Chaos On Set: The Mystery of the PCP-Laced Soup Filming Titanic

What happened on set that led to hallucinations, conga lines, and James Cameron being stabbed with a pen?

The cast and crew began to hallucinate after eating the soup while filming in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

It was August 1996, and James Cameron was filming the modern day sequences of Titanic with actor Bill Paxton in Halifax, Nova Scotia.


The pressure was already mounting on James of the biggest movie of his life — though it wasn't yet the biggest movie of all time that it would become over the next year — and the crew was having to adapt to Cameron's visions, with a nasty flu bug going around and many feeling sick.


This was the setting for one of the most mysterious incidents in film history, as told in Episode 9 of BLOCKBUSTER: THE STORY OF JAMES CAMERON the award-winning "biopic podcast" series, starring The Walking Dead's Ross Marquand, from filmmaker and journalist Matt Schrader.


As many of the cast and crew took a break for lunch, they went to the cafeteria, where supposedly fresh chowder was being served from two large vats.


Within about 15 minutes of people eating, actor Bill Paxton reported, some people starting to behave erratically.


Many assumed it was bad shellfish in the soup, and had no idea it could be something stranger or potentially more sinister.


This is featured in BLOCKBUSTER, free on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, and all other platforms. BLOCKBUSTER is winner of Adweek's Creative Podcast of the Year, and earned two Webby Honorees and NYF Radio Awards, including for Best Podcast Miniseries.


James realized quickly he needed to throw up, and ran to a bathroom. When he returned, he had one eye completely bloodshot, like the Terminator.


A nearby hospital and local police later determined it was not food poisoning from the seafood, but PCP, a drug also known as "angel dust" which causes people to feel disconnected from their environments and hallucinate. It also can cause extreme anxiety, amnesia, seizures, blurred vision, lung failure and in rare cases death.


The identity of the person who spiked the soup has long been debated. Some on the crew believed it was someone trying to get revenge on Cameron, as only the vat of soup he was served out of was spiked.


Though no one was seriously hurt, Cameron and Paxton both expressed anger that the stunt could have put many people — including elderly people and children — in danger.


You can hear more about the passions and rise of James Cameron in BLOCKBUSTER, free on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and all other platforms.


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