Film productions have always had the potential of danger and risk. With epic stunts, huge sets, and tons of electrical equipment. It’s easy to see why Hollywood filmmaking is a nightmare for health and safety officers. While safety standards have certainly become more rigid as time has gone by in order to protect folks working in film. There are still dangers with productions, whether it’s a stunt-filled action movie or a hilarious comedy.
What’s more interesting is that it is often the films with seemingly the least amount of risk that pose the greatest danger to the actors involved. From beloved kids’ movies to iconic ’90s comedies, there are some truly surprising culprits with scenes that were actually dangerous to film. So join us as we take a look at dangerous movie scenes that caused severe injuries.
Oz, a dangerous world
The Wizard of Oz with its bright technicolor world is loved by kids and adults alike. But the 1939 classic holds a dark secret of danger, accidents and poison behind-the-scenes. The production of the movie has become legendary for its many unfortunate mishaps. Incidences such as the Wicked Witch of the West accidentally set on fire due to a trap door malfunction. But it didn’t end there.
Actor Jack Haley, who played the Tin Man, got poisoned by his aluminum heavy makeup, and even Terry, the dog that played Toto, injured after one of the Winkie Guards accidentally stepped on her paw and broke it. Even worse than that, the fake snow used to cover the actors made out of asbestos, a toxic carcinogen.
Night of the Living Dead was a firing production
It’s impossible these days to think of a zombie movie or a classic horror in general and not think of Night of the Living Dead. One of the many things this horror classic had going for it was its realism, with audiences amazed by how believable it looked. A particular scene had a character throwing Molotov cocktails at the walking dead. And as it turns out, real Molotov cocktails actually tossed into the crowd of people playing zombies.
Writer John Russo, stated that it wouldn’t be believable to have so many Molotov cocktails thrown and no one catch fire. So he took one for the team and volunteered himself. Wearing no safety padding, other than a few layers of regular clothing, he set alight. While there were people ready with blankets to smother the flames, luckily, Russo walked away injury free.
The 40-Year-Old Virgin’s real pain equals real laughs
While no-one can doubt the acting chops of Steve Carell, a method actor is not what he’s known for. But for The 40-Year-Old Virgin, he went all the way method for a downright painful experience. The famous chest waxing scene is downright hilarious and Carell decided to get his chest waxed for real. Normally this wouldn’t be dangerous, but the stakes unknowingly raised with the hiring of Miki Mia. Who lied to the casting directors about her waxing expertise. The only waxing experience she had was once waxing her boyfriend’s back.
While Carell no doubt anticipated a certain level of pain, what he didn’t expect nearly getting his nipples ripped off as Mia didn’t take the important step of putting Vaseline around that area. The scene so painful to watch that co-star Romany Malco had to leave while Carell gritted his teeth. And followed through with the agonising waxing. Luckily for the audience, Carell’s agony just makes for even more laughs.
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Midnight Cowboy is walking here
You may assume that the standard for filming on location in the middle of a city is to close down the street, and for the most part you’d be right. But this wasn’t the case for John Schlesinger, director of the Academy-Award-winning classic, Midnight Cowboy. The film lacked a substantial budget, so to get around this, they simply filmed Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman walking and talking in the middle of real New York City traffic.
As the actors exchanged dialogue, Hoffman was moments away from what could’ve been a serious accident. A cab driver tried to run through a red light, nearly hitting Hoffman. This led to his genuine response of “Hey, I’m walkin’ here!” The line has become a classic piece of dialogue.
Grease, a series of unfortunate events
While the characters of Grease certainly cool and smooth, the production was filled with unfortunate events. The car racing scene required John Travolta and Danny Stewart to splash through water, which turned out to be stagnant and filled with bacteria. The Los Angeles gymnasium where the prom scene dance filmed, didn’t have any windows or air conditioning, and doors closed to control lighting. The location got so hot that several members of the cast had to helped off-set due to heat-related illnesses. While doing a take of Grease Lightning, Jeff Conaway slipped and fell, leading to lifelong back pain and an addiction to opioids. Join us as we take a look at dangerous movie scenes that caused severe injuries.
Carrie was intense onscreen and off
While Brian De Palma’s Carrie is still as terrifying as it’s ever been, the production had its own alarming intensity. Actress Sissy Spacek so committed to staying in character that she isolated herself from her cast mates, slept in her bloody dress and even insisted on buried alive so she could push her own hand out of the grave for the movie’s shock ending.
But it was the climactic prom scene that proved to be most dangerous. With scenes like this, filmmakers have to put in the extra effort to make sure everything is prepared in order to avoid mishaps. But, no matter the prep, bad things can happen. During the shoot, a fireman refused to operate the firehose because it was too strong, so a stuntman stepped in to do it himself. PJ Soles, who played the bully Norma, experienced the danger first hand when she sprayed in the ear with a fire hose. The strength of the spray was so strong that she suffered from a ruptured ear drum for six months. You can see the painful moment in the final cut of the film, as the actress screams in agony. Join us as we take a look at dangerous movie scenes that caused severe injuries.
There will be bowling balls thrown at your head
When it comes to method acting, no-one takes it as seriously or as far as Daniel Day Lewis. For his role as Daniel Plainview in Paul Thomas Anderson’s, There Will Be Blood, Day Lewis got fully into character to play the violent and angry oilman. One of the movie’s most iconic moments had Day Lewis scream in the face of his co-star Paul Dano, before throwing bowling balls at him.
But this climactic scene was actually far more dangerous than people realised. Always committed to authenticity, Day Lewis insisted on throwing actual bowling balls at Dano, who just barely got out of the way. Safe to say, this commitment to realism was certainly worth it as it’s now an iconic moment in film history. Join us as we take a look at dangerous movie scenes that caused severe injuries.
Willy Wonka’s chocolate river created quite the stench
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory has loved by countless children and adults since its release in 1971. While such fantastical moments as Willy Wonka’s chocolate river are pure fun fantasy, filming in this candy wonderland wasn’t quite so wondrous.
The actor Michael Bollner, played Augustus Gloop, the kid whose greed leads him to fall into the chocolate river. While this does sound like a dream to most kids, it was actually a bit of a nightmare. The water was a 150,000 gallon mixture of water, cream, chocolate. And leftover coffee that dumped by people on set. The water created a stench that only got worse over time, as the cream spoiled during the course of the shoot.
It took Bollner several takes to get what they needed, leaving him soaked in his smelly clothes for the entire day. The filming of this scene was so problematic that it raises the question of whether they were even allowed to film this scene in the way that they did with a child.
Gunshots fired on the set of The Exorcist
The Exorcist may nowadays be more famous for its terrifying production than it is for its horror on screen. To prove this fact, there are people who worked on the film that believe it’s cursed. Ellen Burstyn, who played Chris MacNeil, still suffers today with a back injury caused from being yanked by a harness during the shoot. Other creepy incidents include the entire set burning down, several cast members dying while the film in production, and a priest even brought in to bless the set.
Things didn’t improve when the director, William Friedkin, decided to use scare tactics in order to elicit the most authentic reactions on screen. One way he would do this was by randomly shooting guns on set. This led to Jason Miller, who played Father Karras, getting into an altercation with Friedkin after he fired a gun next to Miller’s ear in order to get a surprise reaction. Friedkin never denied the actions and went as far as to dismiss them because he was only firing blanks.
Which dangerous scene surprised you the most? Is there one that we missed of our list? Let us know in the comments section below and don’t forget to subscribe to Facts Verse for more. Click the bell icon to stay updated on all our latest content.