• Graveyard Shift

People Really Killed By 'Fake' Weapons

You might cringe while watching a violent movie in which characters are stabbed, shot, strangled, or otherwise grievously harmed, but at least you can tell yourself it's just movie magic, right? But sometimes, a fake weapon can prove to be just as fatal. There have been numerous people slain by fake weapons, including actors ended by prop weapons and even kids who lost their lives trying to pull seemingly harmless pranks, proving that even toys and innocent jokes can sometimes be fatal.

  • Brandon Lee Shot By Prop Gun Filming 'The Crow'

    One of the most infamous film set tragedies was the death of actor Brandon Lee, 28, in 1993. Lee, the son of actor Bruce Lee, had a starring role in goth cult classic The Crow. The scene in question depicted a group of gang members fatally shooting Lee's character after he walks in on them murdering his fiancée the night before the couple's wedding. A series of mistakes led to a dummy cartridge getting stuck in the barrel of the gun, unknown to the prop crew.

    When actor Michael Massee fired the gun at Lee, the dummy round fired just as a real loaded gun would. The bullet struck Lee in the stomach, hitting his aorta. He died in a nearby hospital following hours of surgery. The film was completed using Lee's stunt double and CGI. 

  • A Young Actor Shot Himself In The Head

    In 1984, actor Jon-Erik Hexum accidentally shot himself in the head. Hexum had a role on CBS's Cover Up. When he was told about some production delays, he jokingly picked up a prop gun, put it to his head, and pulled the trigger. Though the gun had been loaded with blanks instead of real bullets, the impact fractured his skull and drove a shard of it into his brain. Hexum was only 26. His final words were, "Can you believe this crap?" 

  • Teen Hanged Himself At Haunted House

    Though many real-dead-body-in-a-Halloween-haunted-house stories are merely urban legends, one was tragically real. Brian Jewell, 17, was performing at a haunted hayride in New Jersey in 1990. His scene was set at a gallows, from which Jewell was meant to appear to hang from a prop rope.

    Jewell typically delivered a monologue as the cart drove by, but when he did not during one particular show, the driver became worried and discovered that Jewell had inadvertently hanged himself.

  • Teen Accidentally Hanged Himself From A Tree

    And in 2001, a 14-year-old Michigan teen named Caleb Rebh also died in a strikingly similar manner. He was a scare actor at a haunted hayride. He was meant to startle guests at a tree, from which a prop skeleton was hanging by a noose. Rebh got the idea to put the noose around his own neck and thought it would be safe to do so as his feet would theoretically remain on the ground.

    What Rebh didn't predict was that the branch would snap back, pulling the rope tight around his throat. Those who saw him struggling to breathe at first thought it was just part of the show.