Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the cameras when the lights turn off, especially in films that scare us and freak us out? Do the actors of such films take their roles as seriously as they appear to onscreen? What about all those little, spicy details that most of us usually never hear about? Do the horror film crews party and have fun while shooting a film with such gruesome effects? Find out with these 25 creepy details from your favorite horror films you may not know.
Friday the 13th
The “epic” scene with the snake in the first film of the legendary series was not originally in the script and was an idea from actor Tom Savini after an unpleasant experience he had in his own cabin during filming. The snake in the scene was real, as well as its onscreen death.
The character of Michael Myers was named after the European distributor of Carpenter’s previous film, Assault on Precinct 13, and apparently this was the director’s way of saying a kind of weird “thank you” for the film’s incredible success throughout most of Europe.
Playing the movie frame by frame, in the exact moment when Katie Embry is scared to death at the beginning of the movie, you can see all the images that appear on the video. Each image appears for just a fraction of a second. The effect is repeated at the end of the movie. Talking about creepy anyone?
During an interview for Britain’s The 100 Greatest Scary Moments (2003), Shelley Duvall revealed that because her role required her to be in an almost constant state of hysteria, she eventually ran out of tears from crying so much. To overcome this, she kept bottles of water with her at all times on set to remain hydrated.
When the movie was released in the Philippines, some theaters had to hire Catholic priests to bless the viewers before showing it. This happened because some people who had already seen the film had reported a “Negative Presence” after watching the film. The priests also provided spiritual and psychological help to the viewers. So the question is: if a film causes so many problems and effects viewers so deeply, why watch it in the first place?
In the final scene at the church, Nick has Andy stand back and hide. On the wall behind Andy is a brick inscribed “H. Hawks,” which some critics and fans tried unsuccessfully to interpret and analyze when the film was first released since many of them thought that John Carpenter used it in such an obvious way for a reason. Finally, Carpenter explained that this was nothing more than a reference to his favorite director, Howard Hawks.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
According to Wes Craven, Robert Englund was not the first choice to play Freddy Krueger. Craven originally wanted a stuntman for the part, but upon testing several stuntmen, he realized he needed an actor. This is how he ended up hiring Englund, who cut himself very bad the first time he tried on the infamous Freddy glove.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
The set was not a very pleasant experience for the crew since it had no heat and no bathrooms during filming. When Susan Sarandon tried to talk about it with the studio heads, they told her she was complaining too much and should compromise just like the rest of the actors. The actress soon caught pneumonia after filming the pool scene.
The original ending had all three members of the Thorn family killed at the conclusion. However, after deep thought and consideration studio head Alan Ladd, Jr. felt that this would be a terrible mistake simply because the devil is impossible to kill. For that reason he gave the film’s director, Richard Donner, the additional funds necessary to shoot a more “hopeful” end to the film where evil wins.
In case you never noticed it before, there are no female characters in the film. The only female presence in the movie is the voice of MacReady’s chess computer and the contestants on the game show that Palmer watches. A scene containing a blow-up doll was filmed and then left on the cutting room floor. According to John Carpenter, only one crew member was female but she was pregnant and this forced her to leave the shoot. Guess what? She was replaced by a male.
Tony Todd, aka The Candyman, had to put real bees into his mouth while they were shooting the climax. His only protection was a mouth guard that kept him from having the bees go down his throat and choke him. Who said being an actor is an easy, awesome job?
Those who have read Robert Bloch’s novel probably remember that the character of Norman Bates was short, fat, older, and very dislikable. Alfred Hitchcock, however, wanted to add his special touch and decided to have him be young, handsome, and sympathetic, thus giving birth to a completely different person from the character in the book and one of the most well-known characters in film history.
The Evil Dead
The producers of The Evil Dead wanted to achieve the most realistic effects possible shooting this film and for that reason they tried some really weird stuff. To begin with they decided to film the movie in a real-life abandoned cabin, while the original script called for the characters to be smoking marijuana when they first listen to the tape.
Encouraged by the producers and director, the actors tried to do as requested, but the entire scene had to be later reshot due to their wild, uncontrollable behavior that apparently intimidated even the overly ambitious producers.
The bedroom set had to be kept at almost ice-cold (or freezing) temperatures to capture the authentic icy breath of the actors in the exorcism scenes. Linda Blair, who was only in a flimsy nightgown, says to this day she cannot stand being cold. Additionally, on the first day of filming the exorcism sequence, Blair’s delivery of her foul-mouthed dialogue so disturbed the gentlemanly Max von Sydow that he actually forgot his lines.
Night of the Living Dead
The Macgruder zombie that still haunts all of us who watched this film as kids was not a professional actor but a random man that director Tom Savini discovered in a restaurant and approached him with this role because he thought that he would make a great zombie. Apparently, the man was flattered by the “compliment” and agreed to take the role in the movie. For the record, he showed up to all the premieres as well.
Strangely, from all the horrors that proceeded while filming Poltergeist only one scene scared Heather O’Rourke; that in which she had to hold on to the headboard while a wind machine blew toys into the closet behind her. O’Rourke fell apart during the shooting of this scene and Steven Spielberg stopped everything, took her in his arms, and said that she would not have to do the scene again. Keep in mind that O’Rourke was about seven years old during filming.
Director James Wan took a big risk when he agreed not to receive an “up front” salary for the movie but instead opted for a generous percentage of the movie’s box office earnings. The film made over $100 million globally and it is considered one of the most profitable horror films of all time and enabled Wan to become (at 27) one of the youngest and highest-earning directors in film history.
28 Days Later . . .
For the London scenes, police would close the roads for about an hour usually at 4 a.m., and filming would begin immediately. The producers wisely predicted that asking from the drivers, especially clubbers heading home after a long, wild night of drinking, either wait for an hour or find another route home might make most of them mad. For that reason they hired several hot, sexy young ladies (including Danny Boyle’s daughter) to make the necessary requests and, as expected, the drivers responded with patience and pleasure.
Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles
All the actors playing vampire roles in this film were required to hang upside down for at least thirty minutes before having their makeup applied. This would force all the blood in their bodies to rush to their heads, causing the blood vessels in their faces to bulge. The makeup artists would then trace over the swollen veins creating the eerie, translucent-skinned look of a vampire.
Unfortunately for the actors, they would have to repeat the process several times during some scenes, as the blood would quickly drain from their faces.
Rumor has it that the relatively unknown actors of this film weren’t given scripts but were only given guidelines on how to behave and what to discuss in their scenes. More interestingly, Steven Spielberg stated in an interview that he’s a big fan of this film but had to stop watching it halfway through at a nighttime home screening as he was genuinely terrified by the experience. He finished watching the movie the next day and loved it.
The nightmarish interior of the slaughterhouse was filmed at a mental hospital in Prague built in 1910, in a wing that had been closed for over fifty years. Believe it or not Building 10, where most of the scenes were filmed, was where the craziest, most violent patients were kept. The basement was so creepy and scary that the director, Eli Roth, didn’t have to work much on the atmosphere since the natural environment was ideal already but instead had a string quartet playing classical music to make it feel cozier and friendlier while shooting.
The film was accused and attacked from the first moment of its release for inspiring violence in children. Things would only get worse when an incident linked to the film took place in Manchester, England, where a gang of young criminals kidnapped and murdered a sixteen-year-old girl. While they tortured her, they forced her to listen to recordings of the gang leader repeating, “I’m Chucky, wanna play?”
Director Tom Holland defended the film from these accusations, saying that viewers of horror movies could only be influenced by their content if they were unstable to begin with. Agree or disagree, the man has a point.
During a post-production party after filming had ended, Doug Bradley (the actor who portrayed Pinhead) stated in an interview that he was totally ignored by the other members of the crew and he felt really bad about it. It wasn’t until later that he realized he wasn’t really being ignored but simply that none of the crew had ever seen him without his makeup and therefore did not recognize him. Maybe he should have attended the party as Pinhead?
In the scene where Professor Abraham Van Helsing (Antony Hopkins) and Jonathan Harker (Keanu Reeves) burst in on Dracula and Mina, Dracula turns into a bat-like creature and scares them away. However, Gary Oldman, who played Dracula, had many problems with this scene, feeling really uncomfortable in the suit and not as scary as the scene required.
Francis Ford Coppola advised him to improvise and whisper something creepy into each actor’s ear, which Oldman did with great pleasure. Even though no one knows what he actually said to them, it was apparently horrifying enough judging from how good the scene came out, as they all look absolutely terrified.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Do you guys remember the creepy human skeleton in the house at the end of the movie? What if we told you that this was actually a real skeleton? Apparently, the producers of the film decided to use a real one because a human skeleton from India is far cheaper than a fake plastic skeleton.