20 Movies That Were An Absolute Nightmare To Make

Ashley Hunte
Posters for various motion pictures.
Unsplash | Samuel Regan-Asante

Making a movie isn't always all it's cracked up to be. A lot goes on behind the scenes that can make the journey from the writer's room to premiere night an absolute nightmare.

The movies in this list have seen it all: delays, tough filming locations, tensions between directors and crew/actors (to put it lightly). But in the end, they got to see the light of day.

Deliverance (1972).

A police sheriff talking to a man by a river.
reddit | SarsCovie2

Because Director John Boorman wanted this movie to be as realistic as possible, he had the actors perform the stunts themselves. Including paddling their canoes. It was also filmed in chronological order in case any actor perished, so they could write him out of the script. Luckily, that didn't have to happen.

The Abyss (1989).

Two men in a dark submarine room.
reddit | Sublime1980

It's unsurprising that any James Cameron film made it onto this list. But this movie in particular was difficult to shoot because they filmed it in an actual abandoned underwater nuclear reactor. It's another movie where the actors all did their own stunts, too (including acting "dead").

Superman (1978) and Superman II (1980).

Superman flying through space.

Before there were countless comic book adaptations, there was the Superman duology. And thanks to producer Alexander Salkind and director Richard Donner not being able to see eye-to eye, filming was a long, expensive mess.

Donner was fired after the sequel was 70% complete, and new director Richard Lester had to do countless re-shoots.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016).

A woman attempting to hold back tears.
Giphy | Star Wars

Disney really, really wanted to get this Star Wars prequel right. And that meant reshooting 40% of the original cut, changing a lot of the tone of the film as well as the ending. But with fan reception being high, it clearly worked out in Disney's favor.

Where the Wild Things Are (2009).

The shadow of a creature by firelight in the woods at night.
IMDb | Where the Wild Things Are via IMDb

Where the Wild Things Are, the adaptation of the popular children's book of the same name, was stuck in production hell for quite some time, releasing in 2009 after beginning production in the 80s. It ended up going over budget, and didn't fare well in the box office.

Predator (1987).

The Predator from the movie Predator.

Everything that could go wrong during production, did. The Predator costume took more time than anticipated to get right, several actors, stuntmen, and crew got injured or sick during filming. Schwarzenegger even had to film one scene with an IV attached to his arm. But, uh, it was all worth it?

The Bourne Identity (2002).

Jason Bourne in a train station with a duffel bag.
reddit | jbthog

This action classic that jump-started an entire movie franchise was apparently a nightmare to write. The script was changed countless times, as producers, writers, and the director couldn't seem to agree on tone or story. But eventually, they made a movie that everyone enjoyed.

The Wizard of Oz (1939).

The four leads of The Wizard of Oz skipping; the scarecrow trips.
Giphy | Turner Classic Movies

This movie is regarded today as a beloved classic, but it caused a lot of pain and suffering for the actors involved.

Tin Man actor Buddy Ebson suffered a near-death experience after ingesting pure aluminum from his makeup, Margaret Hamilton suffered burns after a mishap with the special effects, and Judy Garland was forced to take diet pills (among other drugs).

Toy Story 2 (1999).

The Toy Story toys standing on a bed with a sign that reads, "Welcome home Andy."
reddit | Skluff

So, funny story. Toy Story 2 almost didn't happen, not because of tensions in the studio, but because an animator accidentally deleted 90% of the film. If it weren't for Galyn Susman, who'd been working from home due to maternity leave and had a backup on her home computer, they would've literally had to start from scratch.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975).

"'Tis but a scratch" from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Filming in Scotland during April meant rain. All the time. And the actors, wearing fake armor made out of wood, got cold and wet for most of their time filming. Sounds utterly miserable to me.

Apocalypse Now (1979).

Several crew on the set of Apocalypse Now (1979).
reddit | Pat0124

From Marlon Brando having to learn his lines on set, Martin Sheen suffering a near-fatal heart attack from the stress of filming, and director Francis Ford Coppola suffering a seizure (also because of stress), it seems like everything that could possibly go wrong, did. And then some.

The African Queen (1951).

A poster for The African Queen staring Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn.
IMDb | The African Queen via IMDb

Trying to film a movie on location in the Congo and Uganda in the 1950s proved to be as much of a challenge as you're probably thinking right now. In fact, even getting a film crew there was challenging enough.

The Emperor's New Groove (2000).

Kuzco from The Emperor's New Groove kicking a door down.
Giphy | Disney

To think, this movie was originally totally different. It was supposed to be a musical featuring songs written by Sting, but got shelved for 6 years and ended up being less musical and more slapstick.

Titanic (1997).

A large ship; a recreation of the Titanic for the 1997 movie of the same name.
reddit | hani_yassine

Because James Cameron is a tough director to work with, yet another one of his movies made this list. This time, though, it's because he went massively over budget on the making of the set for Titanic, and also forced cast and crew to stay in freezing water for long periods of time without breaks, resulting in several people catching flus. Among other things.

The Crow (1994).

The main character of The Crow; a man dressed in black with white face paint.
reddit | IMEMOASF

Several crewmen got seriously injured during the filming of this comic book adaptation. But the worst thing to happen was undoubtedly Brandon Lee's passing after being shot accidentally with a prop gun. He'd completed most of his scenes, though, and Miramax ended up being able to finish and release the movie.

Three Kings (1999).

Several men in army fatigues sitting around a table.
IMDb | Warner Bros. via IMDb

David O. Russell is known for being a difficult director to work with, and he and George Clooney clashed so much during the filming of Three Kings, that it ended up turning into a feud. And a miserable filming experience.

Sorcerer (1977).

A poster for the 1977 film Sorcerer.
IMDb | Sorcerer via IMDb

A film that's much more appreciated today than it was during its initial theatrical run, Sorcerer was another nightmare to film. Because filming in the South African jungle means putting cast and crew in danger of life-threatening disease.

Fitzcarraldo (1982).

Two men sitting as people in tribal outfits watch them.
IMDb | Fitzcarraldo via IMDb

Werner Herzog definitely valued getting that perfect shot over the lives of his cast and crew. Another film shot in the jungles of South America, the cast and crew not only battled disease, but the difficult nature of Herzog, too.

The Evil Dead (1981).

A zombie from The Evil Dead pointing maliciously.
reddit | stealthynotion

This classic horror movie's low budget made it hard to film. The remote cabin that was the filming location was cold, had no running water, and was frequently covered in fake blood that was hard to wash off. What's more, they had to suspend production after running out of funds.

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015).

A screenshot from Mad Max: Fury Road depicting multiple people fighting on top of a moving vehicle/
reddit | chuckschwa

This Oscar-winning post-apocalyptic thriller was literally decades in the making. But after enduring delays on delays, changes in filming locations, and the long months the cast and crew had to spend in the grueling desert heat, we finally got to see George Miller's vision in 2015.