These stories about classic films sound like something your weirdo cousin would make up just to get attention. Well, the joke’s on your weirdo cousin (as always) because these are true.
It’s hard to tell the myth from the reality when you’re talking about Hollywood movies. After all, Tinseltown’s business is fiction—the bigger the better. But in some instances, the truth is stranger than fiction.
We’ve said it before, but we’ve never meant it quite so hard: You just can’t make this stuff up.
1. The terrifying sound that velociraptors make in “Jurassic Park” is actually a recording of two tortoises mating.
Gary Rydstrom, the sound designer on the film, spilled the beans in a 2015 interview with SFGate. Capturing that particular sound wasn’t easy, Rydstrom said.
“The male tortoise would go up, and then fall off, and then go back again,” he said. “My memory is it was hours. It was probably minutes. But then the mating happened, and it barked.”
2. The real artist in “Titanic” isn’t Leonardo DiCaprio; it’s James Cameron.
The director drew the famous sketch of Rose in the diamond necklace, but he didn’t stop there. Cameron reportedly filled Jack’s sketchbook himself.
Apparently, Leonardo DiCaprio isn’t quite the visual artist director Cameron is. Besides, he was too busy practicing that “I’m the king of the world!” scene to bother with scratching out sketches.
3. Speaking of “Titanic,” the movie actually cost more to produce than the original passenger liner cost to build.
That’s actually not super hard to believe, but it is funny enough to mention. Owners spent about $7.5 million in 1912’s dollars building the doomed ship. Producers ended up spending about $200 million on the film.
But wait, you might object. What about inflation? Surely $7.5 million was worth more back in 1912! Very observant. You’re right, but Titanic the movie still cost more than the RMS Titanic. If the ship was built 100 years later, it would have cost $174 million—still $26 million cheaper than the film that shares its name.
4. If you’ve ever encountered that meme about Danny Trejo saying, “Machete don’t text,” you are in the presence of truth.
This one definitely sounds made-up…until you consider that it’s the ultimately memeable Danny Trejo we’re talking about. During the filming of Machete, director Robert Rodriguez reportedly told Trejo to text him about some subject rather than calling.
Trejo responded with the iconic line, and a new meme was born. The irony is how often the phrase “Machete don’t text” shows up in text messages. Oh well.
5. “Gone With the Wind” created a burning Atlanta with real fire—and real buildings.
The famous “burning of Atlanta” scene in Gone With the Wind didn’t rely on special effects or burning miniatures. For a movie this epic, they had to burn real stuff. To make that happen, the film needed a lot of space cleared out on the MGM lot.
In order to create that space, producers burned old sets. They filmed the conflagration with seven Technicolor cameras—the only seven that existed at that time. Filmmakers shot this scene before they had even cast their star, and when Vivien Leigh wandered over to check out the blaze, they created a new kind of Scarlett.
6. Steven Spielberg truly does get thanked more than God in Oscar speeches.
You’ve probably seen enough Oscar award acceptance speeches to know the format. Feigned shock, deep emotion, and thanks to friends, family, coworkers, and the Lord Almighty.
According to a study published in Forbes, though, God is actually only in the middle of the pile of people thanked during these tear-filled speeches. Steven Spielberg comes in first, with a total of 42 thanks.
Super-producer Harvey Weinstein, Titanic director James Cameron, and George “Star Wars” Lucas also get more acknowledgment than God, who, believe it or not, has only been thanked 19 times.
So you see, Hollywood isn’t an entirely godless place.
7. Count Orlok blinks exactly once during the entire runtime of “Nosferatu.”
If you’ve seen one classic silent film, it was probably this one. F.W. Murnau’s classic horror film, Nosferatu, hit theaters in 1922. It tells a highly plagiarized version of the Dracula novel by Bram Stoker—so much so that the studio that made it declared bankruptcy in order to avoid charges of copyright infringement from Stoker’s widow.
So, keeping that in mind, the vampire couldn’t be called “Dracula.” Instead, he was “Count Orlok,” and German actor Max Schreck’s performance as this character is one of the seminal works of horror acting. Part of Orlok’s creepiness is that he never blinks, except for one time near the end of the first chapter. Try to spot it!
8. You might burn some calories watching “Nosferatu,” but to really melt those pounds away, go with “The Shining.”
A University of Westminster study on the effects of horror films found that a 90-minute scary flick can cause viewers to burn up to 113 calories. That’s not as effective as a long, sweaty workout, but it’s pretty good for sitting on your couch.
“Each of the 10 films [in the study] tested set pulses racing, sparking an increase in the heart rate of the case studies,” Richard Mackenzie, professor of cell metabolism and physiology at the University of Westminster, told Clinical News.
“As the pulse quickens and blood pumps around the body faster, the body experiences a surge in adrenaline. It is this release of fast-acting adrenaline, produced during short bursts of intense stress (or in this case, brought on by fear), which is known to lower the appetite, increase the basal metabolic rate, and ultimately burn a higher level of calories.”
In other words, horror movies burn calories, and The Shining burns the most, at 184 calories. Jaws burned 161 calories, and The Exorcist can melt away 158 calories. For reference, there are 210 calories in a Hershey’s chocolate bar, so eat one of those while you watch two horror films in a row, and you’ll still come out ahead. That’s one heck of a diet plan.
9. You can watch Malcolm McDowell almost drown during a scene in “A Clockwork Orange.”
It was never easy to act in a Stanley Kubrick film. The legendary director made performers do an astonishing number of takes. The difficult baseball bat scene in The Shining, for instance, took 127 takes by some accounts.
Still, none of that compares to the horror young Malcolm McDowell had to go through while he was filming A Clockwork Orange. While filming one violent scene, McDowell had to hold his head underwater for a very, very long time.
The crew fitted the water tank with an oxygen tank, but McDowell couldn’t always find it in time.
“It was just luck that I happened to glom onto it,” he said in an interview with MTV. Even worse than the lack of oxygen was the temperature of the water.
“They couldn’t use warm water because it was so cold out it would steam,” McDowell said. “If you dunk your head in cold water, you can’t stay under for more than five seconds.”
And yet, somehow the scene was completed. Maybe we don’t want to be a famous Hollywood actor after all.