It's an oft-repeated fact that they used real bones in the seminal Poltergeist without the actors' knowledge, but some mere mortals have also experienced the horror of discovering that a so-called-prop has human origins.
Below are some chilling examples of real-life corpses being overlooked as Halloween decorations, but which one do you find the most shocking?
5. Raw Realism
If that Halloween porch ornament looks a little bit too realistic for your liking, sometimes it might be prudent to trust your own instincts.
There are numerous true stories of real dead bodies being mistaken as macabre Halloween props, but the most recent one I've discovered comes from November 2012.
A mailman was doing his rounds when he stepped over what he thought was a prop body left over from Halloween as he had seen plenty of the fake bodies around the neighborhood.
Unfortunately, the body was the real corpse of Dale Porch who had collapsed and died after returning from work that day.
The U.S. Postal Service issued the following statement in defense of their worker's tragic error:
We do know the carrier delivered mail to the house that day, and he remembered seeing something he thought was related to Halloween. When the carrier learned that was not the case, he was shocked and extremely upset.
4. Hayride of Horrors
If you've ever thought of putting your head in a noose and staging a creepy Halloween hanging, don't. Just don't.
Dozens of people have accidentally taken their own lives while attempting to put on a macabre display, despite normally taking safety precautions such as ensuring the noose doesn't tighten and making sure the user's feet can touch the floor.
One such case was reported by the Chicago Tribune in October 1990 when a teenager named Brian Jewell tragically hung himself on gallows that were part of a Halloween Hayride. He was discovered by customers who initially thought his corpse was a decoration.
The prosecutor told the press that there was no indication of foul play and that the stunt, which involved a one-foot drop to the ground, must have gone terribly wrong. He added:
He's supposed to have the noose around his neck, but it's not a noose that tightens.
3. Hidden in Plain Sight
In Delaware in 2005, an unnamed woman hung herself from a tall tree by the side of the road, but unfortunately for her, it happened to be a few days before Halloween.
Due to the proximity of the the holiday, hundreds of people drove past her dangling corpse until someone eagle-eyed (and, now permanently traumatized) realized she was a bit too realistic. Just awful.
2. Fear of the Porch
Another chilling Halloween corpse mishap happened in 2009 when neighbors were very impressed with the effort Mostafa Mahmoud Zayed had put into his seasonal display. Along with streamers and pumpkins, there was also a fake corpse slumped forward in a rocking chair.
It took four days before somebody suspected something might be amiss and called the cops to inspect the realistic (and by now, I would imagine, fly-coated) prop.
Yep, the "dummy" was 75-year-old Zayed who had been gradually decomposing with a single gunshot wound to the eye while the rest of the town gawped at him. The police later confirmed that he has committed suicide.
1. Deathly Dummy
When they were filming an episode of Six Million Dollar Man at Nu-Pike Amusement Park in Long Beach in 1976, the staff made a shocking discovery when they attempted to move a dummy out of a shot and the arm fell off, revealing a real human arm bone.
After recovering from the shock, medical examiners were called in to determine the identity of the mummy and, after finding a 1924 penny and a ticket to the Museum of Crime in Los Angeles in the body's mouth, determined it to be that of outlaw James McCurdy who died in a standoff in Oklahoma in 1911.
McCurdy's body had somehow been passed through various people and forgotten about until it was just assumed it was a spooky dummy by all of the staff and visitors to the park.