The 9 Best Ventilation Duct Scenes

Look around your room right now. You will no doubt see an air vent somewhere. You might think that it’s for transporting climate-controlled air around your dwelling, and you’re right. But if you watch enough movies, you’ll realize that it’s apparently meant to be used for many other things. It’s intended as a means of illegal break-in and escape. Or maybe you can use it to hide things, even people. Whatever the case, if you’re only using your air vent and ducts for climate control, then you’re misusing the product. Here are the nine best examples of ventilation duct usage in movies.

Die Hard (1988)
This whole movie wouldn’t work without the wonders of the ventilation duct. John McClain might as well pay rent for all of the stuff he did living in there. He made it his entire base of operation, evading Severus Snape… er, Alan Rickman.

Who’s Harry Crumb? (1989)
Ventilation ducts aren’t that big. They can’t hold most people. And even the ducts that are big enough to hold a person surely couldn’t hold the girth of John Candy. Still, the duct in Who’s Harry Crumb? gave us a little humor, with Candy dressed as a vent repairman from Bombay, before the exhaust blew him out the other end.

Alien (1979)
I bet when you saw the list title, this was the first movie that came to mind. It’s the quintessential ventilation duct scene.

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
In real life, it’d be hard for anyone to squeeze into an air duct. And like I said about John Candy, it’d be especially hard for a fat guy to squeeze into one… unless he’s Santa Claus and knows how to use magic to squeeze into tight chimneys millions of times one night a year. Sure enough, employing his special Fat Ass Through Tight Spaces technology, Santa and the kids escape from the martians.

No Country for Old Men (2007)
The ventilation system played a somewhat large role in the Coens’ Oscar-winning film. It was where Llewellyn hid the money in the hotel room; it’s where Anton Chigurh sniffs it out; and it’s part of Ed Tom Bell’s search later.

Mission Impossible (1996)
The one scene that everyone remembers from Mission Impossible is the vault heist where Tom Cruise dangles from the ceiling. But most people probably forget the unsung hero of that memorable scene- the ventilation duct, which is where Franz Krieger (Jean Reno) operates the harness that keeps Ethan (Cruise) from falling to the floor. Don’t be anti-ductite. Honor the ventilation duct that made it all possible.

Top Secret! (1984)
Yet another example of the ventilation duct escape used for humor, Nick Rivers (Val Kilmer) uses the ducts to try to get out of prison, but fails in comical ways. At one point, his head pops out of a toilet. I guess he should have turned left at Albuquerque. Also, is it possible to get an air conditioned (and heated) toilet? Because that would be awesome.

1408 (2007)
Writer Mike Enslin (John Cusack) used the air duct to escape from his haunted room, only to find out that the ventilation duct was haunted too. Strangely enough, this might be the only thing I remember about 1408. And I even kind of liked it.

Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle (2004)
Harold and Kumar use the ventilation duct during a prison escape, and the scene features a heartfelt conversation between Harold… and Kumar, tightly encased and lost in a ventilation duct.


30 Comments

Filed under Humor, Movies

30 responses to “The 9 Best Ventilation Duct Scenes

  1. Great list. I think I might also include the ventilation scene from Bad Santa–mostly just because I love the hell out of Bad Santa.

  2. Great list. I liked that you included 1408, that’s an underrated film. Alien has the best ventilation duct scene of them all. Countless people must’ve shat their pants in the theatre back in 1979.

    I’d also like to nominate a ventilation duct scene from an episode of The Simpsons. I don’t remember exactly which episode it was, but I have a distinctly clear recollection of Groundskeeper Willie, greased up, searching the vents for Santa’s Little Helper. I may have laughed so hard I pissed myself. I may have.

    • Ha… they’ve done the air vents a few times. There was another one with Skinner in there, and it was a straight spoof of Alien (right down to the beeping radar thing).

  3. I like that you included No Country for Old Men. When I saw “The 9 Best Ventilation Duct Scenes” I immediately thought of that film. Very cool idea for a list!

  4. Oh dear you forgot one. I know it was kind of a stupid movie but Paul Blart, Mall Cop. Watching Kevin James crashing through a ventilation duct was absolutely hysterical. I laughed so hard I cried. ;-)

  5. aleksa

    I’m surprised Aliens wasn’t in here.

  6. David

    Thanks for not making me feel bad for “Who’s Harry Crumb” being the first movie that popped into my head when I read the title to this post. I’m unwilling to admit how many times I’ve watched that movie. :)

    • The guy who met Kevin Meany

      “Who’s Harry Crumb” is one of those films that cuts through all of the film snobbery in my system. I love that movie and can really watch it over and over again. Also, “No Country For Old Men” was one of the most intense movies I have ever watched in a theatre. Air ducts are surprisingly great devices for comedy and suspense. Thanks for shining the light on an underappreciated movie prop.

      • I’d never even seen Harry Crumb until last weekend. It’s the movie that inspired the list, actually. And I agree- it’s totally lovable. That early clip in the tanning salon where he shows up in the glittery sweat suit or whatever was hilarious.

    • I really dug that movie. The opening scene was great. That’s when I knew I’d like it- with Candy dressed as Don King on the window cleaning support, swinging around taking pictures.

  7. Victor De Leon

    Great list. Alien is a great addition. Aliens would have been as well. But Ridley’s was more intense.

    • I totally spaced on Aliens. I got to the first one, and was so excited to include it (it’s an awesome scene)… and moved right on past the whole franchise.

      • Victor De Leon

        ha! :D no harm no foul. The first film’s vent sequence is so damn amazing and so scary. I felt so bad for Captain Dallas.

  8. goregirl

    “It’s the quintessential ventilation duct scene.” ha! ha! ha! ha! i wish I could come up with more ridiculous ideas for lists…I mean ridiculous in the most respectful way…that sentence killed me! And indeed…Alien is one of the first films that pops into my head when I think of quintessential ventilation duct scenes. I know I’ve seen a million other horror films with vent duct scenes but Alien pushed all the others out of my head. I REALLY disliked 1408.

    • Oh, disrespect away- it’s a completely ridiculous idea.

      I kind of liked 1408 when it first came out, but it was a good viewing experience, too, so I’m judging it more kindly than I should.

  9. Only you would have a list on ventilation duct in movies!! Awesome John, and Die Hard was the first thing that came to mind. I think I just saw an action film with a scene in a duct but can’t remember what it was. Glad to see Top Secret! Man that is such an underrated comedy, I LOVE Val Kilmer in it!

    • Ha… I had to double check with Kai at Man I Love Films to make sure they hadn’t done it before. And they’d done elevators, but no ventilation ducts.

  10. I love the list, and admittedly I chuckled at just reading the title. Great idea for a list.

    If I had an addition it would have to “The Breakfast Club”. Bender telling himself a joke, then crashing through the ceiling. “Forgot my pencil”. Always made me laugh.

  11. Boondock Saints “what do we need rope for” ” I don’t know but Charles Bronson always has a rope” . Should perhaps also be investigated to include and lengthen your list. Great list and interesting insights!

  12. impsndcnma

    I’ve seen a few of these and I think Aliens could easily be added as well. I forgot how much of a roll ventilation ducts played in the outcome of No Country for Old Men.

  13. maneatingcow

    Rachel Weisz as Penelope attempting her heist getaway through the ventilation duct in The Brothers Bloom. I love the look on the cops faces…

  14. Pingback: Other Sides to the Conversation: Week of August 24th

  15. VS

    How is Boondock Saints not on this list?

    • I have to admit, I really don’t like that movie. Not that I’m breaking balls about you liking it. I’m just trying to explain why it’s not on the list.

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