8 movies that killed…literally

Bizarre, Celebrity, NakedLaw

Midnight Rider director Randall Miller is in prison for an on-set fatality. In 2014, Miller’s camera operator, Sarah Jones, was killed when she was struck by a train while working on the film, sub-titled The Gregg Allman Story and originally intended for release in 2015 (the film is now in limbo). It was soon revealed that Miller had not obtained written permission from the train company to utilize their railways.

While this may be the first time a filmmaker has been held legally accountable, it is certainly not the first time someone has died while making a movie. Here are 8 other films in which the creative process was interrupted by tragedy:

The Crow, 1993, Brandon Lee, age 28

Brandon Lee was filming a violent scene on the set of The Crow at the North Carolina Film Studios. The script called for Lee’s character, Eric Draven, to be shot by a thug named Funboy. The gun used in the scene had been loaded with a blank cartridge, but no one realized a dummy bullet was already lodged in the barrel of the handgun. When the blank was fired, the bullet hit Lee in the abdomen and killed him.

Investigators ruled Lee’s death as accident. Despite findings that the film crew was negligent, no criminal charges were filed. Lee’s mother, Linda Lee Caldwell, filed a civil suit against director Alex Proyas, Crowvision, Inc., Edward R. Pressman Film Corp., and J.B. Jones Inc., which supplied the blanks and ammunition. The matter was settled out of court.

The Return of the Musketeers, 1989, Roy Kinnear, age 54

Best remembered as Veruca Salt’s father in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Roy Kinnear lost his life while filming the swashbuckling film The Return of the Musketeers.

The English actor suffered a broken pelvis when he fell from a horse. He was transported to a Spanish hospital where he died the next day. Director Richard Lester was so distraught by the accident that he gave up filmmaking permanently.

Top Gun, 1985, Art Scholl, age 53

Art Scholl, a well-known stunt pilot with more than 200 Hollywood movies on his resume, was hired to perform in-flight camera work for the Tom Cruise blockbuster Top Gun. While performing a flat spin in his Pitts S-2 and recording the action with his onboard camera, Scholl was unable to recover and crashed into the Pacific Ocean. His last words were, “I have a problem—I have a real problem.”

Scholl’s body and plane were never recovered. The cause of the accident was never determined, and no legal action resulted from the tragic incident.

Twilight Zone: The Movie, 1983, Vic Morrow, age 53; Myca Dinh Le, age 7; and Renee Shin-Yi Chen, age 6

John Landis was directing a segment of Twilight Zone that involved a helicopter flying at an altitude of just 25 feet. The helicopter, impacted by on-set explosions and pyrotechnics, crashed into the ground, decapitating Vic Morrow and Myca Dinh Le with its blades and crushing Renee Shin-Yi to death.

The horrific tragedy severed the friendship between Landis and producer Steven Spielberg, who had expressed his displeasure with Landis’s code violations, including using live ammunition on the movie set.

For the next 10 years, the filmmakers found themselves embroiled in legal action that ultimately changed the regulations involving child actors working on movie sets during heavy special effects scenes. Landis was acquitted of all wrongdoing.

Next page: John Wayne dies of radiation poisoning…or was it smoking?