Personally, I try to take the stairs whenever possible. I’ve been stuck in an elevator before, and it’s not fun. At all. Historically, horror innately understands the deep-seated fear that some people have with elevators. The 1983 Dutch film “Der Lift” by director Dick Maas features a self-aware killer elevator that decapitates people, M. Knight Shyamalan trapped a bunch of people in a cramped elevator with the Prince of Darkness in “Devil,” and “The Shining” famously features an elevator of blood, just to highlight a few.
In “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” Gillespie chose the department store in the film after discovering a dilapidated, wooden, hand-cranked elevator. He built the entire sequence around it. Towards the end of the movie, Helen (Gellar) hightails it through the store, navigates her way through the elevator, and jumps through a window. The elevator cables were razor sharp, leaving Gellar to endure quite a bit of pain, according to Gillespie. “For Sarah, god bless her, she’s the one who had to pull the damn thing and the fibers were like fiberglass, they just went right into her hands,” the director told TooFab around the film’s 25th anniversary. “We coated her hands with a special solution, it was a bit like rubber on her hands to protect them, but it still wasn’t perfect. She was a real trooper. She just went with it.”
In a fun bit of horror movie trivia, the lead-up to the elevator scene had to be reshot, allowing time for the set to be re-dressed with creepy mannequins covered in plastic. That proved to be a perfect setup for the movie’s best jump scare featuring the killer fisherman hiding amongst the dummies — a moment that is probably paying homage to “Tourist Trap” from 1979.