Skip To Content

    27 Horror Movie Behind-The-Scenes Facts That Are Equal Parts Fascinating And Spooky

    Hey, did you know that real skeletons cost less than fake ones? 'Cause Hollywood does.

    Warning: (Spooky) spoilers ahead!

    1. In the final version of Get Out, Chris is crawling away from the murderous Rose when what appears to be a police car arrives. Then, to the relief of Chris and audience members alike, it's revealed that it's not the police, but Chris's friend Rod, who works for the TSA.

    Chris holds his hands up, only to discover it's Rod, and not a policeman

    That wasn't director and writer Jordan Peele's first idea, though.

    Jordan Peele holding his Oscar

    Producer Sean McKittrick told Vulture that they "tested the movie with the original 'sad truth' ending where, when the cop shows up, it’s an actual cop and Chris goes to jail," but decided to change it, in part because the movie was made in "this new world where all the racism crept out from under the rocks again."

    Chris getting hypnotized

    Peele added, "I think my improv training just put me in this mind frame of, with each problem, there’s not one solution, there’s not two solutions, there’s an infinite amount of great solutions. ... When I realized the original, downer ending wasn’t working, I didn’t freak out. I looked at it as an opportunity to come up with a better ending."

    Jordan Peele directing

    2. The most famous scene in Carrie was filmed in only one or two takes.

    Carrie after being crowned prom queen

    The most famous scene being, of course, the one where Carrie gets drenched in pig's blood by cruel classmates immediately after being crowned prom queen. To put it lightly, the burgeoning telekinetic does not take it well.

    Carrie drenched in blood

    Brian DePalma, the director of the original Carrie, told Kimberly Peirce, the director of the 2013 remake, that he only needed a single take to get the pig's blood moment right.

    Carrie, drenched in blood, with fire behind her

    But Sissy Spacek, who played Carrie in DePalma's version, told Yahoo! Movies that they shot the scene twice. The blood, by the way, was made from "Karo syrup and food coloring," and they warmed it up before pouring it on Spacek. She described it as "a warm blanket."

    Spacek as Carrie before her murderous rampage

    3. Three different horror moviesPsycho (1960), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), and The Silence of the Lambs (1991) — were all inspired by the same serial killer.

    The posters for all three movies

    That serial killer was Ed Gein, who became "infamous for skinning human corpses" and was ultimately found guilty of two murders, though a disturbing collection of human remains at his farm suggested an even grimmer criminal history.

    Ed Gein being led out of court

    The life and crimes of Gein inspired Norman Bates of Psycho...

    Andrew Perkins as Norman Bates, standing underneath a taxidermied owl

    ..."the body-part home decor, the possible cannibalism, and the masks of skin" in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre...

    the family of cannibals in the texas chain saw massacre

    ...and Buffalo Bill of The Silence of the Lambs (though his character was also influenced by "Ted Bundy, Gary Heidnik, and Edmund Kemper").

    Buffalo Bill at the door

    4. Jack Reynor, who played Dani's boyfriend Christian in Midsommar, pushed for more nudity in a pivotal sex scene.

    He told the Los Angeles Times that since seeing men in such a vulnerable situation is a relative rarity in horror movies, "it does flip that dynamic on its head a little bit, and it was an opportunity for me to experience something of that as a male actor. ... And to shoot a scene where I was going to have to be exposed — I advocated for as much full-frontal nudity as possible."

    Jack Reynor at a Midsommar screening

    Reynor said that while he "wanted to embrace the feeling of being exposed and the humiliation of this character," he still felt "really, really vulnerable, more than I had actually even anticipated."

    Jack Reynor and his friends in Midsommar

    5. The crew of Mother! made Jennifer Lawrence a "Kardashian tent," where the actor could watch Keeping Up With the Kardashians, eat gumballs, and "decompress" after filming intense scenes.

    Naturally, it was also decorated with pictures of the Kardashians.

    All of the Kardashians posing together

    Lawrence told Vogue that in filming the movie, "I had to go to a darker place than I’ve ever been in my life. I didn’t know if I’d be able to come out OK." The tent provided a much-needed "happy place" for the performer.

    the poster for mother! with J. Law holding her own heart in her hands

    6. The door Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) chops down with an axe in The Shining was originally a fake, but it had to be replaced with a real one because Nicholson destroyed it too quickly.

    Jack breaking through the door in the "Here's Johnny!" moment

    As it turns out, at one point Nicholson "trained as a fire marshal," so the dummy door was no match for him.

    Torrance looking unhinged in the snow

    7. Wes Craven told Vulture that his script for A Nightmare on Elm Street was inspired by a real story.

    Freddy Krueger screaming

    Craven said, "I’d read an article in the L.A. Times about a family who had escaped the Killing Fields in Cambodia and managed to get to the U.S. Things were fine, and then suddenly the young son was having very disturbing nightmares. ... When he finally fell asleep, his parents thought this crisis was over. Then they heard screams in the middle of the night. By the time they got to him, he was dead. He died in the middle of a nightmare."

    a poster for the movie, with slogan: Sleep kills

    In A Nightmare on Elm Street, the monstrous Freddy Krueger hunts and kills his victims while they're dreaming.

    Freddy Krueger attempts to kill a girl who fell asleep in the bath

    8. In 2021, Alex Wolff told Looper that Hereditary "did about as much damage to me as a movie can do."

    A closeup of Alex Wolff in Hereditary

    Playing Peter, a teenage boy who inadvertently causes his little sister's death, in Ari Aster's 2018 film caused Wolff to lose sleep.

    Peter and his little sister walking in a field

    Wolff said, "It's very hard because as an actor, you really don't want to sound pretentious or self-serious or like anything is too serious. Because we have a cushy job in a lot of ways, but this, emotionally, it was one of those tough ones, it was one of those ones that really did some gymnastics on my emotional well-being."

    Peter walks down a dark hallway

    9. A scene where the characters in Raw (2016) watch a horse "collapse after being administered ketamine" as a part of their veterinary school training isn't movie magic, but the real thing.

    The director, Julia Ducournau, "got permission to film a sedation that was already scheduled to happen" and then simply "stuck her actors in the frame."

    The main character in a long line of people wearing bloody lab coats

    10. According to what the cast of Ready or Not told Rotten Tomatoes, the fake blood used for the movie tasted really, really good.

    Samara Weaving covered in blood

    Samara Weaving described it as "delightful" and compared its flavor to caramel. And apparently, for the "guts and innards," the crew used "banana and jelly," so it was a pretty delicious experience all around.

    Samara Weaving crawling out of a pit with a bloody hand

    However, the one downside was how sticky everything got. According to Weaving, after spending some time covered in the fake blood, it became difficult to open her eyelids.

    Samara Weaving absolutely covered in blood

    11. Darcy Paquet, the translator who wrote the English subtitles for Parasite, swapped out "Seoul National University" for "Oxford" in one line. He did this with the blessing and input of the film's creative team.

    A character in Parasite says, wow, does Oxford have a major in document forgery?

    Paquet explained that while he and the other members of the team meant no disrespect to Seoul National University, in order for the joke to land, the English-speaking audience needed to recognize the name of the school instantly.

    a character from Parasite holding her hand over her mouth in shock

    12. The first installment of Saw took only 18 days to film.

    Cary Elwes reaching for something while chained to a wall in Saw

    Cary Elwes told NME that the tight schedule meant that he didn't have time to rehearse any of his scenes.

    Cary Elwes with director James Wan

    13. According to the director's commentary for Tusk, a 2014 movie in which Justin Long plays a man forcibly turned into a grotesque walrus-human hybrid, Long "filmed all of his 'in walrus' scenes at one time to avoid having to get in and out of the costume over the course of several days."

    Justin Long's character in a wheelchair in Tusk

    It's an understandable choice, since the makeup application took around three hours, and to "slide" into the suit itself, Long had to balance "on a yoga ball-type thing."

    Justin Long in Tusk

    14. Tony Todd, the actor who played Candyman in the 1992 film of the same name, received an extremely well-deserved bonus for filming a scene in which live bees pour out of his character's mouth.

    The Candyman, with bees in his mouth

    Todd told the Guardian that he "negotiated" a $1,000 bonus for every time he was stung while filming the scene, for a grand total of $23,000 for 23 stings.

    Candyman embracing a woman covered with bees

    As freaky as working with live bees may seem, Todd said, "Everything that’s worth making has to involve some sort of pain. Once I realized it was an important part of who Candyman was, I embraced it. It was like putting on a beautiful coat."

    Candyman wearing a long fur coat with his arms open

    15. James DeMonaco, the creator and director behind the Purge franchise, told Complex that the idea of a lawless, one-night-only free-for-all stemmed from a scary near-accident he and his wife experienced while on the road.

    Two people in creepy masks and machetes in the purge

    DeMonaco recalled that they were cut off by a drunk driver who "had no remorse for literally almost killing" them. He and the drunk driver got into a physical fight, and after the cops broke it up, DeMonaco's wife said to him, "Wouldn’t it be great if we all had one free one a year?"

    A character in the purge sitting next to a billboard with children's drawings about the purge pinned on it

    DeMonaco said, "It stayed with me, this idea that everyone could get one free murder per year." He was quick to clarify that his wife was a "sweet woman" and a doctor speaking in an emotional moment, not a real-life pro-Purger, though.

    DeMonaco on set

    16. An actual Catholic priest blessed the set of The Exorcist.

    a possessed Linda Blair lifts above her bed

    According to CBS News, there are nine deaths "connected" to the seemingly cursed film. So it made sense to have Thomas M. King, a "Jesuit priest and Georgetown University theology professor," visit set and bless the whole production.

    the possessed girl wrestles with her mother

    17. During the climax of Scream, Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) stabs Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich) twice in the chest with the pointed end of an umbrella. While precautions were taken to ensure that Ulrich wasn't actually hurt, they didn't quite do the job.

    Billy being arrested in Scream

    The umbrella, which was built with a special "retractable tip," somehow missed the "protective vest" Ulrich wore underneath his costume, resulting in Ulrich being stabbed for real. Even worse, the umbrella hit "a wound from an open heart surgery operation the actor had when he was 10 years old."

    Skeet Ulrich and Neve Campbell in Scream

    Wes Craven ultimately decided to use the take in the final version of the movie.

    Drew Barrymore and Wes Craven on set, resetting a knife block

    18. Kym Barrett, the costume designer for Us, told Nylon that the Tethered wear sandals because she wanted to evoke "an exodus of people, almost a Biblical exodus."

    The sandals on Adelaide's Tethered circled on Us

    Barrett added, "I also felt that it conveyed a slightly cultish accessory, the go-everywhere sandal."

    the Tethered family, holding hands

    Us was the first horror film Barrett ever worked on; her other costume designing credits include The Matrix, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and Romeo + Juliet.

    Trinity and Neo in the Matrix

    19. Since the cast of The Blair Witch Project tried to stay in character as much as possible, they came up with a safe word to say when they wanted to speak as themselves.

    The safe word? "Taco."

    Michael C. Williams told the Week, "If you said 'taco,' the other two actors had to repeat the word 'taco,' so I knew, and they knew, we were all out of character at the same time. We would say 'taco,' 'taco,' 'taco.'"

    Michael C. Williams and a co-star in The Blair Witch Project

    20. The Babadook is a gay icon.

    the poster of the Babadook

    In case you're unfamiliar, the Babadook is the titular children's book monster at the center of the 2014 horror movie of the same name. The internet soon decided that the Babadook was clearly queer (in a tongue-in-cheek way, but also, you know, maybe not), and made many, many memes to that effect.

    a babadook sign at a pride parade

    Journalist John Paul Brammer told Vox, "Haunting a small white family in an Australian suburb is a radical act, and the Babadook did that."

    the mother reading a story to her son in bed

    21. Steven Spielberg came up with the idea for the ending of Paranormal Activity, because he thought director Oren Peli's original idea wasn't "a big enough payoff."

    Katie in Paranormal Activity

    The new ending cost $4,000 to shoot and involved "the possessed character of Katie lung[ing] at the camera."

    Katie in Paranormal Activity

    In 2017, Peli reflected on the change during an appearance on the Post Mortem podcast. He said that while he preferred his first idea, "the one where the cops enter and end up shooting Katie," it "wasn’t a huge hit with the audience." Audiences loved Spielberg's ending, though, and Peli said he knew right then and there that it would be the ending that stuck.

    Oren Peli, the director, in an editing bay

    He said, "It’s not the greatest feeling, and I tried to fight for my ending, but at the end of the day, the movie did work as a whole with the new ending. I’ve learned to embrace and love the new ending. Still prefer my ending, but I’m totally okay with the new ending."

    The beginning of a scene from the movie, labelled Night #20, Oct. 7th, 2006

    22. Jessica Chastain told Vanity Fair that IT Chapter 2 used a "record-breaking" amount of fake blood: 4,500 gallons.

    Jessica Chastain as Beverly in a room being filled with blood

    The red goo, which Chastain called "really disgusting," is composed of a "thickening agent called methylcellulose and red dye."

    Bev falls into the flood of blood

    After a scene in which Pennywise tries to drown Chastain in blood, the actor had to remain soaked in the stuff for the rest of the movie, and for all subsequent scenes bathed in a "kiddie pool filled with the cold blood" to keep up continuity.

    The bloodsoaked Beverly after Pennywise gives up

    23. Remember the skeletons in the pool from Poltergeist?

    A skeleton screaming at a woman

    Yup, they were real.

    Apparently, buying real skeletons is a cheaper option than using replicas. I'll take their word for it.

    The mother screaming as she tries to get out of the pool

    24. Child's Play, the 1988 movie that featured the first appearance of Chucky, aka "the carrot-topped doll possessed with the soul of a serial killer," was in part inspired by a toy trend screenwriter Don Mancini encountered while he was attending college in the '80s.

    Chucky, holding a knife

    Mancini told Mental Floss, "I wanted to write a dark satire about how marketing affected children. Cabbage Patch was really popular. I put the two impulses together."

    a cabbage patch doll

    According to executive producer David Kirschner, 11 people were needed to control the Chucky doll.

    A behind-the-scenes look of Chucky being controlled with robotics

    25. Cannibal Holocaust, a 1980 Italian film that involves a "degrading onslaught of rapes, murders, torture, salacious sex, genocide, castration, and even news footage of real-life executions," got its director, Ruggero Deodato, in serious legal jeopardy.

    the poster for the movie

    Upon its release, the violent nature of the film caused such an uproar that Deodato was "put on trial in Italy on suspicion of murdering his actors." One of the actors in question had to show up at the courthouse to prove that he hadn't, in fact, been murdered.

    Deodato at a film festival

    Though the murder charges were dropped, Deodato got a fine for animal cruelty, and the film itself was banned in Italy for three years.

    Sorry, but there are very few images from this movies that I can include in a post. Also, I'm too scared to find them.

    26. Martin Henderson, who played Noah in The Ring, was nervous that the movie would be more funny than scary.

    Martin Henderson in the Ring, examining documents

    When asked if being on the set was "creepy," Henderson told the BBC, "Not really. A lot of the 'scare factor' comes with the editing, the effects, and the music. There were moments when Naomi [Watts] and I would look at each other and say, 'This is embarrassing, people are going to laugh.' You just hope that somebody makes it scary or you're going to look like an idiot!"

    The two main characters looking at the haunted VHS tape

    Needless to say, somebody did make it scary.

    The girl from the ring sitting in a white room

    27. And finally: While Anthony Hopkins' portrayal of the cannibalistic killer Hannibal Lecter quickly became iconic upon the release of The Silence of the Lambs (and won Hopkins an Oscar), he wasn't the only actor considered for the part.

    Hannibal Lecter on the dolly with his muzzle on

    Director Jonathan Demme's first choice for the role was Sean Connery, who said no, because he thought the script was "disgusting."

    Sean Connery in his Bond days

    Dustin Hoffman also "expressed interest"...

    Hoffman on the red carpet did Morgan Freeman.

    Morgan Freeman presenting at an event

    However, Demme recalled that as soon as Hopkins did his first read-through, he and everyone else realized that the actor "had found Lecter."

    Hannibal Lecter behind bars in prison

    Psst! Did you hear that Tasty has its very own Halloween TV special? Snoop & Martha's Very Tasty Halloween premieres Thursday, October 21 only on Peacock. Check it out!

    The advertisement for the special, with Snoop and Martha dressed in Halloween costumes