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Christopher Lloyd’s favourite Roger Rabbit scene is nightmare fuel

Christopher Lloyd has a particular scene from Who Framed Roger Rabbit that he loves, but it's a moment that makes the kids movie absolutely horrifying

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Christopher Lloyd once revealed that his favourite scene from seminal family movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit is the terrifying moment where Judge Doom melts a cartoon character right in front of us. The movie villain, portrayed by Lloyd, dips a cutesy shoe into a vat of special toon-acid, reducing them to lifeless goo.

‘The Dip’, as it’s called, is the only known way to murder a living animation. Not only has Doom introduced a way to painfully kill anything you can draw, he’s also developed the apparatus for animated corporal punishment. Something certainly dies in that scene: some of our childhood innocence when we first watch it.

It seems almost a foregone conclusion in hindsight. Director Robert Zemeckis, animation director Richard Williams, and their incredible team of animators and designers put so much energy into bridging animation and live-action, one logical endpoint was figuring out what it looks like what it looks like when a human kills a toon. After all, a cartoon murdered Detective Eddie Valiant’s (Bob Hoskins) partner, so what does the other way around look like?

Justifying why he loves such a cruel scene, Lloyd cites horrific parts of classic Disney movies like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and the impact those left on him. “There was always something horrible done, and I would have nightmares,” he says. “So it’s kind of payback.”

The House of Mouse has always had a penchant for heightened peril in all-ages entertainment. Bambi’s an obvious example, Sheer Khan stalking Baloo in The Jungle Book, Rose pricking her finger in Sleeping Beauty, the hunter scenes in Snow White, the list goes on.

Bob Hoskins in Who Framed Roger Rabbit

When paired with more fantastical and whimsical motifs like the pink elephants in Dumbo, the Chernabog in Fantasia, and the Queen transforming in Snow White, Disney productions don’t seem so cheery and light. Roger Rabbit follows that same trajectory, leading to an even more terrifying sequence towards the end.

Doom captures Roger and Jessica and ties them up to test a cannon full of The Dip that he plans to use to wipe out Toontown (Who Framed Roger Rabbit features attempted genocide; it’s a traumatising film). He’s interrupted by Eddie, who fights him through the Acme warehouse. Their slapstick brawl ends when Doom is flattened by a steamroller – only to stand up afterwards and inflate himself back to his correct proportions.

Watching a paper-thin human being walk around is disconcerting enough, and what comes after only piles on the discomfort. His eyeballs fall to the ground during his oxygen intake to reveal bulging cartoonified peepers embedded in Lloyd’s otherwise regular face.

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The uncanny valley is a playground, and we can but watch in terror and awe at what the effects masters at Industrial Light and Magic achieved. They were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should. Not even Eddie is sure how to react, attempting to run from Doom, who bounces in chase in his black trench coat, looking like some twisted fusion of Tigger and Neo from The Matrix ala The Fly.

It’s horrific. There’s no other word for it. Many of the best horror movies don’t come close. To this day, literal translations of animated characters make me deeply uneasy in a way I’ve never been fully able to express, and I believe this film is to blame.

Just imagine Stewie from Family Guy, or Dragon Ball Z character Vegeta, or one of the Care Bears or whomever existing in our world, in their exact proportions, staring right at you. Terrifying. Or maybe that’s just me. Anyway, I digress.

Bob Hoskins and Jessica Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit

I’m also of the belief that part of the remembered reaction to Doom making cartoon soup using The Dip is tied to the ending. Since many of us watch Who Framed Roger Rabbit at a particularly young age, the emotional memory is based on the whole picture, and it’s intertwined with that poor shoe getting negatively transmogrified because that was the first twinge that something’s not right.

That’s where what we understood about fantasy and escapism died. No wonder it kept us up at night. Maybe we should switch to watching Space Jam instead?

If you’d like to unwind after that trip down memory lane, check out our list of the best Pixar movies, or alternatively, see what terrors await in our guide to all the upcoming new movies.