ByAlisha Grauso, writer at
Editor-at-large here at Movie Pilot. Nerd out with me on Twitter, comrades: @alishagrauso
Alisha Grauso

Movies about cursed objects and demonic possessions seem to be the mainstream horror world's jam lately. As Mugatu would say, "That [Annabelle](movie:1217914), so hot right now." But being haunted by a cursed object, while great for giving you a story that could one day be adapted into a major motion picture, really not-so-great when it comes to...not dying. You know, the important things.

But let's be real. It's so easy to not get yourself cursed. I mean it's Captain Obvious-level stuff we're talking about here. But in case you've never paid attention to any haunted object horror movie ever, here are 6 rookie mistakes to avoid if you don't want to end up cursed.

1.) Don't steal ANYTHING from ancient temples

Pictured: Three dead guys.
Pictured: Three dead guys.

I don't know what sort of demon mojo ancient peoples were working with, but it's pretty clear they were into some next-level crazy shit when it came to protecting themselves and their goods in the afterlife. Pop quiz: How many explorers have found an ancient burial temple, stolen some treasure, and not suffered horrific consequences?

None. The answer is none. Literally not one ever. It's science.

No one likes to have their stuff stolen, and ancient, dead people seem to dislike having their stuff stolen most of all. Just remember that the next time you get a case of itchy fingers.

Real life examples: King Tut's curse, Curse of Talakad, etc.

Hollywood examples: Basically every mummy movie ever

Lesson learned: If you're an explorer and you come across an ancient temple, just turn around and leave that stuff to time and decay. You don't need that ancient ceremonial dagger as much as you need to not die by bugs eating you from the inside out. Seriously, just eBay it.

2.) Don't invite spirits into your life in ANY way

"You can stay, but only if you pay rent..."
"You can stay, but only if you pay rent..."

You know how it is when you have a friend - let's call him Todd - and you casually say one drunken night, "Oh, hey man, if you ever need anything at all, I'm here for you," and that's how you find yourself with an unemployed freeloader living on your couch for three months? Yeah?

Okay, great. Now imagine that same scenario, except replace the freeloader with a vengeful spirit or demonic entity. Because much like with your sketchy friend Todd, you're just asking for trouble if you invite them in to your home. But unlike just telling Todd to start paying rent or get the hell out, evicting a malevolent spirit from your home involves a little less "pay up, bro" and a little more "I'm in need of an old priest and a young priest." See what I'm getting at here?

Real life examples: Bloody Mary game, using a Ouija board, seances

Hollywood examples: "Bloody Mary" episode of [Supernatural](series:200506), the upcoming [Ouija](movie:469746), multiple movies about the Bloody Mary urban legend, Vanessa Ives' entire storyline on [Penny Dreadful](series:817319)

Lesson learned: Hide yo' Ouija boards, hide yo' wives, hide yo'--well, okay, maybe just hide the Ouija boards. Any party game that involves trying to communicate with dead spirits is one you should pass on. Just be happy with Spin the Bottle or 7 Minutes in Heaven. Making out with Todd is infinitely better than being possessed by a demon or having a bloody dead chick trying to kill you.

3.) Don't piss off the lady known as the local witch

"No, no! You're looking, um, lovely today!"
"No, no! You're looking, um, lovely today!"

It never fails. Some arrogant man or woman crosses a seemingly dotty old lady, or some kids start taunting the lonely woman who lives in the ramshackle house at the edge of town, or some townspeople decide to tie the quiet lady who works with herbs to a stake and burn her. Whatever way the story starts, it always ends with the same thing: She curses them, curses their family and future ancestors, curses the town.

Really, how dumb can you be? If there's an eccentric lady who has a reputation around town for being a witch, it doesn't make sense to get on her bad side. all. It's asking for trouble. Just don't do it.

Real life examples: Romanian witches cursing their government, the infamous bad juju of Voodoo practitioners

Hollywood examples: The Blair Witch Project, Stephen King's Thinner, the story of Sleeping Beauty, [The Lords of Salem](movie:671293), [American Horror Story](series:206668): Coven

Lesson learned: Listen, even if she's just really good with plants, it's probably best not to anger the slightly creepy lady in your town. In fact, maybe you should offer to help her across the street, run errands for her, give her a compliment when you pass by. You just never know.

4.) Don't mess with antique dolls

You know what good has come from antique, porcelain dolls randomly appearing in people's lives? NOTHING. Unless they consider possession, death, and their very sanity being destroyed to be positives. I don't know. Some people might be into that.

But for those of us who are rational human beings, it's clear that the unsettling Uncanny Valley feeling we experience around dolls is your brain's way of saying, "RUN, FOOL. This soulless little murder-stain will KILL YOU." Really, look deep into the eyes of the next doll you find, and you'll see nothing there but a psychotic urge to kill and the empty void where a soul never was.

Real life examples: Robert the Doll (the WORST), the real-life basis for Annabelle, New Orleans' Devil Baby dolls of Marie Laveau

Hollywood examples: Child's Play, [Annabelle](movie:1217914), Puppetmaster, Dead Silence, pretty much anything that involves a doll in the plot in any way.

Lesson learned: If it looks like a human and it moves like a human, but isn't actually a human, KILL IT. Kill it with fire. Kill it by drowning it in a vat of holy water. Kill it by having every priest you know perform an exorcism, simultaneously, with a crucifix the size of a couch and then back that up with any voodoo practitioners you know doing whatever it is they do to shut things down. Don't even f*ck around, just straight-up terminate that thing with extreme prejudice the minute it shows up in your life.

5.) Don't fail to do a background check on your new home

Okay, listen. I know it's not exactly a buyer's market out there right now as far as real estate goes, but y'all, we need to talk about the right path and definitely the wrong path to home ownership. The right path is doing your due diligence: Ask your real estate agent any pertinent questions: Are there any foundational problems? What is the neighborhood like? What are the zoning laws? By the way, did the previous owners ever get murdered horrifically, practice black magic, or build their home over an Native American burial ground?

If the answer to the last question is no on all three counts, you're probably safe. Probably. But seriously, how many families could have avoided ending up in a cursed home by simply asking a few simple questions about the previous owners? It takes, like, five minutes, people.

Real life examples: The Amityville haunting, the Smurl haunting, Villisca Ax Murder House, the Borley Rectory

Hollywood examples: The Paranormal Activity series, [The Conjuring](movie:600664), The Woman in Black, House on Haunted Hill, Poltergeist

Lesson learned: Low mortgage rates are temporary, but death is forever. 5 minutes of questions are all it takes to avoid moving in with a once horrifically-murdered person who is now a seriously pissed-off ghost.

6.) Don't read aloud from any ancient book written in a dead language

You know how a few years ago, kanji tattoos were all the rage, and that's how we ended up with a bunch of middle class white college students walking around with Japanese words on themselves, thinking they said things like "butterfly" and "warrior," but they actually said things like "douchecanoe" and "stupid turtle"?

If you don't understand a language, you should probably learn it before you start using it in any way. This ESPECIALLY is true if you ever find yourself in possession of an ancient book, bound by a substance that may or may not be human flesh. Really, what possesses people to just pick a random page and start babbling aloud whatever they find there? The only thing that's ever been summoned is a load of "HELL no."

Real life examples: The Book of the Dead, the Oera Linda book, grimoires, two cursed Book of Shadows that sold for $13,865

Hollywood examples: The Evil Dead trilogy, The Ninth Gate, The Necronomicon, In the Mouth of Madness, Hocus Pocus, [Knights of Badassdom](movie:1058898)

Lesson learned: It's pretty clear by now that ancient people did not screw around when it came to cursing things. And when you have all those spells and curses to throw around, you've gotta write them down somewhere, right? So if you're reading this in 2014 and ever find yourself staring at an old book, the language of which you can't read, do yourself a favor and just quietly put it back where you found it and walk the hell away.


Bottom line: If you find yourself asking at ANY time, "What could possibly go wrong?" don't do the thing you're about to do.


Worst rookie mistake?


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