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Top 10 Awesome Scenes That Were Production Nightmares

VO: Matthew Wende
Written by Owen Maxwell It's gold in the final film, but these movie scenes were difficult and sometimes disastrous to shoot! WatchMojo presents the Top 10 Scenes that Looked Cool but Everyone Hated Shooting! But what movie will take the top spot on our list? Waterworld, Children of Men, or The Shining? Watch to find out! Watch on WatchMojo: Big thanks to MattW128 for suggesting this idea, and to see how WatchMojo users voted, check out the suggest page here: WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Awesome+Scenes+That+were+Production+Nightmares

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Glorious though they may have appeared onscreen, these cinematic moments pushed their crews to the brink. Welcome to and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Awesome Scenes That Were Production Nightmares.

For this list, we’re looking at those unforgettable scenes that tested their filmmakers’ mettle through logistical challenges, emotional torment and/or physical danger. Some of these scenes are crucial to their plots, so a SPOILER ALERT is now in full effect.

#10: Corridor Fight
“Oldboy” (2003)

This brutal fight scene doesn’t cut once, making you feel every bit as tired as Dae-su. After escaping from his 15-year imprisonment, Dae-su’s quest for revenge involves beating up a whole lot of goons. As our protagonist fights a mob through a hallway, we get to take it all in from a stunning side-scrolling perspective. Since it’s a tracking shot involving extensive fight choreography, this scene was understandably exhausting to capture: it was filmed over the course of three days, requiring 17 takes just to get everything they wanted into the shot. Over a decade later however, it continues to inspire shows like ‘Daredevil’, proving that the iconic fight was worth the struggle.

#9: Church Brawl
“Kingsman: The Secret Service” (2015)

After a murderous signal goes off in a church, an entire congregation falls into unholy violence, and the extended, roughly four-minute brawl that follows reportedly put the stunt crew through hell. In all, the shoot ran over seven days with another week of prep, during which time the team had to coordinate over 100 stuntmen and extras. Meticulously planned to keep the momentum going, the scene is visceral and jarring. Plus, it looks like one take, since most of the cuts are hidden in the mayhem. Colin Firth even did most of his fighting himself, learning his choreography as one would a dance, in order to avoid employing what would have been a rather obvious stunt double.

#8: Cavern of Bugs
“Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” (1984)

Upping the ante from snakes, Steven Spielberg opted to subject his stars to bugs in this sequel. As Indy and Short Round enter a dark tunnel, they hear a lot of crunching under their feet. Finding countless bugs lining the floor and the walls, they turn to Willie to save them. Spielberg was clearly committed to freaking people out because he reportedly ordered 80,000 insects, and sure enough, he managed to utterly disgust his cast. Kate Capshaw allegedly admitted to needing some help in the form of Valium to get through her scenes. And with all those bugs poured on her, we’re betting her screams were as real as the audience’s.

#7: Quicksilver Mansion Rescue
“X-Men: Apocalypse” (2016)

He caught our attention with the slow-mo sequence in his first X-Men outing, and in the sequel Quicksilver returned to rescue a whole mansion of students. And this time around… the filmmakers went all in with the effects. In fact, according to director Bryan Singer, this three-minute scene ate up a month and a half of filming time. Phantom cameras were sent hurtling along tracks at up to 90MPH, capturing over 3000 frames per second. Considering how many slow and fast-moving parts were involved, this slow-mo scene could only have been achieved through a complex blend of practical and CGI effects. But by turning mere seconds within the film into a minutes-long feast for the eyes, the sequence blew audiences away.

#6: Hospital Gun Fight
“Hard Boiled” (1992)

As they fight gangsters in a hospital, Alan and Yuen fly through this exhausting multi-floor shootout. Filming in a hospital set for 40 days, John Woo’s crew reportedly ran themselves ragged, often staying on-set for days at a time. Looking to speed up production when exhaustion set in, Woo decided to condense the final lengthy action sequence into this now iconic tracking shot. Though it proved quicker to film, it also involved serious coordination. During filming, when the duo pops into the elevator, that 20-second window was used by the crew to reset the stage to look like a different floor without ever cutting. Working against the clock, Woo and company created a masterpiece of cinematic gunplay.

#5: Eating Raw Bison
“The Revenant” (2015)

Suffering for his art, Leonardo DiCaprio was willing to go as far as Alejandro Iñárritu asked. He repeatedly subjected his body to frigid cold waters, learned not one, but two Indigenous languages, and consumed nearly impossible to swallow meal. Recreating Hugh Glass’s struggle to survive, this scene called for him to eat bison liver. Raw. Leo was dissatisfied with the prop, however, so he offered to consume the real thing in the name of realism - despite reportedly being a vegetarian. Of course, an entire legal team had to sign off before it could be shot. A whole bunch of paper and plenty of gagging later, we got this truly stomach-churning moment in cinematic history.

#4: A Boat Up a Hill
“Fitzcarraldo” (1982)

In this shocking story based on real-life events, an infamous rubber baron goes insane moving a boat over a mountain. And, despite the obvious irony of his actions, director Werner Herzog opted to recreate the feat himself. One-upping the piece-by-piece transportation process of the original 30-tonne boat however, Herzog’s over 300-tonne behemoth was moved in one piece. Deciding against models or special effects, Herzog employed over 1,000 native extras to help drag the steamship. Remarkably, only six crewmembers were injured. The resulting film is a testament to realism in cinema as well as human determination or… stubbornness. As a result, Herzog earned plenty of comparisons to his protagonist, and reportedly dubbed himself the “Conquistador of the Useless.”

#3: Mast Issues
“Waterworld” (1995)
While filming this aquatic post-apocalyptic action flick, director Kevin Reynolds quickly saw his set turn into a REAL disaster. As you probably know, Waterworld’s production has since gone down as one of the most troubled in Hollywood history, as it was fraught with accidents and ridiculous expenses. But even by the film’s own standards, this scene was catastrophic. Kevin Costner was strapped to the 40-foot mast of a boat in extremely windy conditions. The camera shot from the perspective of a helicopter, which, Costner told Entertainment Weekly, got WAY too close for comfort. Though they got the shot, it nearly came at a very high cost; the vessel was blown beyond reach for 30 minutes with Kevin still helplessly strung up.

#2: Car Ambush
“Children of Men” (2006)
In this dystopian thriller, a loving moment quickly turns into chaos when the party gets ambushed. Director Alfonso Cuarón wanted to avoid the use of green screens at all costs, but was determined to realize this long-take sequence. So he built a drivable film rig that allowed a camera to move around the car’s ceiling to film the actors, while a driver actually handled the car. Even with this tech however, the 12 days of shooting were plagued by errors and delays. On the final day of filming, blood spatter accidently hit the lens. While a less open-minded team may have cut, thankfully, the crew didn’t hear Cuarón’s direction and kept rolling, with the resulting footage making for one seriously intense long-take.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Irrigated Gun Battle
“Heaven’s Gate” (1980)

- Demon Voice
“The Exorcist” (1973)

- Hidden Shark
“Jaws” (1975)

#1: Shelley Duvall’s Breakdown
“The Shining” (1980)
For Shelley Duvall, playing Wendy Torrance was more “living nightmare” than horror film shoot. During her over 500-day film shoot, Duvall became ill multiple times, and there’s little question as to why. In addition to tearing into Duvall repeatedly on set, Stanley Kubrick reportedly asked the crew not to sympathize with her in order to put her further into the character’s mindset of isolation. There was no shortage of draining moments to film, but even so, the “baseball bat” scene stands out as particularly harrowing. Duvall was apparently forced to deliver the emotionally demanding scene a whopping 127 times. By the end, she was reportedly losing her hair.


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