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Pretty much every movie ever made has at least one continuity mistake. Whether it’s a prop that moves around between shots, hair and makeup that magically evolves throughout a scene, a poorly executed reshoot that’s unnaturally stitched into the action, or something else, continuity errors are an unavoidable reality of filmmaking. After all, the people that make up a movie crew are only human, and that means sometimes they’re going to miss a detail or two during production.
Of course, for any detail a crew misses, eagle-eyed viewers are there to notice. And today, video on demand and streaming services enable us to scrutinize pretty much every film ever made frame by frame, making it more likely than ever that film fans will uncover even the smallest goof — and then share it widely on the internet. Ultimately most of these are nitpicky things that don’t take away from our enjoyment of the films. That said, spotting them is sometimes just as entertaining. Here are some of the best continuity mistakes in popular films — or the worst, depending on your perspective.
Love Heals All… Windows? – Spider-Man (2002)
Director Sam Raimi’s "Spider-Man," which came out in 2002, kicked off the first (of several) modern "Spider-Man" film series and helped give rise to the current superhero movie boom. The now-classic film tells the origin story of how Peter Parker, played by Tobey Maguire, became the wall-crawling superhero, but — like all Spidey-movies — it also includes a love interest for Peter to crush on. In this case, it’s Kirsten Dunst’s winsome Mary Jane Watson, who happens to be very interested in the costumed webhead who repeatedly saves her throughout the film.
Mary Jane’s interest in Spidey leads to one of the most famous moments in movie history: the upside-down kissing scene, where Mary Jane peels back the superhero’s face mask as he hangs upside down just enough to reveal his lips and plants a steamy smooch on him. However, before the kiss that everyone remembers, there’s a notable, but easy to miss, continuity mistake. As Spider-Man fights four men who were moments away from assaulting Mary Jane, he throws two of them into the pair of windows behind her. She bobs and weaves as one and then the other shatters the glass that’s on either side of her. However, a fraction of a second later, when the scene once again cuts to Mary Jane watching the wallcrawler, the windows are intact. Both Mary Jane and viewers are likely to be too distracted by the action to notice the windows have somehow managed to mend themselves, but a well-timed pause uncovers the inconsistency.
Can’t Keep An Angel from Shining – Charlie’s Angels (2000)
Back in 2000, the movie reboot of the classic ’70s TV show "Charlie’s Angels" became a box-office behemoth, but the film was far from error-free. One of the more obvious examples happens about an hour into the film. Right after Drew Barrymore’s Dylan returns to headquarters and is met outside by her fellow angels, Cameron Diaz’s Natalie and Lucy Liu’s Alex, the building explodes, knocking the trio backwards. In the very next shot, all three women are covered in soot and their hair and clothes are disheveled from the impact.
After determining everyone’s okay, the angels discuss why the bad guy, Knox (Sam Rockwell), would try to kill them. During their discussion, Dylan declares, "I don’t know what his plan is, but I know we can stop him." It’s an optimistic sentiment, but as she utters the line, Barrymore’s face is once again dirt-free and her hair is perfectly styled. While it could just be the glow of positivity, it seems this was likely the result of re-shoots where no one went to the trouble of ensuring that Barrymore’s look matched that of the original footage. It’s an especially glaring error because in the rest of the scene, Barrymore once again looks dirty and disheveled.
A Dog’s Changing Smile – Men in Black II
The "Men in Black" franchise introduced us to all kinds of aliens, from the creepy crawly to the regal and mighty. Then there’s Frank (Tim Blaney), an alien who’s taken on the guise of an extremely talkative pug. In "Men in Black II," he’s briefly promoted to be Agent J’s (Will Smith) partner, but when Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) returns to assume his old post working with J, Zed, the head of Men in Black, offers Frank a new job as his assistant. One of the major draws of the position according to Zed? A better dental plan.
Viewers might initially be as confused as Frank is, given that when the his teeth were seen in multiple previous scenes, they looked like any other canine’s — maybe in need of a little more brushing, but overall a typical doggie smile. After Zed promises Frank better dental, however, the camera capture the pug’s teeth once again, and they’re suddenly a big mess. Perhaps the filmmakers thought no one would notice the dog’s teeth in other scenes, or maybe they figured the joke was strong enough to withstand not jiving with the continuity of the rest of the film.
The Real Eighth Wonder of the World – Anaconda
"Anaconda" is a fun creature feature that plays on many people’s fear of snakes. With an ace cast that includes Jennifer Lopez, Ice Cube, and Owen Wilson as well as several VERY large snakes, the movie is an entertaining ride. That ride starts with a trip along the Amazon River with a fictional film crew that’s making a documentary about an indigenous tribe. Unfortunately for them, they soon encounter a character played by Jon Voight who’s best described as a snake obsessive, and soon their journey takes a turn for the reptilian.
While the crew’s dilemma is dire, the scenery throughout the film is beautiful, especially when they enter an area punctuated by a lovely waterfall. This is where things go wrong — not for the characters in the film, but for the filmmakers behind "Anaconda." While it seems they filmed plenty of footage of the crew’s boat sailing toward the waterfall, including an establishing shot of the boat floating by it, the "Anaconda" crew must have forgotten to get footage of the boat leaving the area. The evidence for this comes after the characters finally drive their boat away after spending 10 harrowing minutes by the waterfall. It’s here that the movie uses the exact same shot of the boat arriving…except they rewind the footage so the boat now backs out of the shot in reverse. If that weren’t silly enough, it also means the waterfall in the shot flows upward. Whoops!
Coffin Shenanigans – Bram Stoker’s Dracula
When lauded "Godfather" director Francis Ford Coppola decided to bring "Bram Stoker’s Dracula" to the big screen, what resulted was a sumptuous production that made the famous vampire a figure of romance and terror in equal measure. When Sadie Frost’s Lucy is turned into a vampire by Dracula (Gary Oldman), however, and Van Helsing (Anthony Hopkins) takes her trio of suitors to slay her, the film descends into a series of puzzling continuity errors in a scene that lasts under five minutes. First, although Lucy is nowhere to be found when they finally open her coffin, it takes an awful lot of effort for the group to pry the lid off, indicating that for some reason, Lucy went out of her way to seal it when she left for the evening.
Then, when the inside of the coffin is shown, a layer of glass sitting right under the lid can be seen that would have hovered above Lucy’s body had she been there. However, when the undead woman finally returns and Van Helsing uses a cross to force her back into the coffin, the glass is miraculously gone and Lucy is able to slide inside without it getting in her way. Finally, after Lucy has been forced to sleep in the coffin, Van Helsing talks her fiancé Arthur Holmwood (Cary Elwes) through driving a stake into her heart. Yet, when Arthur finally takes her out, it looks like they’ve placed Lucy on the coffin’s lid for easy access. But why would they go to the trouble of doing that when she could wake up and kill them at any time? Such a long list of continuity issues in such a short time makes it seem as though one of Dracula’s minions was having some fun with the filmmakers here.
Wearing Sensible Shoes to Battle – Resident Evil: Afterlife
It’s notoriously difficult to make a good movie based on a video game, but many fans think writer/director Paul W.S Anderson cracked the code with his "Resident Evil" franchise, based on the video-game series of the same name. Six popular "Resident Evil" movies were released between 2002 and 2016, all starring Milla Jovovich as the ass-kicking Alice, whose goal is to bring down the evil Umbrella Corporation after it triggered a zombie apocalypse.
Of course, if there’s anything better than one Alice it’s a whole bunch of them, and "Resident Evil: Afterlife" leans into that idea. In the previous film, "Resident Evil: Extinction," Alice learns that the Umbrella Corporation cloned her, and in the opening battle of "Afterlife," viewers discover that Alice’s clones have joined forces as the group infiltrates Umbrella headquarters. The team of look-alikes punch, kick, and shoot their way through the facility, with more and more Alices joining in the fight as things get increasingly intense.
While seeing Alice perform death-defying feats is nothing new, fans may notice one particularly strange thing about the fight: When the Alice clones are still or performing simple movements, they’re wearing boots with impossibly high stiletto heels, but when they’re in action, those shoes turn into flats. Unless Alice and her clones invented heel transforming technology (somebody please create that!), it appears the filmmakers forgot to hide the Alice clones’ feet when they were wearing those sensible but far less sexy flats.
A Roving Umbrella – Hook
The story of Peter Pan has been revisited repeatedly since J.M. Barrie first published the novel "Peter and Wendy" in 1911. While many different artists have approached the material in many different ways, one of the most noteworthy is Steven Spielberg’s "Hook," starring Robin Williams as a Peter who not only grew up, but also forgot all about Neverland. In contrast, his old nemesis Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman) hasn’t been so quick to let go of their old rivalry. So when he kidnaps Peter’s children to exact his long-delayed revenge, Peter must return to Neverland to save them.
After such a long time loathing Peter and fighting the Lost Boys, Hook is a pretty daffy villain, and as always, it’s the ever-loyal Mr. Smee (Bob Hoskins) who’s responsible for meeting the pirate captain’s every need, including listening to his angsty rants, putting him to bed, and serving him his nightcap. It’s that last act that leads to a continuity gaffe.
In the scene, Smee fixes the drink for Hook, placing a black paper cocktail umbrella in it and serving it to him. When Hook grabs it, he takes it by the top of the goblet and the umbrella is barely visible. Yet in the next shot, Hook is holding the glass by the stem and the umbrella is visibly sticking out, to the point that Hook holds onto it when Smee takes the glass back from him. Most viewers are likely to be focused on Smee and Hook’s plotting — not to mention the gross sight of Smee using his earwax to groom Hook’s mustache — instead of the drink, and it seems the filmmakers had the same issue.
Time Traveling Venkman – Ghostbusters
"Ghostbusters" is a classic that’s beloved by generations of fans. It contains several errors, however, including an especially strange one. After gaining fame for their ghost-hunting skills, the Ghostbusters attract a steady stream of work, to the point where they require extra help. That help comes in the form of Ernie Hudson’s Winston Zeddemore, who happens to be there when Bill Murray’s Venkman and Dan Aykroyd’s Ray return to the Ghostbusters’ firehouse headquarters covered in slime following their latest job.
Ray hires Winston on the spot and takes him downstairs to the ghost storage area after handing him several ghost traps. The scene then cuts to a cleaned up Venkman waiting outside for Dana (Sigourney Weaver) to emerge from her orchestra rehearsal. Viewers might understandably think this scene takes place later in the day or perhaps the following afternoon. But then the scene cuts back to Ray explaining how to unload the ghost traps to Winston, something that should have happened immediately after the scene where Ray handed them to him. Even more perplexing, the movie then cuts to Venkman upstairs, where he greets EPA agent Walter Peck while covered in what appears to be the same slime he was doused in earlier. It seems that the scene between Venkman and Dana was supposed to happen either right after or right before the scene with Winston, but somehow the scenes were spliced together, making it seem like a ghost messed with the movie’s timeline.
It’s All Fun and Gore – Zombieland
"Zombieland" is a pretty popular zombie comedy that includes all the undead action and gore we’ve come to know and love over the years. The zombies in "Zombieland" are fairly nimble, but like many versions of the creatures, they’re not too bright. Of course, that doesn’t mean they can’t figure out some basics when they’re in pursuit of human flesh, a fact that creates an eyebrow-raising mistake in the film.
During the extended scene at Pacific Playland, an amusement park overrun with zombies, Woody Harrelson’s Tallahassee draws a substantial part of the zombie horde to him. Eventually, he barricades himself in a game booth with two guns and plenty of ammunition. As he prepares to make his last stand, he closes the screens that secure the three windows in the booth. Yet, once the zombies surround him, there are several shots where one of the screens on a side window is open a sliver, just enough that the group of zombies would likely be able force it open and get into the booth, even if it was just by accident. Luckily for Tallahassee, movie editing magic ensures that the screen is closed when the scene cuts back to the window, something Tallahassee wouldn’t have time to do on his own.
The Trouble with Invisibility – Hollow Man
People have always wondered what it would be like if they had the power of invisibility. In "Hollow Man," a group of scientists make that dream a reality when lead scientist Sebastian (Kevin Bacon) becomes the first human to be rendered entirely see-through. Before the group tests the serum they’ve developed on Sebastian, however, they experiment on all sorts of animals, including a gorilla named Isabelle. The problem is that when you can’t see an animal, you’re likely to lose it, and that’s exactly what happens with Isabelle.
Fortunately, Sebastian and his colleague Matt (Josh Brolin) are able to shoot the rogue ape with a tranquilizer dart in the middle of a hallway before it can go on a rampage, an event that leads to one of the film’s funnier gaffes. As the two men discuss tranquilizing Isabelle, a door opens and veterinarian Sarah walks right through the area where the gorilla went down. She doesn’t bump into the unseen animal, even though Sebastian and Matt haven’t had a chance to move her or tell anyone she’s there. Ironically, Sarah’s there to defend Isabelle against Sebastian’s cavalier protocol for injecting her with the invisibility serum. But if you’re going to defend an invisible animal, it helps if the filmmakers reminds you to walk around her first.
Boomerang Buttons – Big Fish
Director Tim Burton is known for his whimsical, fairy-tale-like films, and with 2003’s "Big Fish" he took things to the next level with a story about a man named Edward Bloom (Ewan McGregor) who’s spent his whole life telling tall tales about his personal history. One of those tales he relays to his young son while he’s bedridden with chicken pox. To cheer his son up, Edward claims he suffered from an odd growth spurt that kept him bedridden for three years.
While many children may have growth spurts where they grow rapidly over a period of time, young Edward (Perry Walston) starts to outgrow his clothes all of a sudden one day at church, to the point where the buttons of his shirt pop off and hit the woman in the pew in front of him. The next shot of Edward includes a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it continuity mistake. After getting hit in the head with the buttons, the woman in front of him briefly turns around and looks at him. But when the shot cuts back to Edward, the top button of his shirt can once again be seen restored to its rightful place.
An Attention-Grabbing Bald Cap – Taxi Driver
Martin Scorsese’s "Taxi Driver" is one of the most iconic movies ever made, and Robert De Niro gives one of the most iconic performances in film history in it as Travis Bickle, a man whose anger and obsession eventually lead to an act of astonishing violence. Before he carries out his murderous rampage, however, Travis gives himself a mohawk. It’s among the most famous hair cuts caught on film, so many viewers might believe De Niro really shaved his head to achieve the effect.
It turns out that’s not the case. De Niro chose to keep his hair, and instead wore a bald cap to create the mohawk. It looks incredibly realistic, but a brief goof means some particularly observant viewers (or those who hit the pause button in just the right spot) will realize what’s going on. During Travis’ rampage, right after he’s shot in the neck, he puts his hand up to the wound. What De Niro couldn’t have known is that, in the process, he wrinkles his bald cap, signaling for a fraction of a second that the hairstyle he’s sporting isn’t the real deal. Most viewers will be too focused on the violence and mayhem to notice some unnatural wrinkles momentarily appearing on the back of De Niro’s skull, but the mistake shows that even the best movies of all time include an error two.