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Top 10 Most Dangerous Films Ever Made

Credits: Matthew Wende Thomas Robinson

Script written by Tom DiNardo

Making movies can be fun, but it can also be incredibly dangerous. From Cartel Land, to Mad Max, to The Revenant, these movies had extremely hazardous film shoots. WatchMojo counts down the top most dangerous films ever made.

Special thanks to our users jkellis, Andrew A. Dennison, and natd95 for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at https://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Most+Dangerous+Films+Ever+Made

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Transcript
Script written by Tom DiNardo

Top 10 Most Dangerous Films Ever Made


Being a movie star may seem like a cushy job, but making movies isn’t always a walk in the park. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Most Dangerous Films Ever Made.

For this list, we’re looking at productions that were fraught with danger, including dangerous stunts and unsafe filming locations. Both narrative films and documentaries will be considered.

#10: “Cartel Land” (2015)

Director Matthew Heineman ventured deep into the heart of cartel-controlled Michoacán in southwestern Mexico to film this award-winning documentary. Heineman rides along with vigilante groups on both sides of the US-Mexico border as they try to defend their respective countries from the damage of powerful drug cartels. Heineman willingly put himself in harm’s way to tell his story, getting shot at more than once. Heineman joins the Autodefensas resistance group on raids of cartel compounds and accompanies the Arizona Border Recon on nighttime patrols of the southern US border. Thankfully,Heineman’s efforts didn’t go unrewarded. He won the International Documentary Association’s 2015 Courage Under Fire Award, among others.

#9: “Ben-Hur” (1959)

This epic historical drama is considered one of the greatest films ever made and the climactic chariot race scene has become among the most famous sequences in movie history. The sheer size and ambition of the chariot scene made it risky. It involved 78 horses and 18 chariots, each weighing 900 pounds. Even though extensive efforts were made to ensure safety, stuntman Joe Canutt was accidentally tossed in the air during the shoot. Luckily he walked away with just a minor chin injury. The footage didn’t go to waste though. In editing, the long shot of Canutt’s accident was mixed with a close-up of Heston getting back on his chariot to create one of the race’s most dramatic moments.

#8: “Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior” (1981)

Action on the screen can come at a dangerous price. This post-apocalyptic film has been hailed for its stunts and special effects, but it was far from painless to shoot. One stuntman broke a vertebra and his heel ramming a vehicle 50 miles per hour into a wall of pre-wrecked cars. Another broke his femur attempting to crash a motorcycle into a dune buggy. And for the most dangerous stunt of the film, which involved rolling a tanker, stuntman Dennis Williams was told not to eat for 12 hours before attempting the scene in case he needed to be rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery. Luckily he nailed it in one take.

#7: “The Passion of the Christ” (2004)

Recreating the brutal torture and death of Jesus was bound to be risky - and director Mel Gibson didn’t make things any easier, choosing to film the crucifixion in Italy during winter. If you ask actor Jim Caviezel, who portrayed Jesus, being strapped to a cross in cold temperatures in a loincloth was the hardest part of filming the movie, but it certainly wasn’t the most life-threatening. Before shooting the “Sermon on the Mount” scene, Caviezel was struck by lightning. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Caviezel was accidentally whipped for real twice while shooting the movie - and he has the 14-inch scar on his back to prove it.

#6: “Super Size Me” (2004)

Eating McDonald’s every now and then probably won’t kill you, but 30 days straight will take its toll - just ask filmmaker Morgan Spurlock. After eating nothing but McDonald’s for a month, he put on 24 pounds, drastically increased his cholesterol, and experienced mood swings, heart palpitations, sexual dysfunction, and accumulated fat in his liver. It took Spurlock 14 months to shed the weight he gained during filming. As a side note, McDonald’s began phasing out its “super size” menu option the same year the movie was released. The official reason was to simplify its menu. We’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

#5: “Fitzcarraldo” (1982)

Director Werner Herzog famously eschews movie sets, preferring on-site locations – and it’s not a surprise that the Peruvian Amazon would add an element of danger to any movie. His commitment to authenticity attained dumbfounding heights when he attempted to pull a 320-ton steamboat over a hill without special effects. An unprecedented rainy season caused landslides that made lugging the boat up the hill extremely difficult. Cinematographer Thomas Mauch cut his hand while filming and had it stitched up without anesthesia. Worst of all, one crew member was bitten by a venomous snake and, to stop the venom from spreading, cut off his own foot with a chainsaw. Yeah… the dangers on this set were all too real.

#4: “The Revenant” (2015)

According to lead actor Leonardo DiCaprio, this was the hardest movie of his career. Shot in remote parts of the Canadian province of Alberta, actors and crew members battled frigid temperatures that rarely went above -22 Fahrenheit. DiCaprio, who jumped in and out of a frozen river for one scene, was constantly at risk of contracting hypothermia. Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu was reportedly forced to shut down production at least once because the camera gear was freezing in the cold. However hard it may have been, it was worth it in the end as DiCaprio finally won his first Academy Award for Best Actor.

#3: “Waterworld” (1995)

Sadly, not all dangerous productions pay off. Shot mostly on floating sets off the coast of Hawaii, this post-apocalyptic sci-fi flick starring Kevin Costner takes place in a world where the ice caps have melted and submerged most landforms underwater. Almost everyone on set got seasick during filming and young co-star Tina Majorino was repeatedly stung by jellyfish. Costner himself spent two hours strapped to a boat’s mast caught in a squall for a single shot, and his stunt double experienced a near-fatal embolism during a deep-sea dive while filming. And of course, tropical storms endangered the cast, crew, and set props. Mother Nature doesn’t care how large your budget is.

#2: “Apocalypse Now” (1979)

Structured chaos on set can apparently result in a great film, so long as you have a top-notch cast. Francis Ford Coppola’s take on the Vietnam War is just as famous for its dysfunction backstage as it is for the film itself. Shot in the Philippines, the production was hit by a typhoon and crew members frequently caught various tropical diseases. The party atmosphere on set didn’t help. Lead actor Martin Sheen suffered a heart attack during the shoot. Coppola himself was so stressed during the production that he threatened to commit suicide and had an epileptic seizure. Luckily the chaos behind the scenes didn’t affect the final cut.

#1: “Roar” (1981)

Dubbed “The Most Dangerous Film Ever Made”, this exploitation movie from Noel Marshall and starring Tippi Hedren should serve as a cautionary tale about working with real animals. Surrounded by some 150 big cats, it’s little wonder that over 70 cast and crew members were injured. Cinematographer Jan de Bont was scalped during filming and required 220 stitches. Hedren was bitten on in the neck and her daughter, Melanie Griffith, was mauled by a lion. Marshall suffered so many bites he eventually contracted gangrene. Of course, the film was also plagued by natural disasters, including wildfires and floods. On a positive note, it was reported that no animals were harmed during the making of the movie.

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