As cinephiles, we do more than “go to movies.” We study them. We visit the theater with a ticket and leave with an experience.
However, while you were sitting in that dark theater white-knuckling a cardboard cup of soda to the point of a Mount Vesuvius on your pants during a jump scare, there may have been a few things you didn’t notice during your favorite horror movie.
Good thing I binge these things like an employee at Hot Topic can’t get enough mascara — guy or gal. So, recline your chair and read carefully to 15 fun facts about horror movies you may not know…
1. Mother Flushing Psycho
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, and that was the first time a deuce went down in film. Hitchcock…what a master!
2. The Wave of a Magic Wan
When Saw hit theaters, it was unlike any movie most horror fans ever had the chance to watch. Turns out 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 inspiration.
3. Outside the Para-Norm
Nice house, right? Turns out 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.
4. Ed Gein-ing Momentum
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 blet made from nipples.
All that crime had its toll on his psyche as Ed Gein 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. (Yeah, dude was that sick and, uh, inspirational?)
5. The Babadook > The Exorcist?!
When Jennifer Kent released her epic horror film The Babadook, she never imagined the love she would get from an icon in the business. Just imagine waking up as Jennifer and seeing this in your timeline. Life. Made.
I’ve never seen a more terrifying film than THE BABADOOK.
It will scare the hell out of you as it did me.
— William Friedkin (@WilliamFriedkin) December 1, 2014
6. Based on a True Story: Child’s Play?!
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?
In 1909, 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.
7. So was Scream
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 that re-energized the genre — “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.
8. Not 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. Spoiler alert: 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.
9. Michael: Unmasked? That’s Logical.
Can you imagine that majestic character without a skin mask? There is no way that movie is as successful without that haunting visage of Michael Myers staring at you from the screen. But yeah, the mask wasn’t in the script. In fact, what it did read was Michael had “the pale, neutral features of a man.”
Make up wasn’t doing the trick, so one fateful stop to the local toy store for inspiration. There it was: a mask of Captain James Tiberius Kirk, and *BOOM* we have a horror legend.
10. An Omen of a Name
Horror classic fans: See The Omen? (Honestly, you can’t be a fan if you haven’t at least heard of it.) That creepy kids is the stuff of legend! Now, everyone say his name — Domlin. No? Wrong one? Actually, that was his original name, according to screenwriter David Seltzer.
The Antichrist was named after a “total obnoxious brat” child of a friend. His wife thought maybe not so much as to not scar the kid (and lose the friendship) and Damien was born.
(Ironically, named after a Catholic saint, Fr. Damien who started the first leper colony in Hawai’i.)
11. Who is That Masked Man?
Okay, here’s an easier horror movie quiz: What is the name of this guy in Friday the 13th? Say it with me: Josh!
Oh, sorry. You missed that one too. The boy in the original who 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?
As for the famed “holiday,” that is thanks to director Sean Cunningham, who jumped the gun, wrote Friday the 13th in a Variety advertisement (yes, that’s it) before he read the finished script. The rest is history.
12. That’s Too Easy, Johnny
Despite what Stephen King thinks, we assume most of you have seen The Shining? You know the notorious scene where Jack Torrance obliterates that door with an ax? Turns out Jack Nicholson knows a thing or two about that. You see, he was a volunteer firefighter.
Apparently, prop doors weren’t much of a match for Jack’s firefighter bravado (like shattering them in two chops) so that is a real door in the movie ensconcing his chiseled jaw. And, this one scene took three days to film — and 60 doors (until they used a real one).
13. The Blinking Grand Champion Is…
The original vampiric movie, Nosferatu, was released in 1922. Max Schreck, who plays the diabolical and eternal Count Orlok, looks hideous. Even a century later, some people get squeamish looking at him. And that’s probably because he never blinks. Well, almost never. Throughout the 94-minute film, Schreck blinks only once!
14. Have a Bone to Pick with You
Poltergeist is a movie that freaked many people out in the early ’80s. Home to one of the most quoted movie lines in history, there was a rumor that turned out to be true following the movie’s release.
There’s Diane Freeling (Jobeth Williams), sucked into her swimming pool when this happens. Later, she discovered that bony dude yelling at her was real. Man, that Spielberg. He sure is committed.
15. Too Dark (Even for Freddy Krueger)
In 1984, Wes Craven wanted to truly horrify people about this idea of a man who kills sleeping teenagers while they dream. That’s awful, and obviously created quite a hubbub for more than a decade with the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise.
To Craven, an elephantine man orphan raised in a slaughterhouse wasn’t morbid enough. So, he considered making Freddy a child molester. Fortunately, for PR sake, Craven watched the news. At the time, there was a story about a South Bay (California) child molesting ring.
Opting for “too soon,” we got Freddy Englund’s seminal portrayal.
There’s more where that came from. If you dig it, let us know and we’ll do some more digging too.