Many horror movies carry rumors of curses that hang over the cast and crew. These are often legends passed down through audience members. On Rosemary’s Baby, though, the film’s producer and actor William Castle grew convinced that the movie was cursed. The odd occurrences that happened after filming were enough to convince him that the movie’s events were coming true.
William Castle had an accomplished career in the film industry
Castle was first enamored with film when he saw Dracula with Bela Lugosi. After clocking the audience’s dramatic reaction to the film, he knew what he wanted to do with his life, he said in his aptly named autobiography, Step Right Up! I’m Gonna Scare the Pants off America.
“I knew then what I wanted to do with my life—I wanted to scare the pants off audiences.”
As a director and producer, Castle rose to prominence as one of America’s foremost horror directors. He directed films such as House on Haunted Hill, 13 Ghosts, The Tingler, and I Saw What You Did.
In 1968, he produced Rosemary’s Baby, even though he would have liked to direct the film. He purchased the rights to the novel, but the director hat ultimately went to Roman Polanski. Castle did have a brief role in the film as the man by the payphone, though.
William Castle thought he was cursed after working on the film
Though he was a veteran of the horror genre, Rosemary’s Baby struck a deep well of fear within Castle. Per Vanity Fair, Castle was hospitalized with severe kidney stones in 1969, one year after the film’s release. He allegedly hallucinated scenes from the film while in the hospital, yelling, “Rosemary, for God’s sake, drop the knife!”
After his recovery, Castle would never have a widely successful film again. This bad career luck was not what caused him to believe the film was cursed, though. Instead, it was the series of frightening events that took place while he recovered.
According to TCM, Castle learned that the film’s composer, Krzysztof Komeda, died after a fall, the same way a character in the film died. Later, he heard that the Manson family murdered Polanski’s wife, Sharon Tate.
“The story of Rosemary’s Baby was happening in real life,” he wrote in his autobiography. “Witches, all of them, were casting their spell, and I was becoming one of the principal players.”
Castle inspired Alfred Hitchcock
Castle’s films were often mired in accusations of ripping off the work of the more famous Alfred Hitchcock. While many of Castle’s films do have similarities with Hitchcock’s work, the inspiration went both ways.
According to the British Film Institute, Hitchcock was inspired by House on Haunted Hill. The Castle-directed film was low budget but still a financial success. Therefore, Hitchcock realized that low-budget horror films could find success. He realized that there was an audience for a film like Psycho.
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