CLOSE

The Quick 10: 10 Film Set Tragedies

If you've seen the movie based on Stephen King's Pet Sematary Two, you probably remember the horrifying scene at the beginning when the actress is electrocuted on set while her son (Edward Furlong, back in his dreamy days) looks on. While that particular incident comes to us courtesy of Mr. King, film set tragedies aren't unheard of in real life. Here are 10 of them.

tz1. The Twilight Zone: The Movie. It sounds like something straight out of Rod Serling's head, but sadly, this accident wasn't a work of fiction. Actor Vic Morrow and two children were filming a scene for the first segment of the movie that involved a trip in time back to the Vietnam War. Some explosions went off too close to low-flying helicopters, which resulted in "foreign object damage to one rotor blade, the separation of the helicopter's tail rotor assembly, and the uncontrolled descent of the helicopter." Sadly, the damaged rotor blade decapitated Morrow and one of the children; the other child was crushed under the helicopter itself.
2. Million Dollar Mystery. A well-known Hollywood stuntman, Dar Robinson, unfortunately plunged over a cliff to his death when filming this barely-concealed advertisement for Glad Bags (the movie was co-financed by Glad and DeLaurentiis Entertainment and featured Glad Lock bags prominently). After 19 years as a stuntman and nary a broken bone, Dar missed his braking point while filming a motorcycle drive-by and sailed right over the edge of a cliff. This movie and Lethal Weapon, which he had just finished filming, were both dedicated to him.

3. Catch-22. The 1970 movie based on the Joseph Heller novel of the same name had its own tragedy, although this was one that probably could have been prevented. Second Unit Director John Jordan was direction a scene out of a vintage airplane and refused to wear a harness to keep him secure while the plane was in flight. He was sucked out of the plane and, of course, didn't survive the fall.

topgun4. Top Gun. Art Scholl, a seasoned stunt pilot, was hired to do some stunts for the movie and film them from the inside of the plane to make it appear as though Tom Cruise (or Anthony Edwards, or Val Kilmer) had performed them. He was working on a flat spin off the coast Southern California when he radioed, "I have a problem"¦ I have a real problem." The plane crashed into the Pacific and was never recovered. The cause of the accident is unknown to this day.

5. The Dark Knight. Obviously Heath Ledger died before the film came out, but that's not the death I'm referring to. Conway Wickliffe, a film technician, was filming a test run of a stunt involving the Batmobile in England. He lost control of the car and was killed when it ran into a tree. The Dark Knight was dedicated to both Wickliffe and Heath Ledger.

6. The Return of the Musketeers. Fifty-four year-old actor Roy Kinnear, a veteran British character actor, was filming a scene on horseback for the Richard Lester-directed movie. The two were old friends and had worked together for many years, including on the Beatles' 1965 film Help! Kinnear fell off of his horse and broke his pelvis, the stress of which caused him to have a fatal heart attack the next day in the hospital. Lester was so aggrieved by his friend's death that he retired after that movie.

7. Bikini Island. Stuntman Jay C. Currin was practicing an upcoming stunt where he jumped from a cliff during the filming of this 1991 movie. Sadly, he misjudged it. Although he landed on the safety airbag below, he didn't land it quite right and ended up smashing into the rocks on the Malibu shore.

8. XXX. Vin Diesel's stunt double, Harry O'Connor, was working on a scene where he had to parasail near the Palacky Bridge in Prague, then slide down the lines of the parasail onto a submarine waiting below. He executed the stunt perfectly the first time, but told the film crew that he felt he could do it much better. He was wrong: on the second attempt, he didn't make it down the line fast enough and hit the bridge. The stunt was being performed at such high speeds that he died upon impact. The first take was used in the film.

crow9. The Crow. How can you have an article about movie set disasters and not mention Brandon Lee? You can't, of course. Brandon was the lead on The Crow and was shooting a scene where he walks in to find his girlfriend being attacked. One of the attackers turns and fires a gun at Lee's character. Unfortunately, he really did fire the gun - "dummy" cartridge malfunctioned and a real bullet shot out of the gun. Although the malfunction caused the bullet to move a lot more slowly than normal, the point-blank range coupled with the large bullet resulted in Lee's death 12 hours later.
10. Delta Force 2. There's all kinds of improbable things Chuck Norris can do, but he was powerless to stop a helicopter crash in 1989 during the filming of Delta Force 2: The Columbian Connection. It crashed upon takeoff and killed the pilot and four crew members.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
10 Sweet Facts About Candy Canes
iStock
iStock

The sweet and striped shepherd’s hooks can be found just about everywhere during the holiday season. It's time you learned a thing or two (or 10) about them.

1. THEY’VE BEEN AROUND SINCE THE 17TH CENTURY.

While the origins of the candy cane are a bit murky, legend has it that they first appeared in hooked form around 1670. Candy sticks themselves were pretty common, but they really took shape when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany got the bright idea of twisting them to look like shepherd’s hooks. He then handed them out to kids during church services to keep them quiet.

2. A GERMAN IMMIGRANT BROUGHT THE TRADITION TO THE STATES.

It’s no surprise, then, that it was a German immigrant who introduced the custom to America. The first reference we can find to the tradition stateside is 1847, when August Imgard of Wooster, Ohio, decked his home out with the sugary fare.

3. THEY HAVEN’T ALWAYS BEEN STRIPED.

Candy canes without the red don’t seem nearly as cheery, do they? But that’s how they were once made: all white. We’re not really sure who or exactly when the scarlet stripe was added, but we do know that images on cards before the 1900s show snow white canes.

4. THEY’RE A (RELATIVELY) VIRTUOUS HOLIDAY TREAT.

Most candy canes are around five inches long, containing only about 50 calories and no fat or cholesterol.

5. THEY DON’T ALWAYS FIT ON A CHRISTMAS TREE.

The world’s largest candy cane was built by Geneva, Illinois chef Alain Roby in 2012.  It was 51 feet long, required about 900 pounds of sugar, and was eventually smashed up with a hammer so people could take home a piece.

6. EVERYONE HAS THEIR OWN WAY OF EATING THEM.

Fifty-four percent of kids suck on candy canes, compared to the 24 percent who just go right for the big crunch. As you may have been able to guess, of those surveyed, boys were nearly twice as likely to be crunchers.

7. MORE THAN A BILLION ARE MADE EACH YEAR.

According to the National Confectioners Association, about 1.2 billion candy canes are made annually, and 90 percent of those are sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Which honestly begs the question: Who’s buying the 10 percent in the off season?

8. A PRIEST PLAYED A MAJOR ROLE IN THE CANDY’S MOVE TO MASS PRODUCTION.

Bobs (that’s right; no apostrophe) Candies was the first company to really hang its hat on the sweet, striped hook. Lt. Bob McCormack began making candy canes for his kids in the 1920s, and they were such a hit he decided to start mass-producing them. With the help of his brother-in-law, a Catholic priest named Gregory Harding Keller (and his invention, the Keller Machine), McCormack was eventually able to churn out millions of candy canes a day.

9. THEY HAVE THEIR OWN (ODDLY-TIMED) HOLIDAY.

December 26 is National Candy Cane Day. Go figure.

10. THE PROCESS FOR MAKING THEM BY HAND IS MESMERIZING.

Here’s how they make candy canes at Disneyland—it’s a painstaking (and beautiful) technique.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
MoviePilot.com
10 Actors Who Hated Their Own Films
MoviePilot.com
MoviePilot.com

1. Sylvester Stallone, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Sly doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to his film career. Despite co-starring with the delightful Estelle Getty as the titular violence-prone mother, Stallone knows just how bad the film was:

"I made some truly awful movies. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot was the worst. If you ever want someone to confess to murder, just make him or her sit through that film. They will confess to anything after 15 minutes."

2. Alec Guinness, Star Wars.

By the time he played Obi-Wan Kenobi in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope, Guinness had already appeared in cinematic classics like The Bridge on the River Kwai, Great Expectations and Lawrence of Arabia. During production, Guinness is reported to have said the following:

"Apart from the money, I regret having embarked on the film. I like them well enough, but it's not an acting job, the dialogue - which is lamentable - keeps being changed and only slightly improved, and I find myself old and out of touch with the young."

The insane amount of fame he won for the role as the wise old Jedi master took him somewhat by surprise and, ultimately, annoyed him. In his autobiography A Positively Final Appearance: A Journal, Guinness recalls a time he encountered an autograph-seeking fan who boasted to him about having watched Star Wars more than 100 times. In response, Guinness agreed to provide the boy an autograph under the condition that he promise never to watch the film again.

3. Bob Hoskins, Super Mario Brothers. He was in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. As far as I’m concerned, Bob Hoskins is forgiven for Super Mario Bros. Hoskins, though, doesn’t seem to be able to forgive himself. Last year the Guardian spoke with the veteran actor about his career and he summed up his feelings rather succinctly:

What is the worst job you've done?
Super Mario Brothers.

What has been your biggest disappointment?
Super Mario Brothers.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I wouldn't do Super Mario Brothers.

4. George Clooney, Batman & Robin. Sure, Batman & Robin made money. But by every other imaginable measure, the film was a complete failure, and a nightmare to the vast majority of the Caped Crusader’s most fervent fanatics. Star George Clooney recognized what a stinker he helped create and once plainly stated, “I think we might have killed the franchise.”

5. David Cross, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. When actors have a movie out, it's customary that they publicize the film by saying nice things about it. Earlier this year David Cross took a different approach. When it came to describing his new film Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, the veteran comedian — better known for Mr. Show and Arrested Development — went on Conan and called the film a “big commercial for Carnival Cruise Lines” and told people not to go see it.

6. Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up. Judd Apatow’s unplanned pregnancy comedy was a huge hit and helped cement her status as a bankable film actress. After the film’s release, however, Heigl didn’t have all good things to say. In fact, what she specifically said about it was that the film was:

"…A little sexist. It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys.”

7. Charlize Theron, Reindeer Games. The 2000 action film Reindeer Games starred Ben Affleck, Gary Sinese and Charlize Theron and was directed by John Frankenheimer. But it all somehow failed to come together. In the end the film lost a lot of money and compiled a wealth of negative reviews – including one from its star actress who simply said, “Reindeer Games was not a good movie.”

8. Mark Wahlberg, The Happening. Mark Wahlberg doesn’t exactly seem like a guy who lives his life afraid of trees. But that is the odd position M. Night Shyamalan’s 2008 film The Happening put him in. Wahlberg, as it turns out, doesn’t look back too fondly on the film. He went on record during a press conference for The Fighter when he described a conversation with a fellow actor:

"We had actually had the luxury of having lunch before to talk about another movie and it was a bad movie that I did. She dodged the bullet. And then I was still able to … I don’t want to tell you what movie … alright “The Happening.” F*** it. It is what it is. F***ing trees, man. The plants. F*** it. You can’t blame me for not wanting to try to play a science teacher. At least I wasn’t playing a cop or a crook."

9. John Cusack, Better Off Dead. John Cusack reportedly hated his cult 80s comedy so much that he walked out of the screening and later told the film’s director Steve Holland that Better Off Dead was "the worst thing I have ever seen" and he would "never trust you as a director again."

10 Christopher Plummer, The Sound of Music. The Sound of Music is considered a classic and has delighted many generations of fans. But the film's own lead actor, Christopher Plummer, didn't always sing its praises. Mr. Von Trapp himself declined to participate in a 2005 film reunion and, according to one acquaintance, has referred to the film as The Sound of Mucus.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios