Elevators in the Movies (Part 1)

Elevators are all around us. They get us where we need to go. They can also make a great plot device or setting for a movie. Cinema is packed with memorable elevator scenes that take our imaginations for a ride. Here is a list of some great elevator scenes to date.

Warning: Plot Spoilers

The Shining

Who could forget the iconic images of the Overlook Hotel filling up with blood? This is certainly one of the spookiest and most famous elevator scenes in modern cinema.

Liar, Liar

Fletcher’s inability to lie gets him into some trouble with a buxom neighbor in this hilarious elevator scene.









The Departed

This is perhaps the most devastating and shocking elevator scene of all time. As Billy Costigan tries to arrest Sgt. Sullivan, we watch the villain plead for his own death. And then the carnage ensues.

 The Matrix

The Matrix is full of exciting elevator action, including a scene in which Neo and Trinity drop a bomb down an elevator shaft and calmly ride the cable up to the top of a skyscraper, where they dispatch a swarm of enemies.


Dae-su steps out of an elevator and smashes his way through a dozen prison guards with a hammer. The fight scene, filmed as one continuous take, is gritty and technically brilliant.

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

“It’s a Wonkavator. An elevator can only go up and down, but the Wonkavator can go sideways and slantways and longways and backways and squareways and front ways and any other ways that you can think of.”








Vanilla Sky

As David rides up an elevator to the top of a seemingly infinite building, he learns that has been in cryonic sleep for 150 years.










Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

This movie features a tense and darkly comic scene in which Dr. Gonzo brandishes his knife in a drug-addled state, to the horror of hotel guests.

Honorable Mentions:

Die Hard with a Vengeance

McClane realizes he is riding an elevator full of henchmen and, after some classic McClane wisecracking, makes short work of his foes.

Smokin’ Aces

This scene, in which Carruthers encounters Acosta, is suspenseful and stylish.

Mission Impossible

In this classic scene, technician Jack Harmon meets his demise in an elevator shaft.

To be continued…