A ready film in the theatre is always a welcome source of entertainment, but the story behind it may not always be a good one. While everyone agrees that no one should die just to get a film into the theatres, accidents still happen because a film set is just a work station just like any other workplace. Some film sets, such as the 1925 film, Ben Hur, got so bloody that it caused a stir in the industry, leading to the enforcement of strict safety measures for films to be produced. While safety measures have been improved over the years, movie sets haven’t fallen short of tragic events that get people killed.
Gone In 60 Seconds II
Henry Blight Halicki was a car-stunt film genius that created the 1974 film Gone in 60 Seconds from scratch without even having a script for the film. He owned a car towing business and so had the cars needed to produce the film. However, the 1998 production of Gone in 60 Seconds II didn’t go so well for the talented director.
He managed to get the license to topple a 141ft water tower in an abandoned industrial park in Tonawanda, Buffalo, for the sequel of Gone in 60 Seconds. The tower, however, fell prematurely and pulled a power cable, which in turn fell a pole that hit Halicki, killing him instantly.
The Midnight Rider: Gregg Allman’s Story – 2014
The 2014 film was expected to be a big hit after it got the blessing of Gregg Allman himself. Things, however, got tragic when the producers failed to secure a license from the railway company in Georgia. They went ahead and started shooting along the track and only had 60 seconds to clear when the train appeared, but that time wasn’t nearly enough.
When a train came, shooting was in progress, and many people narrowly escaped death, including William Hurt. However, camera assistant Sarah Jones wasn’t so lucky as the train ran a bed that was on the track, which in turn pulled her into the train’s path, killing her instantly. Production was shut down as the cast and crew pulled out, cursing the producers. Director William Randal got two years behind bars for manslaughter.
The Twilight Zone – 1983
The Twilight Zone set tragedy finally opened the eyes of the world to the dangers posed by film sets. On the early morning of July 23, 1982, Vic Morrow and two child actors were shooting the final scene of The Twilight Zone in which Vic Morrow was playing a soldier saving the two children from an advancing American Military helicopter in the Vietnam war. Things got out of hand when the pilot lost control of the low flying aircraft crashing into the actor and the two children killing them instantly. Five people were prosecuted for manslaughter, and the government enacted new laws surrounding the use of child actors in movie scenes.
Deadpool 2 – 2017
Deadpool is one of the Ryan Reynolds films, but the second film released in 2018 had a bloody story on set. The production had employed the help of the stuntwoman, Joi Harris, an experienced motorcycle rider. Harris’s motorbike crashed, throwing her through the glass window of a building just beyond the limit of her stunt area, although it is not clear why she went beyond the safety zone in the first place. The production was paused for 48 hours as an investigation took place, but it resumed, and the film made it to the release in time.
The Crow – 1993
The Crow 1993 is usually mentioned as a cursed film because of a number of tragic events that happened on the set. It all started when a stranger allegedly left the crew a voicemail message telling them not to shoot as “something bad would happen.” That bad thing ended up being the tragic death of Brandon Lee, the son of Bruce Lee. Lee died when a gun that was loaded with fake rounds went off by accident, and the shrapnel hit him, killing him. The accident was later blamed on the producers for cutting shortcuts.
Top Gun – 1985
Being a stunt pilot is probably one of the riskiest careers one could have, although accidents are very rare. Arthur Scholl is still regarded as one of the greatest stunt pilots to take to the skies. He was also a cameraman and flight instructor that took part in great films such as Prime Risk, Where The Buffalo Roam, Iron Eagle, and The Right Stuff. He agreed to fly a Pitt-S2 to film the 1985 celebration of Beach volleyball in Top Gun. He, however, lost control of his plane and plunged into the sea, and his plane was never recovered.
The Hobbit – 2012
When animals are used on a film set, they are part of the cast and therefore deserve just as much protection as the human members of the cast. Failing to take good care of their animal actors is one of the reasons why the producers of The Hobbit have been condemned by animal rights activists since the film’s release in 2012.
The animals were allegedly housed in poor conditions at a ranch while the production was underway, leading to mass deaths. Three horses, six sheep and goats, and at least 12 chickens died while at the ranch, where some allegedly drowned while others were swept away by a stream that ran through the ranch.
The Conqueror – 1956
The Conqueror was supposed to be one of Howard Hughes’ greatest films, but it has gone down as a massacre of sorts in Hollywood history. The film was shot in an abandoned nuclear site in Utah, where the authorities claimed it was safe. Multiple nuclear tests had been done there a year prior, and the place was still contaminated, leading to 91 of the 220 cast and crew members developing cancer. 46 of them died within 30 years of finishing the production, including John Wayne. The film was later named the RKO radioactive Picture because of the tragedy that followed. The authorities still deny their involvement in the tragedy.
Jumper – 2008
Samuel L. Jackson’s performance in 2008’s Jumper contributed to the film’s $228 million Box Office sales revenue. The company, however, had to pay a fine of $250,000 in Canada after David Ritchie, a worker for the production company, was killed while dismantling the cast. Another employee was also critically injured in the accident that was caused by falling debris from the set as it was dismantled. The company pleaded guilty to failing to take care of the workers as they were not given any protective gear while dismantling the site. The loose debris is believed to have been caused by heavy machines that were excavating close to the site.
Transformers – The Dark Moon-2010
Paramount’s Transformers is one of the most successful robotics film franchises ever created. While most of the footage is usually computer-generated, some of it is produced on physical sites, so you can expect lots of cars hanging and swinging. That was the case in 2010 when The Dark Moon was in production when a cable holding a car snapped, hitting Gabriela Cedillo, who was starring as an extra driving her own Toyota Sedan. The cable cut through the windshield, hitting Cedillo in the face. She suffered irreversible injuries, including brain damage, and paramount had to settle in court for $18.5 million.