being shaped like a human but headless…

    I also try to be open minded on these things, but to be truely open minded, I think we need to view as much data as possible before allowing all possibilities; maybe a good number of these dark films have been surrounded by trajedy, but how many have not? We can’t truely comprehend the positive space without some comparison with the negative. Sure, I agree these things get a little eerie, but it’s like those photos where you see something that looks like a big bad sasquatch, but without comparable background it could be four inches tall.

    In any case, one of the worst curses I know of, if not the worst, is self destruction. Not just as in suicide, but as a species. Heath Ledger, I believe, was supposed to have killed himself after making himself insane over his act (getting just a little too into the spirit). In trying to be conquerors, humans may find themselves taking on a role they cannot fully control. To have power is one thing, to have control of it is another. Humans tend to be drawn toward the dark, toward the most dramatic and sinister at times. It seems psychologically built in, as we try to conquer our worst fears. It is not manly to admit when you’re scared, so you wish to get ahead of it; it is unfortunate that some take this a little too far and became their own worst fear. Didn’t The Dark Knight have some line about living long enough to become the villain, BTW? Ultimately, I tend to agree with those that say our own fascination with the bizarre can become the cause of it.

  13. The picture of the playing card featuring a beheading is a blatant photoshop job. I just saw the movie again tonight, and in the scene that cap is allegedly taken from, it’s a totally different card.

  14. The Crow had one incident happen so I don’t think it can be considered cursed-apart from having a whole trail of terrible sequels.

    Christian Bale is well known as an ‘intense’ actor-extreme weight loss for The Machinist, retaining an american accent during interviews (he’s british if you didn’t know). From what I’ve read the family thing has been long festering and provoked , IMO.

    Also, given the absolutely huge number of people involved in the making of a movie (ever totalled up the number of credits on a movie?)-and that doesn’t include those involved in other capacities (marketing etc), I am not at all suprised that a number have died over the years since it has been released, especially if you add in their families.

    I can’t buy into the Mothman curse either, sorry.

  15. Just a couple of interesting notes (and one unique connection)…

    1) The Mothman was actually nicknamed after a character which appeared on the orginal Batman television series back during the original Mothman sightings in the 60’s.

    2) Wasn’t a special effects technician killed during the filming of “The Dark Knight”?”?

  16. I would say that all of the “misfortune” surrounding “The Dark Knight”, has more to do with how intense and deep the movie is, than anything else. It obviously enveloped all involved with it, and has now been proven to do the same with audiences as well. All of this intensity culminated in Heath Ledger’s passing, and that simply added to the aforementioned emotions, and has created a domino effect.

  17. OMG I was actually thinking about this idea. That the film has a curse. Maggie Gyllenhal should watch out.

  18. Well, there’s the “Lee curse” as well. Brandon Lee was killed during the making of his last movie “The Crow” when an undetected bullet was in the chamber or barrel (not familiar with firearms) of one of the guns shot at Brandon. His father despite excellent health died as well. It is often called a “family curse”. Families if you know anybody claims to have a family curse as well. For instance, on my mother’s side her 3 sisters and her brother are divorced and the remaining three including herself their husband died. I don’t like to believe its a family curse. To believe it makes you anticapate it therefore “making” it happen.

    Regarding the beheading of the Dark Knight, I went to Six Flags a few months ago in Mass. and I don’t find it the safest place anyways. I um “broke” rides while I was angry at my friends for ditching me, literally, I got angry then they “broke”. Two got stuck (one with them on it and the other while they were in line) and the other was stopped before for tests runs. But the beheading was the guy’s fault, but not the person who’s legs were severed. I refused to ride any of their rides.

  19. there was stunt driver killed in the filming of the dark knight before ledgers death and with the crow film there was many works hurt on set and in the series there was one death i know for sure i don’t know if movies make there luck or if people like to think that some thing bad is going to happen to the point of making it happen