7 Times Movies And Shows Hid Real Murders Behind The Scenes
You know that tired Hollywood twist where the killer turns out to be some random a-hole from the very first scene? Well, here's the thing: This isn't an entirely unrealistic premise. There are, in fact, people in the background of familiar films whose lives are intertwined with truly horrific murders. And I'm not talking about the fictional deaths we see onscreen, but real goddamn crimes. Seriously, did you know ...
A Background Actor In The Exorcist Was A Real-Life Serial Killer
At the beginning of The Exorcist, the mother takes her possessed daughter to see a neuropsychiatric surgeon, only to be told that her demonic possession is but a muscle spasm. Ironically, this seemingly inconsequential little sequence is actually the scariest moment of this film -- as long as you know where to look.
"Can you turn your head this way? And keep turning? Forever? That's it, very good."
That's Paul Bateson, a real-life X-ray technician that Exorcist director William Friedkin cast for a small part in the film. With only a few lines in the scene, you probably didn't even think about him. That is, unless you're Friedkin ... who ended up making an entire, lesser-known movie about this lowly lab grunt. It's called Cruising, and it's about a killer hunting gay men in New York, only to be thwarted by Al Pacino going undercover as a leather daddy.
"It's Scarface, like you've never seen him before!"
Yes, Friedkin learned years after The Exorcist that Bateson super-killed people. In 1977, packages of dismembered body parts started washing up in New York from the Hudson. The killings, all of gay men, were never solved ... technically. You see, on that same year, Bateson was arrested after bragging to a reporter that he'd murdered a film critic for Variety. While awaiting trial, Bateson once again boasted that he liked killing, dismembering, and then tossing bodies into the Hudson River. The cops never charged him for that because, well, they already had the guy for something else, so why bother.
Above: Living proof that the "psychopaths are geniuses" cliche is full of crap.
After Bateson was sentenced to life, Friedkin visited him in prison to get a grotesque earful about the murders, eventually making a film based off those conversations. Oh, and those bags he used to keep the body parts? They were labeled from the NYU Medical Center where they shot that Exorcist scene. But hey, it's not like you haven't stolen work supplies before.
The Shoe-Throwing Henchman From Austin Powers Turned Out To Be A Fucking Monster
Despite the utter crappiness of its sequels, Austin Powers -- which came out 20 years ago, Jesus Christ -- still holds up. So yeah, it's a comedy classic a lot of you probably hold a fond nostalgia for, which I will now completely destroy. Remember this guy?
Isn't he the character your shithead friend would always pick on GoldenEye?
That's Random Task, the shoe-throwing spoof of Goldfinger's Oddjob, and the subject to one of the funnier scenes in the first Austin Powers film. He's played by Joe Son, a professional UFC fighter and wrestler who retired with a 0-4 record. Unfortunately, this is not the only terrible record that ol' Joe has ...
Nope, not a still from the upcoming Austin Powers 4: Yeah Baby Shagadelic Oh Behave Get In My Belly
Buckle in, because this isn't a fun story. Back in 2008 -- long after our chuckles had subsided from Mike Myers's comedy antics -- Son was arrested for felony vandalism and forced to give a DNA sample as a condition of his plea. From there, his DNA was linked to a 1990 incident in which several men kidnapped and gang raped a woman on Christmas Eve. So basically this silly background character from your childhood was secretly the worst fucking human in the world.
Shockingly, the cops didn't just let him go when he informed them he has a Wikipedia article.
After successfully reducing the charges against him through the statute of limitations, Son was still given a life sentence. And if you have any doubts he did it: Not a month passed into his sentence before Son murdered his cellmate during a scuffle, then casually washed his hands. And with that, we're getting the hell out of this paragraph.
A Dumbass Sopranos Character Went On To Do Dumbass Crimes IRL
When discussing Sopranos characters, sometimes it's easier to start with their inevitable murder and work backwards. Like, remember this scene?
Hint: It took place in New Jersey.
That's Matt Bevilaqua from season two, right before getting whacked by Tony and Big Pussy for being a huge moron. You remember -- this Bevilaqua kid and his equally idiotic partner pulled off what might be the worst drive-by attempt in TV history, which turns into a PSA against wearing seatbelts halfway through. Well, it turns out that the man playing Matt, Lillo Brancato Jr., isn't exactly far from this character after all.
You can tell he doesn't know any Tony Sopranos in real life because there's enough of him left for this photo.
Brancato smoked his first joint while playing Robert De Niro's son in A Bronx Tale, which he claims led him to cocaine, heroin (he was arrested for possession in 2005), and, eventually, breaking into people's basements to steal Valium. One such expedition was complicated by two details: 1) the neighbor of the house they were robbing was a cop, and 2) Brancato's friend was carrying a .357 Magnum. The situation didn't get better from there.
Hey, a headline in THR is a headline in THR.
If you haven't yet guessed, Brancato's friend shot the cop -- killing him -- but not before the fatally wounded officer fired back at both men like a total McClane. In other words, Brancato pulled a Matt Bevilaqua on the situation, landing his ass in jail while his cop-killing partner got a life sentence.
Sopranos fans might be glad to learn Brancato has since made parole and even landed a role in a film with Alec Baldwin. Unfortunately, according to the reviews, being in the film is about on par with being in jail.
Suge Knight Ran Over Someone On The Set Of Straight Outta Compton
Despite sounding like an awesome cereal mascot, Suge Knight is both an influential and controversial figure in the rap community. Knight was a key player in the story of N.W.A. -- as told by the film Straight Outta Compton. In it, Knight wants Eazy-E to release Dr. Dre from his contract, a request he punctuates like so:
This inspired Eazy's hit single, "Hey Stop Beating Me Please C'mon."
Now, in fairness, Knight's lawyer has claimed that this scene is "exaggerated" and that "he's a good person" ... a statement that can be quickly rebutted by the fact that Knight was in jail for murder when he said this.
On January 29, 2015, while the cast shot a promo for Straight Outta Compton, Knight got in a confrontation with a documentary director named Cle Sloan. According to anonymous interviews, Knight was unhappy he wasn't allowed anywhere near the set (on account of a restraining order from Dre). Still in his car, his argument with Sloan devolved into full-on punches, causing a mutual friend named Terry Carter to step in to try and de-escalate the situation. This didn't go the way Carter hoped, as the fight continued until Knight reversed his car, supposedly threatened to kill someone, and then hit the two men, killing Carter.
This dashes our hopes that he'd play Uncle Phil in a gritty Fresh Prince reboot.
Depending on who you ask, this was either a calculated move or self-defense from a panicked and aging man battling with loss of eyesight. It was also oddly foreshadowed in the film itself, which has a scene where the actor playing Knight beats the crap out of a random dude in a parking lot. When asked about the dangerous debacle, Ice Cube chalked it up to the "dangerous part of living in South Central" -- adding "some people don't care if you're making a movie or not." And he isn't wrong, considering that another day of shooting was interrupted by a nearby shooting of the drive-by kind.
Sean Connery Once Beat Up A Mobster On A Movie Set (Which Led To The Guy's Murder)
If there is one constant in this universe, it's that whoever you are or wherever you are, Sean Connery will beat you. Connery don't give one iota of a morsel of a fuck.
One such piece of proof comes from the tragic story of Lana Turner, famous for films like The Postman Always Rings Twice ... and for being involved in the death of her abusive mobster lover, Johnny Stompanato. Story goes that Stompanato was upset that Turner didn't bring him along to the 1958 Academy Awards, an argument that escalated to accusations of infidelity, violent threats -- and ultimately, to him getting stabbed to death by Turner's daughter in self-defense. So, who was Johnny jealous of? Guess.
You see, this was only six months after Turner worked with Connery on Another Time, Another Place, the production of which was halted when Stompanato showed up on the set, armed with jealous fury and a gun. Connery, faced with an angry mobster waving a weapon at his pretty face, did the only thing he knows how to do: he fucking beat him. He wrenched the firearm from his hand and punched him to Russia with love. Afterward, Connery reported the incident and Stompanato was booted from England for having an illegal firearm. Connery didn't just beat him out of the set, but out of the country.
The title of the movie refers to Johnny's whereabouts.
So you can understand why, once the Oscars rolled around, Turner didn't want to bring her boyfriend to a fancy ceremony where he might run into the guy who pummeled him six months earlier. And if you don't think any of that led to Stompanato's death -- Connery actually had to go into hiding during the ensuing murder trial on account of the mob blaming 007's meandering penis for the whole affair. Turns out that even Sean Connery can only beat so many people before he gets overwhelmed.
Stephen King's Son Believes An Unsolved Murder's Victim Appears In Jaws
On July 26, 1974, two sisters were walking down the road in Cape Cod's Provincetown when they came across the body of a nearly decapitated woman next to a pair of Wrangler jeans and a blue bandana. To this day, the police have no idea who she is or who killed her -- the cold case ultimately nicknamed the Lady Of The Dunes, which sounds more like a Tori Amos album than a grotesque display of humankind's cruelty. Her body has since been exhumed three goddamn times in an attempt to identify her, resulting in many artist renderings of what she could have possibly looked like:
Plot twist: She was a shapeshifter.
As you can imagine, there are many theories -- one being that Whitey Bulger, who lived in Provincetown at the time, was the murderer. And while that certainly is an interesting possibility, horror novelist Joe "I Don't Like Bragging That Stephen King Is My Dad" Hill recently uncovered his own lead in the laziest possible way: by watching Jaws.
To be fair, that's how we research like 20-30 percent of this site's articles.
Do you see it? Here, allow me:
That there is a woman in Wrangler jeans and a blue bandana, matching the height, age, and facial description of the Lady Of The Dunes. In case you're wondering, the movie Jaws began principal photography in Martha's Vineyard on May 2nd in 1974 -- two months before the body was found a mere ferry ride away.
So yes, obviously there's a very slim chance that the random tourist seen in a montage during the movie Jaws is the mystery corpse that's been haunting detectives for decades ... but how fucking eerie would it be if it was? That's like a whole other movie plot contained in one of the best films ever. So as far as I'm concerned, until Steven Spielberg goes out of his way to personally tell me otherwise, I'm gonna go ahead and tell everyone he killed and dismembered a girl back in 1974. I don't think there's a law against me putting that in writing.
The Intro To SNL Foreshadows A Murder/Suicide
I'm going to show you something seemingly innocuous that will slowly become more chilling as you look into it -- like a Magic Eye of horse skulls, or the company history of Volkswagen. You ready? Here it is:
"OH, MY! A CAMERA?! HOW UNEXPECTED!"
That's Phil Hartman's intro back when he was a cast member on Saturday Night Live. For those unaware of this particular era of credits, this was back when "comedy = being cheerfully accosted by a camera." And for those who aren't aware of who Hartman is (you fucking ghouls) then go watch an old Simpsons episode or NewsRadio or the film CB4. (In fact -- let's all go enjoy the rap-comedy antics of CB4 the moment this nightmare article is over. You'll need them.)
You see, on May 28, 1998, Hartman was shot in the head several times by his wife, Brynn, who at the time was drunk and high on cocaine. She committed suicide a few hours later as the police were escorting their children from the house. It was fucking tragic, to say the very least. And as you probably have figured out, the lady sitting across from Hartman in his SNL intro was indeed his future killer.
"Hello, I'm Phil Hartman! You might remember me from such GIFs as the one right before this, and the one right below."
But wait, take a look at Brynn's earring in this above GIF, and the way it's swinging wildly. What the hell is up with that?
Obviously we can't know exactly what was going through Brynn's head. But we do know that, according to several friends, Brynn felt eclipsed and insecure by her husband's fame. And during the filming of this SNL introduction, she kept attempting to get her face on-camera, only to have the director continually tell her to cut it out.
The earring is swinging because Brynn couldn't stop looking at the camera, seemingly desperate to break out of her husband's shadow. So if you believe the narrative described by their friends, that goddamn earring represents all the frustrations that eventually culminated in horrific tragedy.
So in conclusion, I might've just forever ruined 1990s SNL for you. Uh, sorry.
Approach Dave slowly on his Twitter.
For more surprising ways Hollywood and the criminal underbelly are intertwined, check out 5 Famous People With Mind-Blowing Connections To Evil Crimes and 6 Famous People With Shocking Criminal Backgrounds.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel, and check out 9 Murders To Keep You Up At Night With My Favorite Murder, and other videos you won't see on the site!
Follow us on Facebook, and we'll follow you everywhere.
What the Hell Did I Just Read: A Novel of Cosmic Horror, the third book in David Wong's John Dies at the End series, is available now!