Monster Sketch Monday – The Face Melting Scene From ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’

It’s Steven Spielberg Month at ScreenAge Wasteland! We’ll be celebrating the man and his films all month long, and you can read and participate in the fun!

So this week’s sketch is 1. Sketchier than usual and 2. not really a monster. I mean, Nazi’s, so yeah, but as this year marks 40 years since the release of Raiders of the Lost Ark I wanted to celebrate the moment from the film that probably scarred me the most as a kid.

If you haven’t seen the film FOR GOD’S SAKE, GO WATCH IT NOW! Its’ one of the greatest films for all time, for crying out loud! Then come back and finish this. Then read Duke’s Canon post about it. Then go watch it again. You’ll want to. Hell, I want to right now, and I’ve probably seen it 50 times.


That scene, the penultimate sequence in the film, is just straight up horror film material. Despite Indy’s desperate warnings the Nazis (and their pet Archeologist, Belloq) open the Ark of the Covenant, hoping to gain a weapon to turn the tide of the war. Unfortunately for them they’ve left the device on the “melt faces” setting. Yeah, the lights flying around are pretty at first, but to inappropriately quote Ashley Williams “lady, you got real ugly.” While pretty much everyone with eyeballs gets them boiled out of their skull (except for Indy and Marion), it’s Major Toht (played with greasy perfection by Paul Freeman – dude scared me more than any other character in the film) who gets the worst death. His entire face liquefies, blood and skin mixing in an unholy flood of liquid until only his skull remains. To say it was memorable to a young Bob is an understatement. Nothing else in the film really prepares you for how graphic the moment is (and I understand it was going to be even MORE graphic). Detriech’s death is memorable too, appearing to dry up from the inside out, but it’s a blink-and-you-miss-it moment, compared to Toht’s severe skin condition.

So, bottom line: Raiders of the Lost Ark is NOT a horror movie, but it’s got one of the greatest horror moments of 1981 in it – and that’s a year that includes Scanners, An American Werewolf in London and Evil Dead!

So, did this scene scare the crap out of you when you first saw it? And what’s your favorite Indy moment?

Author: Bob Cram

Would like to be mysterious but is instead, at best, slightly ambiguous.