#2. There Was a Song That Supposedly Made People Commit Suicide in the 1930s
Suicide Club is a Japanese horror movie about an inexplicable wave of suicides that hits Tokyo. A group of detectives (from Tokyo's Paranormal Suicide Investigation Unit, apparently) eventually figure out that the deaths are connected to a pop group that likes to include subliminal messages encouraging suicide in their songs.
Kind of like LMFAO, but intentional.
A similar premise was explored in another Japanese movie called The Suicide Song, about an infectious tune that drives people to kill themselves. So, which one of these movies ripped off the other? Neither: They both ripped off reality.
Shockingly, this particular premise doesn't come from Asia, but from Europe. In the 1930s, the Hungarian song "Gloomy Sunday" gained worldwide notoriety due to its alleged connection to 18 suicides in Budapest according to some sources, and "more than one hundred" according to others. Here it is:
The depressing song became known all over the world for supposedly causing the death of anyone who listened to it ... so, naturally, music companies started telling their artists to record English versions of it in the States, where rumors continued linking it to suicides. The New York Times blamed the song for the death of a university student who, according to classmates, had recently been trying to memorize the lyrics.
But is there any truth to this? Well, the suicide rate in Hungary has historically been one of the highest in the world, so you could probably find a dozen suicide victims who were listening to any given popular song of the era every week. Perhaps "Gloomy Sunday" simply gained more publicity because the lyrics themselves were about suicide.
"I really, really, really, really, really, really, really want to kill myself! Come on! Uh, uh, yeah!"
However, there's one suicide victim whose connection to the song can't be disputed: the guy who wrote it. In 1968, and with a song about suicide as his only hit, Rezso Seress killed himself by jumping out of his window. Even if his decision had nothing to do with the song, he had to know that everyone would totally assume it did, right?
#1. The Zombie Apocalypse Is as Old as the Written Word
In the first episode of The Walking Dead, the protagonist wakes up from a coma to find that while he was sleeping, dead people started coming out of their graves and eating live people, causing society as we know it to crumble one bite at a time.
A plot retroactively stolen by 28 Days Later.
Ask most horror fans and they'll tell you that this idea dates back to George Romero's Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead movies (where the slogan was "When there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth"), or at most Richard Matheson's I Am Legend novel, which used a plague of vampires instead of zombies. However ...
What if we told you that people have been obsessed with the zombie apocalypse since ancient Mesopotamia? In The Epic of Gilgamesh, the oldest parts of which date back almost 4,000 goddamned years, there's a segment where Ishtar, the goddess of love, war, sex and presumably bipolarity, is rebuffed by Gilgamesh. As revenge, she goes to her father, Anu, and threatens to unleash an army of zombies if he doesn't help her:
"You'll be all like, 'Ew get it off!' And I'll be all like, "No, you eat undead, asshole!'"
"I will knock down the Gates of the Netherworld,
I will smash the door posts, and leave the doors flat down,
and will let the dead go up to eat the living!
And the dead will outnumber the living!"
Dead people eating living people? Check. Complete and utter destruction of society? Check. All of it being caused by some horny chick? OK, this part is new. Ishtar makes the exact same threat in another ancient poem, The Descent of Ishtar, so apparently this was her thing.
Her friends just called her "Awesomeboobs Freakfeet."
But there's more: The next known mention of the zombie apocalypse is in the Bible, of all places, as God's revenge for messing with Jerusalem: "And the Lord will send a plague on all the nations that fought against Jerusalem. Their people will become like walking corpses, their flesh rotting away." (Zechariah 14:12)
The passage goes on to specify that people will then "fight against each other in hand-to-hand combat" -- the only thing Zechariah neglected to mention is that some of them will have crossbows.
"And one shall be named T-Dog, and everyone shall wonder why he's still alive."
And then, in another book of the Bible, the prophet Isaiah even gives some advice to old-timey survivalists: "But your dead will live; their bodies will rise ... Go, my people, enter your rooms and shut the doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until his wrath has passed by." (Isaiah 26:19-20)
"And if you'd cut your bitching down by like, half, things would be much more bearable."
For more ways that truth is stranger than fiction, check out 9 Real Life Mad Scientists and The 5 Most Ridiculous Attempts to Be a Vampire in Real Life.