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10 Terrible Events Behind Your Favorite Movies

by Jared R.
fact checked by Jamie Frater

It takes a whole heck of a lot of work to make a feature film. Hundreds of people are pouring their blood, sweat, and tears into films that could take years of labor before they get to see the light of day. With so many people working around the clock, it is easy to see why bad things can happen during production. But sometimes things can go from bad to downright terrible.

10 Christian Bale Nearly Kills Himself For The Machinist

The Machinist trailer

Christian Bale can best be described as the real-life Nutty Professor. But instead of putting on a fat suit and pretending to be everybody in a film, Christian Bale opts for the more subtle approach of just going on insane diets to help him lose and gain weight like it’s nobody’s business. And I don’t mean something like dropping 20 pounds so you can look more like an action hero either. Christian Bale supposedly holds the record for the most weight lost for a role in the history of cinema, a whopping 30 kilograms (65 lbs). He said he wanted to lose more, but medical professionals warned him that he would likely die if he attempted it.

Just how much did he weigh when filming started? A whole 50 kilograms (110 lbs). He achieved this weight by dining on a single can of tuna and an apple every single day leading up to the beginning of the film’s production. The stress of starving himself was so great that he actually took up smoking to help curb his appetite and calm himself down. If you’re ever doing something that requires you to smoke to keep sane, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. The effects of his weight loss were extremely apparent throughout filming as Christian Bale found himself incapable of running long distances for more than a minute or two at a time simply because his body had eaten away at his muscles. Just as impressive, however, is the fact that he regained all his original weight plus some extra in the span of a few months to prepare for the movie Batman Begins.

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9 One Scene Took A Year In The Shining

Stanley Kubrick might be remembered as one of the greatest directors in the history of film making, but that title didn’t come to him very easily. Famous for being so meticulous in his set designs that more than one of his films has sparked conspiracy theories, the most famous being that he helped faked the Moon landing and then hid evidence of it in the movie The Shining. On top of this, he was also absolutely cruel to people working with him on his different movies. Another popular piece of trivia that comes from The Shining is the fact that every page with the phrase “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” was hand written on a typewriter by an actual person.

But that isn’t even the beginning of Kubrick’s madness and attention to detail. It was very common for Kubrick to reshoot the same scene dozens of times until he felt he had the perfect shot for the film. The scene where the character Hallorann explains what the shining actually is took a world record 148 takes, but that is nothing compared to the famous blood elevator scene. While it only took three takes, it actually took nine days to set the elevator up each time they needed to do a reshoot. The scene took up less than 30 seconds of run time, but ended up taking a full year’s worth of editing before Kubrick had something he wanted to add into the movie.

8 People Earn Less Than Dogs In The Wizard of Oz

If you haven’t seen the version of The Wizard of Oz that was released in 1939, then you’re either under the age of six or currently living in a very foreign country. Practically everyone in the United States will end up viewing this movie at least once in their lifetime, and the reason is obvious: The film is a bona fide classic. But just because the movie has been the subject of nearly 80 years of praise doesn’t mean that everyone involved got their fair share from the movie’s success.

I am, of course, talking about the little people who played the Munchkins of the Lollipop Guild in the movie. While the rumors that one of the Munchkins hung himself on camera and ended up appearing in one of the film’s scenes is just a rumor, it is easy to see why such a rumor might have been started when you hear that the actors playing the Munchkins were paid a mere $50 a week for their work. Sure that isn’t anything to scoff at in terms of 1930’s money, but then you hear that the dog that played Toto received $125 per week. They weren’t even earning half of what a dog earned, despite the fact that they were humans with actual lines in the movie.

7 Film Fitzcarraldo Was More Difficult Than Real Life

Fitzcarraldo is the story of a clearly insane man who longed to build an opera house out in the jungle. He planned on paying for his dream by having his 300-ton boat hauled over a 40-degree slope so he could reach a vast network of untouched reserves of rubber. Now here’s where things get crazy. The movie is based on the true story of a man named Carlos Fitzcarrald who actually did haul his boat over a 40-degree hilltop to reach said rubber reserves. But instead of hauling a 300-ton boat all in one piece, the person the story is based on only hauled a 32-ton boat, and that was only after the boat was taken apart so it could be rebuilt on the other side.

While moving a 32-ton boat in pieces through the Amazon rainforest can be considered nearly impossible at best, Herzog was determined to move his 300-ton vessel for real, simply because it looked more dramatic. And that’s exactly what he did. Other than the added help of a bulldozer for support behind the boat itself, nearly everything was done by hired natives and contractors. As if trying to push a boat that big wasn’t dangerous enough, they also faced attacks from natives, animals, and just whatever else nature could throw at them. Limbs were lost, people “might” have died, and a boat was successfully moved over a hilltop. And it only took four years of hard work and a blatant disregard for anything resembling a world based in reality.

6 Sacrilege In Old Boy

Oldboy “Eating Live Octopus” – Behind The Scenes

Many religions have dietary restrictions. Some of them have days where you can’t eat for certain periods of time while there are others that simply forbid you from eating or drinking very specific things. Then there is Buddhism. While eating meat is frowned upon in certain areas that practice Buddhism, you aren’t actually going against Buddhism by doing it. That is, unless you’re eating something that was killed specifically for you. Purposefully ending another animal’s life just so you can eat it is a no-no in Buddhism. The reason I’m bringing this up is because Choi Min-sik is a Buddhist.

And he ate a live octopus to film a scene in the movie Old Boy. Not one octopus mind you: He ate four whole living octopi before the director got the shot that he wanted. While it was against his religion to do so, Choi Min-sik understood that the scene was extremely important for his character and willingly ate the invertebrates. He did, of course, pray for forgiveness after each take, and the octopi were given a special thank-you message after the movie was released to make up for the act of killing them.

5People Almost Died In Lord Of The Rings

LotR Outtakes Part 2

When you work on a series of films such as the Lord of the Rings trilogy for the better part of a half decade, you can’t really be surprised when something goes wrong every once in a while. No matter how safe and careful you are, you’re always just buying yourself a little extra time until the next accident happens, and there sure were a lot of accidents on set. Most of the time they were nothing serious, but we aren’t interested in what happens most of the time. During the scene where Aragorn is floating down a river unconscious, the actor Viggo Mortensen was pulled into a rapid and flung past where all of the safety technicians were. The current forced him into a stone wall and held him underwater out of sight for several seconds until he luckily slipped out of the current pushing him.

While drowning would be a pretty awful way to go, Viggo Mortensen almost one-upped himself with a knife to the face. During a battle with an orc, there was supposed to be a scene where an actual blade was thrown into a tree. When it came time to throw the blade, the orc’s throw was off center and the knife went flying straight for Viggo’s face. Viggo deflected the blade with his sword just before it struck him, narrowly avoiding disaster once again (and accidentally revealing himself as the physical manifestation of Aragorn).

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4Oompa Loompas In Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was filmed in Germany nearly 25 years after the fall of the Nazis, but that doesn’t mean that the crew working on the movie didn’t have to deal with the effects that Hitler left behind, because one of the many groups Hitler had a problem with those he deemed to have birth defects, which included people with dwarfism.

As you probably noticed, Willy Wonka employed quite a few little people in his factory. This caused a problem with the casting director, because back in the ’60s and ’70s, it was virtually impossible to find any adult little people in Germany, let alone one that had acting or singing lessons. To find the people they needed for their movie, they were forced to look all over Europe just to get a handful of actors, not all of which had any theatrical training. If you watch closely during the movie, you can see some of them aren’t even singing. This is because quite a few of them couldn’t even speak English (let alone remember their lines) when they were hired onto the movie.

3 Everybody Got Cancer For STALKER

The movie STALKER is probably the weirdest one on this list. A foreign scifi-ish movie based on the book A Roadside Picnic (in which nothing happens while at the same time, everything happens). It can be hard to follow the first time through and requires more than one viewing to fully understand. I’m only explaining all this because it is most likely the least-watched film on this list—a real shame seeing as at least three people died just to get it out to you. Everything in the movie STALKER was filmed on location at or near a chemical dumping site. In the movie, the area was titled “The Zone” and was considered an area where no human was meant to tread. In real life, it was a highly toxic area where no human was meant to tread.

The effects of the radiation and poisoning of the land were extremely apparent throughout filming. During a scene where the Stalker lies in a small stream, you can see iridescent colors streaking the water. This wasn’t planned for the film: The colors in the water were caused by chemicals being dumped in by a nearby factory. Even more shocking was a scene where snow began to fall in what was clearly a summer location. Again, these were insanely hazardous chemicals falling out of the sky and anyone (especially women) who came into contact with them became violently ill. Multiple people on set developed cancer and at least three died as a result. To make matters even worse, most of the original film was destroyed in an accident, forcing everyone to go back to the toxic location and film again, further infecting themselves with whatever horrors the Zone had to offer.

2 Bigfoot Gets AIDS In Harry And The Hendersons

Harry and the Hendersons – the series pt 1

Through the 1970s up until his death in 1991, Kevin Peter Hall was pretty much every monster you ever saw in a movie or TV show thanks to his 218 centimeter stature (7’2″), but he was most famous for playing the Predator in the movies of the same name. While working on the television show Harry and the Hendersons as Harry the Bigfoot, Kevin Peter Hall was involved in a serious car accident and had to be rushed to the hospital for a blood transfusion. Unfortunately, the blood he received was tainted with HIV and he contracted AIDS as a result. Very shortly after his diagnoses, he developed pneumonia and died from complications stemming from AIDS.

1 The Twilight Zone Claims A Man And Two Children

Twilight Zone Accident

The Twilight Zone is one of the most classic television shows ever produced in America. The stories are so well-known that people could tell you the twists that happen in most episodes despite having never even seeing a single episode of the hit show. This isn’t because they were predictable, but because they left such lasting impressions on people over the decades that they just kept cropping up as homages in different shows and movies. The legacy of Rod Serling will certainly live on for many decades to come, but there will always be a black mark on its record after the events that claimed the lives of three people on the set of the 1980s movie remake simply titled The Twilight Zone.

Early one morning, Vic Morrow and two young Vietnamese children were filming a war scene where Vic had to carry the two children through waist-deep water while being chased by a helicopter. Vic Morrow had joked shortly before filming that he should have gotten a stunt double since the scene looked dangerous and difficult, but he decided to do it himself anyway. Shortly after the director yelled “Action,” a problem arose with pyrotechnics coming too close to the helicopter. The helicopter pilot was unable to correct for his adjustments, and his aircraft came crashing down on Vic Morrow and the two children. Vic and one of the children were decapitated by the helicopter’s blades while the second child was crushed underneath the water.

Five people, including director John Landis, were charged with three counts of involuntary manslaughter. They were all found not guilty and served no jail time. There were arguments saying that the children should have never been in the water and that multiple child safety and labor laws had been broken by having them film such a dangerous scene so early in the morning, but it was determined to be irrelevant in the overall court rulings.

Jared R. writes for

fact checked by Jamie Frater