7 Real-Life Horror Stories Behind “American Horror Story”

Kristin Hunt and Mental_Floss present 7 Real-Life Horror Stories Behind American Horror Story.  Here are three of my favorites…

2. THE BLACK DAHLIA
Also during season one, American Horror Story revealed that one of the past guests at the “Murder House” was Elizabeth Short, better known as The Black Dahlia. While AHS suggested a creepy dentist raped the aspiring actress and then let a ghost mutilate her, Short’s real-life killer remains a mystery. A mother and her child stumbled upon her body, which was sliced in half and drained of blood, on the morning of January 15, 1947. Her death became a media sensation, and newspapers quickly dubbed her “The Black Dahlia.” This was supposedly both a play on the 1946 film noir The Blue Dahlia and a reference to Short’s love of sheer black dresses.

Because the cuts on her body pointed to a murderer with surgical skills, the police began searching for doctors. They never identified the culprit, but people are still naming suspects to this day. In 2014, retired homicide detective Steve Hodel produced evidence that his own father was the killer.

5. THE AXEMAN OF NEW ORLEANS
Another NOLA murderer appeared in American Horror Story’s witchy third season. That would be the so-called Axeman of New Orleans. The anonymous killer terrorized the city between 1918 and 1919 by breaking into houses and slaying residents with an axe. In March of 1919, he reportedly wrote to The Times-Picayune, threatening a fresh attack but promising to spare any home that was playing jazz, his favorite music.

Jazz was blared across the city that night, so no one was killed. But sporadic attacks continued until October, when a grocer got the final blow. Although some speculated that the deaths were spurred by Mafia feuds, the Axeman’s motive and identity were never determined. He remains famous for his peculiar letter to the editor, which was recreated on American Horror Story.

6. JOHN WAYNE GACY, KILLER CLOWN
John Wayne Gacy’s crimes filled out two separate seasons of American Horror Story. In AHS: Freak Show, his spirit is channeled through Twisty the Clown, a disfigured children’s entertainer who kidnaps and kills. Later, in AHS: Hotel, the same actor who played Twisty (John Carroll Lynch) returned to play Gacy for “Devil’s Night,” a special Halloween episode featuring other notorious serial killers, including Aileen Wuornos and Jeffrey Dahmer.

It’s easy to see why AHS used Gacy twice, given his backstory. From 1972 through 1978, Gacy sexually assaulted and murdered at least 33 teenage boys. When he wasn’t luring those young men into his suburban home, he was dressing up as Pogo the Clown for kids’ birthday parties. After the police uncovered mass graves in his crawlspace and throughout his property, Gacy was put on trial and sentenced to die by lethal injection. He spent 14 years on death row before he was executed in 1994.

11 Collectible Facts About Hot Wheels

Marck Mancini and Mental_Floss present 11 Collectible Facts About Hot Wheels.  Here are three of my favorites…

5. 16 MILLION HOT WHEELS CARS WERE SOLD IN 1968 ALONE.
Demand for these toys hasn’t waned: Mattel estimates that over 4 billion cars have been produced and claims that eight of them are bought every single second.

6. IF YOU’VE GOT ONE WITH RED CIRCLES ON THE WHEELS, IT MIGHT BE WORTH SOME MONEY.
From 1968 to 1977, thin red lines were typically painted around the sidewalls of Hot Wheels tires. But in an effort to cut costs, Mattel went with all-black wheels partway through 1977. Collectors prize the old “redline” Hot Wheels—in fact, certain mint-condition models sell for thousands of dollars.

11. IN 2011, THE HOT WHEELS BRAND WAS INDUCTED INTO THE NATIONAL TOY HALL OF FAME.
Located in Rochester, New York, the National Toy Hall of Fame honors the world’s most influential playthings, from the cardboard box to Raggedy Ann. Mattel’s Hot Wheels line was formally inducted in 2011, along with the dollhouse and the blanket.

13 Mummified Facts about Ötzi the Iceman

Kristina Killgrove and Mental_Floss present 13 Mummified Facts about Ötzi the Iceman.  Here are three of my favorites…

5. HE HOLDS THE RECORD FOR OLDEST TATTOOS IN THE WORLD.
The mummy boasts 61 different tattoos, and they are the oldest physical evidence of tattooing in the world. While the Iceman does not have “MOM” on his biceps or a butterfly on his lower back, his tattoos are still quite interesting. They were made by scratching his skin and rubbing charcoal in the fresh wound, resulting in groups of lines or crosses. It has also been suggested that their placement over joints may have been an attempt to treat pain. As the oldest tattooed person ever found, Ötzi holds a Guinness World Record.

7. HE WAS AN EARLY ADOPTER OF TECHNOLOGY.
Ötzi’s field kit held a surprising number of different tools. There was a copper-bladed axe, which marks him as high status; a flint dagger and its tree-fiber sheath; and a bow made out of a yew tree. His quiver, fashioned out of deer hide with hazel wood supports, contained two finished arrows and a dozen unfinished shafts. He had a net for catching rabbits and birds, as well as a marble disc with a hole in the middle for hanging or carrying dead fowls. He also carried cylindrical containers made of birch bark—a kind of Copper Age Tupperware that kept charcoal embers hot for hours so he could quickly make a fire. His teeth were worn particularly on the left side, meaning he may have used his mouth to help work leather. The Iceman’s hair also revealed high levels of arsenic, suggesting he was a pro at smelting ores to make copper.

8. HE WAS A CHALCOLITHIC RAMBO.
Ötzi was short and stocky, around 5’2” tall and 135 lbs, with strong legs. In 2003, an early study of DNA from Ötzi and his belongings claimed to find blood from four different individuals—there was some on his dagger, on his goatskin coat, and on one of the arrows. This finding was never published, though, and has not been replicated since. But other evidence for combat exists in the form of two injuries. Several right-sided rib fractures had healed before death. Shortly before his death, Ötzi was struck in the head. A protein analysis of his brain reveals some healing, particularly in the form of blood clots—but those could have caused a stroke or embolism. The Iceman also suffered a long, deep stab wound to his right hand. Based on the stage of healing evident from the wound tissue, it occurred between 3 to 8 days before his death. And of course, the arrow lodged in his left shoulder was likely the ultimate cause of death. In short, Ötzi was a hunter and a fighter.

25 Facts About “Lethal Weapon”

Roger Cormier, Garin Pirnia and Mental_Floss present 25 Facts About Lethal Weapon.  Here are three of my favorites…

2. SHANE BLACK SET OUT TO WRITE AN “URBAN WESTERN,” MIXED WITH FRANKENSTEIN.
“What I was looking to do at that time was write a urban western,” Black said. For Riggs, Black used one of his favorite films, Dirty Harry, as a template. “That’s what I was thinking about for that character, sort of the Frankenstein who everybody reviles … for what he did, for what he’s capable of, for the things he still believes in. Because we think that we’re all placid and tame, but in fact violence intrudes in a horrible way and then they have to knock on Frankenstein’s cage and say, ‘Well we kind of need what you do even though we hate and revile you. Please come out and kill these people for us,’ and it’s the old gun slinger.

3. LEONARD NIMOY WAS OFFERED THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR.
Richard Donner ended up directing all four of the Lethal Weapon films, but that only happened after Leonard Nimoy—who had just shown his directing chops behind the camera on Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986), and 3 Men and a Baby (1987)—turned down directing Lethal Weapon to concentrate on The Good Mother (1988).

7. THE ACTORS WERE TRAINED IN THREE DIFFERENT FORMS OF MARTIAL ARTS.
To prepare for their roles, the actors learned a trio of martial arts techniques, including Capoeira, Jailhouse Rock (a fighting technique that originated in United States prisons), and Jiu-Jitsu. Gary Busey recalled also learning Taekwondo as well. Busey’s interest in martial arts began when he was taught these forms for Lethal Weapon.

14 Reanimated Facts About “The Bride of Frankenstein”

Mark Mancini and Mental_Floss present 14 Reanimated Facts About The Bride of Frankenstein.  Here are three of my favorites…

4. LOOK CLOSELY AND YOU’LL NOTICE THAT THE MONSTER’S WOUNDS APPEAR TO HEAL.
In the original Frankenstein’s thrilling climax, the monster seems to meet its demise inside of a windmill that’s caught fire. So when we first see the creature in Bride, the big brute is riddled with obvious burns. Also, a lot of his hair has obviously been singed off. For subsequent scenes, however, makeup artist Jack Pierce incrementally toned down the burns and replaced some of the hair. This created the illusion that the monster was slowly recovering from its injuries over the course of the film.

6. BORIS KARLOFF OBJECTED TO GIVING THE MONSTER ANY DIALOGUE.
Although the creature had been a mute in the first movie, Whale decided that the reanimated corpse ought to pick up some basic language skills during the sequel. Both Karloff and the studio disagreed quite strongly, but in the end, Whale got his way. Sara Karloff—the actor’s daughter—explained her father’s reservations in the DVD documentary She’s Alive! Creating the Bride of Frankenstein. “He felt it would take away from [his performance in the original film] and I think he was wrong,” she said. “History, cinema history, has proven him wrong.”

14. IT’S NEIL GAIMAN’S FAVORITE HORROR MOVIE.
“It’s a lot of people’s favorite horror film,” said bestselling author Neil Gaiman of The Bride of Frankenstein. “Dammit, it’s my favorite horror film.” In the above clip, Gaiman recalls staying up late as a boy to catch both Frankenstein and its 1935 sequel in a televised double-feature. What did he think? “Frankenstein was a huge disappointment to me,” Gaiman admitted, but he fell in love with the atmospheric Bride and remains a fan to this day. He is especially fond of the climax, which he cites as his favorite “two to three minutes of film, ever.” Another celebrity admirer is Guillermo del Toro, who, in a 2008 conversation with Rotten Tomatoes, ranked The Bride of Frankenstein as one of his top five films.

You Betcha: 14 Polite Facts About TV’s Fargo

Jake Rosen and Mental_Floss present You Betcha: 14 Polite Facts About TV’s Fargo.  Here are three of my favorites…

2. THERE’S A REASON THEY DIDN’T USE MARGE.
One reason Littlefield was more supportive of this spin-off was because creator Noah Hawley had no desire to revisit McDormand’s Marge Gunderson character, the heavily-pregnant sheriff of Brainerd, Minnesota. In 2014, Hawley told IndieWire that he opted for an anthology format with a different narrative every season to avoid the show becoming about the “grim” day-to-day adventures of Marge.

4. THE SERIES IS ALL TAKEN FROM A (FAKE) TRUE CRIME BOOK.
Hawley has been quoted as saying he thinks of the Fargo-verse as being influenced by a big book of Midwestern crime tales, with each season being a different chapter. He cemented that idea in the ninth episode of the second season, opening with a close-up of a book titled The History of True Crime in the Midwest.

5. … WHICH MIGHT EXPLAIN THAT UFO.
Saving Patrick Wilson’s Lou Solverson character during the “Massacre at Sioux Falls” referenced in the first season was the appearance of what appeared to be a UFO hovering over a motel parking lot. Even by Fargo’s standards, it was a strange occurrence. According to Hawley, who was pressed for some kind of explanation during a June 2016 book signing, the scene stemmed from the idea that the show is taking cues from “true crime” books and all of the unbelievable details they often contain.

Speaking of a similar scene that felt disconnected from the narrative of the original film, Hawley said that he asked himself, “‘Why is this in the movie?’ It has nothing to do with the movie—except the movie says, ‘This is a true story.’ They put it in there because it ‘happened.’ Otherwise you wouldn’t put it in there. The world of Fargo needs those elements; those random, odd, truth-is-stranger-than-fiction elements.”

The Ultimate TV & Movies Car List

One of the fun things about movie and tv shows is that the characters in them (usually) get to drive the coolest vehicles.  I’ve always said I’d drive the ’66 Batmobile or the ’50 Merc that Cobra drove if I had the extra cash.

The folks at autoacessoriesgarage.com created The Ultimate TV & Movies Car List.  There are 114 vehicles on our list and a fun factoid about every single one.  Click over and enjoy!

How to Tell Who is the Monster in John Carpenter’s “The Thing”

John Carpenter’s The Thing has an ambiguous ending that fans have argued about since the release of the film.  Seems the arguing can stop now thanks to the information provided by Dean Cundey, the cinematographer on The Thing.

Check out the ending and see if you can spot who (is either) is The Thing.  If you can’t and you want to know the secret, then click over to Fascinating Secret About the Monster in John Carpenter’s The Thing Revealed at GeekTyrant.

10 Amazing Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Wolverine

Wolverine art by Dan Panosian

ComicBookMovie.com presents 10 Amazing Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Wolverine.  Here are three of my favorites…

10. His Claws Weren’t Originally Part Of Him
Wolverine has a lot of cool powers, including enhanced senses and the ability to heal from pretty much any injury. However, the pièce de résistance is obviously his six deadly claws. Creator Len Wein originally had some very different ideas for those though, and among his earliest ideas was that Logan would be a wolverine who had somehow mutated into a humanoid creature, similar to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

As if that wasn’t already weird enough, the now iconic claws would have been revealed as gloves with the claws attached to them, robbing Wolverine of arguably his most recognisable feature (and that classic “Snikt!” sound). It wasn’t until years later that we would learn those those claws were actually part of his skeleton before being coated in Adamantium.

7. Hugh Jackman Wasn’t Bryan Singer’s First Choice
After seeing Hugh Jackman play Wolverine almost countless times, it’s now hard to picture anyone else in the role (and with his final appearance as Logan set for next year, replacing him will be a huge challenge for 20th Century Fox). However, while this may now be hard to believe, Jackman wasn’t actually X-Men director Bryan Singer’s first choice to play the character.

It was Russell Crowe who both the filmmaker and the studio really wanted in the role, but he had no interest in joining the comic book adaptation. It was then that Dougray Scott was chosen to play Wolverine, but when scheduling conflicts forced him to drop out just weeks before the cameras started rolling, the unknown Jackman was chosen at the last minute, a decision Singer wasn’t initially that pleased with. Needless to say, it all worked out for the best!

4. Later Versions Were Modeled After Clint Eastwood
As you’ve now no doubt already realised, Wolverine was very much a work in progress when he was first introduced. Having decided against making the hero an angry teenager with clawed gloves, Marvel portrayed Logan as being a little rougher around the edges after he joined the X-Men. However, while his appearance had already been settled on, it’s Chris Claremont and Frank Miller who deserve the lion’s share of credit for the version of Wolverine we all know and love today.

Just like he did with Daredevil, Miller played a huge role in redefining how readers viewed Logan by taking inspiration from Clint Eastwood. That’s something which we’ve also been able to see on the big screen with Hugh Jackman, while Miller can also be credited with dreaming up the iconic line, “I’m the best there is at what I do, but what I do best isn’t very nice.”

10 Cool Things About “Body Heat”

Roger Cormier and Mental_Floss present 10 Cool Things About Body Heat.  Here are three of my favorites…

2. CHRISTOPHER REEVE TURNED DOWN THE ROLE OF NED.
“I put myself down too much,” Reeve told The Washington Post of the missed opportunity. “I didn’t think I’d be convincing as a seedy lawyer.” Reeve later regretted the decision, but was happy that his friend, William Hurt, was cast in the role instead.

5. IT WAS SHOT IN FLORIDA—AND IT WAS VERY, VERY COLD.
The film was shot during a cold Florida winter. Turner and Hurt had to put ice cubes in their mouths before each take so their breath wouldn’t show. Their sweat was sprayed on. When the two shot their sex scene, the crew was dressed in duffel coats and scarves.

8. IT WAS MICKEY ROURKE’S BIG BREAK.
Mickey Rourke had already appeared in 1941 (1979) and Heaven’s Gate (1980), but told Larry King that his breakthrough came from playing Teddy Lewis in Body Heat. When Rourke got the one-day gig, he was able to quit his job as a bouncer at a transvestite nightclub.

48 Things We Learned from David Fincher’s Zodiac Commentary

Rob Hunter and Film School Rejects present 48 Things We Learned from David Fincher’s Zodiac Commentary.  Here are three of my favorites…

13. Fincher thinks the reason why the Zodiac still haunts people is due as much to his letters as to anything else. The idea of an ongoing correspondence with someone who was in the process of killing fascinates him.

15. All of the blood in the film is digital because it saved the production enormous amounts of time by not having to wait for wardrobe changes and cleaning.

18. Dermot Mulroney is in great shape, but Fincher was having none of it. “I wanted him to have a waistline like mine so we made up a little fat suit for him.”

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