Anvil have been going for 32 years
Where We Learned It: Anvil! The Story Of Anvil (2008)
Why So Shocking: Sure they’re the most influential heavy metal band ever (don’t believe us? Go talk to Slash, Tom Araya, Lemmy and Lars Ulrich), but can they really have been going that long? Director Sacha Gervasi confirms it for us with his doc. Anvil, we bow at your feet.
You can get a free gun by opening a bank account
Where We Learned It: Bowling For Columbine (2002)
Why So Shocking: Next they’ll be handing out real grenades with every Happy Meal sold at McDonalds. Accuse Michael Moore of anything, but there’s no denying he rooted out some truly shocking facts about everyday America’s obsession with firearms.
Homeless people live in underground New York tunnels
Where We Learned It: Dark Days (2000)
Why So Shocking: That’s no way to live, surely. Even one of the men who’s taken up residence in the railroad tunnels below the Big Apple’s streets acknowledges: “Nobody in his right mind would come down here.” It sounds like something from a Neil Gaiman novel, which just makes the fact that it’s true all the more spectacular.
Big Edie and Little Edie Beale lived in abject squalor
Where We Learned It: Grey Gardens (1976)
Why So Shocking: They live in a nice part of town, flanked by stately homes, but the Beales' Grey Gardens mansion is sliding into decay. The same can be said for mother and daughter, who were once high class society members, but are now cooped up in their ruin of a home. Just how does that happen?
Apocalypse Now nearly killed Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Sheen
Where We Learned It: Hearts Of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (1991)
Why So Shocking: We know making films takes every ounce of effort a filmmaker has to give, but it’s a whole other ball game when a project threatens the health of its cast and crew.
Martin Sheen suffered a heart attack during filming, while Coppola was under tremendous strain as he attempted to steer his epic towards completion.
Its possible to walk for four hours with a broken fibula
Where We Learned It: Restrepo (2010)
Why So Shocking: The sheer audacity of it is brilliant in itself. Photographer Tim Hetherington broke his fibula when he fell down a mountain, but a medic assured him it wasn’t broken as they were four hours away from base.
Hetherington therefore had to walk using an essentially useless leg. “That was not a very good evening,” the photographer laughs.
Timothy Treadwell was eaten by a bear
Where We Learned It: Grizzly Man (2005)
Why So Shocking: It’s as tragic as it is horrifying. Poor Timothy, a bear enthusiast, spent 13 consecutive summers in the Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska, where he became so close to the bears there that he felt they completely trusted him.
But tragedy struck when both he and his girlfriend were killed and partially eaten by one of the beasts.
Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda believes he is the Second Coming
Where We Learned It: Religulous (2008)
Why So Shocking: It’s one of the more bizarre facts thrown up by documentary maker Larry Charles. In his quest to debunk just about every religion on the face of the Earth, he encounters Jose, who explains how Christ’s bloodline travelled from the Holy Land to France, then Spain and finally to Puerto Rico.
He has 100,000 followers.
The world record top score for Donkey Kong is 1,049,100
Where We Learned It: The King Of Kong (2007)
Why So Shocking: To put that into context, the average Donkey Kong player generally maxes a top score of about 126,000 - which makes Steve Wiebe’s record-breaker all the more impressive.
As a coda, that 1,049,100 top score has actually been bested numerous times by competitors Bill Mitchell and Wiebe himself, the latter regaining his world record title with a score of 1,064,500. Guys, seriously? Enough is enough.
A Florida doctor was murdered by an anti-abortion extremist
Where We Learned It: Lake Of Fire (2006)
Why So Shocking: It’s extremism taken to the extreme. Most shocking is that the murderer in question, Paul Hill, a former Presbyterian minister, had gone on film saying that all abortionists should be executed.
Not long later, he killed a Florida doctor (and his bodyguard) for the practices that he carried out. He became the first abortionist killer to be executed on Death Row.
The Catholic Church knowingly aided a sex pest priest
Where We Learned It: Deliver Us From Evil (2006)
Why So Shocking: The Catholic church’s ongoing struggle against the sickening actions of some of its clergy members is given a new slant here, as it’s revealed that priest Oliver O’Grady was a known sexual predator who was moved around various California parishes whenever his misdeeds were exposed. That director Amy Berg gets him to talk on camera is equally as shocking.
Inmates at the Bridgewater State Hospital were treated worse than animals
Where We Learned It: Titicut Follies (1967)
Why So Shocking: It’s a sickening expose of just how inmates were treated by their keepers. With guards dressed in uniforms eerily similar to those worn by policemen, we see an aged inmate named Jim being savagely shaved by a barber and taunted by guards, before being thrust naked into his empty cell.
Stomach-churning even to this day, Follies only became available for viewing in 1991 after the hospital sued filmmakers for violating their patients’ privacy.
George W. Bush sat in a classroom for seven minutes after learning of the second attack on the World Trade Centre
Where We Learned It: Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)
Why So Shocking: As we all sat glued – transfixed – to our TV screens, watching those sickening events unfold, the most powerful man in the Western world chose not to jump to action, but to take a time out in a classroom.
Director Moore’s agenda with his treatise on the September 11 attacks is quite plainly to ridicule and discredit Bush, but this segment remains as blood-curdling as ever. And just what does that look on Bush’s face mean?
Aileen Wuornos spent her formative years being sexually abused by family members
Where We Learned It: Aileen: Life And Death Of A Serial Killer (2002)
Why So Shocking: It’s no excuse for any of Aileen’s blood-letting actions later in life, but it at least goes part way in explaining just how a young girl from Michigan turns into a renowned serial killer.
Most disturbing is Wuornos’ ability to lie convincingly through her teeth before admitting her falsehoods with the dismissive flick of a hand.
The odds against Ali in his Rumble In The Jungle fight were 7-1
Where We Learned It: When We Were Kings (1996)
Why So Shocking: It’s easy to forget how the odds were stacked up against Ali in hindsight. After famously beating opponent George Foreman, Ali became everybody’s favourite boxer, but this look at the lead-up to his Rumble In The Jungle clash reminds us that things weren’t always so rosy. Even Ali, despite his bravado, didn’t expect to win.
Three Memphis teens stood trial for the murder of three young children
Where We Learned It: Paradise Lost: The Child Murders At Robin Hood Hills (1996)
Why So Shocking: As an outrageous example of a miscarriage of justice, Paradise Lost is unbeatable. On 5 May 1993, three eight-year-old boys were found dead in a wooded area. The police arrested three local teens for the crime, who were put on the stand.
But it wasn’t as easy as all that, as directors Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky show. Has to be seen to be believed.
Jumping into a black hole would make an astronaut just one molecule in width
Where We Learned It: A Brief History Of Time (1991)
Why So Shocking: Do you know how small one molecule is? We’re throwing our Atkins diet books out right now.
As Physicist Brandon Carter notes in this off-shoot from Stephen Hawkin’s best-selling tome, if an astronaut fell into a black hole, he “might” see the history of the universe spinning back to the moment of creation – but at that point he’d be so elongated that he’d be only measure a molecule around.
Kenneth Pinyan liked having sex with horses
Where We Learned It: Zoo (2007)
Why So Shocking: First of all – ouch. Second of all – ew. But that’s just our opinion.
Kenneth Pinyan was fascinated with tangoing with stallions, and ended up paying the ultimate price when he died of peritonitis after having sex with a horse. Once again, ouch.
Klaus Kinski was almost killed by Indians
Where We Learned It: Burden Of Dreams (1982)
Why So Shocking: Perhaps most shocking is that it wasn’t director Werner Herzog threatening Kinski this time. Despite the pair’s famously tumultuous relationship, filming of Fitzcarraldo so incensed nearby Indian natives that a Chief offered to kill the troublesome Kinski himself.
Roughly 24 people kill themselves every year by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge
Where We Learned It: The Bridge (2006)
Why So Shocking: That’s a number that really adds up over time. Considering the amount of people that decide to commit suicide by launching themselves off the bridge every year, it’s strange that nothing more has been done to stop it.