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These Movies Actually Killed People In Real Life

Heart attack - Jaws (1975)

Steven Spielberg pioneered the summer blockbuster in 1975 with his thriller-horror flick Jaws, starring Roy Schneider, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw, and a great white shark named Bruce. Until Spielberg's friend George Lucas released his space opera Star Wars in 1977, Jaws held the title of
being the highest-grossing film of all time, earning over $470 million worldwide on an estimated $7 million production budget. All it took was a heart-pounding soundtrack, some blood, and a set of massive jaws to scare viewers out of the water for years to come—those who were lucky enough to make it out of the theater, that is.

On September 9, 1975, a few months after Jaws arrived in theaters, 45-year old Elmer C. Sommerfield attended a screening at Ford City Cinema in Chicago, IL, with his wife Marilyn. Forty-five minutes into the film, Sommerfield collapsed of a heart attack. Sommerfield's wife alerted the theater manager, Vince Tripodi, of the situation and he called for an ambulance. In the meantime, two doctors in the audience administered CPR for ten minutes until paramedics could arrive. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough—Sommerfield died on the way to the hospital, and Tripodi told The Chicago Tribune that he had never seen something like that happen during his 27 years working in movie theaters.

Dead on arrival - The Conjuring 2 (2016)

The Conjuring franchise gains an extra queasy dollop of scariness thanks to the fact that it's based on the allegedly real-life exploits of actual people, which has helped the two movies (and counting) in the series scare up positive reviews and impressive box-office receipts. But 2016's The Conjuring 2 may have been a little too scary for one filmgoer in India. According to a June 17, 2016 report published by the Times of India, an unidentified attendee at a screening in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu passed away during the movie's final act—and the story only gets weirder from there.

The afflicted viewer, described as a 65-year-old male, reportedly complained of chest pains during the film and was taken to the hospital, where doctors pronounced him dead on arrival. His body was then remanded to another hospital for further examination, but it never arrived—as the Times put it, the driver "disappeared with the deceased's body," prompting an investigation to determine the whereabouts (and the identity) of the dead man. Perhaps we'll hear more about the story in a Conjuring sequel a decade or two from now.

Two incidents from The Passion of the Christ

Mel Gibson's biblical epic was criticized by some viewers for excess gore and violence in depicting the death and resurrection of Jesus. Those critics may have had a point, given that two people are known to have died during screenings of the film.

The first incident occurred in Feb. 2004 during a screening in Wichita, Kansas, where 56-year-old Peggy Scott suffered a fatal heart attack during the movie's crucifixion scene—understatedly described by a spokesperson for a local TV station as "the highest emotional part of the movie." A nurse who happened to be in the theater tried reviving Scott, but her efforts were unsuccessful, and Scott was pronounced dead after being taken to a nearby hospital.

One month later, the same fate was suffered by Jose Geraldo Soares, a 43-year-old Brazilian pastor who'd rented out a theater to watch the movie with his congregation. During the film, Soares' wife noticed he'd lost consciousness; as was the case with Peggy Scott's death, a medical professional happened to be in the theater, but they were unable to save Soares. Although some were quick to blame the film's violence for Soares' passing, a family friend disputed those allegations, retorting, "He was calmly watching the movie next to his wife."

Heart attack - Raju Gari Gadi (2015)

Life imitated art a little bit too realistically during a screening of the Indian horror comedy Raju Gari Gadi, which tells the story of seven reality TV show contestants trying to survive a night in a haunted house. The viewing experience turned out to be too much for one 55-year-old man, who had a heart attack and died during a screening in Hyderabad. The patron, identified as "Amaranatham of Attapur," reportedly headed for the exits twice during the film, only to turn around each time. When theater workers started clearing out the room after the lights went up, they discovered Amaranatham dead in his seat.

It all makes for a rather tragic testimony to the spine-tingling power of the film, but as it turns out, there's a little more to the story: after investigators contacted Amaranatham's family to inform them of his death, they discovered he had a history of heart problems. In other words, as long as your own ticker's in good working condition, don't worry about scheduling your own viewing of Raju Gari Gadi.

Died laughing - A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

Next time someone tries to convince you to watch the classic comedy A Fish Called Wanda because you'll just die laughing, make sure they aren't actually trying to murder you. A Danish scientist really did die laughing while watching the movie in 1989, suffering a fatal heart attack brought on by laughing too hard at the scene where Kevin Kline shoves French fries up Michael Palin's nose. Funny, yes. Worth dying for? That's up for debate.


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