Cruella DeVil, Darth Vader and that mean kid on "Toy Story" are all pretty scary, but is there any doubt that Hannibal Lecter would eat them alive? There is not. This spring, while taking in the end of the movie "Hannibal," a healthy, 22-year-old woman began to sweat and feel sick. Several minutes later, as she was leaving the theater, she fell to the ground and had what looked like a seizure. But doctors found no evidence of serious disease: Her blood tests were normal, and so were scans of her heart and brain.
The diagnosis: "neurocardiogenic syncope ... provoked by watching a frightening movie." In short, watching that disturbing scene sent the poor woman into a kind of twitching faint. She made a quick recovery. Dr. Randolph Evans, a Houston neurologist who reports the case today in the online medical journal Medscape General Medicine, http://www.medgenmed.com, said incidents of so-called convulsive syncope are more common than doctors acknowledge. In one study of blood banks, researchers found that about 3% of donors experienced the same kind of quivering faintness after having blood drawn. Evans suggests that movie ratings include a new grade, P-S--"restricted, syncopal risk."