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Madness Montage

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Apparently, you have to become Caligari.

A montage that brings you inside the mind of a character going mad.

Music is heard, which may be quiet at first, but steadily increasing in volume and cacophony. Characters from several scenes may be superimposed, with some of them repeating fragments of their lines over and over again, in the manner of a Madness Mantra. Bizarre sequences or surreal images may be used.

This may be the time when the character goes Ax-Crazy and murders someone. Alternately, he may be screaming at the top of his voice, trying to drown out the chaos assaulting his imagination.

Compare Black Bug Room. Compare also Through the Eyes of Madness, which takes a mad character's POV for a sustained amount of time.


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    Anime & Manga 

  • There's a single-page version of this near the end of the Death Note manga. Followed by an absolutely amazing psycho grin.
  • In episode 4 of FLCL, Naota fears that his father is in a relationship with Haruko. When his father uses Haruko's catchphrase "mouth to mouth", he sees Haruko climbing out of his father's mouth dressed as a mouse and being mauled by a giant cat with large testes, interspersed with random clips of Haruko from earlier episodes, a voiceover of Haruko from the first episode, all over a soundtrack of indistinct whispering and a swelling distorted guitar track, eventually prompting Naota to beat his father with a baseball bat. Luckily, he's actually a robot. Unusually, Naota remains completely still through the entire scene - not even a hint of Ax Crazy (although probably lots of Heroic BSoD).
  • There are a whole bunch of these in Neon Genesis Evangelion, including all of the last two episodes, and the whole Third Impact part of the movie.
  • Poor, poor Stein, who spends a good deal of Soul Eater trying to fight hallucinations of melting scenery and a certain seductive witch. In the anime, this culminates in a good part of an episode being focused on his hallucinations stumbling through a fog of crazy.

    Comic Books 
  • Grendel: Eppy Thatcher gets these every so often.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • A wordless version of this is the track 'In The House- In a Heartbeat' from the 28 Days Later soundtrack. Spooky.
  • The Ken Russell film Altered States has an example. Or does William Hurt flying around on a flaming cross wearing a 12-eyed goat's head count?
  • The last scene of The Aviator, as Howard Hughes, finding himself unable to stop repeating the phrase "the way of the future," looks into a mirror and sees a reflection of the first scene of the movie.
  • Reversed: There's a montage like this in the mind of John Nash, in A Beautiful Mind, as he's proving his madness to himself.
  • The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is the Ur-Example. "You must become Caligari!"
  • The montage used in The Lonely Lady has become legendary, having been used in the Razzies' award ceremony for years.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road. To show that 'Mad' Max deserves his nickname. While trying to escape from the Citadel Max has hallucinations of his family that he failed to save.
  • The Man Who Changed His Mind: After being laughed out of the auditorium by the scientific community, and Lord Haslewood cuts off his funding, there is a montage showing Dr. Laurience's rapid descent into insanity.
  • The end of Pan's Labyrinth, if you take the Agent Scully approach to the plot and see it as all just a hallucination.
  • π, also by Darren Aronofsky, has several of these, illustrating Max's degenerating mental state.
  • Requiem for a Dream: When Mrs. Goldfarb's abuse of amphetamines catches up with her.
  • Secret Window has his.
  • Used as the climax of the movie version of Pink Floyd's The Wall. The same thing, albeit obviously limited to the trope's audio portion, applies to the album.
  • All the hallucinations poor Lawrence has in The Wolfman (2010).

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In her introductory episode, Glory suffers one in the build-up to the Mind Rape she commits to restore her equilibrium.
  • Doctor Who. In "The God Complex" this is shown whenever the Victim of the Week is about to be devoured by the Monster of the Week, which turns their fear into faith which it then devours. Their mental state is shown by close-ups of them screaming and laughing in rapid succession. The words "Praise Him" also appear in various fonts.
  • In the It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia episode "Mac and Dennis Move to the Suburbs", one of these occurs as Mac and Dennis start to lose their minds over being completely unfit for suburban life, set to the tune of "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley. Highlights include Dennis screaming over traffic during his commute, Mac staring blankly while their dog begs for food, Dennis throwing a plate of macaroni and cheese onto the floor for no reason, and the two men losing their minds over a smoke alarm that keeps them awake at night.
  • Episode "The Time Is Now" of Millennium (1996) featured a 10 minute variation of this. It pretty much portrayed Lara Means' mind shattering in the face of the Coming Apocalypse.


  • In The Adding Machine, when Zero hears from his boss that he's been fired after twenty-five years on the job to be replaced by a machine, music starts soft and grows louder and louder as the stage revolves increasingly rapidly. The boss's voice is obliterated under a deafening cacophony of sound effects, and a sudden flash of red ends the scene.
  • The climax of the "Loveland" Dream Sequence from the musical Follies: Ben stops singing "Live, Laugh, Love" and goes into a hysterical rant ("I don't love me!"). The orchestra continues playing and the dancers keep dancing... about a dozen musical numbers simultaneously.


    Web Original 
  • When Todd in the Shadows sees the Bad Romance video for the first time - bits and pieces flash on the screen until he begins screaming that she's a demon from hell.

    Western Animation 


Video Example(s):


Jinx's Madness Montage

Jinx's crazy self-talk after seeing her sister again. While playing with live grenades.

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Main / MadnessMontage

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