That moment when you realize the "fake" body at a haunted house is real? Awesome. Until, that is, you realize it's not a real person playing dead, but a real person that is dead. This is the stuff psychiatrists live for, and it is all embodied (disembodied?) in this list of dead bodies mistaken for Halloween props.
Real dead body Halloween decorations are for the macabre and certainly something to avoid for the faint at heart. This list of overly creepy Halloween decorations is equal parts frightening and contemptible, but it's 100% messed up. These are real dead people that ended up mistaken as- or purposely used for- the purposes of making a spooky night seem more authentic.
Over the years, the curse of the Poltergeist movies has been one of the most retold rumors in Hollywood; three films in the franchise, four of the principal actors dead within years- or even months- of the films' release. Now, we all know the Poltergeist films were not done on or strictly for Halloween, but the spooky stories on and off the set are said to have been the result of some sinister props that set off a gory chain of events.
In 1982, months after the release of the first Poltergeist, Dominique Dunne (the older sister) was strangled to death by her ex-boyfriend. In 1985, Julian Beck (the "bad spirit") of Poltergeist II died of stomach cancer. In 1987, Will Sampson (the "good spirit") of Poltergeist II died after a heart-lung transplant failed to take. Finally (so far), in 1988, Heather O'Rourke, who appeared in all three films, died of a septic infection that caused severe bowel blockage. She went through all the filming of Poltergeist III with symptoms of the condition, and eventually died of cardiac arrest en route to the hospital to remove the blockage. She was 12.
People die, yes, but why so many from this one franchise? Was something done on the sets of the film to anger the spirit world? Was something done to tempt the ire of other world while filming the movies? It was all in the props.
As has been revealed in interviews with the surviving cast and crew over the years, real bones were used as set decorations in Poltergeist I and II. A weird fact that was not revealed to the actors in the first movie until they had already filmed their scenes, and which led to actor Will Samson performing a ritual on the set of the second movie to exorcise the spirits that might be present during filming.
In 1976, the Pike Amusement Park in Long Beach, CA was being prepped to film an episode of the Six Million Dollar Man. The props for the scene, which would take place in a fun house, were being assessed by the director when he saw a man hanging from a rope in the corner that he didn't like. A crewman went to move the dummy and was shocked when its arm came off exposing a real human arm bone.
Before you ask, no, this was not the Six Million Dollar Man Halloween special. But finding out a human prop is the real thing is still pretty creepy. Medical examiners identified the body as a vagabond from Oklahoma named Elmer McCurdy.
Following his death by a posse sent to track the man after he and a handful of others robbed a train of $46 and a shipment of whiskey, McCurdy was embalmed with arsenic and used as a prop by the undertaker who received the body. He charged people a nickel to see the corpse of "The Bandit Who Wouldn't Give Up". The body changed hands a few times until it ended up as the property of the amusement park in Long Beach, where unwitting visitors marveled at the "dummy" for years before its discovery as an actual human body.
Ever wonder what happens to you after you die? Not in the metaphysical, heaven/hell sense, but your physical dead body. Assuming you die under somewhat normal circumstances, your body goes to a morgue for processing, like the one in New York City attended to by mortuary technician Kaihl Brassfield.
When the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner took over the supervision of the Brooklyn morgue where Brassfield was employed, things started to calm down in what was once a raucous work environment. And by raucous I of course mean to say they used the body parts of corpses as playthings. And took pictures.
In November of 2009, Blackfield claims a stack of polaroids, which depicted him and other unidentified lab technicians posing with severed heads and other body parts in the morgue, was stolen from his possession and used in an attempt at blackmail. Several months after he refused to pay his blackmailer for silence, the photos made their way to the management and Blassfield was suspended from his position without pay.
Perhaps the worst thing about this body parts as props situation is the fact that Blackfield and the other technicians didn't limit themselves to just Halloween time to take their pictures; some of the confiscated photos were dated while others were unlabeled leading investigators to believe the practice spanned a longer period of time.
On a day in October 2009, Mostafa Mahmoud Zayed's neighbors thought he had gone all out with his Halloween decorations for the year, going so far as to put a slumped over, sinister-looking dummy on his porch to frighten his neighbors. For days neighbors and guests marveled at the authenticity of the prop, though no one rang Mr. Zayed's doorbell to ask where he'd purchased the dummy.
After a few days, someone in the 75-year-old's Marina Del Rey, CA complex suspected something was amiss with the prop and called the police, who discovered it was not a fake body but Zayed's corpse on the porch, gradually decomposing for almost four days after a single gunshot wound to the eye ended the man's life. The body had been looking over the complex for days without anyone noticing that it was not a decoration but the body of their former neighbor.