There aren’t that many genres that can claim to have as many genre-reinventing movies as horror movies. Whether it’s through practical effects or by giving a more modern version of a tried and true classic, there’s probably been an iconic horror movie every few years or so. And while horror movies are all about making the viewer feel somewhat uncomfortable, some of them weren’t exactly comfortable to make either.
Let’s take a look at some horror movies where the horror started before the cameras were rolling.
The Lighthouse (2019)
If you’re going to be filming a movie in Nova Scotia, you should probably be ready to deal with the cold. Even the crew, who were Nova Scotia natives, admitted that the shoot was very challenging. The added stress and tension from the unusual environment added to the overall tone of the movie, though.
Boris Karloff truly suffered to make Frankenstein the movie it is today. Despite the movie’s being nearly 100 years old, it’s still the best Frankenstein portrayal ever done. Karloff had to endure a 25-hour shoot for it, wore a 48-pound costume, and repeatedly had to carry actual Colin Clive up a hill instead of using a dummy. Filming this movie inspired Karloff to found the Screen Actors Guild in 1933.
The Exorcist (1973)
While there were rumors of the film set itself being cursed, that was just a huge marketing ploy. The biggest nightmare in making this movie was the director itself. William Friedkin was supposedly one of the biggest schizophrenics you can find in the business, switching from nice to borderline venomous at the drop of a dime. He would also repeatedly fire and rehire crew members and randomly fire guns to startle people.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
The start of the found footage subgenre of horror movies, Blair Witch, was actually filmed in the woods over eight days, where the cast didn’t get all that much food, were actively scared in the nighttime and even had to come up with a safe word so they could instantly break character. The actors were also getting very little in terms of direction, usually having to make do with nothing more than a small note with instructions for their entire day.
The Shining (1980)
The Shining, being as perfect a movie, as it is comes with a huge toll. Stanley Kubrick is notorious for being overly perfectionistic and would do at least 35 takes of every scene, making the filming process last a whopping 56 weeks. Shelley Duvall, who played Wendy, suffered the most because the role in itself was very demanding, but she had to do everything at least 35 times. One scene was even filmed 127 times, in which Shelley claims that her body just started rebelling after a while.
The Evil Dead (1981)
Starting directors like Sam Raimi back in the early 80’s usually don’t have the big budgets to make filming a wonderful experience. During the filming of Evil Dead, the crew had to fight off the cold with just one industrial heater and without any hot water. The acrylic paint that was used for the makeup had to be scratched off with a scouring pad. It says on the tube not to put it on your skin, and I guess we now know why.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
The infamous dinner scene in Chainsaw Massacre was filmed in boiling temperatures over a 26-hour shoot. The heat and rotten food made it so people had to physically run outside to grab some oxygen and do – yes – periodic vomiting breaks. And in the scene where Marilyn Burns gets hit by Jim Siedow, he was actively encouraged to actually hit her and not do one of those Hollywood punches. After the eighth take, Marilyn just fainted.