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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.

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.

Examples of Madness Montage include:

Anime and 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.


  • 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?
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • A wordless version of this is the track 'In The House- In a Heartbeat' from the 28 Days Later soundtrack. Spooky.
  • Ur Example: Du mußt Caligari werden!
  • Requiem for a Dream: When Mrs. Goldfarb's abuse of amphetamines catches up with her.
  • Pi, also by Darren Aronofsky, has several of these, illustrating Max's degenerating mental state.
  • All the hallucinations poor Lawrence has in The Wolf Man.
  • Arguably the end of Pan's Labyrinth, if you take the Agent Scully approach to the plot and see it as all just a hallucination.
  • 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.

Live Action TV

  • Episode The Time Is Now of Millennium featured a 10 minute variation of this. It pretty much portrayed Lara Means' mind shattering in the face of the Coming Apocalypse.



  • 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.
  • In the play The Adding Machine, when Zero's boss is telling him that he's been fired after twenty-five years on the job, 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.

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