A blindfold may have many uses, as a sleep mask, as part of a childhood game, for magic tricks, for sensory deprivation training, or for kinky and/or nefarious reasons. Here are 9 movies with memorable blindfold moments. This list has action-adventure fantasy stories, martial arts action scenes, twisted toys taking advantage of kinkiness, kidnapping and torture scenes, tests of courage, and more!
Blindfold Moment #1: The Princess Bride (1987)
Rob Reiner’s The Princess Bride has memorable, quotable scenes, which is often how a classic film is born. There is also an element of mystery to the story, and the character of Buttercup (Robin Wright) doesn’t know the identity of the Dread Pirate Roberts (Cary Elwes). During the test of wits scene between Roberts and Vizzini (Wallace Shawn), the poor woman is blindfolded, which is a perfect symbol of her struggle to find the truth about her situation.
Though the story of The Princess Bride involves a menacing creature or two and seems to occur long ago, Buttercup’s basic scenario of being in the dark, pursued by enemies, and being held captive are all classic story elements. Yes, plenty of modern elements might complain about the “damsel in distress” trope, but let’s not forget that this very story also puts Dread Pirate Roberts/Westley under duress and, actually, there are key moments where is perhaps more powerless than Buttercup, relying on others to rescue him from the very edge of death.
Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon) is a force to be reckoned with, though he seems like a potentially interchangeable trope himself (the power-mad Prince or a King or a Sultan). So it’s best to watch this without aiming to dismiss it and break everything down into tropes, which can help ruin just about any movie out there.
Yes, in any story like this you might find a scheming Prince, a dangerous swamp or forest, maybe someone or something being kept by a witch, and a few beasts or assorted villainous henchmen putting heroes in peril. However, this family classic actually manages to defy certain expectations anyway, which is something audiences already desperately wanted, rather than all the standard clichés. However, there is also a danger of burnout if one never expects conventional story elements. “The Princess Bride” seems to walk that fine line nicely.
Blindfold Moment #2: Bloodsport (1988)
Newt Arnold’s Bloodsport is perhaps Jean-Claude Van Damme’s 2nd best film (behind JCVD, which is seriously better than some might expect). In Bloodsport, a sensei named Senzo Tanaka (Roy Chiao) had sensed an intense fighting spirit in a young Frank Dux (Pierre Rafini), and he subsequently began training Dux as a student of the way of ninjutsu. By adulthood, Dux (Van Damme) developed a love of the study of combat and martial arts, which he expressed to his sensei through perfect dedication.
Part of this training involves fighting while blindfolded. Also, after years of being trained by Tanaka, Dux was officially a part of the U.S. Army, as a soldier-ninja thingamabob. He is not the kind of fighter to use a katana, and he avoids fighting dirty. This sportsmanship makes Dux potentially vulnerable to Chong Li (Bolo Yeung) during the Kumite martial arts tournament in Hong Kong. However, by relying on the discipline of sensei Senzo, Dux never breaks, and seemingly shifts his disadvantages into advantages like a true master. Of course, many say the real Frank Dux is a braggart who grossly exaggerates his life story, but Bloodsport is an entertaining film either way, and those blindfolded training sequences are a big part of what makes the fictionalized Frank Dux memorable.
Blindfold Moment #3: Puppet Master (1989)
The first entry in the Puppet Master franchise establishes the lore of magic puppet maker André Toulon (William Hickey). Mixed up in a Nazi spy operation, Toulon commits suicide before the German agents can find his strange, living puppets and adopt their power to their own sinister ends. However, interestingly enough, the Germans are no more villainous than Toulon’s puppets in this film series.
The movie gets weirder as 4 psychics stay at the same Bodega Bay Inn where Toulon offed himself. One of these psychics, Frank (Matt Roe) gets it on with fellow psychic Carissa (Kathryn O’Reilly). However, during their psychic sex session, she gets killed by a puppet named Tunneler, who drills into her face. Then a blindfolded Frank is targeted by the aptly-titled Leech Woman puppet, who hideously regurgitates leeches into his squirming body, draining him of blood. Where do the leeches come from? Presumably from Hell, and the scene quickly transforms into a classic gross-out moment.
Obviously, these puppets get carried away. They beat people, stab them, maybe spew out leeches onto them. You really don’t want to stay in this hotel (plus, it’s no Hollywood Roosevelt hotel anyway). Some will scoff, assuming it would be easy to escape an assassination attempt by these little freaks, but they are always looking for new ways to inflict bodily harm and have a pretty solid track record — at least 14 films worth, and Toulon’s gruesome influence is never far away from crafting another installment. This bloody puppeteer’s story seems destined to continue.
Blindfold Moment #4: UHF (1989)
Jay Levey may have directed UHF, but the film has “Weird Al” Yankovic’s own trademark wacky humor stapled to its eyebrow. Basically, Weird Al’s humor acts as a master of ceremonies when his character, George, gains control of a small, local UHF TV station. Initially, he and his creative team struggle to avoid bankruptcy, but a breakthrough kid’s show hosted by station janitor Stanley Spadowski (Michael Richards) makes the station a ratings giant, earning the ire of their competitor, R.J. Fletcher (Kevin McCarthy).
As UHF parodies TV shows and movies, Fletcher schemes against the network, culminating in a kidnapping plot against Mr. Spadowski. Blindfolded and hidden in a storage facility by Fletcher’s goons, Stanley annoys the hell out of them with his incessant chatter and rendition of the “Bonanza” theme. And, even though parts of UHF are about George and his romance with a woman named Teri (Victoria Jackson), we learn that Stanley feels equally as strongly about his beloved mop, which helps inspire him to break free from his captors.
Whereas George and Teri’s romance seems potentially short-lived and easily jeopardized, Stanley seems to have an undying love for that mop. Fletcher’s goons soon regret the decision to place the mop anywhere near Stanley, who is given super strength after his blindfold slips just enough to see the hope-inspiring object. So yes, you can wreak havoc on the station, but you’d better not mess with Stanley’s prized mop.
Blindfold Moment #5: Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)
At first, Will Ferrell’s title character Ricky Bobby doesn’t seem to have a care in the world in Talladega Nights. However, after experiencing a car crash that renders him fearful of driving for NASCAR, his career is in serious jeopardy. That’s where Ricky Bobby’s daddy, Reese (Gary Cole), comes back into the picture, offering him a rigorous and disastrous training session, including everything from facing down a live cougar, making him outrun the police, and also having him drive blindfolded (resulting in Ricky crashing into a house!).
This is a movie with a premise more suited for kids but a silly, yet entertaining, watch for anyone in their 30s or older. It may be a guilty pleasure movie for some, but Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby can have you transported to a world filled with action, camaraderie, and simply, glory. If you go into this movie with a negative attitude toward the premise or this style of humor, you’ll probably have a hard time appreciating it. But to those who already get it: Shake and bake!
Blindfold Moment #6: The Girl Next Door (2007)
If you were looking for a darker, more evil, and questionable film to grace this list, this one’s about as dark as it gets. Gregory M. Wilson’s The Girl Next Door is based on the novel by Jack Ketchum, which itself is based on the sadistic murder of teenager Sylvia Likens by Gertrude Baniszewski and neighborhood accomplices in 1965.
This is one of those movies seemingly designed to make you feel guilty. The main villain of the piece, Ruth Chandler (Blanche Baker), expresses sleazy and sinister confidence as she tortures a girl under her care named Meg (Blythe Auffarth), and, to a lesser degree, Meg’s younger sister, Susan (Madeline Taylor). In the world of justice, you obviously have official courts, and also the court of public opinion. Ruth would surely face both.
Ruth deprives Meg of food, often keeps her in the basement tied up and blindfolded, and tortures her. These terrible acts are often committed with the help of neighborhood kids, who she sometimes shares beers with, usually while getting a little drunk herself. It’s really a murky film, acting almost like a slap to the face, reminding us these types of people are out there. In fact, the title itself suggests that this could be happening in practically any neighborhood.
Why does Ruth hate Meg so much that she’d be put in a basement jail? Ruth is a sadist, first and foremost, finding these torture methods as attractive as her targets. She also no doubt enjoys using and manipulating others to torture Meg on her behalf, possibly viewing herself almost as an artist. It’s also implied that Ruth bears a grudge against Meg. We never truly know what makes Ruth go rogue. The Girl Next Door also stars Daniel Manche as the main character David Moran, and Kevin Chamberlin as Officer Lyle Jennings, who fails to act until severe damage has already been done.
Blindfold Moment #7: Dogtooth (2009)
Want another film that’ll make you feel rather icky? You also need look no further than Yorgos Lanthimos’ Dogtooth, about a terrible pair of parents (Christos Stergioglou and Michelle Valley) who keep their children almost totally isolated from the world. The family lives socially off-grid on the verge of breakdown due to the constant control and manipulation. This movie is not only disturbing due to its graphic nudity and sex scenes (though, if you are concerned about such a thing, definitely don’t watch this with your family).
The characters do have a home but it’s isolated, and the sick parental figures take full advantage of that to play their games. Though it’s pretty creepy, the isolated environment is what the family is trained to be comfortable with. Over the course of the film, the purported offspring of these depraved parents are taught false meanings of words and made proficient in fake survivalist skills. There are lessons such as how housecats are murderous, and they are encouraged to take endurance tests as games (often while blindfolded).
Basically, the film exploits some of the oldest fears of insular parenting and cultural upbringing; children in such environments will be taught a lot of nonsense and easily abused. It’s also easier to manipulate people if they are entirely shielded from the outside world. If you control everything someone understands from childhood to adulthood when the time comes for them to get away, they might say no. Dogtooth reminds us that any household might almost function as its own remote island nation. Real-life examples of abuse similar to what’s showcased in Dogtooth are not entirely rare, and certainly not all ancient history. Dogtooth also stars Angeliki Papoulia, Mary Tsoni, Christos Passalis, and Anna Kalaitzidou.
Blindfold Moment #8: Nerve (2016)
Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman’s Nerve certainly has an interesting premise. Nerve is an online bit of sadism disguised as a game where users are pushed to participate in dares by other users. It starts off seeming relatively innocent and fun, but the dares tend to escalate over time, as users try to one-up each other and outdo their previous risky behaviors, and for money.
In one scene, a drunken character named Sydney (Emily Meade) accepts a dare to cross a building using a ladder, but she bails and fails the dare (it may be a strike against her ego, but at least she doesn’t die!).
Another daring moment is when Ian (Dave Franco) accepts the dare to ride his motorcycle through the Staten Island streets at 60 MPH while blindfolded. To impress each other, his love interest, Vee (Emma Roberts), joins him for the ride. So Nerve is an interesting movie about how far we’ll go to impress others, to get an adrenaline rush, and to fit in with internet trends. The game ends up looking no different than a potentially deadly drug, and we are urged to ask “How much is too much?” Though it’s a bit under the radar, Nerve is a solid candidate for one of the 2010s’ best adventure thriller films.
Blindfold Moment #9: Bird Box (2018)
“Blindfoldiest” is not a word, but Susanne Bier’s Bird Box is still the blindfoldiest of blindfold movies.
This film has plenty of stars, including John Malkovich, Trevante Rhodes, Pruitt Taylor Vince, and even Machine Gun Kelly. However, the film is most known for Sandra Bullock as Malorie Hayes, and her bizarre, blindfolded mission to transport two children — simply known as Girl (Vivien Lyra Blair) and Boy (Julian Edwards) — to a presumably safe haven across a river in a rowboat. The children are instructed that, if they remove their blindfolds, they will die. As she begins rowing away, we wonder if she’s really going to save them from something, or if she is perhaps mentally ill.
Bird Box was never going to please everyone. No gimmicky movie ever will, and this certainly qualifies as a movie with a gimmick. Still, Bird Box does have tension, and that’s partly rooted in how these kids understand, “You’re our only hope.” As the boat goes down the river, its occupants are headi=ng to an unknown future, and they already live in a world that’s pulling sanity apart.
If you’ve ever been around kids, you know these children struggle to keep their eyes shut, and whatever strange force is after them has a very different plan. This story also seems to help us forget about tropes, as it somehow conveys the “Anything can happen” feeling, rather than the jaded “I see how it goes down in the movies” one. There is every sense that at least one of these characters might drown in the river, or that perhaps a fierce storm strikes and ruins everything. Still, Bird Box is not a movie for anyone who impulsively tries to find fault in a story, because this is far-fetched. Suspension of disbelief is necessary.
Did we miss any classic blindfold movie moment? Let us know in the comments!