WSVN — Thrill-seekers love movies that keep them on the edge of their seats, but it's what may be lurking on your seat that may really give you a scare.
Dustin Clewell: "The nastiest part is in the cups, where you see all the gunk in the cup holders."
Seven News went to the movies, testing four popular theaters across South Florida. We swabbed seats, headrests and armrests to find out what germs might be hiding. Then we took our swabs to Dr. John Shane at Pro-Lab, and what we found is a real creep show.
Dr. John Shane: "We found a lot of common things that are normal to the mucous membranes and skin, but you had some notable exceptions that raise some concerns."
Hair raising to be more exact.
Dr. John Shane: "On the headrest we found a very surprising bug, we found E-coli."
E-coli is essentially fecal matter.
Dr. John Shane: "E-coli can give you at the very least a stomachache, diarrhea, and it can cause further complications."
A direct result of someone going to the bathroom and not washing their hands.
Dr. John Shane: "E-coli only spreads because of poor sanitary habits."
At another theater we tested, another disturbing find on the armrest.
Dr. John Shane: "This bacterium causes Diphtheria, which is a serious disease."
Diphtheria is a highly contagious disease, which causes symptoms from coughing and fever to diarrhea. So how does it end up on the armrest of a movie theater seat?
Dr. John Shane: "It gets on the armrest from people coughing, using their hands, not cleaning their hands."
And Dr. Shane says you can contract an illness from sitting in a contaminated seat.
Dr. John Shane: "Touching the armrest, touching the headrest, then touching your skin, touching your mouth or your eyes, there's a greater risk."
Viewer: "I wouldn't watch a movie again."
At two other theaters tested we found Staph and Coliform, common bacteria, but ones that can make you sick.
Dr. John Shane: "It is found in the environment but can cause community-acquired infections of the skin."
The National Association of Theater Owners says it's up to individual theaters to keep things clean.
National Association of Theater Owners: "During the day, throughout the showing of the films, the crew on-site will be doing it. After hours, very often it's contracted out to have a cleaning crew."
Olivia Valencia: "I would wait until the movies come out on DVD."
Charles Billi: "So, short of just staying home and waiting for a movie to come out on DVD. What can you do to protect yourself from germs others may have left behind? You can take action by sanitizing the area with disinfectant wipes."
Dr. John Shane: "Wipe down the seats and the armrest. It would go a long way in making the place more sanitary."
That way you won't end up sick from a Dirty Movie.
Charles Billi: "Another good idea is to make sure you clean your hands before you start digging into that theater popcorn."