Thirty One Things I Learned About a Few of My Favorite Movies From “Ultraviolent Movies” (Revised Edition, Book, 2000)

Ultraviolent Movies

Written by Laurent Bouzereau

With the way Ultraviolent Movies is broken up into short summaries of different films and filmmakers by genre (instead of a single, sequential narrative), I found it much more convenient to list what I learned from a few of the more interesting sections, rather than try to review the book at length as a whole. A dry and uneven read, some of the author’s inclusions, or rather omissions, left me scratching my head. Why Night of the Living Dead, but not Dawn or Day of the Dead, which were much more violent? Psycho, but not Maniac? And how could any self-respecting collection of so-called ultraviolent movies not at least mention the Italian zombie fests of the 80s, the Guinea Pig series, or Faces of Death? I would have called this Popular, Mainstream Examples of Violence in Film.

Death Wish (1974)
•Henry Fonda was offered the role of the main character, Paul Kersey, but turned it down, stating the script was “repulsive”.
•Brian Garfield, the author of the novel on which the movie was based, was highly critical of Charles Bronson’s portrayal of the Kersey character, claiming “The worst effect his casting had on the film was to make the transition from ordinary citizen to killer almost invisible, and the transition really is the story.”
•Garfield’s novel was originally titled Jones. Death Wish came from his editor’s drunk wife.
•Hilariously, Death Wish, a movie based in New York, was “written by a Los Angeles screenwriter, produced by someone who seldom left Rome, and directed by a British director.”

RoboCop (1987)
RoboCop was initially so violent it had to be cut seven times to achieve an R rating.

Psycho (1960)
•The infamous shower scene was filmed from roughly seventy different angles over a course of seven to eleven days.
•Hitchcock’s pictorial assistant, Saul Bass, claimed to have directed the scene, but actress Janet Leigh disputed this.
•The scene was originally intended to be shown without music.
•After watching the film, Janet Leigh developed a fear of showers and claimed to have taken baths, with the curtain open.
•Leigh considered Psycho II to be too violent.

Halloween (1978)
•The idea for the story originally came from producer Irwin Yablans, who wanted to call it The Babysitter Murders.
•Co-writers John Carpenter and Deborah Hill were dating when they penned the script together.
•Halloween has grossed upwards of two hundred times its cost.
•Loomis’ famous monologue referring to Michael Myers as pure evil was inspired by a child Carpenter saw on a trip to a mental hospital he felt had a look of pure evil.
•Nick Castle, the actor who played Michael Myers, has gone on to become a successful director in his own right, helming such comedy hits as Dennis the Menace and Major Payne.

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986)
•According to director McNaughton, Henry removes his jacket every time he’s about to kill because the actor who played him, Michael Rooker, only owned one jacket and didn’t want it to get stained.
Henry was filmed in four weeks in 1985 and 1986, but wasn’t released theatrically ’til 1990.
•When McNaughton and crew first screened the film for MPI, their investor, they were met with, “You’ve made a goddamn art film. What are we going to do with this?”
Henry was given an X rating by the MPAA. MPI sued, claiming unfair treatment. One of their main gripes was the fact that Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom features a scene where “a man sticks his hand into the chest cavity of another man and pulls out a bleeding, beating heart and the movie [got] a PG rating.” MPI’s lawsuit was supposedly a factor in the MPAA’s decision to phase out the X and roll in the NC-17.
•Jay Carr of the Boston Globe wrote at the time that Henry and The Stepfather were the only two slasher films of the 80s worth seeing.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)
•Part of the film’s success was due to an advertising campaign lifted from William Castle’s playbook offering $50,000 to the families of anybody who died of fright while they watched it.
Variety called the movie an “unrelieved orgy of sadism” and questioned the filmmakers’ integrity.
•The 1990 remake was written by George Romero.

Friday the 13th (1980)
•Director Sean Cunningham ran a full-page ad for the film in Variety before he’d even come up with a story.
•According to Cunningham, it was practically “unheard of” for a company like Paramount to pick up an independently produced film with unknown actors like Friday the 13th and release it nationally as if it were a major film back then.
•The final script contained vague lines like “She goes into the bathroom, and then she dies.” Effects man Tom Savini was given a huge amount of artistic freedom to fill in the blanks.
•A real snake was used and sadly killed in the controversial scene where it’s hacked at with a machete.

Child’s Play (1988)
•An early draft of the script, titled Blood Buddy, took a much more psychological approach. “…The doll was the manifestation of [Andy’s] subconscious. It was his walking id…” writer Mancini is quoted as saying.
•In Blood Buddy, Good Guy dolls were apparently designed to be able to bleed, and came with special band-aids (how cute). In this version, there was no Charles Lee Ray. Chucky was to have come to life when Andy cut their thumbs and rubbed them together in one of those childhood “blood brother” rituals.
•It was alleged in the early 90s that watching Child’s Play 3 had caused two kids to murder a toddler, but the story turned out to be made up by the tabloids.

Hellraiser (1987)
•Director Clive Barker claims the biggest reactions he ever heard while attending screenings of Hellraiser were during the relatively tame scene where Larry snags his hand on a nail, “…because it’s happened to all of us and we can relate to the pain.”

Wes Craven: “…People refuse to see that life is a blood-and-guts show.”

Clive Barker: “Horror movies are image driven, not performance driven…”

Clive Barker: “There is a kind of honesty about a movie which is unapologetically, mindlessly violent.”


2 Responses to “Thirty One Things I Learned About a Few of My Favorite Movies From “Ultraviolent Movies” (Revised Edition, Book, 2000)”

  1. That bit about the inspiration for Loomis’ monologue in Halloween is really chilling.

    This is a cool collection of horror trivia. Enjoyed reading it.


two cents here

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