There’s nothing quite like getting completely lost in your favorite movie. From old classics to modern marvels, people of all ages have always come to admire the wonders of the big screen. Sure, we all know that everything is not always as it seems and that most of what appears on our screens is heavily edited, but the magic of Hollywood still has the power to transport us to other worlds. These days, every DVD and Blu-ray comes jam-packed with in-depth special features for us to enjoy.
Some features include hours-long accounts from cast and crew on what it took to make the film. In decades past, special features were almost nonexistent. It was rare to come across behind-the-scenes footage or photographs of our favorite movies. However, thanks to this lovely tool, the Internet, we’re able to fish around for rare footage from some of the most timeless and beloved films. Below, you’ll find some of those gems from movies both old and new.
15. Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy became a classic feel-good movie after its release in 2014. The film has everything: action, adventure, heartfelt life lessons, and comedy. Perhaps the most endearing component is Groot, the larger-than-life tree creature that (SPOILER ALERT!) ends up sacrificing himself in the end so that his friends will live. Worry not, my friends; Groot makes a triumphant return in the end and has a starring role in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. In the movie, Groot towers over his friends and costars; however, in the real world, it would appear that Groot is nothing more than an average-sized man, coupled with some impressive visual effects. Either way, viewers fell in love with the adorably gentle giant, and no amount of behind-the-scenes shots can spoil our affection for the beloved creature.
When most people think of the movie Alien, they remember the iconic and gory alien-bursting-out-of-someone’s-chest scene (which, by the way, was filmed in just one take). Although the creature itself is only on screen for a total of about 4 minutes, intricate camerawork was used to highlight the most terrifying angles of the Xenomorph. In a much less intimidating shot of the creature, the photo above shows what we can assume is Bolaji Badejo, the 6’10” actor who helped bring this terrifying monster to life, taking a rest between scenes. If he looks rather lonely, it’s because he was. The cast and crew intentionally avoided the actor in costume on the set in an attempt to create more genuine fear of the monster. Badejo was discovered by a production crew member who noted his unusually large frame and decided he would be perfect for the role. He had no prior experience, and after this film wrapped, he never appeared in another. Unfortunately, Badejo succumbed to sickle cell anemia and passed away in 1992 at the age of 39.
13. Star Wars
Even if you’ve never seen a Star Wars film in your life, no doubt, you’ve seen the infamous introduction scroll. It’s become an iconic part of pop culture and has been replicated and spoofed countless times in films and television shows. How many of us have recreated the scroll on Windows Movie Maker and similar computer-editing software? Simple, right? Well, back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, those programs had yet to be invented. So how could they have possibly created such an effect? The photo above shows us exactly how — the good old fashioned way! The analog technique was achieved by attaching a camera to a special rig to slowly and precisely move the camera along a screen with all of the words already printed. By dragging the camera down, it gave the effect that the screen itself was scrolling, though it actually remained fixed in place. Who would have thought? With today’s technology, we often fail to appreciate and acknowledge the lack of technology that filmmakers had to overcome in some of film’s most beloved classics.
To this day, James Cameron‘s Titanic remains one of the most iconic and beloved films of all time. Based on the true events of the tragic demise of the Titanic, Cameron delicately portrays a fictional love story that’s woven into the events that took place in the early hours of April 15, 1912. Although the effects of the film are spectacular and realistic, behind-the-scenes photos paint a much different, and far less exciting picture of what filming was like. The infamous scene that shows Rose floating on a door in the middle of a vast ocean was actually filmed in a pool with water that was only about waist-high. How’s that for disappointment? An exception would be this photo here, a look at how they filmed a scene in which the Titanic has snapped in half and is bobbing vertically in the middle of the ocean. Sure, they’re on a soundstage floor covered in padding and not in the freezing Atlantic, but that doesn’t make you feel much better about the discomfort the actors and extras must have been feeling at the time. I certainly hope that the poor people up at the top were heavily wired and securely hooked into place to avoid falling off of this rig. Yikes!
Yet another example of one of the most visually stunning films of our time is none other than Inception. Christopher Nolan‘s 2010 masterpiece takes us on a journey with Dom Cobb, a thief who has discovered the ability to “extract” ideas from inside the dreams of others. He recruits a team to follow him and implant an idea into the mind of a powerful CEO from inside the man’s dreams. Nolan takes an impossibly insane idea and makes us believe that this tactic could actually be real. In the twists and turns and multiple levels of dreams, we’re taken on a visually spectacular journey. Despite the incredible imagery, which you’d be sure are mainly the work of CGI, many of the most complex scenes were actually filmed the old-fashioned way. The photo above shows a model of the snowy fortress we encounter toward the end of the film in a deep layer of the CEO’s dream. Watching the movie, you’d never guess that it was filmed this way! It certainly puts things into perspective.
10. Independence Day
Whether or not you’ve seen the movie, no doubt, you’re familiar with the infamous scene in the 1996 iconic sci-fi film Independence Day where the White House is blown up by a spaceship’s laser. Have you ever noticed how realistic that scene is? Sure, CGI is great, but sometimes, you just need something more to make a scene as believable as possible. The problem was, they couldn’t exactly bring a spaceship over the White House and shoot lasers into it. This interesting photo on the set of the film shows us a little bit about how that infamous scene was filmed. A five foot by ten foot model of the White House was constructed, and after a week of planning, the crew came up with the style in which the model would be destroyed. Forty explosive charges were placed inside the model, and in the end, we watched a scene that really made us question whether or not the real White House had just exploded.
Tim Burton‘s Beetlejuice was released in 1988 but remains a classic family movie to this day. Michael Keaton stars as the title character, a mischievous “bio-exorcist” who is summoned to assist a recently deceased couple, Adam and Barbara, in removing a new family who has just moved into their home. Charles and Delia Deetz bring their reluctant gothic teen daughter, Lydia, out to the countryside for a bit of a fresh start. The fun begins once Adam and Barbara discover that Lydia can see them, despite being invisible to the living. In true Tim Burton fashion, the film is visually spectacular and kooky and is fun for viewers of all ages. Although the movie paints Beetlejuice as the bad guy, this photo from behind the scenes during production shows that it was mainly fun and games on set. Michael Keaton is spectacular and plays such a fun part that it’s hard to dislike him even though he plays the antagonist.
To this day, John Carpenter‘s classic 1978 film Halloween never fails to send a shiver down your spine. Nick Castle stars as the murderous Michael Myers, silently stalking his teen victims in their hometown of Haddonfield, Illinois. Although he never utters a single sound or word throughout the entire movie, Myers still reigns as one of the creepiest, most terrifying horror villains. Only once during the movie do we get to see the face of the murderer behind the mask. The only problem is that the actor we see, Tony Moran, was only used for the one scene and is not the actor used to walk around Haddonfield terrorizing teens. Nick Castle, the man who actually does the walking about, is never seen. John Carpenter simply felt that his face was too “angelic” to use, so they found another actor to stand in to look more menacing. This photo of Nick Castle was a treat to movie buffs who wanted to know the face of the man who gave them reoccurring nightmares. Turns out he’s not so scary after all.
Although it originally aired as a television mini-series back in 1990, IT is easily one of the creepiest movies of our time. The film centers around Tim Curry as Pennywise the clown, a demonic creature that has the ability to transform into the very thing you fear the most. Werewolf, clown, giant spider — you name it — his form depends on your worst nightmare. According to cast and crew, Tim Curry did such a spectacular job portraying Pennywise that everyone on set avoided him during filming. It’s hard to blame them. Have you seen this creature? In the photo above, you can see Curry kicked back and taking a break during filming — alone. It must have been pretty boring and isolating being on set with coworkers who wanted to avoid him. It turned out to be well worth it, seeing as the film released in 1990 still haunts the dreams of those watching it for the first time today. The remake to be released later this year has big shoes to fill; that’s for sure.
Jaws is the infamous film that made children and adults alike terrified to even take a shower for a very long time. The special effects in this movie were incredible, especially given the fact that it was released in 1975. Some of the greatest special effects come not from CGI but from life-sized puppets and some incredible attention to detail. In the case of Jaws, several mechanical sharks were created and were nicknamed “Bruce” by the production crew. Bruce was so realistic that it continues to terrify viewers 40 years later, even in the age of ultra-realistic CGI work. As incredible as computer animation is, nothing beats the realism that puppets and mechanical dummies bring to the screen. In this photo, a very brave Steven Spielberg situated himself inside the mouth of one of the Bruce heads for a terrifyingly realistic photo-op. Sure, we all know it’s a fake shark, but something about this photo still sends shivers down your spine as your mind floods with memories of such realistic portrayals of shark attacks.
5. Jurassic Park III
Yet another example of impeccable special effects is none other than the ones in the Jurassic Park films. No surprise, Steven Spielberg is also responsible for bringing Jurassic Park to life, so we were guaranteed a very realistic depiction of what dinosaurs were like. Modern movies tend to be overwhelmingly filled with computer-generated special effects. While CGI allows filmmakers to achieve effects that have never before been seen, sometimes, critics will bash a film for overusing the tool. Although CGI has the ability to dive into worlds we’d never otherwise get to experience, sometimes, it comes off as tacky. Some of the greatest filmmakers of all time gain their success for thinking outside the box and using real props, models, and machine-operated characters. A perfect example can be seen in the photo above during a shoot of Jurassic Park III. From behind the scenes, it looks silly, but coupled with impressive camera work, sound effects, and editing, it pulls us into another world. In fact, if we didn’t know any better, it’d be easy to mistake fiction for reality.
4. Rebel Without a Cause
“You’re tearing me apart!”
The famous line delivered by method-acting fanatic James Dean is still recognized by audiences of all ages. Rebel Without a Cause is carved into our memories as being James Dean’s final film before his life was tragically cut short just one month before the movie was released. James Dean plays a troubled teen, Jimmy, who has just moved into a new city. He meets Judy, played by Natalie Wood, and hopes that he and his family can find the peace and the happiness that they’ve been unable to find thus far due to the trouble Jimmy has continuously found himself in. James Dean was a very serious and passionate actor, and as a result, we mostly see him with more stoic expressions in photographs. This photo shows a rare goofy moment alongside Natalie Wood, who also tragically passed away much too soon. It’s fun to see actors let loose a little, especially the more serious artists who are rarely known to joke around.
3. The Shining
The Shining has been noted as one of the most terrifying books/films of all time. Through the two-and-a-half-hour duration of the movie, miscellaneous horrors pop up on the screen as Jack Torrance slowly begins to lose his marbles. When you think of The Shining, what scene comes to mind? Other than the iconic “Here’s Johnny!” scene, there’s one other scene that comes to mind for most people — THE TWINS: those horrifying, creepy little girls standing at the end of the hallway. What is it about little girls in horror films that are so terrifying? Whatever it is, The Shining managed to capture the fear perfectly. In this rare photo, you can see the twins, Lisa and Louise Burns, out of character and SMILING! After their iconic role, the girls faded into the background for decades and only just emerged again to say that they’d been largely shunned by the film industry after their big break. Well, it’s no wonder, as just the sight of them was enough to send chills down your spine.
In 1931 Boris Karloff starred as one of the world’s most infamous monster creatures in Frankenstein. The actor spent hours upon hours in the makeup chair during filming in order to transition into the spooky creature that we all came to recognize. The production team originally believed that young Marilyn Harris, who starred as Maria, would be petrified of Karloff in full dress and makeup. To everyone’s surprise, on one occasion, Marilyn requested to ride along with Karloff on the way to the filming location while the actor was fully made up. Judging by this photo, we can see the appeal. Take away the droopy eyelids and the lumbering walk, and Mr. Karloff suddenly doesn’t seem quite so scary. In this rare photo of Karloff taking a quick break during filming, he’s seen taking a moment to have a snack and a cup of tea or coffee. Who knew that Frankenstein would partake in such an elegant activity? This certainly makes us see the monster in a whole new light.
1. The Great Gatsby
The 2013 remake of The Great Gatsby is nothing short of visually stunning. Beautiful backdrops and impressive camera work give this film a life of its own. The Great Gatsby was adapted from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s timeless novel, a cautionary tale about excessive wealth and greed. Throw in a tragic love story, and you’ve got THE American classic. But what if I told you that Jay Gatsby’s incredible mansion on Long Island was nothing more than a blue screen and some cool digital effects? That’s right. As much as we’d all love to believe that the iconic Gatsby party scenes really were filmed inside some grand chateau with a long dock stretching out into the dark waters, the above photo paints a very different picture. We can clearly see that the only realistic set piece is just a section of the dock with one lamp. It’s mind-boggling to see how Baz Luhrmann can take a basic set of seemingly nothing and turn it into a visual masterpiece.