From almost facing a watery death to suffering serious burns in the land of Oz, we count 9 horrifying accidents that happened on movie sets.
9. Maximum Overdrive
Stephen King made his directorial debut with this sci-fi horror comedy about a comet that makes all the machines come to life and attack their human creators. In a way, something similar happened to one of the crew members on the set.
Cinematographer Armando Nannuzzi was injured while filming a scene where a character is chased by a sentient lawn mower. The camera sat on a wooden stand for one shot that would make the lawn mower look big and menacing, with its revolving blades coming close to the camera. Well, safety equipment was removed from the lawn mower to expose the blades and a device was added to make it go faster via remote control.
When the camera rolled, the lawn mower glided up to the camera but ended up chopping at the wooden stand, sending a series of splinters into Nannuzzi’s face. He ended up losing an eye and sued King and other crew members for damages.
8. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1
The second to the last Harry Potter film was a much-anticipated release for fans, but what many didn’t know was that an accident that occurred on set changed the life of one particular crew member.
Stunt performer David Holmes, who was star Daniel Radcliffe’s double for all the previous entries, was rehearsing a flying stunt involving an explosion. Holmes was thrown against a wall before falling to the ground at Warner Bros. Studios in Leavesden, England. Remaining conscious, Holmes told crew members that he couldn’t feel his legs. He could move his arms but just barely. The former gymnast ended up fracturing his neck, leaving him permanently paralyzed from the neck down.
Sadly, Holmes was only 25-years-old when the accident occurred.
Another stunt performer found himself in trouble, but this time he wasn’t as lucky.
Stunt performer Harry O’Connor was in the Czech Republic doing stunt work for the Vin Diesel action film XXX. O’Connor was on a paraglider, being pulled at high speeds. He hit a pillar of the Palacky Bridge, in Prague, dying on impact. Prague authorities even investigated whether the accident was caused by a technical issue or by the filmmakers not obeying safety rules.
As a tribute to O’Connor’s work, the scene was included in the finished movie… minus his death.
6. Top Gun
This popular military movie from the 80’s dealt with Navy pilots in flight school had several impressive aerial stunts. One of the stunt pilots performing these stunts was Art Scholl.
The veteran stunt pilot was performing an aerial stunt known as an inverted flat spin – an easy maneuver for an experienced pilot such as Scholl – for a backdrop shot. The script said the plane was supposed to go through a spin over water. While midway through the stunt, Scholl radioed to the crew that he was having a problem but never mentioned what the problem was. His plane never stabilized from the maneuver, and it plunged into the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately, Scholl and his plane have never been recovered.
The film was dedicated to Scholl’s memory.
5. The Wizard of Oz
Margaret Hamilton played one of the most memorable villains in film history, The Wicket Witch of the West. Throughout the film her character tormented young Dorothy Gale and her friends. But during the filming of one scene, Hamilton encountered some horror of her own.
After threatening Dorothy in Munchkinland shortly after her arrival, the Wicked Witch runs away and vanishes in a huge cloud of smoke. Well, actually Hamilton had to stand on a trap door a certain way so the pyrotechnics wouldn’t harm her. Unfortunately, on the second take, the trap door was delayed in bringing the actress down to safety. The results were a second degree burn on her face and a third degree burn on her hand. Her burns cost Hamilton a hospital stay followed by a recuperation at home for six weeks before returning to work on the film.
She only agreed to return to filming as long as there were “no more fireworks”!