Because somehow an uncaring universe is more disturbing than an actively malevolent one.
Do you remember how, after 9/11, people started digging up all sorts of movies, shows and photos that "predicted" the attacks (like the TV show that featured an almost identical terror plot a year ahead of time)? If you're one of the creators, you have to hate that -- your lighthearted bit of entertainment now just winds up reminding people of something awful that happened years later.
Especially when websites like this one keep bringing them up. We can't help it; this stuff is freaking creepy ...
Famous crazy-eyed screamer Bruce Lee starred in an action movie in 1978 called Game of Death, which wouldn't have been strange if Lee hadn't died five years earlier. The film was only partially shot when he died, so the filmmakers did their best to patch together what footage they already had into some semblance of a movie, even awkwardly shoehorning in footage of Bruce Lee's open casket funeral. And that, incredibly, is not the weirdest thing about this movie.
No, the most unnerving aspect isn't the shot of Lee's real corpse, or the two other Chinese actors they hired to fill in for Lee in the hopes that Western audiences would be too racist to notice the difference. It's this:
In the movie, Bruce Lee is playing an actor shooting a movie. There is a scene where a stunt goes wrong when a prop gun turns out to be loaded with a real bullet, shooting Lee's character.
What's so disturbing about that? Flash forward to 1993, when Bruce Lee's son, Brandon, was shooting The Crow. During a take when another actor is supposed to fire a gun at Brandon Lee, a bullet fragment that was jammed in the barrel dislodged and caught Brandon right in the gut. In other words, Brandon Lee died under exactly the same circumstances as Bruce Lee's character in the movie.
Now, there aren't many movies that feature a character getting shot on a film set by a prop gun loaded with real bullets, so the fact that Brandon Lee's father essentially played out his son's death 20 years before it happened, while working on the movie where he would die himself, is a coincidence so uncanny it that strays into "impossible" territory.
Conspiracy theorists have speculated on every aspect of this bizarre scenario, of which a family curse is the most rational, if that gives you any context for how out-there they are (they quickly stray into Illuminati murders and ritualistic sacrifice). People prefer to believe in that than that simple bad luck could be this cruel.
If you haven't seen Poltergeist, all you really need to know is that a family has to deal with angry ghosts after moving into a house built on top of an Indian burial ground. There are a lot of tense scenes where objects start moving on their own, a tree attacks a child and a little girl is sucked into one of those closet portals Realtors are always telling you to look out for before buying a house. But the creepiest moment is purely accidental:
That moment is terrifying, not just because the clown comes to life immediately afterward (thus inciting a boom in superheroes appearing at birthday parties instead of clowns that lasted for an entire generation), but because of the football poster over the little boy's bed. Here's a closer look:
It says "1988 Super Bowl XXII." The poster is accurate in that Super Bowl XXII was in 1988, but it's weird that a little boy would choose to have that on his wall in a movie that was released in 1982. There's no indication throughout Poltergeist that any of it is supposed to take place in the future.
So what? They probably didn't want to deal with licensing from the NFL or something, right? It's not like something insanely coincidental and horrible happened six years later on the day of the Super Bowl in 1988.
No! That was a trick! Of course something happened. Remember that little girl in the clip you just watched?
Her name is Heather O'Rourke, and she essentially acts as the conduit between the poltergeists and the family in the first movie. In fact, you'd probably recognize her better like this:
Well on January 31, 1988, the day of the Super Bowl in San Diego, California, O'Rourke happened to be living in San Diego where she suddenly became violently ill. The very next day, she collapsed while getting ready to go to the hospital, and later that afternoon, she passed away. And just like that, the movie proved its prescience with one of the weirdest set decoration choices in horror movie history.
In May of 1995, a mediocre movie called Above Suspicion quietly premiered on HBO and then slipped into obscurity. It featured Christopher Reeve as a police officer who suffers from severe depression and encourages his wife and his brother to murder him in order to collect the insurance. So what could trigger that kind of depression? Well, that's the eerie part:
Reeve's character is shot in the spine and confined to a wheelchair for the majority of the movie. Now this film was released on May 25. If for some reason you haven't committed the chronology of Christopher Reeve's life to memory, May 27 was the day he was paralyzed in a horseback riding accident. The movie where he plays a paraplegic was released just two days before his accident landed him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
Despite the movie never being in any danger of winning awards or even showing up in theaters, Reeve took the role seriously, preparing by spending a couple of days at a spinal cord trauma unit and learning what it's like to live life in a wheelchair. He even did interviews promoting the movie, stating, "A couple of days at the spinal cord trauma unit and you can see how easily it can happen."
Then, of course, it did happen almost immediately, though in the film, the big reveal is that Reeve was only pretending to be paralyzed to build an elaborate trap for his wife and brother, who were cheating on him behind his back. A pretty morally reprehensible move, even in the context of sibling adultery. Apparently karma thought so, too, but had a hard time differentiating between characters and the actors playing them.
There should be a name for that very specific genre of movie that accidentally satirizes a news story before it even happens. People tend to think The China Syndrome was playing off of the fears of nuclear power in the wake of the Three Mile Island incident, but the movie actually came out two weeks before. We previous pointed out how Starship Troopers plays like a parody of the War on Terror, even though it came out four years before 9/11. Which brings us to Wag the Dog.
In Wag the Dog, the president of the United States gets caught trying to sleep with a Girl Scout, so in order to distract the public and the media from the scandal, a political publicist (Robert De Niro) hires a Hollywood producer to stage a fake war with Albania. Thus the term "wag the dog" -- instead of a dog wagging its tail, the tail wags the dog (or, instead of the news media covering politicians, politicians tell the news media what to say).
See, the film was released in December of 1997, right smack in the middle of Bill Clinton's two-term presidency, and already you know exactly where this is headed. Just a month after the film came out, Bill Clinton tripped and spilled some of his ejaculate on an intern's dress, inciting a massive sex scandal that would eventually lead to his impeachment. But that's just a sex scandal; politicians are constantly caught humping stuff, that doesn't mean the creators of Wag the Dog were psychic, right? It's not like he started a war just to get it out of the headlines ...
Well, it was August 17, 1998 when Clinton admitted to the world what he had done. Then, three days later, he announced the bombings of six terrorist compounds in Afghanistan, along with a factory in Sudan that was believed to be housing chemical weapons. The out-of-nowhere military action pushed the sex scandal out of the news, in the way that only a war can. This is why so many pundits screamed that this was a Wag the Dog action.
Please note that we're going with "coincidence" here rather than the much scarier "He got the idea from the movie."
The acclaimed 1974 neo-noir film Chinatown starred Jack Nicholson as a private investigator in Los Angeles who divides his time between getting tangled up in a murder plot with the Department of Water and Power and getting tangled up in some linens with Faye Dunaway.
One of the biggest reveals of the story is that Dunaway's character was raped by her father and gave birth to a daughter, and then the child was raised as her sister. Screenwriter Robert Towne originally wanted the film to end with Dunaway killing her father, but the director insisted on a much darker conclusion where Dunaway is killed and then the creepy old child molester takes possession of his inbred offspring. If you're wondering why a studio would intentionally release a film in which a pedophile comes out the victor in the end, remember who directed it ...
Shortly after Chinatown's release, Time magazine was planning to do a cover story on Nicholson, but while researching his family, the reporter made some surprising discoveries. Namely, that the man and woman Nicholson had always called dad and mom were actually his grandparents, and the woman he thought was his older sister was his biological mother (not due to incest in this case, she just got knocked up by a random dude as a teenager).
So, maybe Nicholson was attracted to the Chinatown role because it mirrored his own messed-up family dynamic? Nope -- at the time, he didn't even know. He only found out because, while Time never ran the story, they did call him up just to give him a heads up that his whole life had been a lie.
To give some context, Nicholson was born in 1937, a time when it was more socially acceptable for an unmarried woman to walk around in public with the plague than with a baby. So when the family's 16-year-old daughter got pregnant with Jack, they covered the whole thing up after he was born by claiming the baby belonged to the girl's mother. They kept this up for the rest of their lives.
Everyone involved in the cover-up passed away before Nicholson ever learned the truth, so even in their dying breaths they didn't feel it necessary to tell him that his sister/mother had gotten pregnant by some guy, and thus his biological dad was probably still out there somewhere, presumably wandering the streets in a purple felt suit and shouting about how this town needs an enema. Still, Nicholson claims to hold no resentment toward his family, saying "I'd like to meet two broads today who knew how to keep a secret to that degree." Because Jack Nicholson is one of the only people who can insult every woman in the world and have it sound endearing.
The 1993 sci-fi action film Demolition Man opens with a cop named John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone) capturing a psychotic criminal named Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes). Phoenix is sentenced to a term in "CryoPrison," where criminals are frozen and placed in cryogenic storage. Then Stallone also winds up frozen for some reason and they both wake up in the future so they can have action movie things happen.
But sharp-eyed viewers will catch something when they see the roster of other murderers on ice along with Snipes and Stallone. It appears briefly on a screen early in the movie:
In case you're not familiar with that name (i.e., you managed to do a complete blackout of every form of media in 2003-04), Scott Peterson was the center of a sensational murder trial in which he was eventually convicted of the first-degree murder of his pregnant wife, Laci. A cheesy made-for-TV movie was even made about his life.
Hell, Demolition Man even has him winding up in the right facility -- the movie's CryoPrison was created to house the worst of the worst in California (the movie takes place in "San Angeles"), and the real Peterson is in San Quentin, California's only death row facility.
All because some unknown crew member picked the name at random to help fill out that computer screen. But that's not the creepiest accidental Easter egg of its kind -- that prize goes to some unknown stranger in The Matrix prop department.
This one is even weirder within the context of the movie. Technically, The Matrix takes place in the future and the present at the same time, sort of like Keanu Reeve's other sci-fi action hit, The Lake House. Inside the Matrix, the year is 1999, and in the real world it's about 2199. That means that the robots already know and have programmed in every event in human history that will take place in that time frame. That includes all the weird, inconsequential stuff like a new puppy shitting on your rug, but also all the floods and fires and other atrocities people have to contend with.
Now, knowing that the machines are already aware of the big events in the future of humanity, watch this scene:
While Agent Smith goes through Neo's file folder, we catch a glimpse of the photocopied picture of his passport. The picture is upside down and only appears on screen for a second, but thanks to the miracle of "freeze-framing," and the technological advancement of "turning our monitor upside-down," we can read it clearly. Check the expiration date:
Robin Warder is the co-owner of the pop culture website The Back Row.
For more fiction that gave us an alarming pause, check out 6 Eerily Specific World Events Predicted by Comics and 8 Absurd Jokes That Predicted Real Life Events.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out The Most Unintentionally Disturbing McDonald's Ad
And stop by LinkSTORM to learn how Superman predicted the Wikileaks scandal.
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