6 Children's Movies That Were Nightmares On Set

One might think that making kids' movies is pretty harmless. But no, that's wrong.
6 Children's Movies That Were Nightmares On Set

We've talked before about the perils of filmmaking, showing cases in which people either willingly or ignorantly placed themselves in mortal danger to create movie magic. But those were action-adventures and horror films and historical epics; grown-up movies like that. One might assume that making kids' movies would be less hazardous. But no, that's wrong. One was stupid for thinking that. It takes as much blood and sweat and tears to bring kiddie fare to life, and those are just the fluids we know about. Consider ...

Jim Henson Was Submerged Under A Swamp For The Muppet Movie

Walt Disney Pictures

Muppets aren't real. We hope that isn't a big shock for you.

Walt Disney Pictures

Sorry. We'll give you moment.

They're controlled by highly trained puppeteers, who normally sit below the Muppet and use sticks and deceit to bring their charges to life. But it's not always that easy. During the " Rainbow Connection" scene in The Muppet Movie, Jim Henson was so dedicated to his vision of a frog plucking a banjo in a swamp that he ignored all possible objections -- like "But Jim, you'll drown," and "No, Jim! We still love you. Don't do this."

So they came up with a solution which would nominally allow Henson to survive the process: a diving bell underneath the floating log where Kermit was perched.

Grosset & Dunlap

Biologists believe this is going on underneath less than 5 percent of frogs in the wild.

They didn't shoot in a real swamp, but that might have actually made things easier, as they had to saw about 18 inches off the top of their contraption for it to fit in the pool they were using. Which meant there wasn't much space left for Henson, his headset, a copy of the script, and the monitor for him to watch to verify that Kermit's movements were properly enchanting. Also, the oxygen tanks, so the song wouldn't be interrupted by pesky things like suffocation.

Walt Disney Pictures

"Someday we'll find it, the rainbow co- *wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeze*."

Henson kept this up three hours at a time, for five days straight. Which is quite horrifying already. We could stop the paragraph there. But it gets even worse when you consider what his beard might have smelled like at the end of it.

Swampy, we're thinking.

The Kid In The NeverEnding Story Got The Crap Kicked Out Of Him

Warner Bros. Pictures

Some actors insist on doing their own stunts to bolster their tough guy/gal credentials. Others take incredible amounts of abuse because of their dedication to their roles and desire to add authenticity to a scene. And then there are the chumps -- the gullible thespians cajoled into life-threatening situations by their less-than-sane directors. Which is funny! Screw those wide-eyed maroons.

What makes it a bit less funny is when the maroon in question is 12 years old.

Warner Bros. Pictures

They distracted him with boob monuments when they got to that part of the contract.

Noah Hathaway, who played Atreyu in The NeverEnding Story, ran into this type of misfortune when he found himself under the direction of Wolfgang Petersen, who developed his famously caring, child-friendly manner while working on Das Boot. Petersen is notorious for "convincing" his actors to do their own stunts. Even if those actors aren't old enough to drink away the pain working on his set can cause.

According to Hathaway, Petersen "didn't really believe in having a stunt-double do much work for me, so it was just me, pretty much, throwing myself off of trees and things like that." Those "things like that" included getting tossed from the back of a horse, getting stepped on by that same horse, almost losing his eye in a fight, and nearly drowning.

Warner Bros. Pictures

The Swamp of Sadness could have been much, much sadder.

Hathway was evidently in the hospital every month over that yearlong shoot. So it sounds like The NeverEnding Story was "never-ending" more in the sense that torture feels like it goes on forever than anything else.

A Stunt Double Was Paralyzed On The Set Of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows

Warner Bros. Pictures

Being a stuntman is a dangerous job, even on a kids' film. And by the time the Harry Potter series got around to Deathly Hallows, they were hardly kid films. Fighting, explosions, and death filled those movies.

Warner Bros. Pictures

It's got "deathly" in the title for a reason.

All those fights and explosions meant stunts, including some harrowingly dangerous ones. Which is how David Holmes, the super-athletic body double for Daniel Radcliffe, ended up strapped into a wire "jerk back" apparatus, typically used during explosion scenes. During a rehearsal for one such scene, something went horribly wrong, sending Holmes into a wall. He broke his neck, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down.

No wizard spell is capable of fixing that, and there's not a miracle ending to this story. Holmes remains very much paralyzed to this day. He's been nothing but positive about his current wheelchair-bound situation, though, and still lives an active life, races cars, and has started a new production company. And he's still friends with Daniel Radcliffe and many of the rest of the cast, too. Here he is with Neville and Draco at a charity cricket tournament:

Ripple Productions

Is cricket another one of those made-up wizard sports?

Oh, and that charity? Yeah, Holmes also helps raise money for the hospital that's helped treat and rehabilitate him. Maybe kick in a buck or two? Whatever you were planning on spending on wands for yourself would be a good start.

Jim Carrey Had To Be Coached By The CIA On Torture Endurance For The Grinch

Universal Pictures

If we set aside his ill-fated dramatic turns and attempts to discredit decades of medical research, Jim Carrey is probably best known as a physical comedian of the highest caliber. From delivering lines with his ass to risking his spinal integrity in his old standup act to emerging from rhinoceros rectums, Carrey has always been willing to put up with Herculean amounts of discomfort in order to entertain an audience. Right up until this happened:

Universal Pictures

Nothing destroys the spirit like appearing publicly in lederhosen.

Getting made up to look like the featured curmudgeon in 2000's live-action version of The Grinch took a lot more than wriggling into a grumpy rubber suit. Carrey described the process as " like being buried alive, every day." After his first experience putting on the makeup (it took eight and a half hours, and was put on every part of his body, including his teeth) he stomped back to his trailer, kicked a hole through the wall, and told director Ron Howard he couldn't do the film.

Universal Pictures

Which means we were so close to not having a live-action Grinch film.

Sadly, the project wasn't canceled right there. With millions of dollars on the line, the producers hired a former CIA instructor who specialized in training techniques for enduring torture. After spending a weekend with the clandestine instructor, Carrey was finally mentally equipped to receive $20 million plus merchandising for being uncomfortable.

Universal Pictures

And isn't that right there the true meaning of Christmas?

Live And Let Die Involved Live Crocodile Hopscotch

United Artists

James Bond movies are not generally thought of as kids films. And we're not going to change that here. You are a bad parent if you show these to kids.

United Artists

Or a cool babysitter.

But of the James Bond films, the ones from the Roger Moore era were certainly the most childish, filled with cartoonish elements like undercover circus clowns and inexplicable slide whistles.

So that's why we're including the series here -- specifically, Live And Let Die. This had one of the goofiest scenes in 007's history, wherein Bond gambols across a water bridge made entirely out of crocodiles.

This wasn't done with a bunch of animatronic reptiles or, like, Jim Henson in a diving bell. Those were real live crocodiles which some guy actually stomped across. What makes it funnier is that this insanity wasn't a vital or even planned part of the script; the filmmakers sort of stumbled onto the idea. While out scouting locations, they happened upon an ominous sign which read " Trespassers Will Be Eaten." Upon entering the crocodile farm beyond and meeting its swarthy, tooth-necklace-wearing owner, they quickly decided to incorporate it into the film. And when said owner volunteered to do an insane crocodile stunt himself, well, how do you say no to that?

You don't, that's how.

United Artists

Moore, seen here somehow being the third most leathery thing in frame.

And so they shot the stunt. It took five takes, a few stumbles, and 193 stitches, but it was done. For two seconds of footage.

If it's any consolation, they did end up using the crocodile guy's name -- Ross Kananga -- for the main villain in the movie. So that's cool. Not "193 stitches" cool, but still, it's something.

TMNT Imported Foreign Stuntmen Specifically To Injure Them

New Line Cinema

The original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie from 1990 remains one of the pinnacles of nonhuman martial arts films ever made. It was fun, performed well at the box office, and had incredibly uncomfortable cross-species sexual undertones. All good stuff.

New Line Cinema

Experts have described turtles as " horrifically well-endowed." Just putting that out there. Carry on.

A big reason the movie did well was the fact that the fight scenes were amazing, especially considering they were performed by guys wearing 70-pound outfits molded in the form of one of the world's least-nimble creatures.

New Line Cinema
New Line Cinema

Mother nature's original design can eat a fat one, as far as we're concerned.

But even staged violence can cause injuries. Judith Hoag, who played April O'Neil, claimed in an interview with Variety that to make these hard-hitting scenes, the studio hired a bunch of foreign, non-union stuntmen, seemingly so that they wouldn't have to provide compensation after they got the ever-loving crap beaten out of them:

"They had all these stunt people who came in from Hong Kong, who had no union protections. They were getting hurt. As soon as they were injured, they were shipped out of there. It was not the safest set to be on."

We should point out that she's the only one who's made this claim so explicitly, though there are some scraps of supporting evidence. There's a bit on the film's IMDB's trivia page about actor/stuntman Ernie Reyes being brought on board to replace a Hong Kong guy who'd been mangled during his scenes as Donatello. And the film was produced by Golden Harvest, a Hong Kong production company known for its martial arts films and, uh, casual approach to stuntman safety. So it's certainly plausible. Golden Harvest's ability to cheaply use Chinese stuntmen seemed to be a big appeal for them when they decided to green-light the thing.

New Line Cinema

Also, none of the pizzas survived the filming.

E. Reid Ross also pokes various creatures with a stick over at The Featured Creature. Feel free to follow him on Twitter here.

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