Sunday 18 November 2018

Family of late Irish woman bid to have image removed from horror film

Aodhan O'Faolain

THE family of an Irish woman tragically found dead after going missing say her image has been used in a Hollywood horror film without their consent.

The family are seeking to bring a High Court action to prevent the use of the image of the late Stacia Purcell (66) from New Ross in Co Wexford who went missing on October 30 of last year.

Following a wide scale search involving the gardai, her body was discovered some days later in the River Barrow. It is thought she fell into the river after suffering a heart attack.

Yesterday, the court heard a picture of Stacia, which was provided by her family and issued to the press to assist in the search, features in a horror film called "Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort".

Mr Justice Paul Gilligan heard that the use of image has caused the family great pain, distress, and suffering. Their upset has been added to as they found out that the image was used in the film in the week leading up to the first anniversary of her tragic loss.

In proceedings against 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, WT6 Productions and UFO Film and Television Studios Ltd (Bulgaria) and UFO International Productions (Los Angeles), Ms Purcell's children Anna Kehoe, Patrick Purcell, Catherine Doran and son in law Sean Doran, seek a number of orders preventing the use of her image in the film.

Mr Justice Gilligan, who accepted that matter is serious, said he was not prepared at to grant the family an temporary injunction  when only one side was represented in court.

To do so at this stage, the judge said, would be "far reaching" and "draconian," given that any order made by the court "would have a worldwide effect."

The judge said at this stage he was prepared to grant the family permission to serve the proceedings at short notice against the respondents.   The case comes back to court next Wednesday.

The late Mrs Purcell's family say in recent weeks they were contacted  by neighbours who informed them the  image featured in the movie. The film has been broadcast on Sky Television, and is also available on buy on DVD, their counsel Richard Kean said.

The image appears some 22 minutes into the film, is cast and shown to be a missing 81-year-old man in the film, counsel said.

Counsel said there can be no dispute that the image used is that of the late Ms Purcell.

The image has been used in a "grotesque, graphically violent film, which contains scenes of a pornographic nature", he said.

The use of the image, taken from a family photograph, in a film containing a lot of violence and sex has caused the family much distress, and has breached their privacy, he said.

Counsel also said efforts were made by the family's solicitor Phelim O'Neill to resolve the issue. But those efforts had not been successful.

The Wrong Turn franchise of horror films has been running for more than a decade and follows various families of deformed cannibals who hunt and kill people in the rural United State for food.

Three characters who have repeatedly appeared in the series are: Three Finger, Saw Tooth and One Eye.

The court heard that the franchise has grossed more than $40m at the box office.

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