As cinephiles, we do more than “go to movies;” we study them to learn horror fun facts. We visit the theater with a ticket and leave with an experience and a few self-texted notes, so we don’t forget.
This month, Geek Vibes Nation has shared some spooky Top 10 lists. Our hope is that you have enjoyed them and acted like The Crypt Keeper with your newfound trivia notes.
(C’mon. If you don’t know who that dude is…)
However, while you were sitting in that dark theater white-knuckling a cardboard cup of soda to the point of Mount Vesuvius all over your pants during a jump scare, there may have been a few things you didn’t notice during your favorite horror movie.
Good thing we binge these things like an employee at Hot Topic who can’t get enough mascara — guy or gal.
So, relax, recline your chair, and read carefully about these horror fun facts you may — or may not — not know.
Here are the Top 10 Horror Fun Facts you may not know about scary movies
Author’s Memo: There are so many horror fun facts and trivia about scary movies. For some reason, this is a genre that even people who can’t stand horror find interesting. For example:
Most cinephiles know this image and can guess The Shining. You can almost hear the great Jack Nicholson yelling with snark, “Heeeeeere’s Johnny” at Shelley Duvall on the other side of the door to Room 237. If you watched the movie (a few dozen times, like yours truly), you know the ax work on that door was perfection. Like, to the point where firefighters would have envied him chopping that panel into firewood.
About that. It turns out Jack Nicholson knows a thing or two wielding an ax with terrorizing bravado. You see, he was a volunteer firefighter. Like, for real. Apparently, prop doors weren’t much of a match for Jack’s skills (like shattering them in only two chops), so that is a real door in the movie ensconcing his chiseled jaw.
And this scene took three days to film — and 60 doors (until they used a real one). That’s scary and a true horror fun fact.
On with the show…
10. Mother Flushing Psycho
This 45-second shower scene made glass doors a must-have for all bathrooms moving forward. According to David Thomson, film critic and author of The Moment of Psycho: How Alfred Hitchcock Taught America to Love Murder: Psycho was the first American film to show a toilet on screen…and to hear it being flushed. Yes, 1960 made this one where a deuce went down for the first time ever in the film. Hitchcock…what a master!
9. Outside the Para-Norm
You may not know this, but Paranormal Activity is the most profitable movie in cinematic history. Avatar made the most money at $2.9 billion, but James Cameron also spent nearly half that to make the thing. But this quaint scary found-footage respite hosts one of the most enlightening horror fun facts ever.
The Paranormal Activity franchise has earned close to $900 million, but it all began in a nice suburban home that welcomed horror fans who doled out $193 million. This is so impressive because Paranormal Activity only cost $15,000 to make. But that’s not one of the Top 10 horror fun facts; this is:
Oren Peli, writer and director of Paranormal Activity filmed the entire movie from his own house. Yes, that master bedroom is his own. In fact, when it was listed to sell, the house sold in only eight days. And that was before this crazy home market. Phenomenal!
8. Ed Gein-ing Momentum
Ed Gein was a real purge on the human race. If you know anything about horror fun facts or movies, you know this spawn of Satan was one of the worst people to ever walk the face of the earth. He was known as the “Ghoul or Fiend of Plainsview” leaving horrific crime scenes in his wake involving human skin masks, lampshades made of human pelts, and even a belt made from nipples.
All that crime had its toll on his psyche as he lived the comforting chains of repression in a mental hospital only to be discovered many years later as the repugnant muse in not one, but three horror movies — Psycho, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and The Silence of the Lambs. Depending on where you look, you may find that he inspired 10 more?! (Yeah, dude was that sick and, uh, inspirational?)
7. Not That Sweet
Tony Todd is a respected character actor with a gruesome look and voice to match (i.e., The Rock, The Crow). However, he is best known as the lead to a popular niche horror movie, Candyman. And with due respect to the most swagalicious Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, this was the gruesome Candyman you should see.
If you saw the original, you know how awful Candyman is–and how not like honey he is as well. To wit, there is a notable climax scene with all these bees coming out of his mouth. Turns out — they were real and stung his face and inside of his mouth 23 times!
Don’t feel bad. He got $1,000 for each sting.
6. Child’s Play was Real?!
It’s the one note that didn’t make the marketing run of this surprisingly doltish film. Child’s Play was inspired. Back in 1988, just when you thought Hollywood struck gold on a completely fictional franchise, we discover Chucky — yeah, the murderous, talking doll — was, um, real?
It was 1909, and Key West painter and author Robert Eugene Otto believed one of his family’s servants placed a voodoo curse on his childhood toy, Robert the Doll. The doll was left in the attic until Otto’s death in 1974 because of “conversations with the doll,” “knocking furniture over,” and “scaring [Otto’s] son to death.”
Then, new owners moved into his Florida home…and they claimed mysterious activities would happen in the house connected to the doll. Today, Robert the Doll is on display at the Custom House and Old Post Office in Key West, Florida.
5. Oh, so was Scream
There’s no way Wes Craven borrows anything. The guy is brilliant and knows horror like professional athletes know baby mamas. That’s when Scream showed up and reinvigorated the slasher genre.
It was an out-of-bounds story. Slightly familiar plot. And all those girls. Oh yeah, that “Ghostface Killah” too (Wu-Tang represent). Turns out Wes Craven had a little inspiration behind the 1996 slasher film — “The Gainesville Ripper.” Yes, true story alert: five college students from the University of Florida were murdered in August 1990.
Daniel Harold Rolling went on his torture and killing spree and even posed the bodies (some decapitated) post-mortem. What would have been called “Scary Movie” needed to take the edge off such a grim tale of woe, so Scream was created.
4. A Wave of His Magic Wan
When Saw hit theaters, it was unlike any movie most horror fans ever had the chance to watch. Turns out the stellar director and ingenue James Wan had a more original approach than you think. The wooden puppet of Billy? He made it by hand. That’s an inspiration. He dreamed about this freak show and made a doll to follow suit. What a crafty tactician he is.
3. That Name is an Omen
Horror fun facts and terrorizing brats fans: Have you seen The Omen? (Honestly, you can’t be a fan of horror genre films if you haven’t at least heard of it.) That creepy kid is the stuff of legend! Now, everyone say his name with me — Domlin.
No? Wrong one? That was his original name, according to screenwriter David Seltzer.
The Antichrist was named after a “total obnoxious brat” child of Seltzer’s friend. His wife thought not so much as to not scar the kid (and lose the friendship), so Damien was born. Does anyone want to meet that pain-in-the-butt kid who inspired someone to make a film about an Antichrist?
(Ironically, the kid was named after a Catholic saint, Fr. Damien, who started the first leper colony in Hawai’i.)
2. Who is That Masked Man
Okay, here’s an easier horror movie name quiz: What is this guy’s name on Friday the 13th? Say it with me: Josh!
Oh, sorry. You missed that one too. The boy in the original would grow to wear a paper sack on his head like some demonic possessed ‘Unknown Comic’ (see Part II).
Victor Miller had this script he was working on called “Long Night at Camp Blood” with the deformed and deranged killer on the loose named “Josh Voorhees.” Fortunately, he realized “Josh” sounded too Boy Scouty, so Jason it was. And… bonus trivia?
Horror enthusiasts know what this is. That poster is from 1980 when Jason (or Josh) wasn’t even the franchise’s cornerstone. As for the famed “holiday,” that is thanks to director Sean S. Cunningham, who jumped the gun, and wrote Friday the 13th in a Variety advertisement (yes, that’s it) before he read the finished script.
He called the date. The trade mag published. And the rest is history.
1. Mr. Spielberg, We Have a Bone to Pick with You
You know the line, “They’re heeeeeeeeeeeeeeere.”
Back in 1982, when special effects were more creepy sounds, Claymation, and video editing, this film freaked folks out! To this day, Steven Spielberg created one of the most quoted movie lines in history. It’s also a movie full of horror fun facts, as the entire movie was cursed. And that’s the most ironic thing of them all. The plot was a subdivision built upon an old Indian burial ground–so, that’s the Poltergeist.
Back in real life, rumors swirled, and people squawked. Now, the movie is a film of a more morbid tale. (Shudder even did a documentary about it):
- In the franchise, there were three films, four lead actors prematurely dying, all within six years
- Among the family Freeling (the family haunted in the original movie) was the eldest daughter, Dana. When Poltergeist II came around, Dana was “away at college.” That’s because Dominque Dunne died at age 22 after being choked to death in her driveway by her stalker boyfriend.
- It was 17 years after the movie, but local construction worker “Pugsley” (Lou Perryman) was brutally murdered in his home by an ex-con with severe mental health issues.
- Julian Beck, an eerie Amish-looking cult leader from a Robert Eggers film, starred as the Rev. Henry Kane in Poltergeist I and II. He filmed both but only lived to see the first one because he struggled with stomach cancer during both films. And Will Sampson, who played the Native American local shaman, suffered a similar existence with the franchise. He passed away from scleroderma, a degenerative heart and lung disease.
- Lastly and most tragically, Heather O’ Rourke. She’s the beautiful girl and youngest Freeling with the famous tagline. During Poltergeist III, she was undergoing an operation for Crohn’s disease. One problem–she didn’t have the ailment. No one knew it was a misdiagnosis until her health went downhill fast. She succumbed to septic shock caused by some intestinal blockage, which would have been the correct diagnosis. She was 12 years old.
And then, there was this.
A heinous rumor was swirling around Hollywood about Spielberg’s commitment to special effects. As fate would have it, the rumor was also swirling down the drain of this pool of Cream of Wheat Diane Freeling (Jobeth Williams) got herself in.
You have to understand that this sequence took probably four or five days to shoot. So I was in mud and goop all day every day for like four or five days with skeletons all around me [as I was] screaming. In my innocence and naiveté, I assumed that these were not real skeletons. I assumed that they were prop skeletons made out of plastic or rubber. I found out — as did the whole crew — that they were using real skeletons, because it’s far too expensive to make fake skeletons out of rubber. And I think everybody got real creeped out by the idea of that.
Man, that Spielberg. He sure is committed.
Since he saw ‘Dune’ in the $1 movie theater as a kid, this guy has been a lover of geek culture. It wasn’t until he became a professional copywriter, ghostwriter, and speechwriter that he began to write about it (a lot).
From the gravitas of the Sith, the genius of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, or the gluttony of today’s comic fan, SPW digs intelligent debate about entertainment. He’s also addicted to listicles, storytelling, useless trivia, and the Oxford comma. And, he prefers his puns intended.