The Grim Reaper can come knocking at any time. He might tap you on the shoulder as you’re crossing the street or he could pay you a visit when you’re fast asleep in bed. He can find you at work or he can join you for dinner. There’s no place he won’t go. He doesn’t consider how convenient the moment is for you either. Heck, he barged in on Elvis when the music icon was on the toilet. We will all get to meet him one fateful day but most people have no idea when, where, or how the meeting will take place. Most of us can only hope that it happens painlessly and quickly.
One place that nobody expects to die in a movie theater. In fact, movie theaters should be off limits to the Grim Reaper. We’re enjoying the action on the screen while munching on popcorn and Gummy Bears and thoughts of our own mortality are far away. Nevertheless, the Grim Reaper has made appearances in movie theaters throughout the world. As you will discover from the stories below, the Grim Reaper has seen his share of movies. So, grab a box of popcorn and a soda and learn about the 15 movies that horrifyingly killed people in real life.
15 The Conjuring 2
The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2 were pretty scary movies to watch and it’s even more terrifying to know that they were based on the real life experiences of Ed and Lorraine Warren. According to the Times of India, an unidentified 65-year-old male went to see The Conjuring 2 at a theater in Tiruvannamalai, India. As the movie was reaching its thrilling climax, the man began to suffer chest pains and then quickly collapsed. Paramedics were called and he was taken to the hospital where he was declared dead on arrival. The truly strange part of this story is that when his body was being transferred to another facility for the autopsy, the driver disappeared with the man’s corpse. Because of this mysterious event, the dead man’s identity could not be established.
14 Harry Potter
Self-driving cars are no longer a futuristic dream. They are here and our highways and streets will be filled with these intelligent machines in the near future. So, what is there to do when you are being chauffeured around in your Tesla Model S? Joshua Brown liked to shoot YouTube videos of himself driving hands-free as the car’s autopilot navigated the roadways for him. Unfortunately, the technology isn’t yet foolproof and there are a few bugs to iron out. Brown was watching Harry Potter in May of 2016 as his car drove down a Florida highway. His car, which he affectionately named Tessy, collided with a semitrailer when the autopilot failed to notice the oncoming hazard due to the brightness of the sun. The 40-year-old is believed to be the first person to be killed while operating a self-driving car.
Jaws was a huge success when it was released in 1975. It earned an estimated $470 million which made it the highest-grossing film at the time. Horrified audiences watched as a massive great white shark preyed on victim after victim in a frenzy of blood and guts. In September 1975, Elmer Sommerfield was taking in the movie in Chicago’s Ford City Cinema when, about 45 minutes into the film, he suffered a heart attack and collapsed. His wife immediately notified the theater manager who summoned emergency services. As they waited for help to arrive, Sommerfield was given CPR by two doctors that were in attendance. Sadly, Sommerfield died on his way to the hospital. Apparently, Jaws doesn’t need its victims to be in the water. He can get to you even if you’re on dry land in Illinois.
12 The Creeping Unknown
The classic movie The Creeping Unknown was released in the United States in 1956 although it was originally released a year earlier in Britain under the title The Quatermass Xperiment. The story is about three intrepid astronauts that get sent into space but, when the spaceship returns to Earth, there is only one astronaut left. The lone survivor has an alien infection that is a serious threat to mankind. The sci-fi horror was being shown at a cinema in Oak Park, Illinois when tragedy struck. It must have been terrifying as a nine-year-old audience member died of a ruptured artery while watching the film. The Guinness Book of World Records made a new entry claiming that the event was the only time a person had ever died of fright while watching a horror film.
James Cameron is responsible for bringing movie lovers some great films. The Terminator, Titanic, and Spider-Man are just a few of his many successes. In 2009, Cameron released the movie Avatar which he had begun developing way back in 1994. The film cost close to $250 million to make and it raked in nearly $3 billion at the box office. A 42-year-old Taiwanese man known as Mr. Kuo went to see the movie shortly after its release. At some point during the film, Mr. Kuo began to feel quite sick and paramedics were called. Kuo was unconscious upon his arrival at the hospital and a cat scan found that he was suffering from a brain hemorrhage. He died 11 days later and his doctor concluded that the hemorrhage was caused from “over-excitement” as a result of watching the movie.
You can be certain that a film like Freaks would cause a whole lot of outrage if it were made these days. The director, Tod Browning had worked in the circus and he drew on his experiences when he made this film. He hired real sideshow performers like midgets, conjoined twins, a man with no lower body, a hermaphrodite, and an armless woman among others. Naturally, a number of people were outraged and offended by this cinematic creation and it was pulled from theaters. A woman directly blamed this movie for causing her to suffer a miscarriage while watching a test screening before it was released. She threatened to sue the studio but it is not known if she actually did or if she was successful. Freaks is considered a classic movie these days but it remains as controversial as ever.
9 Black Swan
This tragic tale is quite similar to the Lone Survivor theater shooting that is also in this list. In this case, a theater audience in Latvia was watching the psychological horror-thriller Black Swan in 2011. A 42-year-old man had allegedly been eating his popcorn too loudly and it got on another guy’s nerves. So much so that they 27-year-old got out of his seat and confronted the loud eater. An argument ensued and the 27-year-old man pulled out a gun and shot the offending popcorn eater to death. The unidentified victim was taken to hospital where he succumbed to his injuries while the shooter was arrested. As crazy as this incident sounds, the really crazy thing is that the incident occurred as the closing credits were rolling. It was a completely senseless act that cost someone their life.
The movie Aliens is another of James Cameron’s many hits. It was released in 1986 to near-universal acclaim. The movie features a lot of gore, ugly space creatures, and plenty of tension-filled scenes. It’s a must see for fans of the horror genre. In 2010, M Prabhakar was a student attending a residential school in India. He and a group of classmates were binge watching horror movies and had already seen 3 when Aliens was screened. At about 11:30 on that Saturday night, Prabhakar got up to go to the bathroom. When he came out he began to scream and suddenly collapsed. Curiously, nobody saw the young man collapse and he wasn’t discovered until the movie marathon was over. Paramedics were called and they took Prabhakar to the hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
7 The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
The Twilight franchise has earned over $3 billion at the box office and has made stars out of a couple of unremarkable actors. The franchise’s third installment, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse opened in theaters in 2010. During a screening of the film in a Wellington, New Zealand theater, 23-year-old Damian Smythe snuck into the cinema carrying a bottle of Johnnie Walker. He hit the bottle pretty hard during the movie and passed out in his seat before the movie concluded. After the audience had left, cleaners discovered the young man slumped in his seat unresponsive with an empty bottle beside him. Paramedics were called but they were unable to resuscitate Smythe. The coroner ruled that the young man, who was unemployed and had a well-known drinking problem, died of acute alcohol poisoning.
6 Lone Survivor
There is no doubt that being distracted by someone else’s cell phone when you’re in a theater is quite annoying. Things got out of hand during a screening of the movie Lone Survivor in Tampa, Florida. It appears that an audience member, Chad Oulson, was texting during the movie. 71-year-old Curtis Reeves, a retired police officer, got so upset about the texting that he got up from his seat, confronted the 43-year-old Oulson, and then proceeded to shoot him to death. Let this be a lesson to those of you who don’t turn off your cell phone in the movie theater. In a strange twist to this sad tale, it turns out that Reeves was also texting on his cell phone a bit earlier in the film. What a hypocrite!! Reeves’ attempt to use the “Stand your Ground” laws failed in court.
5 The Passion Of The Christ
Love it or hate it, The Passion of the Christ stirred a lot of controversy when it was released in 2004. One thing that nearly everyone that has seen it can agree on is that it is one heck of a violent movie. One of the more intense parts of the movie is the crucifixion scene. This part of the film could have been a little too hard for 56-year-old Peggy Scott to handle as the Wichita native suffered a heart attack. A nurse that was in attendance tried in vain to revive the woman. Scott was pronounced dead on arrival at a local hospital. Then, about a month later, a 43-year-old pastor named Geraldo Soares also died of a heart attack while watching the movie with members of his congregation.
4 Raju Gari Gadi
This horror-comedy film revolves around a group of reality show contestants that do their best to survive through a night in a haunted house. During a showing of this film in Hyderabad, a 55-year-old audience member collapsed in his seat and died of a heart attack. The man, only known as Amaranatham of Attapur, had apparently left his seat and gone towards the exit a couple of times while the film was playing but he returned to his seat each time. After the film was over and the audience had left, theater workers discovered the man‘s lifeless body slumped over in his seat. It turned out that Amaranatham had a long history of serious heart problems. It seems that watching Raju Gari Gadi was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
3 Grand Masti
There are loads of movies that claim to be so funny that you will die laughing but audience members always leave the theaters alive and well. Sadly, there is an exception to this. In September 2013, 22-year-old Mangesh Bhogal took his girlfriend to the movie theater to watch the Indian sex-comedy Grand Masti. It’s about three friends that are unhappily married and have no sex lives. They go to a college reunion and all kinds of hijinks and hilarity ensue. Mangesh obviously enjoyed the raunchy humor as he laughed uncontrollably throughout the film. Other movie goers described him as “laughing his heart out”. The fact is that he laughed so hard that he suffered a fatal stroke. He was rushed to a nearby hospital but he was pronounced dead on arrival.
2 A Fish Called Wanda
Monty Python once did a sketch called The Funniest Joke in the World in which Michael Palin’s character, Ernest Scribbler, writes a joke so funny that anyone who reads it dies of laughter. It’s a brilliant piece of comedy. Michael Palin teamed up with fellow Monty Python alumni John Cleese in the 1988 comedy A Fish Called Wanda and the two, along with Kevin Kline and Jamie Lee Curtis, made audiences around the world laugh once again. There is one scene in particular that tickled a few funny bones. Michael Palin’s character, Ken Pile, gets some chips stuck in his nose. The scene made Danish film goer Ole Bentzen break out into an uncontrollable laughing fit. He began to hyperventilate and his heart rate rose dramatically. He suffered a heart attack and died in his seat.
1 The Dark Knight Rises
People packed into a theater in Aurora, Colorado, to see a midnight screening of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises in July 2010. James Holmes had bought his ticket to the show online 12 days earlier. He arrived at the cinema but then quickly left through a rear exit which he left propped open. When he returned through the same exit, he was wearing a ballistic helmet, a gas mask, and protective gear. He was carrying an AR-15, a 12-gauge shotgun, a handgun, and two canisters of gas which he used to wreak havoc on the unsuspecting crowd. In the end, 12 people were killed and 70 others were injured. Despite looking like a lunatic and engaging in such an insane and senseless act, Holmes’ defense team was unsuccessful in their attempt plead insanity. He was sentenced to 12 consecutive life terms plus an additional 3,318 years for good measure.