Scared in the Eighties - Pt 1

Our childhood's darker moments
October 24, 2008

I've been visiting this site for the past 2 or so years, having only now gotten round to creating an account. Like many of you, I'm very enthusiastic about all the stuff my childhood was made of. Before I had discovered this amazing website, I would scour Google and YouTube for bits and pieces of my nostalgic memories...theme songs, commercials, toys and video games, and even the subtle differences in how things looked back then: Soda machines were big and boxy, McDonald's restaurants were mostly brown, and advertisements would always be on a dark black background. It almost always brings back great memories...almost.

Since Halloween is coming up, I thought it'd be fun to focus on the more shiver-inducing aspects of our childhood. You know what I'm talking wasn't all smiles and laughter. Remember that sinking feeling in your stomach the first time you saw Chuck E. Cheese and his animatronic band mates madly gyrating and flinging themselves around the stage, beneath those constantly changing colored lights?

A glimpse into hell

A lot of our jolly bygone days were tinged with a touch of dread. We grow up in an age were media and entertainment constantly surround and bombard us, everything's very big and loud, and a lot of what's aimed at children is just a little...too much. That, and some of it's just downright f*cked up and creepy. With that said, I've compiled a little collection of things that made me, and I'm sure many of you...

Scared in the Eighties - Part One!

Here we go...

1) Large Marge

Someone said the magic word

Why, oh why, is this scary b*tch included in Pee-Wee's Big Adventure? Why are the words "When they pulled the body from the twisted, mangled wreck" ever uttered in a movie based on Pee-Wee's Playhouse? Leave it to Tim Burton to pull this kinda crap. Sure, he can get away with it in movies like Beetle Juice or Sleepy Hollow, but this is PEE-WEE for Chrissakes! I wanna see talking chairs, talking kites, Konky and Magic Screen...NOT SOME DEAD HITCHHIKER LAUGHING MANIACALLY WITH HER EYES BUGGING OUT! This whole damn movie was creepy. The dinosaurs, the clown doctors...ugh. Though I suppose even the TV show had it's creepy moments. The genie's head in the box was kinda eerie. And what eighties child didn't have nightmares about this guy?

I'm going door to door...

2) Baron Von Blubba from Bubble Bobble

You can't stop this mofo.

Yah, you remember how it is. You wasted all your time collecting the fruit, and now you can't seem to chase down that one last bad guy. Your hands start to sweat...a knot forms in your stomach...he's coming...any second now...oh God...and then the two dreaded words seal your fate: "HURRY UP!!!". You're dead. The skeleton ghost thingy has got your number, and there's no stopping him. Your only hope is to get rid of that last baddie, but how can you when you're being mercilessly hunted? He stalks you around the screen, all the time getting faster, and faster, and FASTER...seriously, that guy sucks. And since we're talking about Nintendo games, who can forget this terrifying little number from Zelda:

It waits in the walls.

Yah, the hand, the hand, THE GODAMNED HAND!!! Omg, give me a game over, eat my shield, do what you will, but if one more of those blue rotting hands come out of the wall to grab me, I'm gonna sh*t my pants! Oh, and how about that ominous pounding sound when your one room away from the boss? Nintendo's got it in for us kids.

2) The terrible Disney Duo: "Watcher in the woods" and "Return to Oz"

Proof that Disney hates children
I'm aware that there's a couple other articles on this site describing the horrors of these two Disney movies, but I just couldn't leave 'em off my list. Watcher in the Woods made me so scared of mirrors that for a month I was afraid to be alone in the bathroom. This, of course, became a problem when needing to bathe or defecate. Thanks Disney. And "Return to Oz"...God, where to even start? Sure, the first Oz movie had it's scary moments, but this sequel is just twisted! Things start off cheerfully as Dorothy gets thrown into a mental hospital where they lock people up in the basement. It just gets worse from there: Touching the very ground in Oz will kill you, the Wheelers...well, yah, just the Wheelers, the Gnome King (don't get the wrong idea, he aint small and cute), and oh-my-f*cking-God MOMBI: The woman who cuts the head off every girl in Oz and keeps them in glass cases so she can wear them. Again, thanks Disney! What would us little ones do without that delightful scene of Dorothy surrounded by disembodied heads screaming "DOROTHY GAAAAAIL!!!"

Mombi will KILL YOU!

3) "Wocket in my Pocket" by Dr. Suess

So this kid has these deranged creatures living all over his house, but seems to think it's perfectly normal. They're in the chimney, on the ceiling, and even on his damned toothbrush! Some are friendly, but then there's the "Vug under the rug". Remember him? The boy tiptoes across the darkened bedroom, but breathing and snarling beneath the rug awaits some unknown monstrosity. Sh*t man, they read you this stuff in preschool after a cup of apple juice, and expect you not to tinkle in your trousers? Doctor Seuss was always a little frightening. Everything's just so damn chaotic and nonsensical. It's like if William Burroughs wrote children's books...

4) IT from the Pit!

Pretty dang awesome.

Okay, this didn't actually scare me, but you know...remember that? You make your way around the board, while some swamp monster tries to drag you into his watery hell. Speaking of board games, there's also this painfully non-frightening 'video board game' called Nightmare.

Pretty dang lame.

This game was so lame for so many reasons. The gameplay itself was no fun at go around collecting keys, but keep losing every other freaking turn cuz you were sent to the "black hole". The game instructions tell you to dress up like the spooky characters from the game...yah, right. But the Gate Keeper was the real star of the show; the "host" of the game, you'd say. See you put on this VHS tape while your playing, and this actor (most likely fired from a daytime soap opera) dressed like a zombie screams at you and tells you to do stuff. Playing the game sucks so much, it's better just to watch the Gatekeeper screaming, giggling, crying (yes, he actually CRIES at one point during the tape) and have yourself a good laugh.

Why you should say no to drugs.

5) The Goosebumps Dog

Okay, flash forward to the nineties: I'm a big kid, and Goosebumps do not scare me, whether in novel or television format. Yet for some reason there's this part of the theme song that STILL gives me chills:

What makes this so disturbing?

This dog is just chilling on the porch, when all the sudden BLAAAH his eyes go all bulging and yellow, and the music's all like "WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF"! There's just something really unsettling about it that I can't put my finger on. It's a really weird sequence, and I have no idea which Goosebumps book it's from (I read quite a few of them as a kid).

Warning: The following is my opinion only, please don't let it affect the score for this article.

You know what else is scary? The fact that R.L. Stine made so much money with his garbage Goosebumps and Fear Street series, churning out 20 freaking books a month. Sure, I read 'em as a kid, but looking back they were generic, soulless, and formulaic. They sold purely on their cover pictures (with cool 'bumps' on the title text, neat-o!) With great children's authors like Roald Dhal, Mark Twain, or J.K. Rowling, we don't need this written-for-profit garbage. Shoot, even Bruce Coleville's books (My Teacher is an Alien, Jeremy Thatcher Dragon Hatcher, etc.) were leaps and bounds ahead of Stine.

Well, think I'm gonna turn this into a two-parter, so as not to make it too long. Still got a few more things to cover. Hope this gets posted up, and I hope everyone enjoys it. Later. Until then, go carve a pumpkin!
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