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Editorials

Horrors On Horror Sets

July 13, 2019
Real Skeletons on set of horror movie "Poltergeist"

Sometimes horror films can become all too real for the people on set. Over the years several horror movies sets have been the sites of unfortunate, weird and in some cases fatal accidents and incidents that make you question the luck and safety standards of the production. Today we will look at seven famous incidents where a film set turned into a real-life horror film.

Warning, there is upsetting content ahead.

The Bunny Game

A shock-horror film about a prostitute being kidnapped and tortured by a truck driver, the BBFC rejected The Bunny Game, fearing that its portrayal of violent and dangerous acts may harm audiences. This wasn’t helped by the presence of extreme unsimulated acts within the film.

While filming a nude scene in a junkyard, actress Rodleen Getsic received several injuries from shards of metal sticking into her body. And during one scene, she was actually branded.

Through trying to create an authentic atmosphere, the filmmakers created one of the most disturbing movies of the past decade, from a health and safety perspective.

Eery shot of branding in The Bunny Game

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Like the Bunny Game, 1974’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s production is a tale of a horrific working environment. Because of the films low budget, the effects were minimal, and often employed workarounds to accomplish them. But when coupled with hundred-degree weather, rank working conditions (dead animals were used as set dressing) and a stressed crew, something was bound to happen.

Notably, the scene where Sally’s finger is cut was supposed to show stage blood coming out of a tube. But when the mechanism didn’t work, Gunnar Hansen (Leatherface) cut actress Marilyn Burns’ finger with a razor. Also, during the scene where Leatherface kills the character Kirk, Hansen brought a real running chainsaw down three inches from actor William Vail’s face, making the film’s title very nearly prophetic.

The insanity of the dinner scene may have been reflective of life on set of The Tecxas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

The Exorcist

Often considered the scariest film of all time, the Exorcist has several on-set horror stories to go with it.

As well as most of the MacNeil house set burning down (eerily, aside from the scenes where the exorcism would take place) actress’ Ellen Burstyn and Linda Blair both suffered back injuries during filming. Burstyn was pulled back strongly by a rig for a stunt, injuring her coccyx, which she has said still bothers her to this day. And Blair was hurt when the lacing of her back brace came loose when she was being thrown around on a bed. Ironically the takes where both actresses received these injuries were used in the final film.

The shot of Ellen Burstyn injuring her back (The Exorcist)

The Omen

The Omen’s filming was also plagued with problems.

When the filmmakers charted a plane to get some aerial shots of London, they allowed another party to use the plane first. Shortly after the plane took off it crashed killing 6 people. The filming also had several serious incidents with animals. A rottweiler injured a stunt double when it bit through his protective padding. In the zoo scene, the baboons used by production attacked the car that actors Lee Remick and Harvey Stephens were in. Remick reportedly feared for her life. And a zoo handler who had been working with the production was killed by a tiger after zoo shooting wrapped. And those are just the incidents that happened during production.

One of the dogs used as hellhounds in The Omen (1976)

Maximum Overdrive

When people think of Stephen King, they think of some of the most terrifying novels of the last century, but cinematographer Armando Nannuzzi probably thinks of King very differently.

During the making of King’s sole directorial effort, Maximum Overdrive, for a low shot involving a lawnmower all safety equipment was removed from the mower, exposing the blades. When the lawnmower met the wooden stand the camera was on, it sent a large number of splinters into Nannuzzi’s face which resulted in him eventually losing an eye. He later sued King and the crew for unsafe working conditions.

Even everyday objects can be dangerous when not used with care (Maximum Overdrive)

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

During the making of the final movie in the long-running action-horror series stunt woman, Olivia Jackson was injured when her motorbike collided with a malfunctioning camera crane at high speed. She was put in a medically induced coma for two weeks and suffered several injuries. Including crushed facial bones, a degloved face and a paralyzed left arm that was eventually amputated.

Following this horrific accident crew member Ricardo Cornelius was unfortunately killed when a hummer fell off a rotating platform and crushed him.

Poster for Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Twilight Zone: The Movie

Finally, we come to the film that started modern Hollywood’s move for better safety regulations. Twilight Zone: The Movie was an anthology movie based on the classic tv series.

In John Landis’ segment, Time Out, we follow a racist man (Vic Morrow) forced to witness the consequences that such attitudes have had throughout history.

However, while filming the segment’s climax where the main character saves two Vietnamese children (Myca Dinh Le and Renee Shin-Yi Che) from a warzone the helicopter they were using flew too close to a pyrotechnic, causing it to crash on top of the three actors, killing them instantly.

The aftermath of the horrendous accident which claimed the lives of three (Twilight Zone: The Movie)

Thank you for reading and always remember, stay safe.

Also Read: Video Nasties: The History of Censored Films in the UK

Josh Greally
Writer and filmmaker from Chesterfield. I recently completed my masters in directing film and television and have written film reviews for several smaller sites in the past. Films are my life, but I also enjoy writing, reading, listening to music and debating.

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