Top 10 Craziest Mel Gibson Movie Moments

by Phil Fava on January 26, 2010

in Top 10s

Melvin Moses Gibson. Friday marks the release of “Edge of Darkness,” your first film as an actor since 2002’s “Signs.” I’d like to say we’ve missed you, but you’ve directed two gloriously over-the-top, gore-filled historical behemoths with as much crazy-per-square-inch as anything you ever did as an actor. So, as a tribute to your nearly indefatigable reign as King Crazy, I offer you this Top 10. Please enjoy Top 10 Craziest Mel Gibson Movie Moments and remember, if you have a Top 10 to contribute, email

10. Signs (2002) – Mashed Potato Mayhem

M. Night Shyamalan and Mel Gibson are two of the most unstable filmmakers in Hollywood. Both seem to have lost their way at some point as the result of some very debilitating proclivities as directors and actors. Shyamalan sacrifices storytelling for tone and subtitutes twist endings for content. Gibson is all about arbitrary sadomasochism. But before Shyamalan went off track and before Gibson became self-parodying with “The Passion of the Christ” and “Apocalypto,” the two came together for this film, and it’s an extremely solid piece of work. But putting the film’s quality aside, this scene is one that could not be ignored for this list. Oh, man. I haven’t seen the movie in a while, but just thinking about Gibson’s emotional breakdown over an assortment of mismatched foods at the dinner table is making me laugh pretty uncontrollably. His character is a former minister who lost his faith after the death of his wife, and he goes off when his kids try to pray at the dinner table during the onset of an alien invasion. They hoot and holler and finally all break down in each other’s arms. It’s a silly scene in a good film, and it turned out to be a harbinger of all the insanity to come from both the film’s director and its star.

9. Apocalypto (2006) – Mayans Bleed Real Good

Oh, Mel. You wanted to explore the ancient Mayan culture and exemplify its intricacies and mysteries, huh? And you wanted to frame that noble exploration within the context of an action-adventure/chase picture during which more blood is shed than most horror movies (but not much more than most Mel Gibson movies)? How admirable. This scene depicts a Mayan ceremony during which a man is sacrificed to some unidenfitifed deity and has his heart torn out. Like I said: admirable. Now, I’d like to articulate lots and lots of vaguely condemnatory pronouncements about this silly movie, but I feel like Scene-Stealers has been here before. To quote J.D. Warnock, “Just like everybody else, you can cut half the head off a Mayan and blood will squirt out!” Couldn’t have said it better myself.

8. What Women Want (2000) – Mel Does Not Feel Ashamed

Thought Mel was a bit of a misogynist? Well, think again! In this scene from “What Women Want,” a film about a womanizing ad executive who acquires the ability to read women’s minds, Mel’s character tries to get in touch with his inner lady by shaving his legs, applying makeup, and fumbling around his bathroom while listening to Meredith Brooks’ 90s hit “Bitch.” I know my tone may come across as a bit condescending, but, in all honesty, I like this movie. I can’t help it. Mel Gibson’s as charming as he is delirious. And despite the fact that this film was probably a late-in-the-game attempt to squelch the general perception that he was sexist, I enjoy it. And to be fair, this isn’t “crazy” so much as it is just ridiculous. But is it ever ridiculous … (Starts at 3:25.)

7. The Road Warrior (1981) – “The Ayatollah of Rock n’ Rolla!”

The basic rules for this list I imposed upon myself were that each entry would either contain Mel Gibson in a moment of insanity as an actor or Mel Gibson in a moment of insanity as a director. So, in that sense, I’m breaking my own rules a little on this one. But, seriously, how could I not include this gem in a Mel Gibson-related top 10? Lord Humungus’ speech to the residents of the ramshackle, militarized compound in George Miller’s post-apocalyptic thrillride “The Road Warrior” is one of the strangest, funniest, most off-the-wall moments in a Mel Gibson movie, especially since it’s one in which Mel Gibson himself is not taking part in the craziness. There are about a dozen things that are truly bizarre in this sequence and it would be impossible to do them justice here. So, that being said, I’ll let the clip speak for itself and just walk away.

6. Lethal Weapon (1987) – Rooftop Shenanigans

You had to know this would find its way onto this list. It was this performance that first gave us a taste of the maniac Aussie who would be gracing the silver screen for decades to come. Among other things, “Lethal Weapon” catapulted Mel Gibson to stardom and defined the buddy cop flick of the 80s. I’m not sure if either of those are good things, but the point remains. Just watch him in this scene. Look at the gleam in his eyes (exhibited perfectly in the thumbnail for the video). Listen to the tone of his voice and how bits of his accent slip out here and there. “Acting”? Give me a break. Apart from the Special Ops training and a few other variables, Mel Gibson IS Martin Riggs. They were just tearing pages from his diary and adapting them for the big screen.

5. Ransom (1996) – “Give me back my son!”

Filmmakers love celebrating Mel’s psychological instability. Whether its his gore fetish or his appetite for nutty, quotable dialogue, they can’t seem to get enough of giving him exactly what he wants. I think this one might be his most memorable outburst (apart from “The Patriot[‘s]” “You’re my child!”) and it tells you all you need to know about this movie. Also in this scene are some of my very favorite Mel movie quotes, the best of which is probably: “Don’t you understand English, you useless piece of shit?!” Priceless. It’s all in the delivery, though. The only other actor I can think of who’d trump Gibson’s throaty incantation would be Gary Busey (who is coincidentally the villain in “Lethal Weapon”). And that raises a pretty good question, actually: Whose insanity has more real life and cinematic entertainment value, Mel Gibson or Gary Busey?

4. Payback (1998) – Porter’s Little Piggies

As for this scene…I don’t quite know what to say. It may be Mel’s definitive screen moment of sadomasochism. And if that doesn’t grant it a spot on this Top 10, what will? In the film (a remake of 1967’s “Point Blank” starring a terrifically deadpan Lee Marvin), Mel plays Porter, a small time crook interested in retrieving $70,000 that was stolen from him sometime earlier by his ex-wife and former partner. Throughout the film – some of which actually does involve legitimate S&M – he has his many attempts at retribution thwarted by a menagerie of crooked cops and ethnic mobsters. Finally, he kidnaps a crime boss’ (Kris Kristofferson) son only to find himself at the thug’s mercy in an abandoned warehouse (that most reliable filmic setpiece). Refusing to give up the boy’s location, one of Kristofferson’s goons proceeds to demolish Porter’s toes with a hammer, with the intimation that the instrument will soon find its destructive home elsewhere on his body. Porter invites the torment, telling the gangsters quite frankly, “This little piggy went to the market.”

Note: Unfortunately, the full clip I intended to include has been removed from YouTube but is still available in French and Italian.

3. Conspiracy Theory (1997) – Wheelchair Stairwell Bowling

No words can really do justice to this stupendously absurd, hilarious scene from the 1997 paranoid thriller “Conspiracy Theory,” which co-starred Julia Roberts, making it two enormously popular box office draws at the height of their careers.

Patrick Stewart plays a psychiatrist working for the CIA who viciously interrogates Jerry Fletcher (Gibson), a delusional taxi driver obsessed with hokey conspiracy theories, only to have him escape through a series of preposterous events including nose biting and, yes, wheelchair stairwell bowling.

It has to be seen to be believed.

2. The Passion of the Christ (2004) – Madonna and Midget Baby

I went to Catholic school up until eighth grade and, while I’m no longer of that persuasion, I still view this movie as one of the biggest subliminal sleights against Christ ever committed to film. Why subliminal? Because most Christians don’t even realize their Lord is being sleighted! I mean, come on. You’ve got the Prince of Peace in torture porn and people are fooled into thinking it’s some meritorious, sophisticated meditation on his suffering because everyone grimaces throughout and there’s foreboding music galore. If you want to see a real meditation on Christ’s suffering (both internal and external) from a masterful director (Martin Scorsese), see “The Last Temptation of Christ.” But that’s enough. I’m going to stop myself before I get carried away. So, in this brief moment of gut-busting self-seriousness, Satan, in the form of a woman (Mel Gibson…sexist? No way!), holds a…weird midget baby in her arms while Christ is being mercilessly beaten. She does so, apparently, to mock him. Mel Gibson does so, apparently, because he’s out of his mind. Just look at the expression on that creature’s face! I’m not sure if it’s disturbing or the funniest thing I’ve seen in my entire life.

1. Lethal Weapon (1987) – “You wanna see crazy?!”

We didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into, did we? It was 1987 and we were on our way to see Richard Donner’s newest film, “Lethal Weapon,” starring Danny Glover, the most reliable of actors, and Mel…who? Gibbons? Gibson? Oh, yeah! That guy from “The Road Warrior.” We bought our tickets, popcorn, and found our seats perfectly distanced from the screen according to our individual preferences. The film began. We were introduced to Roger Murtaugh, a grumpy detective and family man, trudging across the screen, squawking about his impending retirement. He hung around for a little bit and we quickly developed a fondness for the curmudgeonly police officer. And then something happened, something none of us were prepared for: we met Martin Riggs. Posing as a simpleton trying to buy cocaine from a few drug dealers, the manic depressive detective unleashed his craziness on us like a hailstorm. We were bombarded with it. Face slapping? Check. “Three Stooges”? Check. Wide-eyed lunacy? Check. Let’s face it; this scene has to be number 1. It was our introduction to the character of Martin Riggs and to the Mel Gibson prototype. It says more in three minutes about the man and the filmmaker than every other entry on this list combined.

He showed us crazy alright.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Xavier January 26, 2010 at 4:07 am

I don’t know whether you realize how timely this is as it is actually Australia Day over here but kudos for a great list on a great day where we have BBQs listen to triple j’s hottest 100 and drink a lot of alcohol. Also sorry to burst your bubble but no one drinks fosters in Aus its carlton draughts or crown lagers.


2 trustthedust January 26, 2010 at 9:18 am

I need to seek out some VB today…


3 Eric Melin January 26, 2010 at 11:10 am

Xavier- Cheers! I wrote that in my intro on the front page, didn’t I? Sorry for stereotyping Australians with the Foster’s. Hope you have a good number of Carltons today!


4 jester1345 January 26, 2010 at 1:26 pm

sorry i like mel as an actor what about The man without a face, brave heart he’s a method actor like johnney dep and robert deniro
and these are just some of the things that he does hes just good at doing crazy. that be like jimmy carey is only good at one thing and thats comedy and we both know thats not true 21


5 Xavier January 26, 2010 at 11:11 pm

No Aus Day isn’t mentioned specifically in the intro on the main page but I got the impression you might have known it was. It is odd that Foster’s seems to be an Aus beer that only people outside of Australia drink. VBs are also drunk widely here but I find them disgusting.


6 Suenos March 12, 2010 at 10:56 pm

The fight scene with Gary Busey “Mr. Joshua” was one of my favorite Mel Gibson action scenes!



7 Zane January 5, 2011 at 5:14 am

After reading I’m pretty sure that Phil, as much as he thinks may know, knows absolutely nothing. Sure you can bash anything if you hate it enough but lets take a look from the other side and not the one coming from a complete misanthropist. Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ portrayed Jesus’s death in a way that was never seen before. Porn? For someone who went to catholic school up until 8th grade might know how the bible tells the story. Get your facts straight.


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