Horror films sink their twisted teeth into you on screen, but sometimes their back stories are worse. Actors sleep in blood, slice each other open and check into mental institutions, all to provide a couple hours of entertainment. Some of the most prolific horror films of all time hide darker secrets than you can imagine, and every single one of them is worth the unforgettable outcome.
The Exorcist: More Authentic Than The Second Coming
Reverend William O’Malley played Father Dyer in “The Exorcist,” and he also happens to be a priest and professor in real life. He taught English and Theology at Fordham University in New York. When his students asked him about his role in the iconic film, he affirmed that 80 percent of the events in the film actually happened to a boy in Maryland. That means all the vomit, “black mass,” screaming and death were real. You don’t have to believe in demonic possession to be be disturbed by whatever caused that.
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest: A Real Cuckoo’s Nest
“Cuckoo’s Nest” haunts us through a systematic loss of control enforced by a broken system. Nurse Ratched is one of the most realistically bone chilling villains ever to grace the silver screen—because her patients aren’t acting. The psych ward in the film is real, and some members of the cast and crew were actual patients. The experience affected the actors enough to display authentic mental decay for the cameras.
Carrie: Sissy Spacek and The Crusty Blood
“Carrie” is as eerie as it is repulsively compelling, and there’s a reason for that. Sissy Spacek was so devoted to the film that she ruminated in her fake blood-soaked clothing and skin for the three days it took to film the prom scene—for continuity’s sake. Blood, head-to-toe for days, by choice. That is almost as sinister as the prom scene itself.
Poltergeist: Real Bodies, Real Horror
When you plop down on on the couch, fire up the Direct TV and queue up a classic like “Poltergeist,” you know it’s fake, right? Not so fast. Corpses and skeletons were easier to acquire and less expensive than their fake counterparts in the 1980s, and director Tobe Hooper jumped on the bone bandwagon. JoBeth Williams wasn’t told that the “pool scene” bodies were real until after filming, she tells People Magazine, yet she was more concerned with the lights and electricity so close to the water. Real bodies in sludge: that’s worse than any theoretical ghost trapped in a TV set.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: It Really Was
The dinner scene of the “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is almost physically painful to watch, but far worse for those involved. The shot took place in 110 degree heat and lasted 27 hours. The head cheese on the table filled the air with a rotten stench while the costumes went unwashed, and Gunnar Hansen (Leatherface) went mad. The smells, sounds, temperature and sleeplessness confused him into a delirium that ended in bloodshed. Toward the end of the shoot, Hansen removed the safety feature on his knife and actually cut Marilyn Burn’s (Sally’s) finger. The perfect dessert for the cannibal’s feast. Bet you’ll never watch it the same way again.
This article was created by Jergen Hemlock for Zombie Popcorn.
Jergen is a European transplant who loves to write about entertainment and theatre.