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37 Fascinating Horror Movie Facts That You Probably Didn't Know

Trivia night's gonna be a scream.

horror movies facts the shining
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Movie trivia is always fun, but there's something about horror films that bring out the most absurd facts. There's always the stories of extreme budgetary restrictions that result in now-iconic moments, or hidden meanings in details that were assumed mundane, or directors withholding information from the stars of the film to get more genuine reactions. All of those and more are on this list of 37 lesser-known horror movie hfacts about your favorite scary flicks. 

Related: 33 Horror Movie Quotes Every Horror Fan Needs to Know 

1. Evil Dead's Remake? Sequel? Requel? 

Evil Dead II (1987)

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Evil Dead II is often mistaken as a remake of Evil Dead (1981). After all, why would Bruce Campbell’s character, Ash, visit an obviously haunted cabin in the woods twice? In reality, it’s a mix of sequel and remake, as the creators of the second movie wanted to recap the story elements of the first, but didn’t have the rights to use clips from the original. 

2. Carrie's High School Heritage

Carrie (1976)

The high school in Carrie had its name changed from Ewen High School in the original Stephen King novel to Bates High School. This was a reference to Norman Bates from the movie Psycho, unsurprising as Brian De Palma claims to have included several nods to the film. 

3. Innovative Bathroom Plumbing in Psycho

Psycho (1960)

Speaking of Psycho, there’s a surprising amount of plumbing trivia tied to the movie. Not only was it the first film to feature a flushing toilet on screen, but the multitude of facts around the prominent shower scene, including removable walls and camera innovations to get the shots right, helped cement one of the most referenced clips in American cinema.

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4. A Vampire's Gentle Kiss

Let the RIght One In (2008)

In Let the Right One In (originally Låt den Rätte Komma in), the two main characters learn to communicate through the walls of their apartment complex via morse code. At the end of the film, the vampire Eli taps “K-i-s-s” to Oskar, who responds with “P-u-s-s,” meaning “small kiss” in Swedish. 

5. Tight FIlming Schedule for Blair Witch

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

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The Blair Witch Project was one of the most efficiently filmed blockbusters in film history. With principal photography taking eight days, collecting just 20 hours of footage to be edited down to 82 minutes in eight months. x

Related: 19 Horror Movies Set in the Woods That Will Keep You Out of the Forest Forever 

6. Final Destination 3's Not-So-Final Shot

Final Destination 3 (2006)

Along with other key facts about the roller coaster scene in Final Destination 3, the cast needed to hop on the ride a total of 26 times for filming the shots of the premonition scene.

7. From Saving Lives to Terrorizing them: Breaking Down Doors in The Shining

The Shining (1980)

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Jack Nicholson had worked as a volunteer firefighter earlier in life, so when it came to breaking down a door with an ax in the iconic The Shining scene, he actually broke the prop doors too easily. Dozens of doors later, and you have one of the most terrifying moments in horror.

8. Blood Elevator? Kubrick Out

Speaking of The Shining, the film's iconic scene of the elevator doors opening to unleash a wave of blood was actually filmed without Kubrick in attendance. It's not that Kubrick was squeamish. He was instead overwhelmed with worry. The famed director, and well-known perfectionist, was so concerned about the stunt not working out to his liking, that he evacuated the set just before the cameras rolled. Kubrick was certainly justified in his concern; the scene took weeks of preparation and required hundreds of gallons of fake blood. Needless to say, things went swimmingly; the shot was captured on the first take.  

9. Deep Thoughts in Nightmare on Elm Street

Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

While Nightmare on Elm Street is known to be inspired by a series of unexplained real-life deaths, Wes Craven, equipped with a philosophy degree, used the concept of dreams to explore the epistemological question of what we can truly know. 

10. The Deep-Rooted Fear of Freddy Krueger

Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Speaking of Freddy Krueger, Wes Craven had many reasons behind the design choices of the character. Craven cites practical reasons behind the now-iconic glove, being easy to make and transport, but also to mix the bestial threat of claws with a very human appendage, the hand.

11. The Numbers Behind Paranormal Activity's Cheap Trip to Success

Paranormal Activity (2009)

The third most profitable movie, based on return on investment, is the original Paranormal Activity. The film's production budget was $450,000; the film's approximate profit was well over $89,000,000. That works out to about a 19,885% ROI. 

12. No Actors Were Disarmed in the Making of The Thing

The Thing (1982)

The practical effects in The Thing’s (1982) much loved ‘chest chomp’ scene, where a doctor attempts to deregulate a patient before having his forearms eaten, were pulled off by a double amputee stand-in wearing false arms made of Jell-O.

13. The Thing's Nearly Happy Ending

The Thing (1982)

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While it seems impossible to imagine a happy finale to the film, The Thing had an alternate ending prepared that would be easier for audiences to appreciate. MacReady could have ended up rescued and his blood test would prove he wasn’t assimilated.

14. Genuine Surprise in Alien

Alien (1979)

The cast of Alien shows genuine shock and horror during the well-known ‘chest-burster’ scene, where John Hurt’s character is host to the title creature. This is because the details of the scene were ultimately a surprise to the rest of the actors, with Ridley Scott citing a desire for a genuine reaction. He definitely got it.

15. 'Who' Supplied the Lights? 

Alien (1979)

Another practical effect from Alien, the blue laser-light in the egg chamber was actually borrowed from the band The Who.

16. Giger's Ghastly Alien Prop

Alien (1979)

The sci-fi horror classic wouldn’t be nearly as impactful if not for the artistic creativity of H.R. Giger. Using a real human skull in the initial xenomorph cranium and condoms for the lips, Giger’s style in Alien defined the neo-gothic style now referred to as Gigeresque.

17. Poltergeist's Skeleton Stew

Poltergeist (1982)

Following trends of real human bones and shocking performers for genuine reactions, actress JoBeth Williams had no idea that the huge tank of mud she slid into in Poltergeist contained actual human skeletons instead of props. The sequence was shot over multiple takes, taking four or five days, and Williams didn’t find out the human remains were real until after she finished. The filmmakers claimed that making replicas out of plastic and rubber was too expensive.

18. Ancient Mythology in The Exorcist

The Exorcist (1973)

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The first horror movie to be nominated for an Oscar, The Exorcist tips its hat to one of the oldest entities in the history of humankind: Pazuzu. A king of demons in Assyrian and Babylonian mythology, the name is never explicitly stated in the original film, but Father Merrin finds a ruined statue of the demon at the start during a dig in Iraq.

19. Nosferatu: Undead, Unyielding, Unblinking

Nosferatu (1922)

While the effects and themes of vampire movies may come off as tired now, Nosferatu still remains fresh before the bloodsucker was buried in cliche and staked with parody. Adding to the eeriness, Count Orlock, adapted from Dracula, is only seen blinking once in the film at the end of part 1.

20. A Condemnation, In Any Other Genre

The Witch (2016)

The Satanic Temple’s endorsement would make many people wary, but it only served to bolster the appeal of Robert Egger’s The Witch. As their spokesperson, Jex Blackmore, said, “It’s a criticism of a theocratic patriarchal society and a fair representation of the stresses that puts on a community.”

Related: 16 Bone-Chilling Witch Movies That'll Put a Spell on You 

21. Another Potential Classic

Nosferatu (????)

Eggers also announced in 2015 that he planned to remake Nosferatu, although the project is currently on hold. While the film and story have been a lifelong obsession for the writer/director/production designer, Eggers says that the opportunity came as a shock due to his smaller filmography, “It feels ugly and blasphemous and egomaniacal and disgusting for a filmmaker in my place to do ‘Nosferatu’ next.

22. Gremlins: Crazy Energetic, Crazy Expressive, and Crazy Expensive. 

Gremlins (1984)

With no adequate CGI available at the time of filming, the lovable/terrifying little critters in Gremlins were all animatronic puppets. But with an astounding average cost per gremlin of $30,000 to $40,000, it’s surprising they had the puppets perform so many stunts in the movie. It's also understandable why the filmmakers hired security to guard the ghoulish figurines after hours.

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23. A Sympathetic Monster, and A Horrific Society

Edward Scissorhands (1990)

While colorful and often comedic, Edward Scissorhands undoubtedly carries horror themes. The movie is supposed to be seen from Edward’s eyes, which is why the neighborhood comes off as so fantastical and distorted, leading to the character feeling even more estranged from the sunny attitudes of the rest of the cast.

24. Silent Hill's Murderous, Dancing Nurses

Silent Hill (2006)

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An anomaly where film adaptations of video games are concerned, the first Silent Hill movie is considered faithful and frighteningly good. The macabre dance of the nurses in the film looks too freakish to be real but hiring professional dancers to contort and twist their limbs created an effect that feels grossly inhuman (in a good way).

25. Video Game or Film, a Work of Passion

Silent Hill (2006)

It’s not surprising that Silent Hill turned out better than most game-movies do, being a passion project for director Christopher Gans. The filmmaker spent five years in pursuit of the right to make a movie adaptation of the game. When he did, he ensured the movie felt like the video game he so adored. Music from the video game's score appears in the movie and many of the video game's characters are present. Gans even kept the original game running on set as a point of reference, regularly returning to the live game to ensure he was capturing the right mood and angles. 

26. It Follows' Nightmarish Inspiration

It Follows (2015)

It Follows terrified viewers and sparked serious discussion among its fans when it hit theaters in 2014. Director David Robert Mitchell recognizes that the interpretation of the movie's malevolent force as a kind of contagious sexual disease is valid. That said, the filmmaker cites troubling dreams from his childhood as the movie's original inspiration.

27. Saw's (In)Competent Surgeon

Saw (2004)

The character of Lawrence Gordon in the Saw series is supposed to be a surgical doctor. And yet, he never mentions the body in the middle of the room hasn't turned yellow, and its blood never turned black, calling his competency and intentions into question early on.

28. Hereditary's Characters Were Dolls In a Playhouse

Hereditary (2018)

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Ari Aster’s feature film debut, Hereditary, had an extreme amount of detail put into the set to create a “dollhouse aesthetic” for the family’s home. Not only handy for filming in cramped spaces, this dedication also conveyed the sense that the cast was being maneuvered and toyed with.

Related: Every A24 Horror Movie, Ranked 

29. "Beep Beep"

It (2017)

While not as thoroughly explained in the film adaptation as the book, the phrase “beep beep, Richie” is often used as a stand-in for “shut up, Richie.”

30. Spielberg Doubted the Jaws Theme

Jaws (1975)

While the Jaws theme feels essential to the film today, Spielberg initially though that composer John Williams was playing a joke on him. “At first I began to laugh, he had a great sense of humor so I thought he was putting me on,’’ he once said about the track. 

31. "Where No Masked Murderer Has Gone Before" 

Halloween (1978)

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Like most of horror’s most striking visuals, the mask of Michael Myers in Halloween has a frugal origin. The Shape's haunting visage was originally a Captain Kirk mask purchased at a magic shop, which the crew then spray-painted and distorted to create Mikey's iconic look. Seeing this mask in the middle of the night will make you want to set phasers to something a bit stronger than stun.

32. American Werewolf in London's Scratched Full Frontal Scene

AN American Werewolf in London (1981)

Horror-comedy American Werewolf in London is a unique entry in Jewish cinema, with the witty but socially misunderstood David Kessler portraying, well, an American werewolf on the loose in England. The famous transformation scene, already famous for its innovative effects, was planned to have full-frontal nudity of star David Naughton, intended to show that the character was circumcised to bolster the Jewish themes of the film. Naughton wanted the role so badly that he apparently lied about being circumcised in his audition for John Landis. The full-frontal shot was, err, cut when they finally got to filming the scene.

33. Ringu's Bizarre Walk

Ringu (1998)

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Ringu, the original Japanese version of The Ring, contains some of the most unsettling imagery in the history of horror. To capture the disjointed and janky movements of the character of Sadako Yamamura’s ghost, actress Rie Inō walked backward in an exaggerated motion, later reversed to achieve the bizarre steps she takes towards the camera.

34. Young Frankenstein: Too Funny for the Cast & Crew

Young Frankenstein (1974)

Ok, it’s more comedy than horror, but Young Frankenstein deserves to be in any list it can squeeze itself into. Star Gene Wilder reportedly held up takes of multiple scenes by breaking into fits of laughter over the content. Director Mel Brooks even claims to have spent $1,000 on handkerchiefs for the crew to laugh into to dampen their laughter during filming.

35. Zombie Lovers Playing Zombies in Land of the Dead

Land of the Dead (2005)

References and nods galore, George Romero’s Land of the Dead, the fourth installment of his Dead series, includes cameos from fans of his zombie flicks. Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright appeared as the photo-booth zombies in the carnival and barroom sequence, a casting choice made after their movie Shaun of the Dead paid tribute to previous undead films by Romero.

36. Candyman's Deal that Tasted Sweet as Honey

Candyman (1992)

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The 1992 slasher Candyman is set to receive a spiritual sequel in late September, directed by Nia DaCosta and written by Jordan Peele, Win Rosenfeld, and DaCosta. For the disturbing scene where bees engulf Candyman and pour from his mouth, original Star Tony Todd used queen-bee pheromones to pacify the bees. That didn't stop him from getting stung over 20 times, something he's actually grateful for in the long run as he was compensated $1,000 for each sting.

37. Horror Legend and Future Author in Creepshow

Creepshow (1982)

Horror anthology Creepshow, which was based on the E.C. horror comic books of the 1950s, included a cameo from a young Joe Hill as the boy in the opening and closing segments. Many horror book fanatics will recognize that name as the pen name of successful horror author Joseph Hillstrom King, son of Stephen King. Stephen King wrote the original screenplay for the movie, thus marking his screenwriting debut. He also performed in the movie, playing the doomed farmer Jordy Verrill. 

Related: From 20th Century Ghosts to NOS4A2: Where to Start with Award-Winning Horror Author Joe Hill

Featured Still from "The Shining" via Warner Bros.