13 FREAKY FACTS: Horror Movie Classics Edition
Whether they’re playing in the background on Halloween night or you’re watching intently with loved ones, horror movies are a treasure to be enjoyed. To help you determine which flick you’re going to scream for this Halloween, here are 13 facts about classic horror movie monsters that’ll shed new light and make you giddy with fear.
- In Bela Lugosi’s landmark role as Count Dracula in Dracula (1931), the studio did not want to film the scripted scene where Dracula attacks the outcast character Renfield. They were concerned with the perception of a homosexual subtext. They even sent a memo to director Todd Browning stating “Dracula is only to attack women.” Oddly enough, a future arrangement between a vampire and his familiar did have such a context: Jerry Dandridge and Billy Cole in 1985’s Fright Night.
- “Even a man who is pure at heart, and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright.” Sound familiar? Fans of the Wolf Man franchise know it well, since this rhyme has been recited in every Universal appearance of the Wolf Man starting with Lon Chaney Jr. in 1941. Originally it was believed to be an authentic Gypsy or Eastern European folk saying which gave the tortured creature of two worlds an extra level of spooky credibility. Even though Wolf Man writer Curt Siodmak later admitted that he simply made it up, it has become synonymous with the creature and versions of it continue to be used in modern monster movies like Van Helsing (2004).
- Universal Studios wanted to make actor Boris Karloff’s face realistically wrinkled and scary in his role as The Mummy (1932). Jack Pierce was responsible for the costume design and makeup and at one point, they applied
so many layers of cotton to Karloff’s face that he was unable to speak simply because he couldn’t move the muscles necessary. He would say to Pierce regarding the costume “Well, you’ve done a wonderful job, but you forgot to give me a fly!”
- During the production of Frankenstein (1931), there was some concern on set regarding the scene where the little girl Petunia would befriend the monster and a simple misunderstanding would result in her being thrown in the lake where she would drown. The team was worried that seven-year-old Marilyn Harris would be too afraid of Boris Karloff in full monster makeup to complete the scene. On the day they were getting ready to travel to location, Harris ran up to Karloff in full costume and makeup and took his hand, asking him “May I drive with you?” Karloff was so delighted and happy at her request that he responded, “ Would you, darling?” They drove to the filming location together and filmed the scene with no issue.
- While filming Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), stuntman Ricou Browning once had to make an emergency bathroom break while filming an underwater scene of the creature. He had been underwater for several minutes and quickly breached the water in full costume next to an unwary mother and her young daughter who had been swimming nearby. Browning recalled they fled in complete terror once they saw him advancing out of the water and said, “ they took off, and that’s the last I saw of ‘em!”
- In The Fly (1958), during the scene where Andre Delambre’s head and arm is caught in the spider’s web, a small animatronic figure with a moving head and arm was used in the web as a reference for Vincent Price and Herbert Marshall. Price later recalled that the scene took multiple takes to finish because every time he and Marshall looked at the figure with the human head and fly body, they would immediately burst out laughing.
- During The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Gunnar Hansen was directed to look agitated and stomp his feet out of frustration because Sally got away at the end of the film. Hansen decided that swinging his chainsaw back and forth because would be a better expression of Leatherface’s defeat. He also wanted to scare director Tobe Hooper as a form of payback regarding how he treated the cast and crew during filming. His decision is now an iconic gesture synonymous with the character.
- For the film Halloween (1978), their shoestring budget required the prop department to buy the cheapest mask that they could find in the costume store: a William Shatner mask. They spray-painted the face white, teased out the hair, and reshaped the eye holes. Shatner had no idea of the concept until someone asked how he felt about it in an interview. Since then, he has said he is honored for his contribution to the classic slasher villain and it probably did wonders for his already famous ego. I guess you never know how far $2 can go.
- In the original script for Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Freddy Krueger’s sweater was supposed to be red and yellow, which was a reference to the DC superhero Plastic Man. Both Plas and Freddy could change their form at will and it was imagined that whatever Freddy would change for his victims would retain the color scheme. This idea changed when creator/director Wes Craven read an article in “Scientific American” in 1982 that two of the most contrasting colors to human sight were red and green. He changed the colors and Krueger’s wardrobe has remained unchanged throughout the years.
- In Friday the 13th (1980), the silence would be forever marked by composer Harry Manfredini’s sound clip building tension around the Camp Crystal Lake grounds and its supernatural slasher Jason Voorhees. Everyone knows the sound but always misspells it; the correct spelling is “Ki, ki, ki; ma, ma, ma” and it’s supposed to be Jason’s voice speaking to his mother. During the first Friday the 13th, Pamela Voorhees reveals she is not only Jason’s mother and the movie’s killer but that she suffers from schizophrenia. She chants “Get her, mommy! Kill her” in a childish tone which gave Manfredini the idea that Jason was saying “Kill, kill, kill; mom, mom, mom.” He created the effect by speaking the syllables into a microphone running through a delay effect. The franchise continues to use the sound clip to this day.
- The homicidal doll Chucky possessed by the soul of murderer Charles Lee Ray would be nothing without the voice of actor Brad Dourif. The first Child’s Play (1988) scared a good number of children while delighting horror movie fans and one time, Dourif’s performance even scared his own children. He was recording lines for the first movie in his recording room and didn’t even know his baby daughter Fiona crawled into the room. He didn’t realize until he was recording screams for the scene where Chucky was set on fire in the Barclay’s fireplace and his daughter was so scared that she started crying herself.
- During the filming of Steven Spielberg’s Poltergeist (1982), actress JoBeth Williams was scared to shoot the swimming pool scene because of a fear of electrocution from the equipment positioned over and around the pool. To comfort her, Spielberg crawled into the pool with her to shoot the scene, saying “Now if a light falls in, we will both fry.” She agreed to get into the pool and shoot the scene but she didn’t know the skeletons that emerged in the pool were real skeletons until after the scene was completed.
- During a post-production party celebrating the end of filming Hellraiser (1987), Pinhead actor Doug Bradley was annoyed that he was being ignored by members of the cast and crew. He was under the impression that he had gotten along with everyone during the making of the film and later learned that nobody from either department had seen him without his intense Cenobite makeup. They simply did not recognize him from his horror movie counterpart.
-Drew Mollo is a freelance writer specializing in Comics media