Films can be life-changing. We see visions of awe and excitement on the silver screen and the spark of desire they often create can inspire us to copy them. However, for some it is all too easy to forget that these moving pictures are designed merely for entertainment and spectacle.
As you are about to see, in far too many cases the attempts to mimic what is seen at the movies can lead to some truly bizarre events, and even heartbreak and tragedy.
Let these tales of woe be a lesson to us all, lest we join the ranks of next year’s Darwin Award nominees.
10 Wedding Crashers Inspired People To Poison Their Friends
You might expect a movie like Wedding Crashers (2005) to encourage bad behavior, but it inspired more than just people showing up uninvited at weddings. After this movie came out, another fad swept the nation—“Visine-ing” your friends.
The idea came from a scene in which Owen Wilson spikes Bradley Cooper’s drink with the eye drop Visine. It gives Cooper diarrhea—which is funny in a movie because poo is funny. In a fictional world, Cooper also deserves to be poisoned because he likes the same girl as the protagonist. That jerk.
A lot of people copied the prank. Apparently, many people in the real world are perfectly comfortable with poisoning their friends because there was a rash of Visine poisonings after the movie came out. But in real life, the prank is not funny because Visine poisoning doesn’t just give you diarrhea. It can put you in a coma.
In 2012, one woman was “Visined” by her stepdaughter so many times that the poor woman had consumed 15 bottles of the eye drop by the time doctors figured out what was wrong. She was sent to the hospital twice with everything from vomiting and tremors to rectal bleeding.
In 2011, another girl—a high-achieving medical student—poisoned her classmate and then bragged about how she’d “Visined her.” As it turned out, the judge felt that medical professionals shouldn’t poison people, and she lost the right to study medicine.
One girl may have even died over it. In 2008, a 22-year-old beauty student “Visined” her supervisor and got two months of probation. Almost immediately after her sentence was over, the poisoner was found dead under “suspicious circumstances.” The police were never able to prove it, but the possibility of payback was definitely considered.
So the moral of the story is this: “Visine-ing” people might win you the girl in a movie, but most people frown on poisonings in real life.
9 The Program Inspired Teenagers To Get Run Over By Trucks
The Program (1993) is a Disney movie that meant to inspire kids to be true athletes. It shows the dark, dirty underbelly of college football and taking the easy way out. It’s the destructive tale of a rising star whose life of alcoholism, steroids, and drug abuse spirals into a decaying cycle of violent, dangerous, and erratic behavior.
Kids were inspired by the movie—just not by the scenes that Disney expected. Instead of wanting to be football heroes, they saw the erratic behavior of a drug addict and said, “Wow, that looks cool—I want to be like that!”
One particular scene really caught on. A character named Joe Kane—drunk out of his mind—lies down on the road, daring cars to drive over him in some insane bout of bravado. For some reason, people saw that and thought it was cool. While the movie was still in theaters, some people even tried it themselves.
Two boys lay down on a highway at 1:00 AM and dared cars to ride over them. They wanted to show that they were just as tough as Joe Kane. Unlike the movie, these kids weren’t even drunk when they did it. They just legitimately thought that lying down on a highway at 1:00 AM was a good idea. Unsurprisingly, they got run over by a pickup truck and died horrible, painful deaths.
It seems like an incredibly stupid move, but they weren’t the only people doing it. Another boy died while imitating the same movie on the same day in a different part of the country. There were also reports of teenagers all over the US who tried it but were lucky enough to survive. It got so bad that Disney deleted the scene from all future showings of the film to get people to stop.
8 Jurassic Park Inspired The Chickenosaurus
Jurassic Park (1993) gave us all a beautiful dream. A theme park full of prehistoric dinosaurs is exciting enough that we all want it even if the dinosaurs might break out and kill us all. So scientists are working on making that dream a reality—in the worst way imaginable.
About 20 years after the film premiered, a global campaign began to bring Jurassic Park to life. Ideas are being shared between top minds from the best universities, all under the supervision of Jack Horner, the dinosaur expert from the movie. But the science in the movie isn’t really possible. So they decided to mutilate chickens to make them look like dinosaurs instead.
As we discussed earlier, the plan is to modify chickens to have a snout, teeth, a long tail, and wings that look like tiny arms. They’re really working on this and have already modified chicken embryos to look like dinosaur snouts. They even expect to have a chickenosaurus for public viewing within 10 years.
So we’re not going to get real dinosaurs. Instead, we’ll get deformed chickens that look like tiny, feathery monsters with scrawny hands and that stumble clumsily through cages longing for death.
Horner and his team are hoping that their mutant chicken will inspire the dreams of children, although it may be a bit more likely to scare the kids in their nightmares.
7 Back To The Future Inspired A Man To Drive Through A Wall
In 2015, one Florida man watched the movie Back to The Future (1995) and thought, “I could do that.” He didn’t have an extensive background in science or engineering. But he’d seen a quick shot of Doc Brown’s flux capacitor and figured that he knew how it worked—more or less.
So he put it to the test. He rigged up his Dodge Challenger and tore down the street as fast as he could, hoping that he’d flash back in time when his car hit 88 miles per hour.
According to the man who tried it, the maneuver actually worked. He told police that a time portal opened in front of him to pull him back through history. But it closed before he could get through.
When the time portal closed—or his hallucination ended—he found himself charging toward a brick wall at 88 miles per hour. His car went flying through the wall into a shopping mall and then through another brick wall. Luckily, the shopping mall was empty and nobody died. But another noble experiment in science obviously fell apart.
The man was brought in for medical and psychological evaluation because anybody who thinks he can turn a Dodge Challenger into a time machine is obviously insane—except that he was completely unharmed despite driving a car through an entire shopping mall.
So maybe it did work?
6 Breaking Bad Inspired People To Dissolve Each Other In Acid
The TV show Breaking Bad (2008–2013) gave a dramatic tutorial on how to get rid of a dead body: Put it in a plastic container, dump it in hydrofluoric acid, and voila! Instant body disposal.
It’s probably not a surprise that criminals tried to copy this. After the show aired, blue meth began popping up everywhere. Inspired by the show, panicking murderers tried getting rid of bodies by dumping them in vats of acid.
In 2013, one man tried it with his girlfriend after strangling her to death. A group of French students did it to a classmate who owed them drug money. They all got the idea from the show, right down to buying a plastic vat to avoid a messy mishap with a bathtub.
But you might not realize how badly it all turned out in real life. It turns out that Walter White is the worst chemistry teacher in the world. Hydrofluoric acid actually does almost nothing to a body except make it a little softer.
Instead of getting rid of a body, these people just left a person sitting in a vat. They were all caught by someone wandering into the house, which ended the careers of these master criminals.
5 Into the Wild Inspired People To Travel Into The Wilderness And Die
Christopher McCandless once traveled into the wilderness, rejecting the corrupting grind of city life. He became a survivalist who lived off the land and connected with nature.
His life story became the movie Into The Wild (2007), which inspired countless people to do the same thing. But presumably some of them missed the bit at the end where he dies.
One of the saddest stories was that of Dustin Self. Like many others, he saw the movie in 2013 and decided he needed to reject modern life and all its trappings. But he didn’t know anything about the wilderness.
Dustin, a vegetarian who hadn’t spent any time in the wild, developed a survival plan based entirely on the things that he had seen in the film. He assumed that it would all work despite his complete lack of experience with the outdoors.
He decided that he could live by picking and eating berries—a questionable plan at the best of times but a potentially fatal one in the middle of the winter when Dustin set out.
He got lost when his GPS sent him in the wrong direction—an ironic turn of events given that he was trying to get away from technology. His family noticed his absence and requested help in finding him. But sadly he was dead when his naked, frozen body was discovered under a tree. It is probably safe to assume that the autopsy did not reveal a stomach full of berries.
Dustin’s plan had been to change his image from a sheltered city boy to a worldly outdoorsman. But he achieved just the opposite. Instead of people hearing tales of his heroism, his parents filled the media with reports that described their son as “not a survivalist” and “an urban child,” and the press poked fun at how little he understood nature.
4 First Blood Inspired Ryan Gosling To Throw Knives At Children
Rambo is the coolest action hero, a man who can take on an entire army single-handedly. When the movie First Blood (1982) came out, everyone wanted to be Rambo. We went out to playgrounds and pretended to be Rambo, trying to act out the scenes of the movie and live the life of a hero.
However, some people—like Ryan Gosling—took it a bit too far.
As it turns out, actor Ryan Gosling really liked Rambo when he was a kid. After watching First Blood, he was convinced that he was John Rambo and that the action hadn’t really ended. It was still going on around him.
So he grabbed a set of steak knives, packed them inside a Fisher-Price Houdini Magic Kit, and headed off to school to live out his dream. Gosling waited until recess, stood up tall at the playground, imagined himself surrounded by enemy soldiers, and hurled steak knives at his classmates.
This story was told by Gosling himself. According to him, the only consequence was that he got suspended and was told that he couldn’t watch R-rated movies anymore. We hope that means he had bad aim.
But who knows? Maybe somewhere out there, a girl is lifting up her sleeve, showing a scar on her arm, and saying with a twinkle in her eye, “You’ll never believe how I got this.”
3 Up Inspired A Real-Life ‘Cone of Shame’
It can be hard to motivate students. Teachers have to take ideas from anywhere they can. Some get ideas from colleagues, some from experts, and some from the villains in Pixar movies.
In 2012, after showing the movie Up (2009) to her class, one teacher had the spark of an idea. She’d seen how the dog Dug was beaten into submission with a “cone of shame”—a veterinary cone that keeps dogs from licking their wounds. She saw how that turned the dog from a excitable, love-filled animal into a miserable, broken heap and thought, “That’s how I want my students to be!”
So she put it into action. She brought in a real-life “cone of shame.” Anyone who came to her class late or talked out of turn got a veterinary cone placed on their head as punishment—sort of like a dunce cap but with the added benefit of making it as hard as possible for the student to hear or see anything that you try to teach them.
The experiment came to an end when the students put photos of the cone of shame on Facebook and their parents found out. Predictably, the parent were furious, and the superintendent agreed. She released a statement vowing to fire the teacher immediately.
But she didn’t go through with it because finding licensed science teachers in America is really hard. The teacher was sent to a different school, but she didn’t lose her job or take a reduction in salary because “she is a certified science teacher, and we’ve had a difficult time finding them.”
2 The People Of Louisville Tried To Recreate The Purge
In the movie The Purge (2013), the purge is an annual, 12-hour period during which people can live out their most violent fantasies without legal repercussions. Free of consequence, the inner darkness in the heart of man is exposed, and the city becomes a bloodbath of chaos and murder.
After seeing the movie in 2014, a teenage boy decided, “Hey, that’s the kind of world I want to live in.” Then he tweeted, “Who’s trying to get a Louisville Purge started with me?”
As it turned out, a lot of people were. A poster began circulating to announce that the Louisville Purge was happening on Friday at 8:00 PM, and people started freaking out. The police ramped up protection. Schools canceled events.
Then Friday night came. At 7:59 PM, everyone was silent for a moment, cautiously staring out the window to see what would happen. The clocks struck 8:00 PM, and the Louisville Purge began.
But nothing happened.
Apparently, in real life, people aren’t itching to murder anyone they can as soon as they get the chance. They’re just generally decent people. There were fake stories about a giraffe being stolen from the zoo, but the crime rate was the same as on any other day.
The police did charge people for making threats on the Internet, though. In the end, the Louisville Purge was a safe day that resulted in a few Internet trash-talkers crying in front of a judge and promising that they’d never hurt anybody.
1 October Sky Inspired Boys To Steal Train Tracks
In the movie October Sky (1999), the hero pulls spikes out of train tracks and sells them to fund a rocket. It’s a little risky, but it’s all in the name of scientific progress. Besides, the hero targets a track that he believes is no longer in use.
Two men who saw the movie thought the idea was swell, so they stole over 150 spikes in 2006. They weren’t trying to build a rocket or anything. It just never hurts to have some extra cash lying around.
They also didn’t worry about the “tracks that aren’t in use” thing and yanked the spikes out of an active line. Apparently, these men were completely comfortable with a train derailing and killing hundreds as long as they could sell a few pieces of scrap metal.
Somebody found the missing pieces and shut down the entire train system before disaster struck. Fortunately, nobody died. The thieves were tracked down, arrested, and charged.
Still, they gave a fairly good explanation for why they did it. Sure, they nearly killed hundreds of people, but those spikes could have earned them $3 apiece.
Mark Oliver is a writer and a teacher who can be visited online here.