Curses are not just for horror films you know. Piggybacking off of the list I posted earlier this week, I’m celebrating the release of the new horror film “Annabelle: Creation” by taking a look at some of the greatest cursed objects in film. On Tuesday I put the focus on Annabelle’s fellow haunted and cursed objects from horror, but today I’m going to look at the best of the rest, cursed objects that are contained in films not officially considered to be part of the horror genre. These are the Top 10 Cursed Objects in Non-Horror Films.
For this list I looked at any objects that can be considered “cursed”, once again using that term loosely and including enchanted items for consideration as well. These are items that contain human spirits or spell consequences for their owners and users and can’t be living things themselves, although they can be inhabited by living things.
These are the greatest items outside of horror that expanded our imagination and created havoc for those who happened upon them. If you don’t see something on this list it might be considered a cursed item so check out the list of the Top Ten Cursed Items in Horror Films here.
As usual leave a comment below with your favorite cursed item and be sure to check out “Annabelle: Creation” in theaters this weekend and look for my review soon.
10. The Board Game, “Jumanji”
We start off the list with a classic among 90s kids. “Jumanji” was not only the name of a popular Robin Williams-led film, but the board game that served as the cursed object in the movie, driving the plot as players released jungle-themed animals and onsticles from rolling the dice and landing on certain spaces. While the origin of the games enchantment is never explained, the game “Jumanji” creates havoc for those who choose to play it and even comes with its own subtle warning, “A game for those who seek to find a way to leave their world behind”. The board game also contain its own world within it and once you begin the game the jungle creatures released from it will not return to their home until the game is finished and only by completing the game will the consequences be undone, including Alan Parish being sucked into the board game itself for 26 years. While the curse has been associated with other items too, including the space-themed game in the not-so-direct sequel “Zathura” and the video game in the upcoming proper sequel “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle”, it’s the original board game that still captures our imaginations today.
9. The Ark of the Covenant, “Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark”
While there is admittedly some debate over whether or not the ark is “cursed” there’s no denying it’s an enchanted and powerful object that means consequences for those that happen upon it, so it fits for this list. The Ark of the Covenant is a mysterious golden box of Biblical origin that is the centerpiece for the first cinematic adventure of Indiana Jones. Bestowed with mysterious powers that some interpret as a “curse” while others explain as “otherworldly”, we see the box’s potential near the end of the film when it is opened, unleashing demonic spirits that literally melt away those who dare keep their eyes open to experience the spectacle. The Ark makes cameo appearances in many other films and parodies and serves as an introduction to the magic and mythology associated with Indy’s adventure that had yet to come. As far as cursed objects go, the Ark is among the most powerful and dangerous and also the most mysterious and sought after as the extent of its power or the origin of its abilities are still very much open to interpretation and discovery.
8. The Ring, “Help!”
I bet most of you don’t even remember that there was a 1965 movie based on The Beatles smash hit “Help!” right? I know I forgot until I researched for this list, and the film came with a pretty interesting cursed object that put The Beatles drummer Ringo Starr in the hot seat. The movie features a cult performing a ritual sacrifice, but they find the cursed ring required for their act missing. Circumstances put the ring in the possession of Ringo Starr, who wears the ring and becomes a hunted man by the cult. What makes the ring so dangerous is it is literally connected to the ritual, making it near impossible for Ringo to remove it and thus marking him as the new subject of the sacrifice. What ensues is a comedic film filled with shenanigans that wasn’t too memorable at the time, but provided us with one of the most intriguing cursed objects in film that became forever associated with a massive musical celebrity. It’s far from the only time a ring has been used as the conduit for a curse or mark, but at the time it was a relatively original idea and one that allowed the band to turn a cry for help in song into a literal adventure for help in film to remove the curse before Starr could bite the dust.
7. The Vigo Painting, “Ghostbusters II”
I know some people may wonder “well isn’t this a horror movie object”, well technically not. All of the “Ghostbusters” films are considered supernatural comedies rather than horror films so I saved this painting from the second film for this list rather than the horror only list from earlier this week. The Vigo Painting is the main object of danger in this second film in the classic series and is cursed in that is contains the soul of its subject, Vigo to Carpathian, who spends the film seeking a way out of his framed prison by transferring his soul from the painting to a living child. Vigo doesn’t even look friendly in the painting and when you realize that the image of the tyrant is actually him hidden in the painting the picture takes on a life of its own, literally and figuratively. As a sorcerer and vengeful evil Vigo himself proves to be a formidable opponent for the Ghostbusters and hides in plain sight, watching and learning about the world around him for generations until the Ghostbusters themselves realize the painting has supernatural aspects to it and begin to catch on. While “Ghostbusters II” has its detractors, the Vigo Painting did serve as a fitting and entertainingly creepy cursed object to be the film’s focus, containing a destructive spirit who provided a true challenge to the heroes.
6. The Tablet of Ahkmanrah, “The Night At The Museum” Franchise
Not really “cursed” in a bad way so to speak, this magical tablet is the source of the magic that brings exhibits to life in this comedy series starring Ben Stiller. Throughout the three films in the series the tablet serves as the major plot devise, first being sought after by a group of old men whose own youths are somewhat restored by its power, second being sent to the Smithsonian where it brings other historical items to life including the brother of its royal namesake, and the third where its power begins to fade creating issues for the artifacts that comes to life with it. While the series never explicitly defines why the tablet has such power, the tablet is an important cursed, or rather enchanted object that allows the trilogy of films to even happen and brings historical characters to life for all to enjoy once more. Its power may be dangerous in the wrong hands, but for the purposes of these family-friendly films it’s a treasure worthy of praising for the gift of life it brings to treasures of the past.
5. The Loki Mask, “The Mask”
Jim Carrey’s star was born when he dawned a mysterious mask to become a super powered, green-faced being in this superhero classic and while we can all forget the horrid unneeded sequel that explored the backstory behind the mask’s origins, it still played a pivotal role in the original film allowing Carrey’s Stanley to become an iconic hero thanks to the curse associated with the mask. Empowered by the God of mischief Loki (not to be confused with the Marvel character of the same name) the mask’s curse activates when someone puts it on, turning them into a cartoonish super human able to bend reality around them to suit their needs. The curse makes for a great superpower, but we also get to see what the mask can accomplish in the wrong hands as an evil crime boss becomes even more sinister and ruthless when wearing the cursed object. The Loki mask holds great power and potential and as far as cursed objects go it’s one of the more iconic simply because of the film it was featured in, but we wouldn’t have said film or its memorable hero if it weren’t for the mask itself so they go hand in hand.
4. The Spinning Wheel, “Sleeping Beauty” and “Maleficent”
Disney’s classic “Sleeping Beauty” is an animated legend, as is the cursed object housed within it that also crossed over into its live-action adaptation, “Maleficent”. The spinning wheel is well known for the curse placed upon it that doomed Princess Aurora into eternal slumber on her sixteenth birthday. In the animated film this seems like more of a random act of hate, but we get more backstory behind the curse in the live-action film that implies the curse was done in retaliation for the King’s betrayal of Maleficent, who was once in love with him, giving the only way to break the curse, true loves kiss, more context. While a spinning wheel itself may not seem like the most intimidating of objects, it’s the consequences and results of this curse that are truly to be feared considering that, in the setting of “Sleeping Beauty” and “Maleficent”, spinning wheels were commonplace for every household. Even sending the beauty away for sixteen years and burning all spinning wheels couldn’t save her as the curse not only drew Aurora to her doom by force, but also rebuilt a spinning wheel to complete the prophetic enchantment. While we all know Aurora is easily awakened by true loves kiss, it doesn’t make the spinning wheel any less iconic or menacing as not only one of the most famed cursed objects in Disney’s library, and they have quite a few of them, but also one of the most famous cursed objects in film and literature as well.
3. The Horcruxes, The “Harry Potter” Franchise
Whether you followed the books, the films, or both your familiar with the horcruxes, a group of cursed items by Lord Voldemort that contain parts of his soul. In total there were seven horcruxes, including Potter himself who became one unintentionally. The curses placed on these items involved Voldemort committing murder, splitting his soul into pieces and cursing each of the items with a piece of his existence. Only by destroying each item through specific means can Voldemort be killed making these cursed item valuable to both the heroes and the villains in the “Harry Potter” universe. Each item seems to have a theme or purpose, with four of the items each being connected to the one of the four houses of Hogwarts, a diary holding Voldemort’s echo and memories, and even Voldemort’s pet snake, who is usually by his side. While not necessarily terrifying, these cursed items had both significance and purpose as they were the key to ending Voldemort’s terror. There were even signs that the cursed items had their own secondary abilities and other curses imprinted on them as well, including a locket that could create anger in the wearer and a cup that had to be retrieved by hand as it was resistant to retrieval spells. These items get credit for not only their significance to their story, but for being a group of significant objects and ones that were difficult to eliminate as part of one of the most inhumane curses to be explored in the “Harry Potter” mythos.
2. The Treasure of Cortés, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl”
Well this movie has curse right in the name so you know something in it had to fit on this list. While the Black Pearl ship itself is NOT cursed, the crew is as each one was stricken by a curse associated with a collection of Aztec gold, an 882 piece trove called the Treasure of Cortés. Any seafarer or treasure hunter who removed a piece of the gold was cursed with immortality, but not the kind you would enjoy. By day they look human, but by night, when the moon hits them, they turn into skeletons of their former selves, literally, and are unable to satisfy lust, thirst, or hunger while afflicted by the curse. The first film in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise explores the ghostly crews attempt to return every piece of the treasure back to the trove, offering the blood of anyone who stole a piece (or a relative of said thief) to have the curse lifted. While unassuming, the Aztec gold featured in this film is well designed and fits right in with the pirate theme, acting as not only an effective cursed item that drives the film’s plot, but one that embraces a subtle message about the risks of thievery and the consequences such actions often bring. The gold is the most memorable of treasures from this Disney cash cow and is a big part of why the first film was so beloved when it took the world by storm in the early 2000s.
1. The One Ring, “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” Franchises
Iconic, memorable, symbolic, and a plot driver, the One Ring from Peter Jackson’s celebrated adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic works is not only the most significant cursed object outside of the horror genre, is probably tops any cursed object in any film across the board. Sought after by the evil Sauron as a key to his plans of domination and able to empower the wearer with invisibility, the One Ring is powerful but comes with a price. Part of its curse is that once you wear it you become drawn to it, even obsessed with it, which plays a part in the mental deterioration of several characters in the series, most notable Bilbo Baggins and Gollum, the latter of which saw his appearance and personality destroyed and corrupted by the power of the ring. It may not be the most powerful or dangerous item on this list, but nothing can top the One Ring in terms of iconic status. When you consider that the only way to destroy the ring is to bring it to the front lines and fend off the countless evil war machines that seek it out all while trying to escape the rings influence and avoid the natural dangers that lurk within the forests, mountain, and one’s own self and you have an item whose curse and impact not only presents a danger to its owner, but to the entire world around it. It’d be pretty hard to find any other cursed object that was the cause of so much mayhem and war as this one ring.