by Alyson Duncan
It is always sad when a favorite movie star passes away. Personally, I am not sure that I will ever quite get over the deaths of Alan Rickman or the horror king himself Christopher Lee! However, every so often we get the chance to see our big screen idols in a new movie release even after they have shuffled off of this mortal plane. This is pretty good for fans, but there is also something a little bit disconcerting knowing that the person on screen has recently passed on. This is especially true now that the latest technology allows film makers to complete films using digital trickery when the star dies in the midst of filming! With that in mind let’s take a look at some posthumous movie appearance that may give you a chill.
Bela Lugosi in ‘Plan 9 From Outer Space’
For fans of the original Hammer Horror movies, Bela Lugosi will always be the embodiment of Dracula following his 1931 portrayal of the fanged fiend! Over his long and illustrious career he also appeared as a wide variety of horror movie icons including Ygor in a series of Frankenstein movies and as a number of demonic doctors and mad scientists. It is only fitting that he was shooting horror films until the very end. Shortly before his death, Lugosi’s friend Ed Wood shot some impromptu footage of him in front of Tor Johnson’s house. These small, seemingly inconsequential clips ended up being included in Wood’s ‘Plan 9 From Outer Space’ in 1959 – three years after Lugosi died.
Boris Karloff in ‘Isle of the Snake People’
Another of the original kings of Horror was the incomparable Boris Karloff. Karloff is most often remembered for his portrayal of Frankenstein’s Monster, although he also appeared in a number of other horror (and non-horror) related roles through the years. His final movie appearance was in 1971’s ‘Isle of the Snake People’ – an unfortunate end for the legend since the movie was cheap and poorly produced. It is probably for the best that it didn’t get released until 3 years after Karloff died at the age of 81.
Julian Beck in ‘Poltergeist II: The Other Side’
If you grew up in the eighties, you most likely managed to watch the original Poltergeist movies long before you were of an appropriate age to actually see them! If so, then you were probably haunted by the image of the insanely creepy, gaunt face of Julian Beck as Kane. The evil preacher becomes even more creepy when you realise that Beck’s appearance was due to the fact that he was dying of aggressive stomach cancer! In fact, Beck died having only complete half of his scenes for Poltergeist II and the props team made a number of prosthetic masks to allow other actors to stand in for him and complete the film! Beck is just one in a long line of people connected to the Poltergeist franchise to have met an untimely end.
Heather O’Rourke in ‘Poltergeist III’
As noted, Julian Beck wasn’t the only one of the Poltergeist cast to appear posthumously on screen. Young Heathe O’Rourke (aka Carole Ann) died shortly after completing Poltergeist III at the age of just 12. She suffered a cardiac arrest and septic shock following a misdiagnosed intestinal stenosis linked to her chron’s disease. Several, scenes did have to be re-shot without her before the film’s 1988 release, but she did appear in the bulk of the film.
Brandon Lee in ‘The Crow’
One of the most chilling posthumous horror movie appearances surely has to be that of Brandon Lee in ‘The Crow’, largely because of the fact that Lee was killed on set during filming! On March 31, 1993 Brandon Lee was shot on the set in a tragic accident caused by negligence in the props department. Michael Massee was to shoot Lee, but because the gun was loaded with improperly treated dummy rounds he effectively ended up shooting Lee with a real bullet. This not only left Lee dead, but Massee was traumatized by the incident. The remaining 8 days of filming had to be completed by a stuntman.
Aaliyah in ‘Queen of the Damned’
Although Aaliyah was better known as a singer and songwriter, she did also appear in two movies – Romeo Must Die and Queen of the Damned. The later ended up being released posthumously after the young star’s sudden death in a horrific plane crash. The film was almost complete at the time of Aaliyah’s death, but her brother Rashad Haughton – who had a similar vocal range – was drafted in to dub a few lines that had not yet been recorded.
Heath Ledger in ‘The Dark Knight’
Okay, so it is not a horror movie, but I couldn’t leave out Heath Ledger. The 28 year old was discovered dead in his apartment after an accidental overdose of prescription medications thought to have been related to his insomnia. He had already completed filming on The Dark Knight and Hollywood was buzzing with talk of his stellar performance as The Joker. With a freakish face and bloody scars, Ledger took the iconic character and made it all his own. However, for a time, Warner Bros. considered rethinking their marketing strategy fearing the Joker centric plans might have been in poor taste. However, Ledger’s performance was so genius that they went ahead and the film went on to break many box office records. The performance also won Ledger an Oscar making him the first actor to receive the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor Posthumously.
Alyson Duncan is a freelance writer with a passion for the weird and the wonderful! As an amateur paranormal investigator she spends much of her free time in dark abandoned buildings chasing