In the make-believe world of Hollywood, heroes can survive jumping from improbable heights, guns never run out of bullets and there’s always a parking space when you need one.
But Aylesbury-born writer Richard Germain was so convinced that some of it must be true that he took 101 movie ‘claims’ and set about testing if they could really happen.
Examples include whether a victim can tear off their skin when it freezes to a metal pipe, as portrayed in 2006’s Saw III.
He also asked if in 1986’s Crocodile Dundee, Mick could have known it was 2.30pm without a watch. And whether, as in 1994’s Forest Gump, someone could run for three years and two months non-stop.
Or, like in 2000’s Memento, Guy Pearce really could not make any new memories.
The 39 -year-old ad agency copywriter, who now lives in Prestwood, said: “My research consisted of a mix of exhaustive and exhausting research, contacting various experts in their fields and personal experience.
“For the example of Orson Welles wiggling his ears in Citizen Kane and whether the trick can be learned, I contacted the world-record ear-wiggling champion in America. He gave me lots of tips. However, after hours of practice I’ve never managed to perfect the skill.
“I also tried many of the hangover cures in my section about the Red Eye drink in the Tom Cruise film Cocktail, including drinking raw eggs, which did seem to work.
“I’ve always been curious about things that happen in films and whether they can actually happen in real life.
“When I was young I used to watch the early Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan films and wonder how on earth he did his famous yodelling yell.”
The Tarzan example was one of the first that he started researching for the book, called ‘Death By Chilli Sauce: The Remarkable Truth And Surprising Science Behind 101 Memorable Movie Moments’.
The Tarzan sound, which has a copyright number of 75326989, is described as ‘consisting of a series of approximately 10 sounds, alternating between the chest and falsetto registers of the voice.’
Through his research Richard discovered that it was likely that Weissmuller, who had won five Olympic gold medals and set 67 swimming world records, created the sound using clever studio editing and recording techniques, rather than being able to produce it on demand.
Other discoveries include that tumbleweed does exist outside of Westerns. Richard said: “It was supposedly introduced to the southern states of the US by Russian immigrants towards the end of the 19th century.
“Within 20 years it covered more than a dozen states and at the time it was suggested that a fence be built around the whole state of North Dakota to stop the shrub’s advance.”
The book reveals that Barnes Wallis may have got his Dam Busters bouncing bomb idea from the British Navy in the 17th and 18th centuries, who bounced missiles off the sea to increase their range.
The book also asks whether maggots could have cleaned Russell Crowe’s wound in 2000’s Gladiator – which they can, as first shown by prehistoric Australian Aborigines.
Richard learned that the recommended dose is five-to-eight maggots per cm2 of wound area.
He also asked if a napalm bomb could be made by mixing gasoline and orange juice, as in the 1999 movie Fight Club. The answer is no.
The book’s title stems from a scene in the 1994 film Dumb and Dumber, where a criminal is killed by a super-hot chilli.
It is released on November 23.
For more details visit www.deathbychillisauce.com