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Camera Abuse / Film

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Films — Animated

  • Disney's Aladdin: The narrator in the prologue entreats the audience "Please, please, come closer!" Then the camera zooms right up to his face, and he mutters "Too close, a little too close!"
  • Tiger spatters spit on the lens in one scene in An American Tail: Fievel Goes West.
  • Twice in the animated Mockumentary Surf's Up, the cameraman is attacked by natives.
  • A Bug's Life:
    • In one of the Animated Outtakes, Molt accidentally backs into the camera and knocks it over. The film crew are briefly visible before someone turns the camera off.
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    • In another, PT Flea gives a frenetic speech and leaps into the air, hitting the (non-existent) camera, and LEAVING A SMEAR on the (non-existent) lens.
    • And when the circus bugs arrive at Ant Island, and land, Heimlich is unforunately descended into the camera.
  • In The Incredibles, the "camera" aboard Mrs. Parr's jet quavers very slightly to mimic the small turbulence bumps encountered in flight.
  • In Cars, one of the little VW Bug bugs flies into the camera and smudges it with dirt.
  • Brave: The ending of this trailer for the movie.
  • Wreck-It Ralph. In-universe, no less. The camera robot that serves as the stand-in for the player character in Hero's Duty is used by Ralph to shield himself against one of the Cy-Bugs when it lunges at him. It collides with the camera and leads to a game-over. The "first-person shooter" is understandably pissed off at Ralph for this.
  • In Beyond the Mind's Eye, one segment shows a dark world with miniature pterosaurs flying around. Two fly directly into the camera and bounce off the lens. The third isn't so fortunate; it breaks the lens and then gets cooked to the lens by an electrical discharge.
    • In a later sequel, Odyssey Into the Mind's Eye, one segment shows us the camera view of a rover exploring a prehistoric world. The camera dodges thick dinosaur feet, falls off a cliff, is caught by a pterosaur, almost falls into a volcano, and is implied to finally have been destroyed by a second pterosaur attacking it.

Films — Live-Action

  • Happened in Real Life in Harlan County U.S.A., a documentary of a miners' strike. At one point a strikebreaker stalks up to the cameraman and knocks the camera to the ground.
  • In The Adventures Of Shark Boy And Lava Girl, Minus (Linus) is the victim of a brain storm. One of the brains lands in his hands and he throws it at the camera. It spends about three seconds or so slipping down the lens.
  • Be Kind Rewind: When the magnetized Jack Black goes into the video rental store, the camera warps and lines periodically to show that he's magnetized.
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  • A subtle example in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. As Jack is sailing away from the Island of the Pelegostos and is giving his standard farewell speech, the wave that smacks Jack in the face and cuts his sentence also manages to hit the camera as well.
  • A literal example: for a scene in Tommy Lee Jones' directoral debut, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, he wanted a shot of a horse falling off of a cliff onto the camera. Due to budget restrictions, the only way he was able to do it was to literally place the camera at the bottom of the cliff and drop a fake horse onto it. He ended up destroying the camera and ruining some of the film, but hey, he got the shot!.
  • Saving Private Ryan had a lot of bloodsplatter get onto the camera.
  • Braveheart made use of this as well during the Battle of Stirling scene.
  • Planet Terror used loads of fake blood in the Helicopter Blender scene, although most of it was removed for the tv ads.
  • Happens unintentionally in Children of Men during an extended shot of a gunbattle, when a drop of blood from a squib happens to spatter onto the lens. Because the continuous shot is actually a number of shots stitched together with CGI, the blood discreetly disappears when the camera goes through fog.
  • Drag Me to Hell features a fly that lands on the camera for a moment.
  • Mel Brooks is rather fond of this trope, usually Played for Laughs:
    • Happens twice in High Anxiety, when the camera dollies though a window, which breaks. In this film, it's a parody of Hitchcock's famous move of dollying through a window without breaking it using clever editing and effects.
    • In Robin Hood: Men in Tights, while Maid Marian is singing in the bathtub, the camera zooms in on the window to her bathroom, then the scene cuts to a close up of her singing and brushing her hair. Suddenly, there is a crash as the camera smashes through the window, interrupting the song. It then cuts to a shot of the camera, which moves back outside and draws a very confused look from Marian. Later on in Men In Tights, we see the Abbot called to marry Maid Marian to the Sheriff walking down the aisle towards the camera until he ends up loudly hitting the camera with his staff, prompting him to say, "Sorry."
    • Spaceballs has a similar joke, where the camera zooms in too close and hits Dark Helmet in the helmet. During Dark Helmet and Lone Star's schwartz duel, Helmet accidentally kills a camera operator on the set.
    Helmet: Um... He did it.
    Lone Star: What?!
  • In Space Jam, Daffy Duck spatters spit on the lens.
  • This happens frequently in Cloverfield — in some cases, the jostling is so violent that the camera image becomes pixelated or the video skips (revealing the original contents of the camera's memory card).
    • Also, in the subway tunnel escape scene, blood splashes on the lens and Hud has to wipe it off.
  • In the ending of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, a policeman covers the camera with his hand, breaking the camera and drawing an exasperated, "Christ!" from the cameraman. The scene immediately changes to one of a broken film reel, fading to white and then black, and a longer version of the Intermission song is played. It's the last thing ever seen in the movie; there are no end titles or credits.
    • In the DVD commentary, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam remarked how in one of the initial screenings they saw of the film the audience assumed that the film had broken and simply sat and waited (probably waiting for the projectionist to fix it), not realizing that the film was, in fact, over.
  • In Alfred Hitchcock's The Wrong Man, after the title character has been incarcerated for the murder he did not commit, his disorientation is symbolized by having the camera slowly move in ever-increasing circles.
  • An early scene in Scary Movie has Cindy being attacked by Ghostface. At one point, the camera zooms in on her screaming face... only to conk her in the noggin.
  • In The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, the camera lens gets cracked by an avalanche and a large diamond.
  • Fight Club features not so much "camera" as "film" abuse, from the subliminal message insertions of Tyler Durden and artificial 'cigarette burn' marks, to when the film appears to jitter right off the spokes during Durden's "you're not your fuckin' khakis" monologue.
  • Quarantine takes this to a literal extreme when a character uses the in-story camera to beat a zombie to death.
  • In [REC], the policeman is constantly shoving the camera and telling Pablo to turn it off. At one point, Pablo bashes in an infected's head with the camera. Later, another infected smashes his camera light.
  • Subverted in Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, where it appears that Willy Wonka has walked into the camera, but it's actually the doors to the glass elevator (which is virtually see-through).
  • In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the Whomping Willow shakes snow off its branches during the transition from winter to springtime scene, and some splashes onto the screen.
  • During the climax of Transformers, the fight between the Autobots and Decepticons abuses the camera to the point where it is sometimes nearly impossible to tell what is going on.
  • In District 9, nearly every time one of the alien weapons is fired, we end up with bits of... things better left unidentified on the camera.
  • The Nutty Professor (1963) ends with the principal cast members walking up to the camera one by one to take a bow, theater-style. Jerry Lewis walks up last, stumbles wildly, and falls onto the camera.
  • A spoiler reveals that Paranormal Activity would have ended with the possessed heroine beating her husband to death with his beloved camera Quarantine-style, but they didn't have the time or money to figure out a way to do this without sacrificing their only camera. However, the real ending did have the husband's body being suddenly thrown at the camera, knocking it off its tripod.
  • Hellboy II: The Golden Army. The first monster battle has monster blood splashing on the camera. It might have 'worked' if the redshirts who had been filming earlier hadn't already been eaten.
  • Several scenes in Once Upon a Time in Mexico have droplets of (bad) CG blood landing on the camera lens.
  • Played surprisingly straight in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.
  • Bruno Mattei's Robowar (a shot-by-shot clone of Predator) includes a scene where the titular war machine kills a man who, in close-up, spews blood into the lens of the camera from his mouth.
  • Inverted at the end of 9, where blood-on-lens violence is averted in favor of a gentle-raindrops-on-lens upbeat ending. The raindrops are shown to be teeming with microscopic life, reborn on a once-dead world, in the final fade-out.
  • An in-universe example occurs in Happy Gilmore, the viewer is shown home videos from the protagonist's childhood, and footage is shown of his father being struck by a hockey puck while operating the camera, complete with a broken lens.
  • Crank: High Voltage shot the tricky/dangerous parts of the action scenes with relatively cheap High Definition camcorders because if they were damaged during the shoot, it wouldn't cost too much to replace them. They went through 15 of them.
  • In Fletch Lives, a camera gets knocked askew during a car chase scene.
  • In Iron Man 2 the cameras that recorded the ill-fated North Korean and Iranian attempts at Iron Man knockoffs get the errant dakka/blood on the lens treatment.
  • Apollo 13 has Fred Haise slightly puking on the lens after launching. Yummy.
  • In the first The Lord of the Rings movie, when the (first) bridge they cross collapses and falls, the camera shakes subtly to mimic the seismic effects of a giant rock striking another giant rock.
  • In Earthquake blood spatters the camera lens when the overloaded elevator plunges down the shaft.
  • In Twilight: New Moon, CGI werewolves knock over the camera as they charge past it.
  • The 1901 short film The Big Swallow, which depicts the protagonist eating the camera and its operator, may be the Ur-Example
  • In There Will Be Blood, the lens gets splattered with oil early on.
    • And again at the end; during his No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on Eli, Plainview kicks over a bucket of water, some of which gets on the camera.
  • Nazareno Cruz y el Lobo, the highest grossing argentine film ever. In Nazareno's father's death scene, the camera gets hit by water and mud.
  • The girl scout fight in Airplane!.
  • The entirety of The Troll Hunter, given that it is shot entirely using a handheld DV In-Universe Camera carried by one of the main characters. Several shots devolve into meaningless shaking, shots take time to focus, and the lens of the first camera cracks its lens when it falls to the ground when a troll eats the cameraman. Several of the next shots are done with a cracked lens until a new camera (and camerawoman) is brought in.
  • The camera in Chronicle, among other things, is kicked around by bullies, has a drink spilled on its lens, and gets exposed to some mysterious phlebotinum that causes all kinds of interference.
  • Los Olvidados has Pedro throwing eggs at the camera after being thrown into "Farm School".
  • During the car chase scene in the mall in The Blues Brothers some of the musical instruments hit the camera causing it to shake and at the end of the scene a person runs into the camera.
  • An in-universe example shows up briefly during 44 Minutes, a dramatization of the infamous North Hollywood shootout when one of the bank robbers starts taking potshots at a news helicopter, which wisely gets out of there before any actual damage happens.
  • In Muppets Most Wanted, Constantine literally smears Vaseline on the camera lens to achieve a romantic effect at one point.
  • Das Finstere Tal has an odd scene at the climax: while blood is on the camera for a couple of shots, there is no shot of blood actually hitting the camera.
  • This effect is simulated in Killer's Kiss when Vincent flings a glass at the camera in a fit of rage.
  • Fatal Instinct: After Ned Ravine finds his skunk missing the camera follows him. As it does so it runs into a tree and the lens breaks.
  • During the Tim Burton adaptation of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, during "Johanna," as Sweeney is swinging his razors around, some blood gets on the lens.
  • In Alien Abduction (2014), the hand-held camera filming the action is dropped from low-Earth orbit to smash into the ground in the middle of a field. The lens is shattered, but the camera itself is still functional.
  • In Godzilla vs. Gigan, Anguirus charges face-first into Gigan's abdominal buzzsaw, spraying blood onto the camera lens.
  • In the 1971 flick Graveyard of Horror, every shovelful of earth the distraught husband tosses aside as he's digging up his late wife's grave flies right at the camera. Oddly, it's an Orbital Shot, so the man must be slowly spinning as he digs to keep dirt-dousing the camera.
  • In 2015's Nightlight, the In-Universe Camera is variously struck, spattered, dropped, rolled, crashed through bushes at full speed, sent plummeting off a cliff facing straight down, and (increasingly) possessed. By the end, it's got hairline cracking all around the edges of its lens.
  • In Ex Machina, Caleb cuts his arm open to make sure that he's not a robot. He then smears his blood across the camera, and punches the mirror. The mirror shatters. It's unclear whether the audience could simply see from behind the mirror, or if Nathan actually placed a camera behind or within the mirror.
  • In Man of Steel, as Zod's ship takes off for the Phantom Zone, exhaust from its thrusters obscures the audience POV.
  • In Deadpool (2016), within the first five minutes (naturally, considering its protagonist). Deadpool finds some gum on the ceiling of the cab he's riding in, picks it off, and flicks it away in disgust - only for it to hit the camera lens. Averted somewhat as Deadpool notices this and kindly scrapes it off for the audience. It doesn't stop him from pushing the camera out of the way later when he decides he's lonely in the back seat and climbs up to join the driver.
  • In Tomorrow Never Dies, the exhaust from Bond's stolen fighter jet shatter the picture into a million pieces as we fall into the opening credits.
  • In The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Dr. Frank N. Furter does a Food Slap by tossing a drink right into the camera during "Sweet Transvestite".
  • Diamonds on Wheels: When Bobby sprays one of Ashley's goons with a fire extinguisher in the fight in the warehouse, there is a shot from the goon's POV and the entire lens gets blanked out by fire extinguisher foam.
  • The Last Jedi: At the end of a low-angle shot of the fathier stampede on the Canto Bight racetrack, the camera gets knocked askance by their hooves.
  • In girlhouse, blood splatters the camera when Kylie beats Loverboy to death with it. The blood shows up Alex's computer screen as he is watching the live feed.
  • The camera lens gets wet during the splash fight when the older kids embark on their canoe trip in The Burning.
  • One Cut Of The Dead: Blood gets splattered onto the lens midway through the first sequence. After a minute, a hand comes from behind the camera and wipes it off. Later, the camera gets knocked to the ground and eventually picked back up again. Since the camera isn't supposed to be diegetic, this might come across as odd until The Reveal.


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