16 Weird And Scary Behind-The-Scenes Facts About Horror Movies That Will Haunt Your Dreams

8 months ago 7

People get injured on film sets way too much.

Any film buff who loves behind-the-scenes trivia likely knows that sometimes, making a horror movie can be scarier than the movie itself.

Unexpected things happen on — and off — film sets all the time, and when it's a scary movie, it's hard not to associate the real-life happenings with the spooky story at hand.

Here are 16 upsetting and scary behind-the-scenes facts about some of your favorite horror movies:

1. Scream (1996) was partially inspired by a documentary that screenwriter Kevin Williamson saw about the Gainsville Ripper — and his own personal creepy experience that followed.

kevin williamson sitting and smiling toward the camera

Amy Sussman / Getty Images

According to the Detroit Free Press, after watching the doc, Williamson found a window he was sure he'd closed open. He searched the house armed with a butcher knife while talking to a pal on the phone, their conversation eventually turning to horror movies.

2. Speaking of Scream, Skeet Ulrich got stabbed for real on the set of the film.

sidney in a ghostface costume stabbing billy with an umbrella in scream

Dimension Films

Though the actor was wearing a protective vest during the scene where his character is stabbed with an umbrella (which had a retractable tip) by Sidney, things didn’t go as planned. To add insult to insult, the umbrella hit him right where he’d had open-heart surgery as a kid. The footage ultimately made the final cut of the movie because of how realistic director Wes Craven found it.

3. Multiple cast and crew members of The Omen (1976) were on planes that were struck by lightning.

gregory peck in the omen

20th Century Fox / courtesy Everett Collection

After filming began, this happened to star Gregory Peck, screenwriter David Seltzer, and executive producer Mace Neufeld — all at separate times. 

Producer Harvey Bernard was also nearly struck by lightning, and at one point a private jet production planned to use to bring Peck to set was canceled after one of his scenes was delayed. The jet crashed the following day, killing everyone onboard.

4. Tippi Hedren was terrorized by real birds while filmingThe Birds (1963).

tippi hedren running from crows in the birds

Universal Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

The attic scene was supposed to be shot with mechanical birds, but they were reportedly not working that day, so director Alfred Hitchcock decided real birds would be used instead. Hedren described it as "brutal and ugly and relentless" and said she was "on the verge of collapse" during the last day of shooting. Filming only ended when a bird pecked too close to her eye and she refused to continue. 

5. The bees in Candyman (1982) were real — including the ones that pour out of Tony Todd's mouth.

tony todd with bees coming out of his mouth in candyman

Tristar Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

A dental dam was placed at the back of the actor's throat to keep the bees from crawling down it. The actor agreed to the stunt on the condition he would receive $1,000 for every bee sting he endured, which ended up being 23 when all was said and done.

6. Lupita Nyong'o stayed in character as Red between scenes when filming Us (2019), which (understandably) scared her costars.

lupita nyong'o in a red jumpsuit in us

Universal Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

“She really kind of spooked me out a little bit,” Shahadi Wright Joseph, who played Zora in the film, said. “She would really get into character and wouldn’t talk. It was kind of creepy.”

7. Carrie (1976) star, Sissy Spacek, opted to sleep in her character's blood-soaked prom dress for the sake of continuity.

sissy spacek in a bloody prom dress in carrie

United Artists / courtesy Everett Collection

According to her costar, P.J. Soles, Spacek slept in the dress for three nights, explaining, "It’s got to match, I want it to look great!"

8. Gunnar Hansen also wore his Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) costume over and over without washing it.

gunnar hansen in texas chainsaw massacre

Bryanston Distributing Company / courtesy Everett Collection

He wasn't quite as enthusiastic about it as Spacek, though, as he only had one costume to wear. In Stefan Jaworzyn's book, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Companion, Hansen was quoted as saying, "It was 95, 100 degrees every day during filming. They wouldn't wash my costume because they were worried that the laundry might lose it, or that it would change color. They didn't have enough money for a second costume. So I wore that [mask] 12 to 16 hours a day, seven days a week, for a month."

9. Mia Farrow — a vegetarian — had to not only eat raw chicken liver while filming Rosemary's Baby (1968), but also do it in multiple takes.

mia farrow in rosemary's baby

Paramount Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

Rumors this film is cursed have persisted for years, because of things that happened following its release, beginning with the death of composer Krzysztof Komeda. Just weeks after the movie came out, Komeda fell while roughhousing at a party and ended up in a coma for four months before ultimately dying.

10. You're Next (2011) star Sharni Vinson almost lost an eye while filming a particularly chaotic scene.

sharni vinson covered in blood in you're next

Lions Gate / courtesy Everett Collection

In Bloody Distgusting's oral history for the film's 10th anniversary, Vinson revealed that after Tariq has been killed and people are diving for the floor, she went to crawl under the table but didn't realize her costar, Amy Seimetz, was already there. 

"My face just came straight in contact with the stiletto part of her high heel. It could have been in the eye 一 but I’m not kidding, it was like two centimeters from the center of my eye and pretty painful. It gave me a black eye and drew some blood, so we had to cut to that moment and shoot everything that was involving the back of me or the side and not my face."

11. Ruby Rose nearly drowned while filming The Meg (2018).

ruby rose with wet hair in the meg

Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection

Their costume, while designed to keep them warm, was also too heavy and made swimming difficult. Rose's shoes ended up filling with water, ultimately dragging them down below the surface. They said they "drank a lot of tank water" by the time safety divers pulled her back up.

12. Robert Downey Jr. broke Halle Berry's arm while filming Gothika (2003).

robert downey jr and halle berry in gothika

Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection

He grabbed her arm the wrong way during a scene at the institution, ultimately breaking it. Years later, in 2012, she revealed she still hadn't forgiven him.

"It wasn't like I was trying to fall 50 feet and just fell wrong or did something crazy," Berry reportedly said. "I was shooting a scene with Robert and he grabbed my arm the wrong way and broke it."

13. The cast of The Blair Witch Project (1999) was tormented by the filmmakers.

heather donahue crying in the blair witch project

Artisan Entertainment / courtesy Everett Collection

According to producer Gregg Hale, “We did keep [Heather Donahue, Michael Williams, and Joshua Leonard] isolated, we harassed them at night, we deprived them of sleep, we made them move a lot during the day. Then at the end, we slowly fed them less and less, and they never knew what was happening. They were always off-balance."

Hale explained these choices were inspired by his own military training.

14. The skeletons used in the climax of Poltergeist (1982) were real.

jobeth williams reacting to skeletons in the pool in poltergeist


While JoBeth Williams, who had to film scenes in a muddy pool with them, thought they were plastic at the time, she said that once filming was done she found out they were real. Apparently, it was cheaper to use actual skeletons instead of having them made from plastic or rubber. Special effects makeup artist, Craig Reardon, revealed that they were the types used in classrooms.

15. Meanwhile, Oliver Robins was actually strangled while filming Poltergeist.

oliver robbins being attacked by a clown doll in poltergeist


The mechanism of the clown doll malfunctioned and the actor was being choked for real, and director Tobe Hooper didn't realize until Robins' face started turning blue — he thought the kid was simply acting.

16. Both Linda Blair and Ellen Burstyn were injured on the set of The Exorcist (1973).

linda blair and ellen burstyn in the exorcist

Warner Bros. / courtesy Everett Collection

During the scene when Regan slaps her mother, Burstyn was yanked too suddenly and too hard by her harness, resulting in a back injury. Blair, meanwhile, suffered a spinal fracture while filming a possession scene during which her character was strapped to a mechanical bed. 

Do you know any bizarre behind-the-scenes facts about horror movies? Sound off in the comments!

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