Published on Monday, 07 October 2013 00:00
Whenever we see the words “based on a true story” on the big screen, we always take it with a truckload of salt. Because the “based on a true story” part could probably be just the frivolous actions of someone eating a pizza, taking a shit or something, and then Hollywood adds in the bullshit of cars bursting into flames, ghosts flushing toilets and such. However, there are some movies out there that are inspired by true events that seem so implausible, film-makers don't even bother pointing out that it has in fact happened before.
1. The Blob, 1985
The Blob is a 1958 sci-fi horror film about a living, gelatinous blob terrorizing a rural Pennsylvania town. The giant blob of jelly which resembles a gargantuan breast implant, travels to Earth in a meteorite and starts off as a small blob of jelly which grows to massive proportions by consuming humans. It is discovered that the Blob is vulnerable to cold, and a team of people works together to freeze it. The Blob is then transported by an Air Force jet to the Arctic where it is parachuted to the ice.
The True Story:
The movie sounds like a really silly, laughable plot, but believe it or not, The Blob was based on a real incident in Philadelphia during the 1950s. Policemen found a quivering purple lump when they were investigating a field where someone reported to have seen something crash landed. According to the two police officers who were on site, the lump resembled a giant glowing jelly ball which left a sticky residue when touched, just like slime. The two cops quickly radioed for two other officers to come take a look at it as they wanted to have witnesses for what they were seeing. It was as if the mass of jelly heard them calling for backup, because it started to rapidly fall apart and within half an hour, it had completely dissolved. Whether the two officers had made the whole thing up, or were just seeing things, an official government report was lodged nonetheless.
Decades later, Irvine H. Millgate used the 1950 Philadelphia incident as inspiration for a premise for a low-budget, independent monster film. The movie came out and it was an unexpectedly huge hit. Next time when the blob's other purple blob friends or family come down to Earth for a vacation, they should be proud to know that it was a huge movie star in Hollywood.
2. 50 First Dates, 2004
This American romantic comedy feature Adam Sandler who plays Henry, a woman-chasing veterinarian, and Drew Barrymore as Lucy, the victim of some freak accident who winds up with a strange case of amnesia. Her memory of her life stops at the day she had the accident. Everytime she goes to sleep, her recent memories are completely wiped out, and she wakes up thinking it's the day that her accident occurred. The couple embark on a whirlwind romance which portrays a series of comedic misunderstandings as Lucy does not recognize her boyfriend Henry day after day. In the end, a solution was thought up and they marry. She wakes up still under the impression that it is the day of her accident, only this time she wakes up to a tape marked “Good Morning Lucy” where it would narrate the memories she can't remember. And they lived happily ever after with their daughter, Nicole.
The True Story:
Michelle Philpots was involved in a horrible motorcycle accident in 1985 and an equally severe car accident followed in 1990. The cumulative brain damage from these two road accidents caused her to suffer from seizures, and she was diagnosed with epilepsy. In 1994, Michelle lost the ability to retain any more memories, and she wakes up everyday believing that it is still 1994 even though 2 decades have gone by.
Michelle relies on decks of sticky notes to get through life day-by-day. And after developing her ultra-rare form of anterograde amnesia, she got married. So like 50 First Dates, her husband has to constantly remind her of their matrimony each day she wakes up by showing her their wedding photos. Fortunately for her, her life is made a lot easier because she had already been dating her now husband before her amnesia kicked in, and she does not freak out like Lucy in the movie for waking up in the morning to a complete stranger.
3. A Few Good Men, 1992
A Few Good Men was screened in 1992 and received multiple awards and honors for numerous aspects. Maybe this line uttered by Jack Nicholson to Tom Cruise in the movie might refresh your memory of the movie; “You can't handle the truth!”
Cruise plays a Navy lawyer who is defending two U.S. Marines accused of killing a fellow Marine. The two Marines actually killed the man by accident while hazing him under orders from Nicholson, their commanding officer. Nicholson vehemently denies it and all hope of uncovering the truth seems lost,, but in the end, Cruise manages to break through to him. Nicholson confesses to that he did in fact ordered the “code red” hazing and he was subsequently arrested.
The True Story:
A Few Good Men was written by Aaron Sorkin who got the idea for the movie from his sister, a JAG Corps officer who had been assigned to defend a group of Marines who had performed a “code red” hazing on a fellow Marine and almost killed him in the process. The accused Marines believed that they were not the ones to blame as they were merely following orders from their superior officers. They went through trial and were convicted of minor charges of simple assault, and later received honorable discharges. One of the Marines was PFC David Cox, he caught A Few Good Men and thought that it looked amazingly similar to his past incident. David and the other defendants organized a lawsuit against the production company for using their story without their permission even though the film is a fictionalized version of the event and did not include any of their real names to be presented as a true story.
In 1994, David mysteriously vanished from his home in Medfield, Massachuetts. His car and possessions were found to be intact in his apartment but there was no sign of him anywhere. They found him three months later, dead in a remote wooded area in between two gun ranges, his body imbedded with multiple bullets. Foul play was obviously suspected but investigations of his murder drew to a blank. Till this day, no one (except the killer/s) knows what exactly happened to David Cox.
4. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, 1975
Granted that this movie was adapted from a book, but both the film and the novel's storyline remain relatively unchanged. Ken Kesey, author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest wrote a fictitious story set in an Oregan psychiatric hospital that serves as a study of the institutional processes and the human mind as well as a critique of behaviorism and a celebration of humanistic principles. The film won five Academy Awards.
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest is a disturbing, thought-provoking story about a criminal, Randle Patrick McMurphy, who feigns insanity so that he can serve out his sentence at a mental institution. The head nurse rules the ward he is in with an iron fist and little medical knowledge, a heartless dictator of sorts. While McMurphy struggles for power with the nurse, he also brings joy and happiness to the mental patients he converses with who used to be depressed and non-responsive. McMurphy sneaks them out for a fishing trip, and they return back safely all smiles but McMurphy and his Native-American friend receive electroshock therapy as punishment.
One night, McMurphy plans an escape but falls asleep along with the other patients after partying too hard and drinking too much alcohol. The nurse walks in the next day and finds the ward in complete disarray, with a young patient naked in bed with McMurphy's prostitute girlfriend. She threatens the young patient that she would tell his mother and sends him to his office where he slits his throat and bleeds to death. Enraged, McMurphy lunges at the nurse and attempts to strangle her to death. He is then dragged away and sent to the Disturbed ward. After awhile, McMurphy is brought back to the first ward. His Native-American friend greets him with much gusto only to find that he has received a lobotomy and is now in a vegetative state, silent and motionless. His friend smothers him with a pillow in an act of mercy and escapes the hospital.
The True Story:
While the events that happened to the patients and McMurphy might sound incredibly inhumane and sinister to be true, like something from a mad scientist laboratory, it used to be done with alarming frequency back then in the 1950s - 1960s. The author worked as an orderly at a mental health facility where he spoke to the patients and witnessed the workings of the institution. He was also involved in Project MKUltra, a U.S. Government covert human research operation experimenting in the behavioral engineering of humans (mind control).
Ken Kesey wrote his novel based on the sick things he uncovered like the use of methodologies to manipulate people's mental states and alter brain functions, including the surreptitious administration of drugs (especiallyLSD) and other chemicals, hypnosis, sensory deprivation, isolation, verbal and sexual abuse, as well as various forms of torture which was mainly tested on mental patients.
The electroshock therapy administered to McMurphy and his friend used to be a real psychiatric treatment they used back then to subdue mental patients to submission, likewise for the lobotomy McMurphy received. A lobotomy would involve permanently removing a part of the brain to reduce aggression levels of mental patients which could lead to them going into a persistent vegetative state.