Movies at the movies. Cin-ception.
Call us easily pleased, but there's just something about sitting in a cinema and watching a film, where the characters are also sitting in a cinema and watching a film that's just, well... lovely. Granted, the experience is a tad scaled down if you're watching it on DVD or highly illegal download stream uploaded from someone's iPhone, but film characters' movie habits are so often steeped with in-joke, Easter Egg or meta-reference that there's seldom a jaunt to the pictures put in a movie just because.
So, sit back, relax, graze on some inconceivably noisy popcorn, and enjoy the 20 finest picture-in-picture moments...
1. Scream 2 (1997)
Releasing a film that both glamourises and 'gory-fies' the killing spree of a masked killer just two years after the event could be seen as in slightly bad taste. No wonder then, that a screening of 'Stab' - based on the events that transpired in Woodsboro (in the first Scream) sees the rise of a new masked psychopath, who viciously guts an unknowing Maureen (Jada Pinkett Smith), who mistakes him for her boyfriend. The worst (/best) part? The baying, faux knife-wielding crowd presuming the whole bloody murder is just a prank. Oops.
2. Scary Movie (2000)
One of the finest comedy kills in the spoof horror flick - if not all of cinema - Scary Movie's pastiche of the aforementioned Scream 2 cineplex slaying is brilliant for two reasons:
1) Everyone from an knife-wielding grandma to a sword-sporting monk gets in on the act.
2) We've totally all been there. (Getting vexed at a hooting, film-spoiling chatterbox that is, not cold-blooded murder - what you do in your private life is up to you.)
3. Diner (1982)
A saucy act of rebellion forever etched into ghastly 'lad' lore, Mickey Rourke's character Boogie tries (and fails) with a maneouvre that is highly unsanitary and borders on sexual assault, but is admittedly quite funny. Extra hilarity points for (in a roundabout way) spawning The Lonely Island's Dick in a Box, and Boogie somehow convincing his date that the whole dirty stunt was in fact a freak accident.
4. Cinema Paradiso (1982)
Giuseppe Tornatore's Cinema Paradiso is a beautiful, life-affirming love letter to cinema and genre-defining, cross-atlantic cult treasure. However, had we of shown the one scene from the film that features young schoolboys being caught masturbating in a movie theatre - the lack of context may paint an altogether different picture for those who haven't seen it. Instead, we chose to take the high-road with this heart-warming clip, which depicts the magic of cinema far better than an Orange Wednesdays code or popcorn + drink combo at Odeon ever could.
5. Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Along with death and taxes, the two other things you can pretty much guarantee in life is that you'll love Quentin Tarantino and hate Adolf Hitler. But, if for whatever reason you don't detest the Austrian-born moustachioed dictator or are yet to watch Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, we'd recommend giving this spoilerific cinema scene a wide berth. For everyone else, enjoy.
6. The Artist (2011)
We can't help but sympathise with George Valentin here. Split the audience's credit evenly with your co-worker, or lark around, lap up the movie theatre's acclaim and play with quite possibly the greatest dog on Earth? We're sure he paid the price later, but applause and a talented canine will do things to a man...
7. A Clockwork Orange (1971)
If we've not made it clear enough in this article already, let us reinforce - Hitler was a sh*tbag, and so were the Nazis. No wonder then, that being strapped into a straitjacket and being forced to watch footage of the German army while having your eyelids prized open with hooks is somewhat unpleasant. Mind you, what appears to rankle most with A Clockwork Orange's Alex is not the graphic violence he's being made to endure, rather the incorrect usage of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. Both atrocities, granted, but the Nazis probably just edge it.
8. Taxi Driver (1976)
We'll admit it, dating is tough. The dilemma of what to do, where to go and whether your date will share similar interests to you is a relative minefield. Spare some sympathy, then, for Travis Bickle. Robert De Niro's haunting cab driver goes out on a limb by sharing one of his passions with his prospective romance, Betsy - specifically an X-rated film in a dirty movie theatre. Alas, it turns out that erotic cinema isn't high on Betsy's list of hobbies. Poor Travis.
9. Gremlins (1984)
Here are three well-known facts about Gremlins: they don't like water, aren't great fans of bright light and shouldn't be allowed out after midnight. And here's one slightly lesser-known fact: they bloody love Snow White. In one of the weirdest (and funniest) scenes from the 1984 film, a gaggle of raucous Gremlins commandeer a cinema and wreak havoc by screening their much-loved Disney tale, complete with singalong.
10. Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)
A quintessentially meta moment plonked in the middle of the Gremlins sequel, the reel of the movie appears to be broken, and the mischevious Gremlins switch it in favour of a Swedish 'romance' film instead. As producers feared cinema-goers would believe the error was genuine and leave the cinema, they cut to the a scene of a theatre owner asking wrestling legend Hulk Hogan for assistance, who in turn threatens the Gremlins - or 'Gremmers' if you're Hogan - into resuming the film. And if that isn't brilliant enough, the scene was amended for the home release of the movie, featuring Bugs Bunny and a riled John Wayne.
11. The Blob (1988)
In a moment of what at first appears to be divine intervention, a loud-mouthed movie-goer is sucked into oblivion by a lump of weird alien goo. This would've been fine, if the gloop didn't then go on to destroy the film and attempt to engulf the entire cinema and its patrons. Greedy.
12. An American Werewolf In London (1981)
There's nothing quite like being faced with the talking corpses of your recent murder spree to work as the metaphorical cold-shower when you're watching a porno. But, in a seemingly early test-run of restorative justice, American lunar lunatic David Kessler is faced with the recently deceased victims of his carnivorous full-moon blood-lust, all presented to him by his skeleton pal, Jack (also dead).
13. Donnie Darko (2001)
Chilling, spooky and terrifying as hell - but that's enough about The Evil Dead, which Donnie takes his sleepy girlfriend to see at the deserted cinema. Finally coming face to face with bunny-faced apparition, Frank, this scene is also home to one of the movie's best exchange.
Donnie: "Why are you wearing that stupid bunny suit?"
Frank: "Why are you wearing that stupid man suit?"
14. Last Action Hero (1993)
While most young boys did dream of being a fast-driving, gun-shooting action hero, mop-haired Danny Madigan could've picked a better time to gatecrash a blockbuster than when tough-talking good guy Jack Slater is entrenched in a gun battle and being pelted with dynamite.
15. Popcorn (1991)
On the unsurprisingly short list of how ShortList would like to meet its end, death by mosquito doesn't chart too high. And though we wouldn't like to take our chances with nasty malaria, it certainly seems preferable than being stabbed by a monster-sized mozzie in a movie theatre. Still, perhaps Popcorn's Mr Davis had it coming, for trying to turn watching a film at the cinema into 'an experience'.
16. The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)
If movie characters really had the ability to see through the screen and survey their audience, there'd probably be a lot of Peter Jackson geeks with burgeoning hobbit bromances, along with a rise in arrests by movie cops for what transpires in the back row of the cinema when the lights are down. And in Woody Allen's The Purple Rose of Cairo, Mia Farrow is swept away by on-screen archaeologist Tom Baxter, solely for seeing his film five times. By that math, a Star Wars fan somewhere is owed approximately 72 Princess Leias.
17. Amélie (2001)
Irrespective of how warm and fuzzy a film Amélie may be, the eponymous character sure would be a drag to go to the movies with. She'd constantly ignore both you and the film, instead insisting on gawping on the people sat behind you, before 'noticing things on screen' that are about as discreet as Michael McIntyre's comedic observations. Mind you, we're with her on black and white movie stars not watching the road when driving - that's just plain reckless.
18. Annie Hall (1977)
Woody Allen's second entry in this list, though this time the bespectacled funnyman is starring, waiting in line at a cinema and becoming quietly (and then not so quietly) furious at a pretentious, wannabe film buff. Breaking the fourth wall in superb style, Allen talks directly to the audience, calls out the blathering goon on his misplaced movie knowledge and even presents the director in question - Marhsall McLuhan - to reinforce his point. Woody (or rather, his character Alvy) sums it up perfectly: "Boy, if life were only like this."
19. Grease (1978)
Years before the aeroplanes, the Scientology and the fleet of dud movies (including donning make-up and heels in Hairspray) John Travolta was the über cool, bequiffed greaser - Danny Zuko. Yet, Grease's best-known T-Bird's Fonzie-esque front goes missing when attempting to woo Sandy at the drive-in theatre, as his full-on, handsy approach nets him a car door to the groin and ring to the face (no, not like that - don't be vulgar).
20. The Final Destination (2009)
Aside from the obvious question of why this film isn't called Final Destination 4, given that Final Destination 5 was later released and both 6 and 7 currently in the works, you've got to question a cinema that leaves combustible barrels lying around near naked flames. Or in the building whatsoever, for that matter. You'd think there'd be a health and safety regulation putting paid to that, somewhere. Still, at least the explosion is in perfect synchronicity with the movie plot - so the viewers did get to feel really in-tune with the film for a split-second or two, before being engulfed in flames.