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'Pulp Fiction' Makes Audiences Go Green

From vomit to enormous needles, Hollywood has a history of getting strong reactions out of moviegoers

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FIRESIDE FLATULENCE. Projectile (pea green) vomiting. If you believe the stories, super-sick scenes like these have long sent ticket holders scurrying for the exits or left them convulsing in their seats (but not in a good way). For example: At the 1994 New York Film Festival, a diabetic audience member faints—and stops the movie—when Uma Thurman takes a hypodermic needle to the heart in Pulp Fiction. Yet this is a verifiable exception among many urban myths. The story of the moviegoer losing his lunch from the balcony when John Belushi sprays his lunch in Animal House, for example, has never been adequately documented. And most theater execs we surveyed deny the existence of cinema freak-outs. According to ushers on the front lines, moviegoers are disturbed most by strobe effects and odd camera movements—not by shocking violence or bodily functions. “Some of the gunfire in Jackie Brown caused people to have mild seizures,” remembers Brian Roddy of Laemmle’s Monica 4 Plex in Santa Monica, Calif. But, says Roddy, it was “one of those Woody Allen films (Husbands and Wives) with swinging camera movements that made a lot of people seasick.” Alma Monge of the Loews Cineplex Odeon Beverly Center in Los Angeles recalls a group who ended up taking a male friend to the hospital because of the nudity in Boogie Nights. “They were going to leave because he wanted to throw up,” Monge says. But more often than not, folks flee for the simplest of reasons. “People throwing up because of a movie? I haven’t witnessed that yet,” says an usher at Laemmle Music Hall 3 in Beverly Hills. “Most of our walkouts tell us the movies are just boring.”—With additional reporting by Carrie Bell and Heidi Nam

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