Fans of Shudder’s Cursed Film series—which sees the streaming service talk to actual historians and industry insiders about the legends surrounding “cursed” film productions—were treated to a crossover surprise when the show returned for its second season this week. Said episode was centered on the famously tough filming of The Wizard Of Oz, with producers talking to the sort of people you’d expect for this kind of episode: Oz historians like John Fricke, Stephen Cox, and Aljean Harmetz; family members of cast members, including Lorna Luft and Jane Lahr; and even Adam Savage of Mythbusters, which once attempted to delve into the truth of the old “Buddy Ebsen was poisoned by the Tin Man’s paint” myth.
But also on the docket: Victorville Film Archive founder Gregg Turkington, also known for being the permanent guest/co-host of On Cinema At The Cinema with Tim Heidecker. And while the years-long, multimedia-spanning nature of On Cinema and its universe of side projects occasionally makes “What is real here?” a difficult question to address, Turkington definitely appears to be doing his portion of Cursed Films in character, as the awkward, smug “movie buff” that fans of the series have come to love and occasionally fear.
Certainly, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine Turkington waxing lyrical on the show, as he does here, about 1981's Under The Rainbow, a ludicrously fictionalized account of Oz’s making that even director Steve Rash now admits was pretty gross. (Rash, on revisiting his movie in the modern day: “I was quite disappointed at how racist, how sexist, how elitist it conceptually was…Probably some other -ists as well.”) (Turkington: “Under The Rainbow is a great, great, great movie.”) Turkington is also the voice of the “guy hung himself on the set” legend, pulling out a “priceless collector’s edition” of the movie—currently retailing on Ebay for twenty bucks—that supposedly shows the undoctored footage of the “death.”
It’s both awkward and very funny, as so much On Cinema content is. But it’s also a very weird swing for a show that is, ostensibly, a history program to have a comedian come on to straight facedly say a bunch of lies about the topic of your mini-documentary. We don’t really think anyone’s being tricked here—although we’ve reached out to the show’s producers for a comment about Turkington’s appearance—and if you squint, you can see a point being made about the same sorts of online reality-fraying that led to the hanging myth in the first place. That being said, it’s just kind of the weirdest to have the On Cinema reality intersect with ours like this. (Although at least Tim wasn’t there to peddle any lethal vape juice.)