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Every day, we're awash in the inescapable stench of human misery -- from the guy who won't stop farting on the subway, to grumpy DMV employees who fart right as your pictures getting taken, to all our closest loved ones, who are just hopeless gas machines. But for some odd reason, we expect more from movie studios. After all, these are the people who are supposed to be distracting humanity from its own crappiness. But even these weavers of cinematic dreams aren't above soullessly dickish moves. For example ...

7
The Wizard Of Oz Almost Kills The Tin Man (Then Fires Him)

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

The Wizard Of Oz is the whimsical tale of how awesome poverty can be when your concussed brain creates an elaborate fantasy world for you. But behind the scenes, things were a total shitshow.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
The Cowardly Lion's munchkin love triangle didn't help.

We've mentioned before that some of the movie's groundbreaking special effects and makeup came close to offing some of the cast members. For instance, Buddy Ebsen was originally set to play the Tin Man until his silver facepaint almost killed him. Of course, it's not really surprising that 1930s Hollywood hadn't figured out a way to paint a grown man silver without poisoning him, but here's the really fucked-up part: The studio thought he was faking it.

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Or at least enjoying how high it was apparently getting him.

Yup, the aluminum dust in his makeup caused his lungs to fail and sent him to a hospital oxygen tent, where he enjoyed his own Dorothy-like trip to a realm of unbridled imagination. ("One night in bed I woke up screaming. My arms were cramping from my fingers upward and curling simultaneously so that I could not use one arm to uncurl the other.")

Understandably, Ebsen had to call in sick to work. This didn't go over well. "They were furious," he recounted, "[Producer] Mervyn LeRoy kept calling me in the hospital and saying, 'He can't be in bed. He's due on set.'" The film's makeup artist also thought there was no way Ebsen could be sick, because he'd used "pure aluminum dust" (which in the 1930s was probably considered as healthy as a salad). Eventually, the producer hired another actor to play the Tin Man because he "got tired of calling the hospital," which is not unlike running your wife over with a car and then divorcing her because you don't want to pay for hospital parking.

6
Hollywood Can't Make A 9/11 Movie Without Screwing Over Heroes And Victims

wikipedia.org

Since Hollywood can't let a real-life tragedy go by without turning it into at least several movies, there have naturally been a lot of films about September 11th. Sure, some of these efforts were stupid Disney Channel crap staring Bill Pullman, or that one where Adam Sandler's kooky mannerisms are revealed to be the result of his family's tragic death. But some movies made honest efforts to respectfully tell the story of 9/11, such as Oliver Stone's World Trade Center.

Paramount Pictures

Perhaps because the only way to get a great performance out of the human pinball that is Nicolas Cage is to bury him under a pile of rubble, the movie worked -- except for one scene. The climax of the film -- which is based on true events during 9/11 -- sees two firefighters being rescued by two marines. The marines are played by Michael Shannon and the guy who played Ethan in Lost (all the non-super-creepy character actors were busy that day).

Paramount Pictures
"Come with us, or take your chances with Crispin Glover."

The problem is that the guy from Lost was supposed to be playing this guy:

U.S. Marine Corp

It's well-documented that Hollywood has a serious whitewashing problem, but this wasn't some random anime character. This was Sgt. Jason Thomas, a goddamn real-life hero, who got to see a movie in which he rescues the protagonist, only to find himself suddenly transformed into Tom Cruise's cousin.

And this wasn't the only 9/11 movie to botch historical events only a few years past. Take director Paul Greengrass's United 93. In this film, one of the characters is a German businessman who doesn't want to fight back against the hijackers. The only problem? That German businessman was a real guy named Christian Adams. And since no one knows what happened aboard the doomed flight, the filmmakers arbitrarily decided that this dead total stranger was going to be a cowardly turd.

Universal Pictures
"If you have a better idea as to who to portray as bad guys, we'd like to hear it."

It seems like this decision stemmed from either the fact that A) he was European (and therefore a spineless turd, unlike the strong and brave American passengers) or because B) it's rumored that Adams's wife was the only family member not to give her consent to the movie. This means that the depiction of his tragic death was not only completely distorted, but in the absolute worst-case scenario -- in which we're assuming everybody in the universe is a giant piece of shit -- was a "fuck you" to a grieving widow.

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5
Disney Wouldn't Stop Re-Releasing Song Of the South

Walt Disney

Song Of The South is a Disney movie famed for the song "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" and its family-friendly narrative about a wealthy Southern white family and the harmonious relationship they share with their black plantation workers, who may or may not be human property. As critics have pointed out, a big part of the problem is that the movie never specifies when it takes place, meaning that for all we know, it's a happy, cartoon-filled tribute to slavery. And even if it is post-Civil-War, that makes it a pretty galling attempt to pretend that America's darkest chapter was suddenly cool with everybody to the point where former slaves were immediately zipping and dooing.

Walt Disney
Sadly, the laughin' place isn't an asylum for the execs insane enough to greenlight this.

People tend to assume Song Of The South is the product of a back-asswards time. But here's the thing: It wasn't. Disney totally knew how racist it was while they were making it, but went ahead and did it anyway. According to a book about the film by author Jason Sperb, Walt Disney was warned by his own publicists about a "potential racially charged blowback" to the movie, and he even felt the need to invite the president of NAACP to meet with him. As Sperb puts it, "It was made by people who were well aware of the stereotype, who knew others would be offended, and who clearly felt there was nothing wrong with that." People didn't sit idly by while Disney shoveled this shit into theaters, either -- protesters picketed its premiere in Atlanta, which grew into a nationwide boycott.

M.L. Cohen/Oakland Museum of California
Disney did go on to make a good animated film starring African-American characters ... 63 years later.

And even despite all this, Disney continually re-released the movie in theaters every decade or so, skipping over the 1960s due to the Civil Rights Movement -- and if you can't release your movie because it conflicts with a civil rights issue, maybe there's a big problem with it. Still, they even re-released Song Of The South as late as 1986 -- the year Ferris Bueller's Day Off came out. Nowadays, Disney wants absolutely fuck-all to do with the film, much to the consternation of those self-selected Song Of The South die-hards who won't stop asking for its re-release at Disney shareholder meetings.

4
Hollywood Turns Real Dead People Into Alien Abductees

Universal Pictures

Horror movies often present their bullshit stories as a true events. The Blair Witch Project was supposedly a bunch of lost tapes shot by some murdered campers, which were then inexplicably edited together by a mysterious stranger (perhaps the Witch!) who just got iMovie. Another film to follow this model was the fake-o alien documentary The Fourth Kind, which was purportedly based on "real" abductions in Nome, Alaska, and used "real" footage and reenactments starring Milla Jovovich.

Universal Pictures
The fifth kind just sit at the window and watch you masturbate.

The thing is, a bunch of people in Nome, Alaska did mysteriously disappear. Less spookily, they likely died due to alcohol intoxication plus extreme cold temperatures, which have proved to be a deadly combination since time immemorial. So not only were a couple dozen real-life deaths exploited for an instantly forgettable alien movie, but The Fourth Kind's viral marketing also featured fake news accounts of alien abductions and insanely attributed them to real local news sites.

Universal Pictures
It would be the weirdest news to come out of Alaska until John McCain announced his running mate.

Understandably, those outlets were goddamn pissed off, and ended up suing Universal. And even once the movie had come and gone, the mayor of Nome had to spend her days fielding an influx of phone calls from UFO nuts who took the word of Milla Jovovich over actual evidence.

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3
I Know What You Did Last Summer Was About Teen Murder (Despite The Fact That The Original Author's Daughter Was Murdered)

Columbia Pictures

I Know What You Did Last Summer told the story of a bunch of cool kids who drunkenly hit a pedestrian. Instead of simply using their privilege as a defense like the "affluenza" kid, they dispose of the body and act like everything's copacetic. That is, until a hook-wielding killer shows up a year later, either to seek revenge or act as some kind of Fisherman's Friend viral marketing stunt gone horrifically awry, and the bodies and cleavage shots start piling up.

Columbia Pictures
Or a grim and gritty Gorton's origin.

But what you may not know is I Know What You Did Last Summer was based on a young adult novel about four teenagers who are really creeped out that you're reading a book about them.

Little Brown
Ewan McGregor's Obi-Wan Kenobi will cut you with the lightsaber he keeps in the glove compartment.

The thing is, the filmmakers took a teenage suspense thriller and shoehorned in slasher theatrics about eviscerating all the kids ... which was especially shitty, given that author Lois Duncan's teenage daughter was killed in an unsolved murder.

Duncan (who recently passed away) was of course "upset" by the adaptation, which she claimed trivialized violence and made "murder seem like a game." In response, the studio claimed to be unaware of her family tragedy, and further commented that it would be "inhuman" not to have "compassion" for her situation. Unfortunately, this is the form their compassion took:

Columbia Pictures
Let's hope they don't stumble across a thesaurus.

2
A Pizza Deliveryman's Murder Was Turned Into Buddy Comedy

Columbia Pictures

After he pretended to invent Facebook but before he pit Batman and Superman against each other for his own masturbatory amusement, Jesse Eisenberg starred in the 2011 action-comedy 30 Minutes Or Less, about a pizza delivery guy being strapped with a bomb and forced to rob a bank by two thugs.

Columbia Pictures
In a strange coincidence, this was the same way Mark Zuckerberg got his startup money.

Even if you haven't seen the movie, this story should sound familiar, because years before, we talked about the story of Brian Wells, a pizza delivery guy who ... was strapped with a bomb and told to rob a bank. Unlike in the movie, though, Wells was quickly apprehended by the police, then died after the explosive detonated.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Despite the tragic ending, the two stories sound suspiciously similar. You know who else thought so? The family of the guy who died. "It's hard for me to grasp how other human beings can take delight and pride in making such a movie and consider it a comedy," Wells's sister told Time. Sony, the studio behind the movie, defensively claimed that "Neither the filmmakers nor the stars of 30 Minutes Or Less were aware of this crime prior to their involvement in the film." Which makes sense, because they're not the ones writing the goddamn movie. According to the same source, the writers were "vaguely familiar" with Wells's story, but their script did "not mirror the real-life tragedy," thereby indicating that Sony executives either don't understand how mirrors work or are vampires.

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1
A Movie Was Renamed Shark! (After A Stuntman Was Killed By A Shark)

Troma Entertainment

You've probably never heard of Shark!, a 1969 exploitation flick starring Burt Reynolds as a treasure hunter navigating shark-infested waters. Reynolds played the kind of badass who looks like he's posing for a wetsuit catalog even at gunpoint.

Troma Entertainment
They had to re-shoot the film without his trademark mustache after too many test audiences got pregnant.

The movie was originally called Caine, after Reynolds's character. Sadly, during production, one of the stunt divers, Jose Marco, was killed by a shark that got past its protective netting. Ridiculously, the cameras kept rolling, and the notoriety around the death (including coverage in Life magazine) gave the producers the idea to market the movie solely based on the fact that one of their crew was horribly killed.

The movie was taken out of the director's hands and given a new title which would be more representative of just how many real-life shark-related deaths appear in it. The logo was even a guy getting eaten by a shark ...

Troma Entertainment

And the film's poster boasted that things became "too real!" Which is kind of an understatement.

Troma Entertainment
The movie was dedicated to its stuntmen, but not specifically to the one who died a shark-related death.

J.M. McNab co-hosts the pop culture nostalgia podcast Rewatchability, which can also be found on iTunes. Follow him on Twitter @Rewatchability.

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