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11 Fierce Facts About Scottish Wildcats

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Each year, over a million tourists descend on northern Scotland, where many hope to catch a glimpse of the legendary Loch Ness Monster. And yet, roaming the countryside is another mysterious beast, one that’s every bit as interwoven into the area’s cultural fabric. It’s a remarkable predator whose bold stripes and sheer ferocity have earned it the nickname “highlands tiger.” Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Scottish wildcat.

1. THIS IS BRITAIN’S LAST NATIVE CAT.

There was a time when many native cats roamed England, Wales, and Scotland. Fourteen thousand years ago, UK forests were home to cave lions. By the time rising sea levels separated Great Britain from the rest of Europe around 8200 years ago, a few Eurasian cat species had settled there. Another feline resident was the lynx, an animal that vanished from the island after the 7th century CE.

At some point, a population of so-called wildcats was also established in Britain. Comparable in both size and appearance to housecats, these creatures are still at large on the island—although habitat loss and overhunting has restricted their range to the northernmost recesses of Scotland. With Britain’s lynx and lions long gone, Scottish wildcats are the only indigenous felines left in the United Kingdom.

2. THERE’S SOME DEBATE OVER HOW THE SCOTTISH WILDCAT SHOULD BE CLASSIFIED.

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You’ll sometimes hear it said that this animal is a subspecies of the wildcat, also known as Felis silvestris. DNA testing has shown that the kitten currently napping on your sofa is itself a subspecies of wildcat, one that scientists call Felis silvestris catus.

It’s believed that the common housecat first emerged around 9000 to 10,000 years ago. The popular pet is directly descended from Felis silvestris lybica, or the “African wildcat.” As its name implies, the animal can be found throughout Africa, plus certain parts of the Arabian Peninsula. Were you to travel eastward from there, you might encounter the aptly-named Asiatic wildcat (Felis silvestris ornate), another subspecies that roams from Central Asia to western India.

This brings us to the European wildcat, Felis silvestris silvestris. Because of its unusually thick coat, the beast looks much bulkier than its Asiatic and African relatives. Also, while the Asian wildcat essentially mates year-round, the European variety only breeds from January to March.

So where do highland tigers fit into the family portrait? Some mammal experts believe that the Scottish wildcat should be regarded as its own subspecies, Felis silvestris grampia. Proponents of this argument point out that Britain’s wildcats look atypically large when compared to those living across the English Channel. However, other scientists disagree and write off the Scottish felines as nothing more than an isolated population of European wildcats.

3. EASTERN AND WESTERN CATS HAVE DIFFERENT DIETARY HABITS.

With their strong jaws, acute night vision, and ears that can rotate independently, highland tigers are formidable predators. Like many cats, they’re also opportunistic feeders. Those living in eastern Scotland primarily dine on rabbits, which can represent up to 70 percent of their diet [PDF]. But in the west, where rabbits are less common, wildcats mostly eat mice and voles instead. Wildcats will also eat assorted birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and small mammals. In rare instances, they’ve even been known to bring down deer fawns. Most prey is killed with a bite to the back of the neck, which either crushes or severs its spine. To dispatch bigger targets, wildcats will often clamp their jaws down onto the windpipe.

4. THEY USE GRASS TO FIGHT PARASITES.

Wildcats are known eat long blades of grass every so often. The dense plants help clear a cat’s digestive tract by forcing indigestible bones, fur, and feathers out of its system. Swallowing grass is also a good way to dislodge parasitic worms, which the cats regularly contract by eating raw meat.

5. SCOTTISH WILDCATS WILL “MOCK CHARGE” WHEN THREATENED.

The highland tiger has an aggressive reputation. John George Wood, a 19th-century science enthusiast, once wrote that “When caught in a trap, [wildcats] fly without hesitation at any person who approaches them, not waiting to be assailed. I have heard many stories of their attacking and seriously wounding a man, when their escape has been cut off.”

Although Wood’s sources may have been exaggerating, the point remains: Wildcats shouldn't be messed with. And yet, they almost never lash out at human beings without warning. Should you make a wildcat feel threatened, the animal’s first response will be to stare you down, arch its back, and hiss like an angry tabby. If that doesn’t work, the feline will start moving toward you, stamping its feet all the while. Known as a “mock charge,” this maneuver is designed to make the cat look as intimidating as possible—if only for a second or two. A moment’s hesitation on the attacker’s part may be all that a cat needs in order to escape.

If all else fails, the cats can bite and claw with unbelievable fierceness. More often than not, the feisty little creatures drive off their foes, sometimes inflicting nasty lacerations in the process. According to the Scottish Wildcat Association, large dogs, park rangers, and ill-prepared veterinarians are among the most common recipients of “non-hunting wildcat attacks.”

6. THE LAST ENGLISH WILDCATS MAY HAVE DISAPPEARED IN THE 19TH CENTURY.

The name “Scottish wildcat” is something of a misnomer. After all, for thousands of years, the animals were distributed throughout Great Britain. Unfortunately, human interference has driven them to the brink of extinction. The Scottish wildcat didn’t enjoy any sort of legal protection until the UK classified it as a protected species in 1988. Before that, trappers on the island had been harvesting their valuable coats since ancient times. As if this weren’t bad enough, the cats were believed to kill livestock en masse, so farmers deliberately killed them. Centuries of persecution—combined with deforestation—drove the felines into Scotland’s most sparsely-populated areas. The last documented sighting of a wildcat on English soil took place in 1849.

7. THE WILDCAT IS OFTEN USED AS A SCOTTISH CLAN EMBLEM.

To many Scots, the highland tiger is a national icon. Nowhere is this fact more apparent than within Scotland’s familial clan system. Among many others, Clan Mackintosh, Clan MacBean, and Clan MacPherson have each incorporated a wildcat into their respective crests. The groups' motto is “Touch not the cat bot a glove,” with the word bot meaning “without” in this context. Sounds like good advice (although some consider it to be even more poetic, and say that the one without the glove is the cat—i.e. claws ready to go).

8. POOP HELPS THEM COMMUNICATE.

Solitary by nature, adult wildcats generally give each other a wide berth outside of the breeding season. Data collected from radio collars have revealed that an average female spends most of its time within a one-square-mile home range. Males are thought to have similar habits.

Your typical highland tiger buries most of its own scat. However, some droppings will be intentionally left exposed in order to mark territory. This is also done for the benefit of other wildcats. By smelling the dung, a passing cat can assess the leaver’s sex, age, and reproductive status.

9. THEY’RE HYBRIDIZING WITH DOMESTIC CATS.

The single greatest threat to the Scottish wildcat’s continued existence is no longer habitat loss or reckless hunting. Today, the real problem is genetic pollution, since the wildcat and housecat can successfully interbreed. Such encounters produce hybrid kittens—and unlike (most) mules, these cats are capable of having babies of their own.

Rampant hybridization has contaminated the Scottish wildcat gene pool to an alarming degree. Some naturalists estimate that just 35 “pure” highland tigers are left in the wild. Within a few generations, the animal could be rendered effectively extinct.

Further complicating matters is a potential epidemic of mistaken identity. To the untrained eye, the Scottish wildcat looks quite similar to the “tabby” breed of housecat. Concerned citizens are having a hard time telling the highland tiger apart from the very animal that’s wiping it out. Under the wrong circumstances, mistaking one for the other may have serious legal repercussions.

“The Scottish wildcat is enshrined as a protected species in British law,” notes conservationist David MacDonald in the above video. “For the law to function … it has to be possible to identify what is a Scottish wildcat.” In the 1990s, government officials tried to prosecute a gamekeeper who had been accused of shooting three wildcats. Yet, because an expert couldn’t confirm that the victims were, in fact, highland tigers and not tabbies, the charge was dismissed.

Fortunately, though, there are a few subtle differences between the wildcat and its domestic counterpart. The most obvious among them has to do with the shape of the tail. Whereas wildcats possess thick, bushy tails, tabbies have fairly slender ones. Also, you’ll never find a purebred highland tiger with spots on its back. Another key difference: In wildcats, the black line that runs down the spine terminates at the base of the tail, and in tabbies, it extends all the way to the tail’s tip [PDF].

10. SOME WANT TO CLONE WILDCATS.

How do you rescue an endangered animal that’s breeding its way into oblivion? Dr. Bill Ritchie sees cloning as a step in the right direction. Ritchie became world-famous as a member of the team that produced Dolly the sheep, the first cloned mammal to ever be created from an adult cell. In 2011, Ritchie started to research the possibility of cloning some purebred wildcats. The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland supported the idea, but as of this writing, no attempt to actually follow through has been made.

11. ONE WAS JUST BORN IN A SCOTTISH ZOO.

In May, the Scottish wildcats at the Chester Zoo in Cheshire—female Einich and male Cromarty—welcomed an adorable kitten, the first to be born at the zoo as part of its Scottish wildcat breeding program. "The arrival of the new kitten is a major boost to the increasingly important captive population in Britain," Tim Rowlands, Chester Zoo’s curator of mammals, said in a statement. "Conservation breeding in zoos is a key element in the wider plan to conserve the species in the UK and, drawing on the unique skills, knowledge and knowhow of the carnivore experts working here, we’re breeding Scottish wildcats to increase the safety net population and hope to release their offspring into the highlands of Scotland in the future."

Above is video of the kitten emerging from the den for the first time. We think you'll agree it's pretty adorable.

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11 Things You Didn't Know About Dolly Parton
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Over the past 50-some years, Dolly Parton has gone from a chipper country starlet to a worldwide icon of music and movies whose fans consistently pack a theme park designed (and named) in her honor. Dolly Parton is loved, lauded, and larger than life. But even her most devoted admirers might not know all there is to this Backwoods Barbie.

1. YOU WON'T FIND HER ON A DOLLYWOOD ROLLER COASTER.

Her theme park Dollywood offers a wide variety of attractions for all ages. Though she's owned it for more than 30 years, Parton has declined to partake in any of its rides. "My daddy used to say, 'I could never be a sailor. I could never be a miner. I could never be a pilot,' I am the same way," she once explained. "I have motion sickness. I could never ride some of these rides. I used to get sick on the school bus."

2. SHE ENTERED A DOLLY PARTON LOOK-A-LIKE CONTEST—AND LOST.


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Apparently Parton doesn't do drag well. “At a Halloween contest years ago on Santa Monica Boulevard, where all the guys were dressed up like me, I just over-exaggerated my look and went in and just walked up on stage," she told ABC. "I didn’t win. I didn’t even come in close, I don’t think.”

3. SHE SPENT A FORTUNE TO RECREATE HER CHILDHOOD HOME.

Parton and her 11 siblings were raised in a small house in the mountains of Tennessee that lacked electricity and indoor plumbing. When Parton bought the place, she hired her brother Bobby to restore it to the way it looked when they were kids. "But we wanted it to be functional," she recounted on The Nate Berkus Show, "So I spent a couple million dollars making it look like I spent $50 on it! Even like in the bathroom, I made the bathroom so it looked like an outdoor toilet.” You do you, Dolly.

4. SHE WON'T APOLOGIZE FOR RHINESTONE.


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Parton is well-known for her hit movies Steel Magnolias and 9 to 5, less so for the 1984 flop Rhinestone. The comedy musical about a country singer and a New York cabbie was critically reviled and fled from theaters in just four weeks. But while her co-star Sylvester Stallone has publicly regretted the vehicle, Parton declared in her autobiography My Life and Other Unfinished Business that she counts Rhinestone's soundtrack as some of her best work, especially "What a Heartache."

5. SHE IS MILEY CYRUS'S GODMOTHER, SORT OF.

"I'm her honorary godmother. I've known her since she was a baby," Parton told ABC of her close relationship with Miley Cyrus. "Her father (Billy Ray Cyrus) is a friend of mine. And when she was born, he said, 'You just have to be her godmother,' and I said, 'I accept.' We never did do a big ceremony, but I'm so proud of her, love her, and she's just like one of my own." Parton also played Aunt Dolly on Cyrus's series Hannah Montana.

6. SHE RECEIVED DEATH THREATS FROM THE KU KLUX KLAN.

A photo of Dolly Parton on stage
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In the mid-2000s, Dollywood joined the ranks of family amusement parks participating in "Gay Days," a time when families with LGBT members are encouraged to celebrate together in a welcoming community environment. This riled the KKK, but their threats didn't scare Dolly. "I still get threats," she has admitted, "But like I said, I'm in business. I just don't feel like I have to explain myself. I love everybody."

7. TO PROMOTE LITERACY, SHE STARTED HER OWN "LIBRARY."

In 1995, the pop culture icon founded Dolly Parton's Imagination Library with the goal of encouraging literacy in her home state of Tennessee. Over the years, the program—built to mail children age-appropriate books—spread nationwide, as well as to Canada, the UK, and Australia. When word of the Imagination Library hit Reddit, the swarms of parents eager to sign their kids up crashed the Imagination Library site. It is now back on track, accepting new registrations and donations.

8. PARTON'S HOMETOWN HAS A STATUE IN HER HONOR.

A stone's throw from Dollywood, Sevierville, Tennessee is where Parton grew up. Between stimulating tourism and her philanthropy, this proud native has given a lot back to her hometown. And Sevierville residents returned that appreciation with a life-sized bronze Dolly that sits barefoot, beaming, and cradling a guitar, just outside the county courthouse. The sculpture, made by local artist Jim Gray, was dedicated on May 3, 1987. Today it is the most popular stop on Sevierville's walking tour.

9. THE CLONED SHEEP DOLLY WAS NAMED AFTER PARTON.

In 1995 scientists successfully created a clone from an adult mammal's somatic cell. This game-changing breakthrough in biology was named Dolly. But what about Parton inspired this honor? Her own groundbreaking career? Some signature witticism or beloved lyric? Nope. It was her legendary bustline. English embryologist Ian Wilmut revealed, "Dolly is derived from a mammary gland cell and we couldn't think of a more impressive pair of glands than Dolly Parton's."

10. SHE TURNED DOWN ELVIS.

After Parton made her own hit out of "I Will Always Love You," Elvis Presley's manager, Colonel Tom Parker, reached out in hopes of having Presley cover it. But part of the deal demanded Parton surrender half of the publishing rights to the song. "Other people were saying, 'You're nuts. It's Elvis Presley. I'd give him all of it!'" Parton admitted, "But I said, 'I can't do that. Something in my heart says don't do that.' And I didn't do it and they didn't do it." It may have been for the best. Whitney Houston's cover for The Bodyguard soundtrack in 1992 was a massive hit that has paid off again and again for Parton.

11. SHE JUST EARNED TWO GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS.

Parton is no stranger to breaking records. And on January 17, 2018 it was announced that she holds not one but two spot in the Guinness World Records 2018 edition: One for Most Decades With a Top 20 Hit on the US Hot Country Songs Chart (she beat out George Jones, Reba McEntire, and Elvis Presley for the honor) and the other for Most Hits on US Hot Country Songs Chart By a Female Artist (with a total of 107). Parton said she was "humbled and blessed."

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15 Fascinating Facts About Blood Simple
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Ethan and Joel Coen hadn’t made a feature film of their own until they set out to write, direct, produce, and edit Blood Simple, a bloody Texas-set noir about a cuckold husband named Julian Marty (Dan Hedaya) who hires a private detective (M. Emmet Walsh) to murder his cheating wife (Frances McDormand) and her lover (John Getz). The filmmakers wanted a small budget like a horror film, but preferred making an entertaining B-film. Before production started, the Coens created a two-minute trailer and showed it to investors, which allowed them to raise an impressive $750,000 (which was half of the final budget).

In January of 1985, the movie was released in theaters and grossed $2,150,000. In its 2000 theatrical re-release, the movie added another $1.7 million to its box office haul. The low-budget film set the standard for the wave of American indie films to come, and it established the Coens as two of the most important voices in cinema. It also launched the careers of Frances McDormand and cinematographer Barry Sonnenfeld (who would later turn to directing).

Here are 15 facts about the noir thriller, which arrived in theaters on this day in 1985.

1. ITS TITLE WAS INSPIRED BY DASHIELL HAMMETT’S RED HARVEST.

“It’s an expression he used to describe what happens to somebody psychologically once they’ve committed murder,” Joel Coen told Time Out. “They go ‘blood simple’ in the slang sense of ‘simple,’ meaning crazy. But it’s left up to the audience to ponder the implications; they’re never spelled out in the film itself.”

2. THE COENS SPECIFICALLY WROTE THE PART OF LOREN VISSER FOR M. EMMET WALSH.

Blood Simple started something else that we’ve done pretty much on every subsequent movie, which was that we’ve always written parts for specific actors,” Joel Coen said in the book My First Movie. The brothers knew Walsh from the film Straight Time, in which he played a sleazy character. “Actually, it was a more interesting character than what we came up with in Blood Simple inasmuch as it was more ambiguous,” Joel said. They offered him the part without having him audition, but ran into a dilemma. “All I remember is we didn’t know what the hell to call him,” Ethan said. “I mean, what the hell do you call him when you meet him? M?”

3. THE COENS—AND MANY OF THE CAST AND CREW—HAD NEVER BEEN ON A FILM SET BEFORE.

Joel Coen admitted in My First Movie, “The first day of shooting on Blood Simple was the first time I’d ever been on a feature movie set in any capacity, even as a visitor.” Coen had previously worked as an assistant editor on horror films, including 1981’s The Evil Dead. Coen mentioned how Sonnenfeld would throw up after looking at the dailies, because he was so nervous working on the film. “Everyone was in the same boat,” Joel said. “The gaffer had never gaffered a feature. The sound guy, the mixer on the set, had never mixed a feature.”

4. THE COENS CHOSE TO MAKE A FILM NOIR BECAUSE OF THE GENRE’S PRACTICALITY.

Dan Hedaya and M. Emmet Walsh in 'Blood Simple' (1984)
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The Coens liked hard-boiled fiction authors James M. Cain, Dashiell Hammett, and Raymond Chandler, and used them to their advantage in writing the script. “It’s certainly a genre that is entertaining, and we also picked it for very practical reasons,” Ethan said. “We knew we weren’t going to have a big budget. The financing would not allow it. We could build something on the genre and the appeal it has.”

“It’s also a genre that allows you to get by rather modestly in some ways,” Joel added. “You can limit the number of characters, put them into a confined set. There’s no need to go for large-scale effects or scatter them through the film, and those cost a lot of money. So it was a pragmatic decision that determined what film we would make.”

5. BUT THEY DIDN’T WANT TO PARODY FILM NOIR.

In a 1985 interview, featured in the book The Coen Brothers: Interviews, Ethan said, “When people call Blood Simple a film noir, they’re correct to the extent that we like the same kind of stories that the people who made those movies like. We tried to emulate the source that those movies came from rather than the movies themselves.” They didn’t want to make “a venetian blind movie,” but movies like The Conformist and The Third Man inspired the look of Blood Simple.

Because of the comedic elements in the film, some people might think the movie is trying to parody the thriller genre. “On one hand, it is a thriller, and, on the other, it is funny,” Ethan said. “But certainly the film is supposed to work as a thriller and I don’t think it would work as both at once.”

6. THEY BORROWED AN INVESTMENT TACTIC FROM SAM RAIMI.

Their friend Sam Raimi had shot a trailer for his film The Evil Dead and raised $60,000 toward the budget after showing it to investors. “He financed the movie using a common thing that people making exploitation movies had used, which was a limited partnership,” Joel said in My First Movie. “What we also borrowed from Sam and the other models was that I presented more of an action exploitation type movie than it ended up being, and in fact than we knew it would be.”

The Coens didn’t know many people, so they decided to take a projector and the trailer to entrepreneurs’ homes in New York, Texas, and Minnesota. “If you call people up and say, ‘Can you give me 10 minutes so I can present an opportunity to invest in a movie?’ They’re going to say, ‘No, I don’t need this,’ and hang up the phone,” Joel said in My First Movie. “But it’s slightly different if you call and say, ‘Can I come over and take 10 minutes and show you a piece of film?’ All of a sudden that intrigues them and gets your foot in the door.” Eventually, all 65 investors made a profit from their investment.

The investor trailer finally surfaced online and features Bruce Campbell in the Dan Hedaya role.

7. NONE OF THE MAJOR STUDIOS WANTED TO DISTRIBUTE IT.

The Coens took time editing the film, and started shopping the movie around in 1984. Warner Bros. rejected it, but an indie company agreed to distribute it with a slight change. “We took it to Crown International Pictures and the guy would say, ‘If you have some nudity you can put in there maybe we can distribute it,’” Joel said in My First Movie. “We saw everybody from the studios to the lowliest sleaze-bucket distributors in L.A. And they all said no.” Circle Films picked up the movie after seeing a screening of it at the Toronto Film Festival. When the movie came out with good reviews, Warner tried to buy it from Circle to no avail.

8. M. EMMET WALSH COULDN’T BLOW SMOKE RINGS.

At first the actor was skeptical of starring in a movie where he probably wouldn’t make any money, but he gave the Coens a chance. Joel asked Walsh if he could blow a smoke ring from cigarette smoke and he said he would try. “I just couldn’t do it,” Walsh said. “I worked and worked on it, but I started to make myself sick.” The Coens brought in a smoke machine to make the smoke rings but the machine broke during filming. “The script gal says, ‘Give me a damn cigar. I grew up with five brothers smoking behind a barn,’” Walsh said. “So they give her a cigar and she starts making these incredible smoke rings. I said to myself, ‘My God, this is how you make a movie!’ Later on, I went outside and saw her puking her brains out. That was Blood Simple.”

9. THE COENS HAD AN INCIDENT WITH ONE OF THEIR POTENTIAL INVESTORS.

“There was one investor we went to and we hit his car, parking,” Ethan said in My First Movie. “And we had this big debate out on the driveway [about] whether we should tell him we hit his car before the sales pitch or after the sales pitch. We decided that we wouldn’t tell him until we showed him the movie and made the sales pitch.” The investor decided against investing in the film.

10. FRANCES MCDORMAND REFUSED TO BE “THEATRICAL” IN THE MOVIE.

John Getz and Frances McDorman in 'Blood Simple' (1984)
Janus Films

Up until she starred in Blood Simple, the future Oscar-winner had mainly done theater and some TV. In an interview with William Dafoe for Bomb Magazine, she told him her approach to playing Abby Marty. “The only choice I made was not to be theatrical,” she said. “I never moved my face and my mouth’s always open like I’m terrified—I was a lot of the time. I just did whatever they told me to do, which was perfect for the character, but it’s not like I made that decision as a character choice. It was from not knowing what to do.”

11. JOEL COEN WOOED FRANCES MCDORMAND WITH LITERATURE.

Coen and McDormand fell in love while making Blood Simple and got married a couple of years later, after production wrapped. McDormand told The Daily Beast about the moment when she roped him in. “I’d only brought one book to read to Austin, Texas, where we were filming, and I asked him if there was anything he’d recommend,” she said. “He brought me a box of James M. Cain and Raymond Chandler paperbacks, and I said, ‘Which one should I start with?’ And he said, ‘The Postman Always Rings Twice.’ I read it, and it was one of the sexiest f*ckin’ books I’ve ever read. A couple of nights later, I said, ‘Would you like to come over and discuss the book?’ That did it. He seduced me with literature. And then we discussed books and drank hot chocolate for several evenings. It was f*ckin’ hot. Keep it across the room for as long as you can—that’s a very important element.”

12. THE COENS RELEASED A SHORTER VERSION OF THE FILM.

Blood Simple got the Director’s Cut treatment in 2001, but instead of adding material to the re-release of the movie, the Coens removed a few minutes from it. “We always thought it was rather kind of clumsy, the editing,” Joel told Hollywood.com. “It was interesting to go in and try to tighten the movie up.” “Before, the original version was like an old lady with a walker, and now it just has a cane,” Ethan said. The newer version also brought back the Four Tops’ “It’s the Same Old Song,” which had been in the original theatrical release but had been replaced with Neil Diamond’s “I’m a Believer” in the VHS release.

13. THE COENS THINK THE MOVIE IS “PRETTY DAMN BAD.”

A scene from 'Blood Simple' (1984)
Janus Films

Fifteen years after Blood Simple’s release, the Coens reflected upon their first feature, in the 2000 book My First Movie. “It’s crude, there’s no getting around it,” Ethan said. “On the other hand, it’s all confused with the actual process of making the movie and finishing the movie which, by and large, was a positive experience,” Joel said. “You never get entirely divorced from it that way. So, I don’t know. It’s a movie that I have a certain affection for. But I think it’s pretty damn bad!”

14. ZHANG YIMOU REMADE THE FILM.

Director Zhang Yimou—who directed House of Flying Daggers and Heroremade Blood Simple in 2009 as A Woman, A Gun and A Noodle Shop. The move is set in a Chinese noodle shop in a desert, and in similar fashion, the plot centers on a man trying to kill his wife and her lover.

15. BLOOD SIMPLE BEGAT RAISING ARIZONA AND FARGO.

Two years after Blood Simple was released, the Coens wrote-directed their follow-up, Raising Arizona, which wasn’t anything like Blood Simple. “In essence, after having completed Blood Simple, we wanted to make something completely different,” Ethan said. “We didn’t know what, but we wanted it to be something funny that had a very quick rhythm. We also wanted to use Holly Hunter, who has been a friend of ours for a long time. So it really wasn’t the story that was the origin of the project, but Holly Hunter, her personality and, by extension, the character we had conceived for her to play. In contrast, Blood Simple took shape from an idea for a screenplay.” It should be noted Hunter provided her voice on an answering machine in Blood Simple.

More than a decade after Blood Simple came out, the Coens released Fargo. The Coens’ dealings with investors for Blood Simple inspired the film’s businessmen. “It was raising money for Blood Simple that we met all of these business guys who could wear the suits, get bundled up in the park and slog out in the snow and meet us in these, like, coffee shops,” Joel said in My First Movie. “We came back to that whole thing in Fargo: the car salesman, the guy who owns the bowling alley, you know, whatever.”

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