Horror movies are not particularly known for their realistic adherence to scientific principles. But we dug up a few that aren’t as far off as you might think (the list doesn’t include flicks that are intended to portray a realistic antagonist, such as slashers, home invasion movies, etc.).
The Blair Witch Project (1999). Yes, there’s supposedly a witch haunting the woods of Burkittsville, Maryland. However, we don’t ever actually see a witch or any of her doings. We hear some noises and see some piles of rocks, stick sculptures, maybe some teeth, and a dude standing eerily still in the corner of the least-cool basement ever. The movie is one of the best at amplifying audience imagination with very little.
Orca (1977). This Jaws rip-off is about a killer whale so forlorn over the accidental killing of its mate and unborn child that it seeks bloodthirsty revenge on the culprit fisherman. How could that possibly be realistic? Welllllll … it turns out that orca mate for life, are highly territorial and generally very protective of their pods, and have a tendency toward mischief and sadism. The species’ real-life exploits murdering animals much more innocent than the movie’s Captain Nolan, and sinking boats out of what’s essentially boredom, are documented. It seems much more likely you’d come across a malevolent orca than a vengeful great white shark.
Day of the Dead (1985). To be clear: the dead can’t come back to life (yet). But the third film in George A. Romero’s zombie film series features much more realistic portrayals of how the walking dead might move and look if they overcame the whole thing with being deceased. Thanks to Tom Savini’s ultra-realistic and ultra-graphic special effects, Day of the Dead reanimates corpses in all their decaying, atrophied, sometimes dusty, sluggish glory.
They Live (1988). John Carpenter’s alien-invasion flick, other than the invasion of extraterrestrials (but too early to tell), remains one of the most prescient depictions of American society ever put to celluloid. And its relevance has only increased in an age of proliferated dis- and misinformation. We can only hope someone invents some sunglasses to help discern reality. Also, the so-lengthy alley brawl between Roddy Piper and Keith David is one of the most realistic portrayals of how awkward and clumsy most fistfights are.
Antiviral (2012). This movie, directed by filmmaker David Cronenberg’s son Brandon, is about taking personality cults to their extreme through the collection of celebrity pathogens. These pathogens are eventually used to create lab-grown, black-market meat made from the cells of celebrities. That seems like such an outlandish concept until you read that, in 2020, scientists indeed created edible steaks from human cheek cells. They called the product the Ouroboros Steak. The lab-grown human meat aside, who could possibly think cults of personality would ever get that extreme …