Ah, October. Leaves change colors, department stores replace cheap grills and plastic swimming pools with amazing spooky decorations and candy, and most importantly, horror becomes everyone’s favorite genre. Regardless of how much you love the genre, though, there are always new things to learn about it. With that in mind, we’ve gathered 10 horror movie facts that you probably didn’t know!
1Michael Myers is a Major Payne
In 1978, Nick Castle played the iconic horror villain, Michael Myers, in John Carpenter’s Halloween. Less known, however, is the actor’s work behind the camera. Castle is the co-writer of Escape from New York and Steven Spielberg’s Hook, as well as the director of The Last Starfighter, Dennis the Menace, and Major Payne. Michael Myers always was a family man.
2The Voice of Pazuzu
Academy Award winning actress Mercedes McCambridge supplied The Exorcist with a terrifying and unforgettable demon voice, going to great lengths to do so. Per her own insistence, McCambridge swallowed raw eggs, chain smoked, and drank whiskey to make her voice sound disturbing and her performance more aggressive. William Friedkin, the film’s director, also arranged for the actress to be bound to a chair during her recordings so that the demon seemed to be struggling against its restraints.
3Stanley Kubrick Faked the Moon Landing
There’s an elaborate internet theory that suggests that Kubrick faked the moon landing, and that The Shining serves as his confession to doing so. The theory suggests that the director hid things in plain sight, and chose to include details that weren’t in the book that oddly draw a connection to the event. In the film, Danny wears an Apollo 11 sweater, the novel’s haunted room 217 is changed to 237 (the moon is around 237,000 miles from Earth), and Tang, a known space drink, is displayed in the hotel pantry. Is the theory bullshit? Who are we to decide?
4Night of the Living Dead was Much Different Than Originally Planned
George A. Romero‘s Night of the Living Dead is one of the greatest horror films ever made, but it could have been vastly different. The creators of the film initially wanted to make an alien horror comedy about hot-rodding alien teens who would visit Earth, meet up with human teenagers, and stir up mischief with their cosmic pet. The budgetary constraints made this idea impossible, which resulted in several idea changes and the eventual creation of Night of the Living Dead.
5Drew Barrymore Chose Death
The opening scene in 1996’s Scream has become one of the horror genre’s most iconic. The most popular actress in the film, Drew Barrymore was initially set to star as Sidney Prescott. However, five weeks before production began, the actress instead suggested that she play Casey Becker, who dies in the opening scene, to cleverly subvert audience expectations. Alicia Witt, Brittany Murphy and Reese Witherspoon were considered for the role of Sidney following Barrymore’s decision, with the part eventually going to Neve Campbell.
6Steven Spielberg Thought his Paranormal Activity DVD was Haunted
Legendary director Steven Spielberg, whose studio considered distributing Paranormal Activity, took a DVD of the film home to watch, but got freaked out when the door to his bedroom locked by itself. Rumor has it that Spielberg carried the DVD to work in a trash bag because he believed it to be haunted. Despite this, the director loved the film, and even suggested a new ending that was used in the theatrical release.
7Pumpkinhead was Inspired by a Poem
Though the poem wasn’t written specifically for the film, the idea for the movie and its monster were inspired by an ominous poem written by Ed Justin. You can find the poem here.
8The Rights to Hannibal Lecter Were Free of Charge
Manhunter, Michael Mann’s 1986 film adaptation of the novel Red Dragon, was a bust at the box office- barely making back half of its budget. This prompted producer Dino De Laurentiis to simply give away the rights to Hannibal Lecter to the team behind The Silence of the Lambs. That film would go on to win multiple Academy Awards and gross $272 million at the box office- $264 million more than Manhunter.
9Tobe Hooper Wanted a PG Rating for The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Though it has earned a reputation for being one of horror’s most brutal films, much of the violence in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is suggested rather than actually shown. Director Tobe Hooper made that decision in hopes that the film would attain a PG rating and reach a wider audience (this was before “PG-13” existed), but it was so intense that it still earned a hard R rating.
10Wes Craven Regretted the Ending of A Nightmare on Elm Street
New Line’s Bob Shaye was adamant about a sequel tease at the end of the original Elm Street, but Wes Craven was against the notion. When speaking with Vulture, Craven stated, “I felt that the film should end when Nancy turns her back on Freddy and his violence—that’s the one thing that kills him. Bob wanted to have Freddy pick up the kids in a car and drive off, which reversed everything I was trying to say—it suddenly presented Freddy as triumphant. I came up with a compromise, which was to have the kids get in the convertible, and when the roof comes down, we’d have Freddy’s red and green stripes on it. Do I regret changing the ending? I do, because it’s the one part of the film that isn’t me.”