Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Top Ten: Most Unbelievable Moments in Film

I named this list Top Ten: Most Unbelievable Moments in Film, but what I really wanted to name it was Top Ten: You've Got to be Fucking Kidding! Moments in Film. Allow me to explain.

My ex-Professor at the University of Exeter, Steve Neale (author of 'Genre and Contemporary Hollywood, among other things) once wrote an essay entitled 'You've Got to be Fucking Kidding!: Knowledge, Belief and Judgement in Science Fiction'. You can find this essay on page 160 of a book called 'Alien Zone: Cultural Theory and Contemporary Science Fiction Cinema'. As his starting point for this article Neale takes a scene from John Carpenter's 1982 film The Thing. For various very complex reasons, during this scene a severed human head grows insect-like legs, gets up and walks out of the room, upon which one of the astonished characters exclaims the immortal words: "You've got to be fucking kidding!" (see video above)

In that moment, the fourth wall cracks just a little bit; that character has given voice to what we were all thinking (they've gone a little far with that one/that was a bit over the top/you've got to be fucking kidding). This is a list of 'you've got to be fucking kidding' moments; some of them are unbelievable, some of them are awful, and some of them are just plain weird, but they are all moments that make you stop and think: hold the phone. What the hell's going on here?!

10. OLDBOY - The Wriggling Sushi

To start us off it's that classic of 2003, that darling of South Korean cinema, Chan-wook Park's Oldboy. More specifically, it's the scene where Oh Dae-Su (played by Min-sik Choi) goes into a restaurant and chows down on a live octopode; he goes to town on that thing, stuffing it into his mouth raw and wriggling, Gollum-style. Apparently Choi had to chew on four seperate octopodes during filming, and when the film won the Grand Prix at Cannes, Park thanked the dead sea-beasties in his acceptance speech (although they probably didn't appreciate it).

9. DON'T LOOK NOW - The Murderous Dwarf

The grisly denouement of Nicolas Roeg's 1973 horror film Don't Look Now has to be among the strangest and most wholly unexpected pieces of cinema to ever be filmed. Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie are wandering around Venice, haunted by what appears to be the ghost of their little drowned daughter. Of course, it isn't really their daughter, but a psychotic serial killing dwarf woman in a red duffle coat who slashes Sutherland's throat. Who woulda thunk it.

8. THE DAY OF THE DEAD - Choke on 'em!

In George Romero's Zombie follow-up The Day of the Dead (1985), the outside world is overrun by zombies while a small group of soldiers and scientists survive inside a military bunker. Eventually, cabin fever sets in and things start to gang awry; when zombies finally do breach the bunker, the head military honcho (who we don't like much, because he's an asshole) falls prey to their hunt for human flesh. Two of our zombified bretheren grab ahold of his legs, rip them off and begin dragging them away. Military Asshole (who's name, if you care, is Captain Rhodes) totally redeems himself in this scene with two and a half words: "Choke on 'em!" he screams, even as yet more zombies are tearing out his entrails.

7. THE EVIL DEAD - The Tree Rape

Even if you've never seen it, you've probably at least heard about it; the infamous 'Tree Rape' scene from Sam Raimi's 1981 video nasty The Evil Dead. Deemed so gratuitously horrible that versions of the film that include it are still banned in some countries, the Tree Rape scene really is just what it sounds like.

6. THE EXORCIST - The Spider-walk

Many of you who have seen The Exorcist may have never even heard of the Spider-walk - that's because it was cut from the original film due to the visible suspension wires holding up the stunt woman. These were removed digitally for certain re-releases of the film, and it is now possible to see the Spider-walk in all its creepy glory. Basically, twelve year old Reagan (Linda Blair), who is possessed by a demon claiming to be the Devil, takes it into her head to climb out of her bed and down the stairs on all fours - backwards. That may not sound too insane, but try watching the video above and see if it doesn't make you want to call your therapist.

5. THE WICKER MAN (2006) - Not the Bees!

In the rotten abortion that is Neil LaBute's 2006 remake of The Wicker Man, there is an utterly ridiculous scene in which Nicholas Cage (who is playing the Edward Woodward character) has a wooden frame tied around his head which is then pumped full of very angry bees (in the original film, the Pagan islanders are pissed because their apple crop has failed; in the remake, they're upset about their lack of honey - hence the bees). In what has to be one of the most hilariously cringeworthy scenes of all time, Cage goes on to yell, most unconvincingly, these exact words: "OH NO! NOT THE BEES! NOT THE BEES! AAAHHH! OH THEY'RE IN MY EYES! MY EYES! AAAHHH! AAARGH!" Nuff said. For God's sake, do yourself a favour: watch the original.

4. NAKED LUNCH - The Mujahideen

Ok, this one's going to take some explaining. First of all, Naked Lunch is a film by David Cronenberg (there's your first clue) based on a book by William Burroughs (there's your second clue) which is basically a drug/sex/writing fuelled romp of epic proportions (and there's number three). In Naked Lunch, typewriters are a big deal. In the film they are given personalities, even voices, and are able to act as spies for various agencies. The typewriters have a nasty habit of morphing into odd creatures, usually cockroaches or bugs of some type. There is a scene in which the Mujahideen (which is an arabic typewriter) morphs into...well, I don't quite know what the hell it morphs into. Some sort of fleshy beast, part human, part lobster? I don't know; we're talking Burroughs mixed with Cronenberg here - anything at all can and does happen. You'll have to watch it for yourself. All I can say is, you're left with a very strong desire to grab somebody else and say 'Did you see that shit, or was it just me?'

3. JAWS 3 - The Shark in the Fish Tank

In the third Jaws film, a big shark is back, and this time it has focused its attack on a marine resort rather like Seaworld (in fact, most of the film was actually shot at Seaworld). Of course, the resort is full of interconnected aquariums, which are in turn connected to the ocean, making it extra simple for the shark to swim right in and surprise the diners in the underwater restaurant by showing up in the tank next to them. That's right; an incredibly unconvincing plastic shark the size of a routemaster showing up next to your table just as you're all finishing up your starters. I wouldn't tip; would you?

2. DIE ANOTHER DAY - The Invisible Car

Probably the worst Bond film ever made (and let's face it, they were never exactly stellar to begin with). Producers the Broccolis went too far this time, one-upping themselves into oblivion with Bond's most ridiculous gadget ever: the invisible car. I'm convinced it was this awful addition alone which sparked the dumping of Pierce Brosnan and the old regime in favour of Daniel Craig and a slick new update of Casino Royale; the Bond Renaissance, if you will. All Bond needs is a gun, a Martini and a pack of cards; not invisible Aston Martins. How are you supposed to turn that into a collector's item anyway? Do you just sell the kids an empty box?


Lastly, of course, it had to be Harrison Ford surviving a nuclear blast by climbing into a lead-lined 1950s fridge. This scene is so utterly ridiculous, so head turningly unbelievable that it has actually given rise to the phrase 'nuking the fridge', which is not only used to refer to scenes in which film characters manage to survive the most unsurvivable situations in the most ridiculous ways, but also for scenes that are so awful that they ruin any subsequent enjoyment of the film. But, as I believe I have said before in another Top Ten list (Top Ten: Falls From a Great Height), it is impossible to kill Harrison Ford - I bet if some nut walked up to him and shot him point blank in the face, the hole in his head would just seal straight back up, like the T-1000 in Terminator 2.

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