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Melting-Film Effect

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Sometimes, films can catch you off guard. And one way to do that is to make it look like the film got stuck and melted from being held still over the heated projector bulb for too long. This doesn't just happen in the films, this can happen on television, cartoons, heck, even webtoons! Just don't expect to be caught off guard if it's in a video or cartoon on the internet.

See Born in the Theatre for a broader trope dependent on the idea that one is watching film in a theater. Compare Old-Timey Cinema Countdown.


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    Films — Animated 
  • Monsters vs. Aliens begins with the Dreamworks Animation title melting away, revealing the real film beneath. Especially effective on 3-D.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Cinema Paradiso actually shows a film that's being projected melting on the screen, just before it disastrously catches fire. Of course we're talking about nitrate film here, pre-safety stock.
  • The Death Kiss: An actor has been murdered on camera, as he was acting while shooting a film. The cast, and crew, and cops all assemble to watch the footage—which melts on the screen. The killer knocked out the projectionist and left a lit cigarette in the projector box in order to set the film on fire.
  • Happens in the Animated Credits Opening of The Great Race.
  • Happens on Gremlins 2: The New Batch, when the Gremlins appear to take over the theater projector. On the home video version, the VHS glitches out instead.
  • Halfway through The Muppet Movie, the film melts. It takes a few moments before the Swedish Chef has things going again.
  • Persona (1966) might be the Trope Maker here (or, at least, the Trope Codifier).
  • Planet Terror: Happens during the reel changes.
  • An In-Universe example is seen in The Smallest Show on Earth, a film about a couple running a broken-down old cinema in the north of England.
  • Midnight Movie: The effect is used in universe in a chilling way. None of the scenes straight after it happens are from the film they're watching.
  • The 1971 cult film classic Two-Lane Blacktop uses this trope to bring the movie to a disjointed end. The audience is placed in the back seat of a suped-up 55 Chevy in a drag race at a track, looking forward over the shoulder of the driver (James Taylor). Just before the car accelerates down the track the sound drops out and as the car picks up speed the film slows until it starts to melt through and then the screen goes to black. The audience never sees the end of the last race.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie: Dr. Forrester accidentally does this to This Island Earth.
  • At the end of the 1968 Monkees film Head, a grand and beautiful version of the Columbia Pictures torch lady fades in. As the ending orchestral theme blasts on, the film begins to flutter increasingly on the logo, wriggles around and slides wildly until it stabilizes again; to a complete jammed stop it seems as the film begins to melt away to the top-left corner upon a background of flames, and is only just a little black shrivel when the lens finally shuts. It is not known whether this was intentionally done to end the movie on a distinctive note, or this accidentally happened and became a Throw It In! moment.

    Live-Action TV 
  • M*A*S*H: In-Universe, while the characters are having a film night (they're watching My Darling Clementine), the projector jams up and Klinger has to fix it. To keep themselves entertained while waiting for him, they have a sing-along and impressions contest.
  • Vienna Blood: In-Universe. The film that everyone is watching in 1908 Vienna in "Death Is a Welcome Guest" melts, because the projectionist got distracted by Ida Rego collapsing and dying in the middle of the theater, and stopped turning the crank. But it's also symbolic as Ida was the star of the movie and it's her face melting on the screen as she dies on the theater floor below.

  • The music video for Ultravox's "Dancing With Tears In My Eyes" ends with the family's Happier Home Movie film melting, presumably due to nuclear radiation.
  • As part of Godspeed You! Black Emperor's live show, they have visuals projected from actual film. Later in the show, the projectionist will literally burn the film (with a lighter) while it's still being shown, producing this effect.
  • Used in the music video for "Can't Feel My Face" by The Weeknd. Abel is set on fire on stage during the final moments of the video, and when he leaves the bar where he was performing, still in flames, the video ends with the film itself burning too.

    Web Animation 
  • In Angel Hare, this occurs at the end of Season 2's second Bonus Case (which takes place in Wylde Hare, a show which is being played on a film projector).
  • Homestar Runner: Used in a music video for "Experimental Film" by They Might Be Giants. According to the in-character commentary, it happened because Strong Sad loaded the film wrong, and he decided to Throw It In!.

    Web Videos 
  • Freshy Kanal's "Mr. Bean vs. Charlie Chaplin" is partly presented as an old film being played in a theatre and ends with the film melting after the ending credits.
  • Part of Honest Trailers's opener seen Once per Episode.
  • The beginning of the Unskippable intro sequence, but only in the archives, as the more recent ones just have the Escapist's logo.

    Western Animation 
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, one of Granny Smith's long-ago flashbacks in "Leap of Faith" ends this way.
  • Used on Kick Me as a Deus ex Machina to save the main character from a Giant Spider.
  • Rugrats: In "At the Movies", the babies' shenanigans in the Westside Octoplex cinema's projection room leads to the Dummi Bears: The Land Without Smiles film getting caught in it's projector and burning right at an important plot point. Worthy of note are the wacky bubble-like noises the film's soundtrack makes as it melts.
    Squeaky Bear: I know you're all wondering if little Shauna is going to pull through... (the others look aghast) Oh well... (warps a bit) lookslikelittleShauna, uh... (makes bubbling noises)


Video Example(s):


This IS a DVD!

When the film of Skinner's lousy Christmas movie breaks, Nelson mocks him, saying he should get a DVD next time, to which Skinner says it IS a DVD (which somehow caught fire).

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Main / MeltingFilmEffect

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