Cursed Films, a Shudder Original docuseries from Jay Cheel, has been captivating horror audiences on the platform. Over the last few episodes, the series has dived deep into how notoriously “cursed films” were made, dealt with the circumstances that led people to begin the urban legends, and looked at the human impact these fan-driven curses had on the cast and crew of the productions. The last two episodes of the series are focused on The Crow and Twilight Zone: The Movie, both sets which have had tragedies occur during filming. With this theme, Cheel looks to unpack the complexity of accidents and the weight the crews carry afterward while also showcasing some of the darker sides of filmmaking.
In episode four, Cheel takes viewers into the production history of The Crow and one of the most well-known deaths, that of star Brandon Lee. Before Lee’s death, the filming had an accident and took place during a major weather event, all of which led to “The Curse of The Crow” making headlines. Of course, when Lee was killed because of a prop gun malfunction, this led the tabloids to run stories that not only capitalized on “The Curse of the Crow” but also leaned on orientalist headlines that claimed to uncover a “Lee Family Curse” because of the death of his father Bruce Lee.
One of the things that Crused Films has excelled at is presenting history in stark contrast against the curses that fans have helped perpetuate. In this episode, we get to hear from Lee’s make-up artist who detailed the events of his death, as did the others on set. This episode is also one of the most somber, using polaroids of Lee in his make-up, covered in prop blood for a scene, and using footage. There is something about seeing these elements strung together to tell the story of The Crow that added an emotional depth that the other episodes only skimmed the surface of.
Additionally, while the bulk of the episode is spent talking about Lee’s lost potential, the tragedies that the Lee family had to deal with, and their choice to continue with the film, is also dedicated to stunts. While we get to see the mechanics behind pop rounds and how Lee died, we also get to hear about the union issues and corner-cutting that is reported to have contributed to his death.
This episode hit me harder than any of the previous ones and that’s because The Crow is essential to who I am as a person. It sounds weird but I found the 1990s cult classic when I needed it the most and clung to it. The movie, like the comic book it’s based on, is a story rooted in love, loss, and grief. This fact, that there isn’t a curse, is showcased throughout the episode. Instead, The Crow is a story that exists to help people heal, to help those who have lost loved ones.
Cursed Films remains a thought-provoking study in the films we love to talk about. The films that hold a space in pop culture not just because of their content but because of their lore and the circumstances around them. The Crow is a film that has impacted everything after it, in visuals and adaptive style, and it will remain a classic. To hear the circumstances around the “curse,” the impact of Lee’s death on those who knew him, and what the process of continuing the project illuminated its history. I know more about The Crow and because of that, I appreciate it even more.
Cursed Films is now available in its entirety exclusively on Shudder.
Cursed Films, Episode 4 - The Crow
Cursed Films remains a thought-provoking study in the films we love to talk about. The films that hold a space in pop culture not just because of their content but because of their lore and the circumstances around them. The Crow is a film that has impacted everything after it, in visuals and adaptive style, and it will remain a classic. To hear the circumstances around the “curse,” the impact of Lee’s death on those who knew him, and what the process of continuing the project illuminated its history.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.