While watching the penultimate Twilight film, Breaking Dawn: Part 1, two audience members had seizures, possibly trigged by the movie’s violent birthing scene. From 127 Hours to The Exorcist, see 16 movies that left audiences ill.
Breaking Dawn: Part 1
The penultimate Twilight movie, Breaking Dawn: Part 1, has been earning a lot of money and lot of horrible reviews. But it may have also done some serious damage. One Utah man said watching the movie’s violent birthing scene made him pass out and his body shake. "He started mumbling, and he was blinking on and off with his eyes at that point. I was kneeling in front of him slapping his face," his wife told a local ABC affiliate. They went back the next day to get his phone, which he had left at the theater, and the man said the same thing “happened to another girl in the theater.” A day later, it was reported that a California man was rushed to the hospital after getting sick while watching the same Breaking Dawn scene, cutting the screening short. His girlfriend told CBS Sacramento that he was “convulsing, snorting, trying to breathe.” “He scared me big time,” she added, nothing that she won’t make him see any more Twilight movies. Dr. Michael G. Chez told CBS Sacramento that the scene in question can trigger an episode of photosensitive epilepsy. “It’s like a light switch going off, because it hits your brain all at once,” Chez explained. “The trouble with theaters, it’s dark, the lights flashing in there is more like a strobe light.”
During the premiere screening of Danny Boyle's based-on-a-true-story film 127 Hours at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival, three people fainted and one experienced a seizure after viewing the climactic scene when trapped hiker Aron Ralston, played by James Franco, hacks off his own arm with a blunt penknife, according to The Guardian.
Saving Private Ryan
Director Steven Spielberg's epic 27-minute opening sequence depicting D-Day on Omaha Beach re-created the trauma of war in more ways than one. The scene, filmed using a shaky camera, has not only been used in scientific studies comparing comedy movies with disturbing movies, but a World War II veteran allegedly suffered a heart attack during a screening. In spite of all the severed limbs and dismembered bodies, the scene remains one of the most memorable Hollywood depictions of war.
Director Quentin Tarantino's mix of humor and violence didn't deter reviewers from raving about Pulp Fiction, but did the film nearly prove fatal for an audience member? At the New York Film Festival premiere of Pulp Fiction in 1994, audiences were shaken when someone had a seizure during a scene in which Uma Thurman has a syringe plunged into her chest.
The 1973 horror classic, in which young actress Linda Blair was famously possessed by the Devil and turned her head in a complete circle, turned some stomachs as well. Some theaters even passed out "Exorcist barf bags." A year after the film's release, one viewer alleged in a suit against Warner Bros. that he was rendered unconscious by the film, slid out of his chair, and broke his jaw. The studio settled out of court.
When it comes to on-screen gore, few films come close to the torture porn of Saw 3. In this installment of the series, some of the gratuitous torture included a rib cage torn apart, a pig-gut-induced drowning, and limbs twisted until they snapped. Despite a spate of fainting in the U.K., the film still managed to stay atop the box office.
James Cameron's 3-D epic nauseated some viewers, but the real danger may have been that the alien world the film depicted was too attractive. CNN reported that one Avatar fan forum received more than 1,000 posts from people feeling bummed that Avatar was only a movie. "Ever since I went to see Avatar, I have been depressed. Watching the wonderful world of Pandora and all the Na'vi made me want to be one of them. I can't stop thinking about all the things that happened in the film and all of the tears and shivers I got from it," a user named Mike posted. "I even contemplate suicide thinking that if I do it I will be rebirthed in a world similar to Pandora and then everything is the same as in Avatar."
Lars von Trier's controversial Antichrist opens with a toddler falling to his death while his parents have wild sex, and that's just the first shots in this chronicle of a couple's descent into grief and madness. One particular scene of female genital self-mutilation was greeted with yelps, howls, and fainting at Cannes. That may have been what von Trier was going for. Told that few people had walked out of the New York screening, the director said with a sigh, "Then I have failed."
Sure, using your genitalia as snake bait or eating horse feces is no sweat if you're Johnny Knoxville or any of the other boys from Jackass. But for the rest of us, the stunts performed in Jackass: The Movie not only should not be tried at home, but sometimes should not be viewed anywhere. Many of the cameramen on the set even fell victim to bouts of vomiting and fainting.
Based on a horrifying true story, this 2010 Rachel Weisz thriller, which follows a Nebraska police officer as she uncovers a massive human-trafficking ring in Bosnia while working for the United Nations, had women fainting in theaters at its premiere. The film graphically depicts the tragic story of women kidnapped and sold into sex slavery.
The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
Fresh off his creepy turn in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, scary-movie icon Lon Chaney was allowed again to create his own makeup for his follow-up role in Phantom. Sticking to the source novel's description, he created a hideous skull face under the character's famous mask. In the scene with the big reveal, Chaney's ghastly face caused much screaming and gasping—and even some fainting.
The Blair Witch Project
Though this mock-doc is light on gore, audiences still felt sick to their stomachs while watching the 1999 breakout hit. Quick cuts and shaky filming caused plenty of people to reach for their empty popcorn tubs, inducing motion sickness, dizziness, and plenty of retching, according to the Lawrence Journal-World.
Many theatergoers reported nausea while watching this J.J. Abrams–Matt Reeves collaboration. The herky-jerky feel of the handheld cameras left enough people dizzy that AMC Theaters began posting signs nationwide warning of the movie's possible effects, according to the L.A. Times.
Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart," this revenge flick has a twist—a recent heart-transplant recipient is tortured by his dead donor. Besides the grisly chest scar the main character sports throughout the flick, there are plenty of violent deaths. Unfortunately, the film, directed by Six Feet Under vet Michael Cuesta, went straight to DVD, so viewers were left appalled in the privacy of their own homes.
On a quiet Moroccan bus ride, Cate Blanchett's character (she and her husband, played by Brad Pitt, are American tourists) is hit with a bullet to her shoulder, seemingly from nowhere. The jarring flash of blood is more than just a jolt, though: it propels the rest of the film, as the search for help and resolution sets off a full-scale diplomatic crisis.
Beware, claustrophobics: this 2010 movie starring Ryan Reynolds is set almost entirely in a buried coffin, where Reynolds's character, an American truckdriver based in Iraq, has been held for ransom by insurgents. The film's most brutal scenes—from the protagonist's attempt to slit his own throat to a grisly sequence in which he's forced to cut off his own finger—may have grossed out audiences, but they certainly wowed critics.