Dark Secrets About Movies That Will Shock You

By: Kate Row | Published: Oct 27, 2022

A good movie will suck you in and allow you to leave this world and enter a new one. While we’re usually invested in what’s happening on-screen, what happens behind the camera can be just as interesting.

There are some dark and shocking secrets about your favorite films that might just change the way you watch them. Check out these disturbing secrets that give you a glimpse into the toxicity of the film industry.

The Notebook

The Notebook is one of the most popular romance movies of all time. Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams had such amazing chemistry on-screen which made their romance so believable. However, things were not as loving off-screen. 

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Apparently Ryan and Rachel were not all too happy to work together and the chemistry did not translate off-camera. They bickered throughout the filming of the movie. However, they were able to get the job done and deliver one of the most iconic love stories of all time and you’d never know they didn’t get along.

The Mummy

Things got a little dangerous on the set of The Mummy. This 90s classic was chock full of stunts that put its star, Brendan Fraser, to the test. If you didn’t think acting was a dangerous gig, think again!

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Brendan has a noose around his neck in one scene of the film that turned out to be a little too real. He almost hung himself on accident with the prop and ended up passing out from lack of oxygen! But he made a quick recovery!

Titanic

This James Cameron classic has become one of the most iconic films of all time. The romantic twist on one of the most famous shipwrecks in history drew fans in! You would never know that the crew that worked on the film took a little “trip” together.

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Someone snuck some PCP into a bowl of food that was being served to the cast and crew at a celebration dinner, including James Cameron. Not cool! Thankfully, the entire group was fine, just a bit giggly.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Jim Carrey as The Grinch is a Christmas favorite. Interestingly, we wouldn’t have How the Grinch Stole Christmas without Jim Carrey making an incredible sacrifice. The actor had to sit in the makeup chair for 8 hours a day to transform him into the green creature we all know and love.

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To endure these long hours of makeup and prosthetics he actually had to go through anti-torture training! Think about that major commitment next time you watch the classic film. It might make you even more appreciative of the actor and his sacrifices for the role.

Cannibal Holocaust

The problem with found footage films like The Blair Witch Project and Cannibal Holocaust is that they make their movies as realistic as possible. This sometimes means they become too realistic and law enforcement gets involved!

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The actors from Cannibal Holocaust signed a contract that promised they would disappear for one entire year after the release off the film to make it seem like they had actually died, as they did in the film. It got so out of hand that the director was actually arrested and they had to ask the actors to break their contract and prove that he hadn’t actually killed them!

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The Wizard of Oz

Remember Toto, the cute dog in Wizard of Oz that was by Dorothy’s side throughout the film? Well, that dog was paid handsomely for its role in the film. No problem there; that little pup did work hard!

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What is kind of dark about this is that the dog was paid more than some of the human actors! Imagine putting in long hours to appear in a film that is paying the dog more than you. That’s incredibly insulting. We’re not sure who negotiated Toto’s deal, but they were obviously good at their job.

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Singin’ In the Rain

This musical classic is an upbeat film that has brought joy to tons of fans throughout the years. The famous Debbie Reynolds starred in this film and things were not so jolly for her off-screen. Another star in the film, Gene Kelly, was so judgemental of Debbie that she broke down in tears. 

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She danced nonstop to prove her bully wrong and her hard work paid off! The film ended up being the big break she had hoped it would be.

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Candyman

In the original Candyman Tony Todd had some very interesting costars. Those bees in the classic scene were real! Tony decided against having extra protection for this scene as well! He was willing to sacrifice himself to a few bee stings on one condition.

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He negotiated that he would make more money if he agreed to do the scene himself, with no protection. He made an extra $23,000 for this scene alone. We’re impressed!

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The Crow

The movie The Crow has potentially the darkest behind the scenes accident of all. The star, Brandon Lee, suffered a gunshot to his abdomen during filming  that ended up being fatal. The son of the famous martial artist, Bruce Lee, was committed to his role in The Crow. 

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So much so, in fact, that he did his own stunts and one of which involved a gun. Somehow, the gun was real and he was shot in the abdomen in an accident that would tragically cost him his life.

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Poltergeist

The original Poltergeist movie was released in 1982 and the rules for filming were awfully different back then. To create the bone chilling feeling that we all got watching the film, they used some realistic props.

 

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In fact, they were a little too realistic. Those “skeleton props” were actually real life human skeletons. To make matters worse, the cast didn’t even know! That would never fly today.

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Now You See Me

This film was all about creating unbelievable tricks and stunts that seemed impossible yet real. However, one of the stunts got a little too real for Isla Fisher. She was submerged and chained in a water tank and had to find a way to escape.

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She realized that something went wrong with the stunt and cried out for help. But the cast and crew thought  she was just doing a really good job acting! They definitely should have had a signal for if things went wrong. Thankfully, she was just fine.

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Ray

The movie Ray paid tribute to one of the greatest musicians of all time: Ray Charles. He was famous for his incredible voice as well as the fact that he was blind and never let it hold him back in any way.

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Jamie Foxx brought Ray to life in the film and was able to transform into the musician in a way that captivated audiences. A little known secret about the film is that Jamie actually glued his eyes shut to embrace Ray’s visual impairment. He couldn’t open his eyes when they were filming. Scary!

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The Shining

Shelly Duvall famously played Wendy Torrance in the classic horror film The Shining. Unfortunately, poor Shelley experienced such nasty bullying off-screen that she was probably just as traumatized as her character was in the movie.

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Apparently, Stanley Kubrick targeted the poor woman and pushed her to tears. Kubrick told her that she was wasting the cast and crew’s time if she wouldn’t push the envelope. Luckily, she made it through that experience.

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Home Alone

Macaulay Culkin absolutely captivated our hearts with this Christmas classic. You would never know that an accident on set had the young child actor injured. In one scene, Joe Pesci hangs Macaulay on a hook on the door.

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He was supposed to pretend to bite the kid’s finger but he got a little too involved in the scene and actually bit him! Macaulay now has a permanent scar on his finger from the incident!

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Apocalypse Now

Apocalypse Now was a huge role for Martin Sheen. But, the role was certainly not easy. He was tested both mentally and physically for the demanding role. He even locked himself away in isolation for a few days to get into character.

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He was pushed so far, in fact, that he had a heart attack during filming! It ended with Martin calling a priest to read him his last rites as a safety in case he did not survive the filming.

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Texas Chainsaw Massacre

This movie is scary enough on-screen, but what occurred during filming only adds to the grotesque nature of the film. When the cast wasn’t running from the psycho with the chainsaw, they were getting ill. 

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Apparently the cast was sick for the last few days of shooting. It might have something to do with the musty filming location. More likely, it was related to the dead animals that were lit on fire outside of the filming house.

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The Exorcist

The Exorcist is widely regarded as one of the most iconic horror films of all time. Everyone can imagine those unnatural positions that the actress had to assume to make it appear as though she had been possessed.

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Well, transforming into that monster actually gave poor Linda Blair permanent back damage! Years after filming she discovered she had scoliosis as a result of her movements in the film. If you rewatch the film you might find yourself cringing a little harder.

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Shark!

Filming with animals always poses some level of risk, especially when those animals are sharks. This film has a very dark secret that occurred right on camera. Tragically, a stunt performer was actually killed by a shark while filming!

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To make matters worse, they were actually promotional images that featured the real attack. And these images somehow made their way into LIFE magazine. The awful incident informed safety regulations in films to follow.

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Shrek

The beloved Dreamworks movie Shrek is a fan favorite for kids and adults. Mike Meyers brought the voice of Shrek to life. But before he was on the project, a different man was set to play the iconic ogre.

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The legendary comedian, Chris Farley, was supposed to be the voice behind Shrek. In fact, he had recorded more than 90% of the film when he passed away suddenly. Mike had to step in and re-record the entire thing!

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Noah’s Ark

This film that came out in 1928 was a spectacular story with amazing special effects that the world hadn’t seen before. However, the flood scene actually became a very tragic accident. 3 people were killed in the filming of this famous scene.

 

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The crew used 600,000 gallons of water to film the flood scene and while most of the extras were able to get out unscathed, 3 unlucky members drowned during filming. 

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The Exorcist (again)

In addition to the permanent back damage that the lead actress suffered as a result of the film, there were many other things that went wrong during the filming of this horror movie. One of the extras had a dark secret of his own that didn’t come to light until years after the movie was released.

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The movie extra was a former radiographer and is now a convicted murderer! This didn’t come to light until decades after the movie was out. He is now serving time for his crimes.

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Zodiac

This film based on the true story about the hunt for the Zodiac Killer had many stars on set. One of which was Robert Downey Jr. who has a bit of a reputation for being a diva in Hollywood. The set was apparently pretty tense, which makes sense for the subject matter they were covering. 

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The actor had an interesting way of protesting the long hours that were required for filming the difficult movie. He actually bottled his pee and hid it around the set. Gross!

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The Departed

During filming for the movie The Departed, Jack Nicholson wanted to get a real reaction out of his fellow costar, Leonardo DiCaprio. But the way he decided to get this very real reaction was  sinister, not to mention dangerous!

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Nicholson pulled a real gun on the young Leonardo DiCaprio. If you rewatch the film, you may be able to tell that Leo’s reaction is completely genuine as he had no idea Nicholson was going to take the scene there.

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The Birds

This horror movie brought to life by Alfred Hitchcock is even scarier when you know the realities of how they brought fright to life. Tippi Hedron’s fear is anything but fake in this treacherous film.

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In the scene where Tippi is running from the birds, she is actually incredibly scared. They tied a bunch of birds to her body and even threw live birds at her to make the chaos seem more believable. Mission accomplished, but at what cost?

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Charlie’s Angels

As far as we know, Charlie’s angels all got along great on set: Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz, adn Lucy Liu. But, there was definitely some friction between Bill Murray and the angles off-screen. 

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One day, Bill came to work in a bad mood and started targeting Lucy with his mean jokes. Lucy immediately made it clear to him that she would not be the butt of his jokes. Eventually, the crew had to all sit down together to fix the situation so they could continue filming.

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Twilight Zone: The Movie

The helicopter scene in The Twilight Zone is much more sinister than you might think. 3 people lost their lives during the filming of this scene. 2 of which were children younger than 10 years old. 

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A court case followed the tragic incident and this was a huge step in changing safety regulations on movie sets because no one wanted to see a horrible thing like this happen again. More than 1 law was broken in the filming of this movie, including the fact that the child actors were hired without proper paperwork.

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The Passion of the Christ

During filming of this movie there were a lot of unexplainable and bizarre disasters that kept happening. The crew couldn’t explain many of the strange coincidences that kept happening on set. But the scariest occurrence happened to the lead star, who played Jesus.

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Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus in the film, was actually struck by lighting during production! Physically, he was fine, but the crew was very concerned about all of the weird things that happened on set. But, they did not halt production!

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The Lord of the Rings

Actor Sean Astin did a wonderful job playing the important role of Samwise in this fantasy film. What would Frodo be without his best friend? But this fantasy movie turned real when Sean was injured on set. 

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He had to be flown to the hospital when he stepped on a piece of glass during filming. That’s the thing about Hobbits; they’re barefoot! Fortunately, he was just fine and his injury wasn’t the only one suffered. Another actor broke his toe on set later.

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Django Unchained

This gory and intense film starring Leonardo DiCaprio is another fine example of the actor’s amazing talents. If you’ve seen the film, you might not even be aware of the level of dedication that DiCaprio had to the character.

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In one scene his character breaks a glass and it shatters everywhere. Unbeknownst to the audience, the actor’s hand was actually bleeding in the sceen. He continued to act through it and they kept it in the movie.

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2001: A Space Odyssey

There’s no question that Stanley Kubrick is a talented filmmaker, but like any artist, he has his interesting quirks. Apparently, after he makes one of his fantastic films, he likes to completely destroy the props connected to it.

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We can’t be sure why. However, in the case of this movie the Academy stepped in and stopped him from ruining all the amazing props. This included $350,000 worth of spaceship props which are now on display in a museum.

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The Matrix

Carrie-Anne Moss did an excellent job bringing the character of Trinity to life. It’s hard to imagine this iconic film without her! You might be interested to learn that she was fighting an injury privately the whole time.

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She twisted her ankle during filming and didn’t tell anyone until after the movie wrapped! She was fearful that they would re-cast her and she was not ready to give up this amazing role. That’s some major commitment.

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Gone With the Wind

When Gone With The Wind was filmed in 1939, dental practices were vastly different than they are today. Clark Gable, who starred in the film, had a mouth full of fake teeth which was not uncommon for the time. 

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Vivien Leigh, who played his love interest, was not fond of kissing the man on set. The combination of his fake teeth, his excessive smoking, and his habit of eating garlic before scenes really put her off. Yuck!

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Jaws

Jaws was revolutionary for film in many ways. It’s perhaps the most iconic shark horror movie of all time and will likely not be soon contested. Steven Spielberg used special effects that were pretty trendsetting for the time.

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In the scene where Chrissie’s remains are found, you’ll notice a hand sticking out. This was a real crew member that Spielberg buried with only the hand showing. He felt this would add validity to the scene and inspire more emotion. He was right.

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Groundhog Day

Some of us still rely on a groundhog to let us know what the weather is going to be like. This inspired the movie Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray. As we know, working with real animals can be risky.

 

 

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The actor was actually bitten by the groundhog twice on set! He even had to have rabies injections. Since Bill was the one who insisted on using real animals, we wonder if he regretted his decision.

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