The Texas Chainsaw Massacre scene that was “worse than Vietnam”
The infamous dinner scene in Texas Chainsaw Massacre is known for being incredibly hard to sit through, but as it turns out it was even harder to film. The actor who played Grandfather hated the process of applying his makeup so much that he refused to go through it again, leaving them to shoot all of his scenes in one brutal 36 hour marathon.
To make things worse, they were filming in the middle of a Texas heatwave, with no fans, and no air conditioning. They had to keep reusing the food for the dinner scene, which of course quickly started rotting in the heat. The smell of rotting food, the dead animals scattered around the set, and the cast and crew’s body odor combined for a smell so awful that some of the crew began vomiting and passing out on set.
Edwin Neal, the actor who played The Hitchhiker, said that filming that scene was the worst time of his life, even worse than his experience serving in Vietnam. He also suggested that if he ever saw director Tobe Hooper again, he might kill him. Suddenly all my worst days at work seem not so bad.
A serial killer appeared in The Exorcist
The Exorcist is widely considered to be one of the scariest horror movies of all time. But as the saying goes, sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction, or in this case, scarier. All because of one guy we only see for a few seconds.
Paul Bateson was an X-Ray Technician who briefly appeared in the scene where Linda Blair’s Regan is undergoing tests to see if her problems are being caused by brain damage (rather than, you know, being possessed). Bateson’s presence in the movie would be completely unremarkable if it weren’t for what would happen years after the movie finished filming.
In September of 1977, film critic Addison Verrill was found murdered in his New York apartment. Police arrested Paul Bateson for the murder after he bragged to a reporter that he had killed Verrill after meeting him at a gay bar.
While in prison awaiting trial, he bragged about more murders, which Detectives linked to the unsolved “Bag Murders,” where during the late ’70s, the dismembered bodies of six men wrapped in garbage bags washed up from the Hudson River. Despite his confession, Bateson was only charged and convicted for the murder of Addison Verrill in March of 1979.
Upon learning of the weird connection to his movie, The Exorcist‘s director, William Friedkin, went to Riker’s Island and interviewed Bateson. The murders would also inspire him to make 1980’s Cruising, which starred Al Pacino as a detective going undercover to catch a serial killer targeting gay men.
Chucky was based on a real doll
Plenty of horror movies use the old “based on a true story” angle to try and make the scares feel even more real. Usually the connection between the “true story” and the “movie’s story” is blurry at best, but in the case of Chucky’s tale of a possessed doll terrorizing his owner, there’s actually a real life example that’s going to sound eerily familiar.
In the early 1900s, Gene Otto was gifted a straw doll, which he named Robert. Before long his family and their servants reported hearing the boy talking to himself using two different voices. He would also wake up screaming in the middle of the night, his bedroom furniture overturned, and tell his parents that Robert had done it. People in the house reported hearing the doll giggling, and even claimed they saw him moving through the windows.
Robert now lives at the Fort East Martello Museum in Key West, Florida, where he apparently has a habit of placing curses on museum visitors who take his photo without asking him first. It could be worse, at least he’s not possessed by the soul of a serial killer. Probably.
The real Annabelle doll looks nothing like the one in movies
Speaking of scary, evil dolls, Chucky is no longer the only one fueling our 100% legitimate fear of dolls. Thanks to The Conjuring and the spin-offs Annabelle and Annabelle: Creation, Annabelle the doll is now a household name, and the fact that she’s based on a real doll just makes her that much more terrifying. There’s just one problem, the real Annabelle isn’t a creepy old porcelain doll, it’s a Raggedy Ann.
According to Ed and Lorraine Warren, they got the real Annabelle doll from a student nurse who contacted them after her and her roommate became frightened by the strange things that happened around the doll. While they were told by a medium that the doll was haunted by a little girl named Annabelle Higgins, the Warrens claimed the doll was “demonically possessed.” Excuse me while I get rid of my old Raggedy Ann doll, just in case.
The skeletons in Poltergeist were real
Poltergeist is basically single-handedly responsible for traumatizing every ’80s kid. As it turns out, one of the scariest parts of the movie is a lot more messed up than we ever knew. In the scene where Diane gets attacked by skeletons in the swimming pool, those skeletons that surround her aren’t just props.
JoBeth Williams, who played Diane, said in a VH1 interview that the skeletons used in the scene were real. This claim was supposedly backed up by makeup artists, who said that fake skeletons were apparently more expensive than the real deal. Real skeletons were also used in the sequel, Poltergeist II: The Other Side, which many people believe is one of the reasons for the Poltergeist franchise being cursed.
Tony Todd actually put bees in his mouth for Candyman
There are plenty of actors who’ve had to make some pretty extreme sacrifices for their craft. While now we have CGI to make basically anything possible, that wasn’t exactly a viable option for 1992’s Candyman, so Tony Todd did the only thing he could: took one for the team with a mouth full of bees.
They at least paid him a bonus for every time he got stung during the scene, which only happened a measly 23 times. They also had an EMT on site, not for Tony Todd, but for actress Virginia Madsen, who just so happens to have a deadly bee allergy. I knew the ’90s were wild, but this is something else.
The actors didn’t know about the chestburster scene in Alien before they filmed it
Easily one of the most iconic moments in cinematic history, Alien’s chestburster scene is to this day considered one of the most shocking scenes ever filmed. And almost as infamous as the scene, is the story of how it came to be. Knowing how crucial the scene would be to the entire movie, director Ridley Scott wanted to make sure that the actors’ reaction to the “explosive” moment were as real as possible. Scott’s solution? Don’t tell the actors what’s about to happen.
The terror you see on their faces when the creature bursts out of John Hurt’s chest is totally real. Actress Veronica Cartwright (Lambert) apparently passed out as soon as the blood hit her, and Yaphet Kotto (Parker) returned to his dressing room and refused to speak to anyone. Obviously it paid off in the end, but it would be hard not to have trust issues after going through something like that.
At least they didn’t spring any wacky surprises on the actors in this next movie, though it almost wasn’t a movie at all…
Final Destination was an abandoned idea for an episode of The X-Files
While Final Destination is now known for being the horror franchise with some of the most creative ways of killing off its characters, it wasn’t originally intended to be a movie at all. In 1994, Jeffrey Reddick was in need of an agent, so he wrote a script for an episode of The X-Files titled “Flight 180.”
In the original script, Scully’s younger brother avoids a plane crash thanks to a premonition, leading Scully and Mulder to investigate. He never submitted it to the show, but one of the show’s writers, Glen Morgan, helped Reddick adapt it as a movie, and veteran X-Files producer James Wong would go on to direct what eventually became Final Destination. You can read the original X-Files version of the script here.
Jason Voorhees almost had a different name
If I asked you to name a horror villain off the top of your head, chances are Jason Voorhees is one of the first names that comes to mind. Now imagine, if you will, seeing that iconic hockey mask and having the name “Josh Voorhees” be the first one that comes to mind. Because that’s almost the name he ended up with.
Turns out in the first draft of Victor Miller’s script, Josh Voorhees was the name of the camper who drowned and set off all the events of the first movie. No one’s really sure how the name change came about, considering he wasn’t supposed to be more than a plot device for his mother’s revenge, but we’re sure glad it did. “Josh Voorhees” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Sissy Spacek slept in her bloody prom dress for 3 days
Obviously movies aren’t made in a day, and as we saw with the Texas Chainsaw Massacre dinner scene, sometimes a single scene can take multiple days to complete. Whenever that happens, continuity errors become a very real concern. Luckily for Carrie, Sissy Spacek went the extra mile to prevent any problems for the iconic prom scene.
To prevent any continuity issues, after they had filmed her being soaked in pig’s blood, she refused to wash the blood off or to change her clothes. She had her trailer parked behind the set, and ended up sleeping in her bloody prom dress for three days until they had finished filming that part.
People sent sympathy cards to the mother of Heather Donahue, the actress in The Blair Witch Project
If you ever doubt that the ’90s were a much more innocent time, just remember that thanks to some clever (and previously unheard of) viral internet marketing and some shaky cam we all, for at least a hot second, wondered whether The Blair Witch Project was actually real.
Well we weren’t the only ones. Thanks to having the unknown actors use their real names, and having them hidden from the public eye before the film’s release, many who knew the actors and their families genuinely believed they were missing and/or dead. In an interview with Vice, Heather Donahue revealed her mother had received sympathy cards, and Joshua Leonard’s parents had people calling to ask what had happened. Talk about awkward.
Michael Cera auditioned for The Sixth Sense
As much as we all may joke about M. Night Shyamalan and his increasingly predictable “plot twists,” there was a time where he had a movie that not only terrified us, but also left our jaws on the floor with a twist we never saw coming. Don’t even pretend like it didn’t actually shock you the first time you saw The Sixth Sense.
While the movie introduced the world to the adorably creepy Haley Joel Osment, he wasn’t the only child actor that auditioned for the part. In 2009, Michael Cera revealed in an interview with Esquire that he had actually auditioned for The Sixth Sense. And apparently it was an audition that he pretty much bombed completely.
According to Cera, he didn’t know that Cole was supposed to see dead people, so when performing the scene they’d picked for him, he took a very different spin on it. He revealed in the interview that “it was the scene with the penny. Bruce Willis is saying, ‘I can’t be your doctor anymore,’ and Haley Joel Osment starts crying and slides the penny over to him. It’s a very emotional scene. And I did not do it that way. I did it upbeat. I said ‘Some magic’s real’ very optimistically.” Honestly, that sounds exactly like how I expected he would do it.
Steven Spielberg thought his DVD copy of Paranormal Activity was haunted
After The Blair Witch Project, found-footage horror quickly went back to being seen more as a gimmick than an actual means of making a scary movie. Then, ten years later, Paranormal Activity came along, breathing new life into the genre and taking over Blair Witch Project‘s spot as the most profitable movie of all time. But while its predecessor’s marketing campaign relied on pretending fictional accounts were real, Paranormal Activity did have one true spooky story behind it.
When DreamWorks was considering whether to buy the distribution rights to the movie, Steven Spielberg took home a DVD screener of the movie to watch. Apparently, after he watched it, the door to his bedroom mysteriously locked, trapping him in the room and forcing him to call a locksmith. He was so spooked by the experience, that he brought the DVD back in a garbage bag because he believed it was haunted. I don’t know how a garbage bag would actually stop and paranormal shenanigans, but what do I know.