The 20 best movie-within-a-movie moments

Because even fictional characters like going to the cinema

When Harry meta Sally

It must be so frustrating to be a fictional character who likes watching movies. Every time you go to the cinema, either something interrupts the film so you don't get to see the end, or the film's plot is so relevant to your own storyline it's as if someone were trying to tell you something. How are you meant to concentrate?

On-the-nose insights from films in films aside, it's always fun when characters in movies go to the cinema. It makes them more relatable, somehow - probably because we spend way too much time watching films. The characters in these 20 films might not be full-blown cinephiles, but for the most part, they've got pretty good taste in movies...

Zombieland (2009)

The film: A zom-com about a ragtag group of survivors making their way across America.

The film theyre watching: Part of the survivors journey takes them to Hollywood, where they take shelter in Bill Murrays mansion. When it turns out Bill Murray is still alive, they settle down to watch Ghostbusters in his home cinema. (It ends badly for Murray.)

Grease (1978)

The film: A summer romance turns into more when Sandy (Olivia Newton-John) and Danny (John Travolta) realise they both go to the same school. Cue lots of singing, dancing, and life lessons.

The film theyre watching: Sandy abandons Danny at the drive-in before the film can start, but theres a trailer for The Blob before the main feature. And lets face it, Danny was never intending to watch the film anyway.

The Blob (1958)

The film: Speaking of The Blob, the 50s science-fiction movie about a revolting alien that lands on Earth and eats everything in its path also includes a cinema scene.

The film theyre watching: When the Blob turns up, the audience at the Colonial Theatre are watching a horror double bill: Daughter Of Horror followed by I Married A Monster From Outer Space. The second one feels slightly more thematically appropriate not that anyone wants to marry the Blob.

Home Alone (1990)

The film: Accidentally left behind when his family leaves for a Christmas holiday, Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) gets up to all kinds of age-inappropriate antics including watching videos he wouldnt have been allowed to if his mum was around.

The film hes watching: Angels With Filthy Souls is a made-up gangster film thats pretty obviously based on James Cagneys oeuvre.

The Babadook (2014)

The film: Amelia (Essie Davis) is a widowed mother struggling to deal with her difficult child when a creepy storybook appears on her doorstep and drives her even further into madness.

The film shes watching: Horror anthology Black Sabbath appears on Amelias TV specifically, the Drop Of Water segment, which is about a woman driven to apparent suicide by guilt, but The Wurdalak, about a parent turned monstrous, would've been just as thematically resonant.

Twister (1996)

The film: A disaster movie about a series of tornadoes and the two weather-obsessives who end up fixing their marriage by surviving the storm.

The film theyre watching: A tornado strikes at a drive-in where moviegoers are watching The Shining. Just as Jack Nicholson smashes his way through the bathroom door, the wind smashes through the screen.

The Final Destination (2009)

The film: The third Final Destination sequel is probably the franchises weakest point, but it does get self-reflexivity points for being a 3D film that features a scene where characters go to the cinema to see a 3D film.

The film theyre watching: The film in question is a fictional movie called Love Lays Dying; neither we nor the characters will ever know what its about, though, because the cinema explodes before the movies over.

Halloween (1978)

The film: John Carpenters slasher features a masked madman who stalks babysitters especially his own sister.

The film theyre watching: Speaking of babysitting, its while shes looking after kids that Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis) watches The Thing From Another World. Carpenter was obviously a fan, because he remade the '50s chiller as The Thing just four years later.

An American Werewolf In London (1981)

The film: David (David Naughton) is an American tourist who gets bitten by a wolf while hiking across the Yorkshire moors at night and ends up stalking the streets of London as a lycanthrope.

The film theyre watching: Director John Landis sneaked references to the fictional See You Next Wednesday into most of his movies; here, its a porn film being screened at a sleazy cinema just off Piccadilly Circus. David doesn't get to see much of it, though, because the corpses of his victims are feeling chatty.