Rumours go that some films have been cursed, for example The Poltergeist, Superman and Rosemary’s Baby. Numerous accidents have been put forward to support claims that these films are jinxed,1 not all of them are equally convincing. Accidents happen all the time so it is questionable to relate accidents to a film, even when several actors of the same film had bad luck. Still, the curse of The Omen stands out. This story includes some personal experiences. So, what about this curse?
A guy named Danny Harkins noted on Cracked.com: “No film in history has had worse luck than The Omen. Hell, nothing in history has had worse luck than The Omen.”2 The Omen was advertised on bill boards with a 666-logo inside the film’s title and uplifting slogans like “You have been warned, if something frightening happens to you today, think about it. It may be The Omen,” as well as the cheery notice “Good morning, you are one day closer to the end of the world,” and a conclusion stating “Remember, you have been warned.”
You have been warned. In The Omen the wife of the American ambassador to Italy gave birth to a son, who died almost immediately. A priest then convinced the ambassador to replace his son with an orphan without telling his wife. Mysterious events soon started to haunt them. The child turned out to be the Antichrist. The Omen was first released on 6 June 1976 (6/6) in order to make it refer to the number 666 as the last digit of 1976 is also a 6. The length of the film is a peculiar 111 minutes.
This made The Omen a good candidate for a hefty curse. Two months before the filming started the son of lead actor Gregory Peck committed suicide. When Peck went to the film set of The Omen his plane was hit by lightning. A few weeks later executive producer Mace Neufeld’s flight was also hit by lightning. Producer Harvey Bernhard was just missed by a lightning bolt in Rome. Later, the hotel Neufeld was staying in was bombed by the IRA.1
An airplane hired by the studio to take aerial shots was switched at the last moment by the airline. The people who took the original airplane were all killed when it crashed on take off. An animal handler who worked on the film set died two weeks after working on the film when he was eaten alive by a large feline. Accounts differ on whether it was a lion or a tiger.1
Stuntman Alf Joint was badly injured and hospitalised when a stunt went wrong on the set on A Bridge Too Far in Arnhem in the Netherlands, less than a year after The Omen was finished. He was almost killed when he jumped off a building and missed the inflatable safety-bags that were meant to cushion his fall. Joint told that he felt that he had been pushed even though there was nobody near him at the time.1 Perhaps most of these accidents weren’t exceptional and perhaps they could be attributed to chance.
But the following should make you notice. On Friday 13 August 1976 special effects consultant John Richardson was driving through the Netherlands with Liz Moore. Both were working on A Bridge Too Far. They became involved in a car accident that killed Liz Moore. She was decapitated in a scene that is said to have been eerily similar to one of the most gruesome scenes Richardson had designed for The Omen. The story goes that the accident happened near a road sign stating a distance of 66.6 kilometres to the town of Ommen, a name very similar to omen. And it happened on a Friday the thirteenth.1
This caught my attention. There are no road signs in the Netherlands giving distances in fractions of kilometres. Only kilometre markers use fractions. Near Raalte is a junction where route N348 to Ommen joins route N35 to Nijverdal. This location currently corresponds with kilometre marker 66.6 on route N348. A road sign stating the direction towards Ommen are near this wacky kilometre marker. I am familiar with the location because I lived in Nijverdal as a child. It appeared that this junction could have been the crash location. And so I came to investigate the curse.
In April 2015 I made an inquiry. A journalist from the local newspaper De Stentor helped me. He did some research and he emailed me on 14 April. He had managed to find a former police officer from the area. According to the police officer, the accident indeed took place near Raalte on route N348, but between Raalte and Deventer. The location he mentioned corresponds with the 60.0 kilometre marker rather exactly. The police officer told the journalist that he still remembered the car crash very well.3
According to the police officer, the accident happened when he was on service. A man and a woman had parked their car on a parking lot alongside route N348. When they drove away in the direction of Deventer, they entered the wrong lane and collided head-on into an oncoming vehicle driven by a resident of Nijverdal. The view there was somewhat limited because of two gentle curves in the road. The police officer noted that there was no road sign mentioning Ommen near the crash site.3
The woman was killed on the spot. The car was completely destroyed and disposed to a fire station. It turned out that the couple were foreigners involved in the production of A Bridge Too Far, the police officer told the newspaper. He suspected that Richardson, who was used to driving on the left side of the road, wasn’t paying attention. The police officer also mentioned that the accident happened during a weekend.3
In a British television programme Richardson said the following: “It was certainly very odd because it happened on Friday the thirteenth,” and “right opposite the point where the accident happened, was an old mile-post with nothing but sixes on it,” and finally “what spooked me even more was when I discovered it was on a road to a place called Ommen.”3 It appears that Richardson has misread the 60.0 kilometre marker and has taken the zeroes for sixes. The numbers may have been worn out if it was an old post.
Based on the current location of the marker and the details given by the police officer, another possible scenario is that Richardson was brought to Raalte or a hospital in Zwolle, and crossed the junction of the N348 with the N35. He may have noticed the 66.6 kilometre marker there and a road sign stating the direction towards Ommen close to it. This may have freaked him out to the point that it became part of the legend of the curse. Recollections of an event that happened decades ago are often not accurate, and this applies to the memories of the police officer as well as Richardson.
Alan Tyler, who made a documentary about the curse of The Omen noticed that odd things happened when he was working on it. The strangest thing was that he had two different camera crews filming on separate locations but that all the footage showed the same fault. It did not seem satanic to him, but it made him wonder. It is at least remarkable that the 66.6 kilometre marker is near a road sign stating the direction to Ommen on the same road that was the scene of the car crash, so that I came to investigate the curse, most notably because of what subsequently happened to me.
When I was compiling my findings after receiving the email from De Stentor, a few curious things happened. Just after reading the email I took a glance at my stock portfolio. Apart from a few mutual funds I owned stocks of three corporations. One of them was Heymans, a constructor. It had a quote of € 13.13. Another position was Macintosh, a retail company. I owned 500 of these and the quote was € 2.626. Hence, the total value was € 1,313. This was strange because the car crash happened on a Friday the thirteenth. Meanwhile Macintosh is bankrupt while Heymans stock went down 60% after the company ran into trouble.
This may seem a bit of a curse already and it suggests poor stock picking skills from my part. But there was more to come. That evening I had an appointment with a contractor who was coming to make a tender for renovating my bathroom. He cancelled the appointment because his van had broken down earlier that day. That’s a bit peculiar because that doesn’t happen quite often. He came from Almelo while I live in Sneek. There are two routes from Almelo to Sneek. The first one is via Nijverdal passing the junction of route N348 with route N35 and the 66.6 kilometre marker. The alternative route is via Ommen.
Another curious finding was that my search for “Ommen 666” in Google produced a link to a website called www.hondentrainingsneek.nl. At first glance this appeared to be a site for dog training in Sneek, but it was a bit fishy. Somehow “Ommen 666” had been inserted into topic titles such as “Dog Training Terry Ommen 66.6km”.4 The texts on the website were incoherent with a few references to Ommen 66.6 in it. This is noteworthy as I currently live in Sneek and previously lived in Nijverdal while my enquiry uncovered that Richardson crashed into the car of a resident of Nijverdal.
A final interesting tidbit is that my wife has a heart condition that made her visit the hospital around the same time I was investigating the curse. The name of the doctor she visited is Oomen, pronounced exactly like omen. She kept on visiting this doctor every few months for years to come.
Featured image: Film poster for The Omen. © 2002 20th Century Fox. [copyright info]
Other image: Route N348 from Arnhem to Ommen. User Michiel1972 (2007). Wikimedia Commons.
1. Curse of The Omen and other Hollywood hexes. Barry Didcock (2012). Scotland Herald. [link]
2. The Insane True Stories Behind 6 Cursed Movies. Danny Harkins (2008). Cracked.com. [link]
2. Email exchange with De Stentor. [link]
3. Curse or coincidence?… ‘Conspiro Media’ re-examines the grisly chain of events connected to those involved in the ’70s horror-flick, ‘The Omen’… Matt Sergiou (2014).
4. Dog training Terry Ommen 66.6km. [link]