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15 Truths About The Truman Show

Released on June 5, 1998, Peter Weir's The Truman Show is often credited with predicting the reality television phenomenon that would begin in earnest two years later with Survivor. It's also notable in that it gave already-famous movie star Jim Carrey credibility as a dramatic actor, and even earned him a Golden Globe. Here are 15 things you might not know about the Oscar-nominated film.

1. IT WAS ORIGINALLY TITLED THE MALCOLM SHOW AND WAS MUCH DARKER IN TONE.

In May of 1991, screenwriter Andrew Niccol presented a drama titled The Malcolm Show to his then-manager, which he envisioned as a paranoid drama set in Manhattan, with Gary Oldman in the title role.

2. THE PLOT IS SIMILAR TO A MOVIE AND TWO EPISODES OF THE TWILIGHT ZONE.

Critics compared The Truman Show to Paul Bartel’s 1968 short film The Secret Cinema, which starred Amy Vane as a secretary who doesn’t know that her life is being filmed and shown to her duplicitous friends and family in private screenings. The Secret Cinema was played before showings of Woody Allen’s Take the Money and Run in 1969 and remade into a 1986 episode of Amazing Stories. Niccol said he had never heard of the film or the episode in question when he wrote The Truman Show. Niccol’s screenplay was also compared to two episodes of The Twilight Zone: “A World of Difference” and “Special Service.”

3. JIM CARREY TOOK A PAY CUT TO PLAY TRUMAN BURBANK.

Instead of his then-standard $20 million paycheck, Carrey accepted $12 million for his dramatic acting services.

4. NORMAN ROCKWELL AND THE 1940s WERE BIG INSPIRATIONS.

Laura Linney looked at 1940s Sears & Roebuck catalogs as preparation for her role as Meryl, Truman’s wife. Norman Rockwell’s Saturday Evening Post covers were studied by director Peter Weir before shooting to get the right look. In the shooting script, seven-year-old Truman’s school mistress is described as a “kindly Norman Rockwell-style” teacher.

5. LINNEY HAD ANOTHER INSPIRATION FOR HER PART.

Linney took some inspiration from her own mother for the film, not to play actress Hannah Hart, but to play actress Hannah Hart playing Meryl Burbank, Truman’s wife and a nurse at the Seahaven hospital. Linney’s mother was a cancer nurse at Memorial Sloan-Kettering.

6. MOST OF THE FILM WAS SHOT IN THE PLANNED COMMUNITY OF SEASIDE, FLORIDA.

It fit the vintage, Rockwellian aesthetic the filmmakers were seeking. All of those building in Seaside are asked to include a front porch and white picket fence.

7. PRODUCTION WAITED ONE YEAR FOR CARREY TO FINISH WORKING ON LIAR LIAR.

During that time, Weir and Niccol worked on 14 drafts of the script. Weir also wrote a 10-page backstory that went into the history of the television show The Truman Show within the movie. According to the backstory , Christof was 29 years old when he convinced the Omnicam Corporation to give him the go-ahead to produce a show called Bringing Up Baby, starring an infant whose first year in the world would be fully documented.

8. A DOCUMENTARY WAS PRODUCED WITH THE SEAHAVEN ACTORS ABOUT THE TV SHOW.

Weir found that he had so much good material asking the actors to come up with answers to his questions as their onscreen personas that he put together a documentary unit to capture everything. Some parts made it to the movie, and the rest were turned into a half-hour documentary about the show that ran on Nick at Nite, presented as an episode of Tru Talk, hosted by Harry Shearer’s Mike Michaelson character.

9. ED HARRIS WAS A LAST-MINUTE REPLACEMENT FOR DENNIS HOPPER.

Hopper was supposed to play Christof, but he was either fired or left due to “creative differences” two months into filming (different versions of the story abound). Harris met Weir on set on a Thursday, worked on another project in New York for four days, then started work as Christof on a Tuesday. He would end up winning the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor and scoring one of the film's three Oscar nods.

10. HARRIS AND CARREY NEVER MET DURING FILMING.

Carrey finished filming before Harris was brought in.

11. PHILIP GLASS MAKES A CAMEO.

Seven of Glass’ compositions are part of the movie’s soundtrack. Glass himself plays the piano in a scene where Truman is asleep on screen.

12. THEATER AUDIENCES WERE ALMOST PART OF THE MOVIE.

Weir had planned for projectionists to stop the film at one point during all screenings, cut to video shot by cameras installed in every theater, then cut back to the movie. To make things even more meta, the Oscar-nominated director flirted with the idea of playing Truman’s director, Christof, himself.

13. RON AND DON WERE HIRED TO DIRECT TRAFFIC ON SET.

Police Lieutenants Ron and Don Taylor were Seaside, Florida cops who Weir noticed had great relationships with the crew, so he hired them as actors.

14. THERE IS A PSYCHIATRIC CONDITION CALLED "THE TRUMAN SHOW DELUSION."

In 2008, a psychiatrist shared that he had met five schizophrenic patients and heard of another dozen who believed their lives were reality television shows. One patient climbed the Statue of Liberty believing that his high school girlfriend would be at the top, which was the key to him being able to leave the show.

15. AN ACTUAL TV SHOW MAY BE ON ITS WAY.

On April 10, 2014, it was reported that a television series based on The Truman Show was being developed at Paramount. No further updates have been announced.

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Watch Boris Karloff's 1966 Coffee Commercial
TAKWest, Youtube
TAKWest, Youtube

Horror legend Boris Karloff is famous for playing mummies, mad scientists, and of course, Frankenstein’s creation. In 1930, Karloff cemented the modern image of the monster—with its rectangular forehead, bolted neck, and enormous boots (allegedly weighing in at 11 pounds each)—in the minds of audiences.

But the horror icon, who was born 130 years ago today, also had a sense of humor. The actor appeared in numerous comedies, and even famously played a Boris Karloff look-alike (who’s offended when he’s mistaken for Karloff) in the original Broadway production of Arsenic and Old Lace

In the ’60s, Karloff also put his comedic chops to work in a commercial for Butter-Nut Coffee. The strange commercial, set in a spooky mansion, plays out like a movie scene, in which Karloff and the viewer are co-stars. Subtitles on the bottom of the screen feed the viewer lines, and Karloff responds accordingly. 

Watch the commercial below to see the British star selling coffee—and read your lines aloud to feel like you’re “acting” alongside Karloff. 

[h/t: Retroist]

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Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
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15 Must-See Holiday Horror Movies
Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
Echo Bridge Home Entertainment

Families often use the holidays as an excuse to indulge in repeat viewings of Planes, Trains and Automobiles and Elf. But for a certain section of the population, the yuletide is all about horror. Although it didn’t truly emerge until the mid-1970s, “holiday horror” is a thriving subgenre that often combines comedy to tell stories of demented Saint Nicks and lethal gingerbread men. If you’ve never seen Santa slash someone, here are 15 movies to get you started.

1. THANKSKILLING (2009)

Most holiday horror movies concern Christmas, so ThanksKilling is a bit of an anomaly. Another reason it’s an anomaly? It opens in 1621, with an axe-wielding turkey murdering a topless pilgrim woman. The movie continues on to the present-day, where a group of college friends are terrorized by that same demon bird during Thanksgiving break. It’s pretty schlocky, but if Turkey Day-themed terror is your bag, make sure to check out the sequel: ThanksKilling 3. (No one really knows what happened to ThanksKilling 2.)

2. BLACK CHRISTMAS (1974)

Fittingly, the same man who brought us A Christmas Story also brought us its twisted cousin. Before Bob Clark co-wrote and directed the 1983 saga of Ralphie Parker, he helmed Black Christmas. It concerns a group of sorority sisters who are systematically picked off by a man who keeps making threatening phone calls to their house. Oh, and it all happens during the holidays. Black Christmas is often considered the godfather of holiday horror, but it was also pretty early on the slasher scene, too. It opened the same year as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and beat Halloween by a full four years.

3. SILENT NIGHT, DEADLY NIGHT (1984)

This movie isn’t about Santa Claus himself going berserk and slaughtering a bunch of people. But it is about a troubled teen who does just that in a Santa suit. Billy Chapman starts Silent Night, Deadly Night as a happy little kid, only to witness a man dressed as St. Nick murder his parents in cold blood. Years later, after he has grown up and gotten a job at a toy store, he conducts a killing spree in his own red-and-white suit. The PTA and plenty of critics condemned the film for demonizing a kiddie icon, but it turned into a bona fide franchise with four sequels and a 2012 remake.

4. RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE (2010)

This Finnish flick dismantles Santa lore in truly bizarre fashion, and it’s not easy to explain in a quick plot summary. But Rare Exports involves a small community living at the base of Korvatunturi mountain, a major excavation project, a bunch of dead reindeer, and a creepy old naked dude who may or may not be Santa Claus. Thanks to its snowy backdrop, the movie scored some comparisons to The Thing, but the hero here isn’t some Kurt Russell clone with equally feathered hair. It’s a bunch of earnest kids and their skeptical dads, who all want to survive the holidays in one piece.

5. TO ALL A GOODNIGHT (1980)

To All a Goodnight follows a by-now familiar recipe: Add a bunch of young women to one psycho dressed as Santa Claus and you get a healthy dose of murder and this 1980 slasher flick. Only this one takes place at a finishing school. So it’s fancier.

6. KRAMPUS (2015)

Although many Americans are blissfully unaware of him, Krampus has terrorized German-speaking kids for centuries. According to folklore, he’s a yuletide demon who punishes naughty children. (He’s also part-goat.) That’s some solid horror movie material, so naturally Krampus earned his own feature film. In the movie, he’s summoned because a large suburban family loses its Christmas cheer. That family has an Austrian grandma who had encounters with Krampus as a kid, so he returns to punish her descendants. He also animates one truly awful Jack-in-the-Box.

7. THE GINGERDEAD MAN (2005)

“Eat me, you punk b*tch!” That’s one of the many corny catchphrases spouted by the Gingerdead Man, an evil cookie possessed by the spirit of a convicted killer (played by Gary Busey). The lesson here, obviously, is to never bake.

8. JACK FROST (1997)

No, this isn’t the Michael Keaton snowman movie. It’s actually a holiday horror movie that beat that family film by a year. In this version, Jack Frost is a serial killer on death row who escapes prison and then, through a freak accident, becomes a snowman. He embarks on a murder spree that’s often played for laughs—for instance, the cops threaten him with hairdryers. But the comedy is pretty questionable in the infamous, and quite controversial, Shannon Elizabeth shower scene.

9. ELVES (1989)

Based on the tagline—“They’re not working for Santa anymore”—you’d assume this is your standard evil elves movie. But Elves weaves Nazis, bathtub electrocutions, and a solitary, super grotesque elf into its utterly absurd plot. Watch at your own risk.

10. SINT (2010)

The Dutch have their own take on Santa, and his name is Sinterklaas. Sinterklaas travels to the Netherlands via steamship each year with his racist sidekick Zwarte Piet. But otherwise, he’s pretty similar to Santa. And if Santa can be evil, so can Sinterklaas. According to the backstory in Sint (or Saint), the townspeople burned their malevolent bishop alive on December 5, 1492. But Sinterklaas returns from the grave on that date whenever there’s a full moon to continue dropping bodies. In keeping with his olden origins, he rides around on a white horse wielding a golden staff … that he can use to murder you.

11. SANTA’S SLAY (2005)

Ever wonder where Santa came from? This horror-comedy claims he comes from the worst possible person: Satan. The devil’s kid lost a bet many years ago and had to pretend to be a jolly gift-giver. But now the terms of the bet are up and he’s out to act like a true demon. That includes killing Fran Drescher and James Caan, obviously.

12. ALL THROUGH THE HOUSE (2015)

Another Santa slasher is on the loose in All Through the House, but the big mystery here is who it is. This villain dons a mask during his/her streak through suburbia—and, as the genre dictates, offs a bunch of promiscuous young couples along the way. The riddle is all tied up in the disappearance of a little girl, who vanished several years earlier.

13. CHRISTMAS EVIL (1980)

Several years before Silent Night, Deadly Night garnered protests for its anti-Kringle stance, Christmas Evil put a radicalized Santa at the center of its story. The movie’s protagonist, Harry Stadling, first starts to get weird thoughts in his head as a kid when he sees “Santa” (really his dad in the costume) groping his mom. Then, he becomes unhealthily obsessed with the holiday season, deludes himself into thinking he’s Santa, and goes on a rampage. The movie is mostly notable for its superfan John Waters, who lent commentary to the DVD and gave Christmas Evil some serious cult cred.

14. SANTA CLAWS (1996)

If you thought this was the holiday version of Pet Sematary, guess again. The culprit here isn’t a demon cat in a Santa hat, but a creepy next-door neighbor. Santa Claws stars B-movie icon Debbie Rochon as Raven Quinn, an actress going through a divorce right in the middle of the holidays. She needs some help caring for her two girls, so she seeks out Wayne, her neighbor who has an obsessive crush on her. He eventually snaps and dresses up as Santa Claus in a ski mask. Mayhem ensues.

15. NEW YEAR’S EVIL (1980)

Because the holidays aren’t over until everyone’s sung “Auld Lang Syne,” we can’t count out New Year’s Eve horror. In New Year’s Evil, lady rocker Blaze is hosting a live NYE show. Everything is going well, until a man calls in promising to kill at midnight. The cops write it off as a prank call, but soon, Blaze’s friends start dropping like flies. Just to tie it all together, the mysterious murderer refers to himself as … “EVIL.”

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