In 2013, The Purge premiered as a new kind of dystopian horror movie about a vicious near-future in which the U.S. is run by a political party called the “New Founding Fathers” and violence is reserved for one 12-hour period of anarchy per year, the annual Purge, held on March 21. The Purge has reduced violence to record levels and is, on the surface, considered to be a successful endeavor. However, it is revealed as the universe unfolds that the Purge is actually a genocidal effort by the political party to rid the country of those they judge to be undesirable.
The Purge is an anthology franchise, meaning that a new cast and characters tell a new story in each installment. However, the overarching universe of The Purge is the same in each movie, and we learn more about the “New Founding Fathers” and the real reason the Purge was established. All of the Purge films were written by James DeMonaco, who also directed the first three films. The franchise has grossed over $450 million and includes five films and a Purge TV show.
Here are some fun trivia facts about The Purge universe:
This was conceived as a dark horror film, nothing more than that. Yes, it had some sociopolitical underpinnings. The way it became so prescient over the last six years, I’d say, we never saw that coming.James DeMonaco, ‘The Purge’ Creator James DeMonaco Intended For ‘The Forever Purge’ To Be The Finale – But He Also Has A Pitch For A Sixth Film
1. The Purge was inspired by the Star Trek episode “The Return of the Archons,” in which the crew finds a planet that seems to be strangely peaceful until they realize the inhabitants save all their rage and grievances for one bloody night of violence called the “Festival.”
2. The film was also inspired by a road-rage incident that writer/director James DeMonaco experienced where a drunk driver cut him off when he was driving with his wife. DeMonaco was so enraged, he got into a physical fight with the other driver on the side of the road and police were called. DeMonaco’s wife, usually a sweet woman according to DeMonaco, said after the incident that she was so angry with the drunk driver, she wished she was allowed “one free murder” per year.
3. The original Purge (2013) movie is set on March 21, 2022. This date was chosen as it is the day after Spring Equinox, historically a time for “cleansing.”
4. Although she plays a more demure role, you may recognize Mary Sandin as the actress Lena Headey with a brunette ‘do. Headey is better known as the (blonde) Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones. The final scene is where Headey’s inner Cersei really emerges.
5. The actress who plays Zoey Sandin, Adelaide Kane, is also a fictional queen; she played Mary, Queen of Scots in Reign (2013).
6. James DeMonaco says the original Purge movie (2013) featured a home invasion because the budget was only $2.7 million. He said if he was able to do a sequel it would be more like John Carpenter’s Escape from New York (1981). Sure enough, the second Purge film, The Purge: Anarchy (2014), was centered around violence in the streets.
7. The opening scenes show footage from the Los Angeles riots of 1992, specifically Korean American business owners defending their shops from racially targeted violence. The riots began when four police officers were acquitted of beating Rodney King, a crime which had been captured on video and shown extensively on TV. The riots went on for six days, and 63 people were killed during the period of violence.
8. Rodney King survived and sued the city of Los Angeles, winning $3.8 million. He struggled with addiction and the injuries he sustained in the beatings for the rest of his life. King died by accidental drowning in his pool on June 17, 2012, exactly 28 years after his father died in a similar manner.
Some people feel like I’m some kind of hero. Others hate me. They say I deserved it. Other people, I can hear them mocking me for when I called for an end to the destruction like I’m a fool for believing in peace.Rodney King, Los Angeles riots: Rodney King funeral held
9. Because of his personal friendship with James DeMonaco and producer Jason Blum, Ethan Hawke agreed to be in The Purge for only $3,000 plus a percentage of the backend (which ended up being substantial).
10. Some of the Purgers are dressed in white peasant dresses in the style of the Manson girls because James DeMonaco has been obsessed with the Manson Family since he was a kid.
11. Additionally, Rhys Wakefield was cast as the “polite” leader of the Purgers who break into the Sandins’ home because he reminded DeMonaco of Charlie Manson.
12. James DeMonaco is afraid of guns and says that if there was ever a real Purge he would probably go to Canada and hide.
The movie was born, really, from me watching American news, and horror-thriller action always comes from our fears… I’m terrified for my daughter, I’m terrified for me, and I’m terrified for my country. So I think that cynicism seeps into the film. America itself becomes the canvas – instead of the haunted house, the canvas is America. We don’t need ghosts or vampires anymore when we’re just killing each other, you know?James DeMonaco, The Purge: Anarchy, genre filmmaking and more
13. Actress Arija Bareikis, who plays one of the Purgers, doesn’t blink in the scene where she talks to her victim.
14. Although the onscreen tension between Ethan Hawke’s character and his daughter’s boyfriend is said to be because he is older, in real life the actor who plays his daughter is a year older than the actor who plays her boyfriend.
15. The first three Purge films each have some character who is named Sabien, but the story behind this hasn’t been revealed.
16. It’s thought that the date of the Purge (3/21) may have been chosen because it resembles a countdown (3, 2, 1).
17. The stranger who runs into the Sandins’ home is later revealed to be Dante Bishop (played by Edwin Hodge), the only character who appears in each of the first three films.
I read this thing by Scorsese when I was young, where he said he grew up on all the Westerns and army films of the 1950s, and that was what the studios wanted back then. They wanted Westerns and they wanted army films, but the directors didn’t really want to make them. So what they did was they tried to sneak in their own ideas, and they called it smuggler’s cinema. You smuggle ideas into genre movies.James DeMonaco, The Purge: Anarchy, genre filmmaking and more
18. The Purge: Anarchy (2014) introduces some of the political motivations of the New Founding Fathers and the Purge, as well as the anti-Purge resistance and the socioeconomic realities of such an event. For instance, the main character’s father sells himself to a group of purgers for $100,000 so that his daughter, a waitress, and granddaughter will be taken care of. These kinds of sacrifices by poor families are one of the major reasons the sale of organs is illegal in every country but Iran.
19. Frank Grillo, who plays an off-duty LAPD sergeant venturing into the melee of the Purge to get revenge for his son, loved the car his character used so much that he tried to buy it from production but was turned down.
20. The estranged couple featured in the opening of The Purge: Anarchy, Zach Gilford and Kiele Sanchez, are married in real life.
21. The Purge: Election Year (2016) centers around a politician, Charlene Roan (Elizabeth Mitchell), who hopes to unseat the New Founding Fathers and get rid of the Purge forever. Roan is motivated by surviving Purgers murdering the rest of her family in front of her as a child in 2022 (the year of the original Purge).
22. The Purge: Election Year is set on March 21, 2040.
23. Election Year was originally going to be a prequel, but when Frank Grillo agreed to reprise his role from Anarchy, the prequel concept was saved for the fourth installment. Carmen Ejogo was also asked to reprise her role as Eva Sanchez but declined.
24. Charlene Roan’s home is the same one used for the Underwood residence in House of Cards (2013). Both buildings house fictional senators.
25. Roan’s home has a “Sandin Security System,” a reference to James Sandin, the security system salesman from the original Purge.
26. There is an Easter egg for Lost (2004) fans in The Purge: Election Year when viewers can see a girl attempt to steal an Apollo candy bar. Both Elizabeth Mitchell and Raymond J. Barry starred in Lost.
27. The First Purge (2018) is a prequel to the first three Purge films. It was the first in the series to not be directed by James DeMonaco, but he still wrote the script.
28. The First Purge takes place on March 21, 2016 in Staten Island, NY. It is said to be an “experiment” meant to reduce overall violence in the country and address other issues such as inflation and a housing shortage by decreasing the population. Staten Island residents are given $5,000 if they do not flee the island and additional funds if they participate in Purging. When most of the Purgers choose to engage in nonviolent crimes such as hosting loud parties and looting, the New Founding Fathers release trained mercenary groups to eradicate the island’s poor population so that the political party can “save money” on social programs.
29. When Rotimi Paul tried out for the role of sadistic Purger “Skeletor,” he had to ride the NYC subway in full makeup to get to the audition.
30. The Forever Purge (2021) takes place eight years after Charlene Roan (from The Purge: Election Year) was elected president of the United States and ended the Purge. The New Founding Fathers have again taken control of the country and reinstated the Purge. Political tensions in the country are higher than ever in advance of the first Purge to take place in eight years. As the annual Purge ends, purgers refuse to stop their violent rampages and call for “The Forever Purge,” where violence will be legal forever. Many Americans (including the main characters) flee to Mexico and Canada, which have opened their borders to American refugees.
31. On July 26, 2021, a midnight screening of The Forever Purge was interrupted when 20-year-old Joseph Jimenez opened fire on the audience, killing 18-year-old Rylee Goodrich and her friend, 19-year-old Anthony Barajas. Neither Universal nor Blumhouse commented on the murders.
I thought I was done with the franchise, but because of everything that keeps happening over the last year, I woke up with the idea for The Purge 6, which I just finished writing.James DeMonaco, HorrorNews.Net
32. James DeMonaco has announced that he is working on a sixth Purge film that will continue the story of Frank Grillo’s character Leo Barnes and take place in 2059, where the United States is in the midst of its second Civil War. It will also be the first Purge film to show other countries in the world adopting an annual Purge.