It’s the holidays…again…and in the midst of all the typical crap like breaking out the decorations for the house and erecting the false trees or buying the real ones and scrambling to get out the Christmas cards to people we don’t ever talk to anymore, we here at the Sewer are once again taking stock of the many gifts we’ve gotten from the movies over the years and celebrating them in the form of our own demented little Christmas carol we like to call the 12 Days of CHUDmas.
Over the next 12 days we’re going to be counting down – in reverse order, cause screw the original carol, counting up sucks – these gifts and tying in the entries with some gift ideas to help take the sting out of that last minute trip to the store to snag something for that cousin who decided to be a considerate douche and send you a present after five years of non-communication.
On the first day of CHUDmas my true CHUD sent to me…
A Cartridge in an Improperly Handled Prop Gun
Movie: The Crow (1994)
Director: Alex Proyas
On March 31, 1993, at EUE Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington, North Carolina, with only eight days left in shooting for the big screen adaptation of James O’Barr’s cult comic book The Crow, actor Brandon Lee was mortally wounded by an accidental gunshot to the abdomen during a scene. The accident was the result of inexperienced North Carolina crew members using real ammunition to create the “dummy cartridges” needed for a close-up shot of the gun in question being loaded. The crew members weren’t complete idiots; the live rounds they purchased were taken apart and emptied of gunpowder, but the primers (which ignite the gun powder when hit by the gun’s firing pin) were still functional. The prevailing deduction is that an unknown person had been playing with the gun after it was used in the film and pulled the trigger with a dummy cartridge in the chamber. The minor blast from the primer would have been enough to push the bullet from its shell and slightly into the gun’s barrel. Then, when no one inspected the gun later, blank cartridges were loaded into the gun for the scene involving Brandon Lee — with the bullet still lodged in the barrel. Tragically, the pressure released from the blank cartridge was enough to effectively allow the bullet to fulfill its purpose.
The tragedy of the moment had many layers. Brandon Lee’s famous father, Bruce Lee, had himself died prematurely due to a bad reaction to painkillers at the age of 32. Brandon Lee had not even made it that far, dying at the tender age of 28. And there is perverse irony in the fact that Lee was mortally shot one week before he was to marry his girlfriend Dianne Eliza “Lisa” Hutton while shooting the scene in The Crow in which his character Eric Draven is shot and murdered one day before he is to marry his girlfriend Shelly Webster (Sofia Shinas).
Adding insult to tragedy, Paramount, who had initially planned to distribute the film, withdrew from the project in the wake of Lee’s death. Fortunately Miramax saw promise in The Crow (there’s no such thing as bad press, as they say) and pumped $8 million into the production to facilitate the reshoots required to work around Lee. With a total budget of $15 million, the film became a smash hit, taking in $150 world wide, generating some shitty sequels, and cementing Brandon Lee’s legacy as a plucked-too-soon icon.
CHUDmas Gift Ideas