The Curse of Gabriel 6
By Charles J. Adams III
For whatever reasons, and they are — for someone such as I — all the good reasons, the cinematic vogue these days seems to be on the spooky side. The list of horror (and some of them horrible) films over the last few months and for the foreseeable future (watch for "Sleepy Hollow" in November) is long.
And, if Lady Luck crooks a beckoning finger on a 1995 Wilson High School graduate, that list may someday include a movie entitled "Gabriel 6."
Brett Bagenstose is an aspiring filmmaker who has nibbled at the buffet of the big time and is hungry to take his place at its banquet table.
A graduate of the Temple University Film and Media Arts program, the recipient of two Cable Ace Awards for Public Broadcasting, the exhibitor of short films in festivals around the world, Bagenstose has put his heart and soul into his "Gabriel 6" project.
And while the film has been screened in such places as Tokyo and New York and has earned favorable reviews, Bagenstose's quest for success has not been uneventful.
He calls it, cautiously, the curse.
"Our film," he told me, "is about the end of the world, brought on by one man who thinks he's sent by god to destroy one-third of the population. He sees demons and such, and at the end of the film, the cop who was supposed to stop him ends up working for the devil. That's the plot."
And, what's the curse?
"Well, the actual curse began two nights before our first film shoot in December 1998. We were buying groceries and supplies to feed the crew and to make fake blood. We were in the aisle with the fake blood and when I turned around, I noticed the strangest thing. About a fourth of the aisle behind me was bare, except for one, single candle sitting in the center of the shelf."
"I picked up that candle, and printed on it was St. Michael (the angel, shown with angel wings and fighting off an attack from a demonic angel with his sword). Well, that isn't terribly spooky until you realize that the cop in our movie who was to defend the world against Gabriel was named Michael! And that script was written eight months before that shopping trip."
"Even stranger, we went to the register and paid for the supplies. Our total change turned out to be $6.66 — the 'number of the beast.'"
"On the way home from the market, we had to stop for a train. As it passed in front of us, it started to slow down. The train came to a stop and in front of us was a railroad car carrying corrosive materials. Spray-painted on the car was a huge, red head of a devil."
Bagenstose noted several other quirky incidents that played out as the movie was filmed.
While the crew was filming in Philadelphia, strange sounds were heard on the set. At one point, a total of five crew members reported the same health problems at the same time.
During a shoot in Perry County, they were forced to work in 40-degree temperatures because the heater in the barn-turned-sound stage would not work.
And then, there was a little mechanical problem Bagenstose faced while on the way home from that Perry County filming.
"My car simply turned itself off as I was driving it," he said. "It didn't work for six days. No mechanic had any idea what was wrong with it. But on the sixth day, it started working again!".
A curse of coincidences?
As we say here at the Berks the Bizarre desk, "It makes you wonder!"
— Charles J. Adams III is an Eagle Correspondent. He is the author of "Ghost Stories of Berks County," Books 1-3, and 15 other books on regional folklore. His newest book, "Bucks County Ghost Stories," is now available at book stores.