I've always loved Halloween, and in recent years it's even become my favorite holiday of the year! It's a combination of several things... first, for the Northern hemisphere which I live in, it's Fall! The days are cool but not cold, and the nights are crisp. The leaves are changing colors (love taking mountain trips to see it at it's peak!), pumpkin ales are everywhere, pumpkin spice lattes have returned to Starbucks, and that's just Fall. Halloween is always a month long thing for me. I actually have a countdown on my phone to it (133 days when I started this article! Woo!). The decorations are fun, the movies are good, candy! Pumpkin carving (especially love carving pumpkins outside in the cooler evening while drinking some pumpkin ale) is so much fun. I usually carve 2 or 3. It's so amazing to see what people can do with pumpkins nowadays. I'm not talented enough to do some of those 3D designs, but I do a good job on whatever I go for! I also have my Halloween village (Christmas villages are so overrated) that's filled up with spooky decorations, some animated, some not. Plus, all the parties with girls in their costumes..... oh yeah.
Anyway.. I'm getting off track! But one of my other favorite things about Halloween is getting creeped out (or doing the creeping out... muahaha). I used to hate being scared when I was a kid, and I would get scared at so many things! A few years back on a nostalgic trip, I watched Pee Wee's Big Adventure and I remembered there were scenes that creeped me out from that movie, and it was a friggin KID'S movie! How dare they! I wrote an article about it afterwards. It's linked in the right column, but don't worry about reading it... it's not very well written and I'm going to cover those scenes again in this article anyway! A few weeks ago, I watched Neverending Story, and I remembered how scenes from that movie freaked me out too! Then this weekend, I was talking about Halloween, and it got me thinking about scenes from other kid's movies that scared me... and I decided it was time for an article.
So, here are some of the scenes I remember being scared of the most from family movies when I was a kid, in no particular order! I originally thought I'd turn this into one big article, but it may be better as a multi-part. So here's Part 1!
Pee Wee's Big Adventure
Since I've already written a standalone article about this, I'll start with it here. I watched this movie so much when I was a kid. Pee Wee was definitely in vogue at the time. He had a TV show that was such a hit, a movie followed in '85 (followed by a later sequel). I remember when my friends and I would always do the "Pee Wee" laugh around each other. It was a raspy, nasally "HERNH HERNH!" kinda thing. But the actual movie itself scared me a few different times throughout it!
I was never afraid of clowns as a kid unlike what seems like 90% of the population, but these guys freaked me out. The scene was after Pee Wee had lost his bike, and he's having a nightmare about it. It starts with clown doctors running through these doors that looked distorted and off on their own, like something out of Beetlejuice (more on that later) with the bike on a stretcher.
When I was a kid, even inanimate objects had self-awareness, thoughts, and feelings in my mind (I remember that I always had to play with all my toys so I didn't hurt their feelings, and one time sat outside in the Winter to comfort one of my snowmen as he melted), so I was already panicked and scared for the bike. They took it into an operating room and were trying to save the poor twisted metal in it's death throes, but ultimately realized it was hopeless. Pee Wee was watching as it happened, and the surgeon looked up at him and shook his head no, and they'd lost their patient. It was sad...... but then he pulls his mask down and he looks like THIS!
WTF MAN! Freaked me the fuck out! Terrified, I watched as the corpse was then lifted by a crane and dipped into a vat of fire! HOW MORBID! The thing didn't even get a proper funeral! it was just MELTED! Was that what would happen whenever I died?! NOOOOOOOO! And as if that wasn't enough, there was the neighborhood bully, Francis, who was THE DEVIL! They'd taken the bike to hell and it was being forever tortured as he looked on and laughed! He even caused eruptions of fire to make good and sure it was melted to nothing! CRUEL!
That whole sequence left me in tears. Fortunately Pee Wee woke up before I was subjected to even more visceral barbarism, and I thought I was safe. And I was... for another 20 or 30 minutes.... then I was shoved into another nightmarish scene.
Large Marge! The whole premise of the movie was that Pee Wee's bike was missing. At one point, he was talking to a fortune teller in hopes of getting a clue about where to find it, and was directed to the Alamo. He was determined to do whatever he needed to do make sure he'd get his bike back, and had no other means of transportation. So, among others, one of his many ways of getting to the Alamo was by hitchhiking with a trucker. This kind old lady picked him up on the side of the road, and he happily jumped in. He was a talker, so he started trying to strike up a conversation with the driver, but she seemed..... off... antisocial.... strange.... he started talking about the weather, and that got her talking, and the music became dark and foreboding as she relayed a story....
"On this very night... 10 years ago.. along this same stretch of road.. in dense fog, just like this.. I saw the worse accident I ever seen.... there was a sound.... like a garbage truck... dropped off the empire state building! And when they finally pulled the driver's body from the TWISTED.. BURNING... WRECK! IT LOOKED LIKE...... THIS!"
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!.... OK, it's not so scary now, but MAN! LET ME TELL YOU! When I was a kid, that thing gave me nightmares for weeks! It was so much it sent me screaming and crying and running out of the room! It honestly took until I was maybe 10 or so before I could watch it. And even at 10, I knew it was coming, so I'd squint my eyes (the less you see it, the less scary it is, or so I thought) and pull my legs into my chest as my heart raced since I knew what was coming. Then, ahhhhh... a sigh of relief after I'd survived another encounter with Large Marge. For those brave enough...
Creepy Dinosaurs! I loved dinosaurs as a kid, but something about the dinosaur statues in this movie was unsettling. I think it's likely because of the lighting. There are these huge, realistic looking dinosaurs standing there in the dark with eerie green and red glows about them. Plus, their eyes glowed yellow too. I was pretty scared of T-rexs, so maybe that's why I remember this scene freaking me out so much. Whatever the reason, it made an impact on me!
When I was researching this article, I found out that those are an actual museum you can visit - the Cabazon Dinosaurs outside Palm springs. That'll be a spot I'll have to hit sometime!
The Neverending Story
The Neverending Story is one of the most well remembered movies from my childhood, and I think it has quite a cult following. I always think of this and Labyrinth as being two of the best puppet movies ever. It's a pretty intense movie, and I didn't even make the connection until I last watched the movie that there was a pretty awesome "breaking the 4th wall" moment in it. Towards the end, (SPOILERS! Not that I think it matters... but read on or skip as needed!) the princess is explaining to Atreyu that the only person who can save the world is a human child (referencing the OTHER main character reading the book, Bastian), and that he's been with Atreyu through all his journeys, and Bastian knows everything that's happened to him. Then, she also adds that while Bastian has been with Atreyu the whole time, there have also been others who have been with HIM throughout HIS journey, referencing the audience that'd been watching the movie! What cleverness! When I realized that I was like "WHAAAAAAAAAAAAT?!?!"
It was a great movie, and still holds up well these days. Now onto the topic at hand... the scenes that made me have to change my pants.
Farewell, Artax I'm sure at least a few people's hearts dropped when they saw the title of this section. I'm pretty sure millions of kids were scarred by this scene. Artax is Atreyu's noble steed, and has been with him on multiple adventures and always stuck by his side. However, this is the most epic quest they've ever been on. One of the worst places he has to traverse in Fantasia (the world it takes place in) is called The Swamp of Sadness. It's a miserable, dismal place, but he has to go there to seek out an ancient being (who just happens to be a giant turtle. More amazing puppeteering) named Morla who can tell Atreyu what he needs to do to save the world. The thing with the swamp is that if you aren't able to stay in high spirits, then you slowly start to find yourself sinking into the neverending darkness of the swamp. It's a terrible way to die, but Atreyu is strong and can remain hopeful and optimistic despite everything that's happening. As we find..... sadly... Artax is not. Atreyu is walking and then finds himself stuck, a weight behind him holding him back. He turns around, and there's poor Artax, a few inches deep into the swamp. Atreyu talks to him, aiming to cheer him up and give him hope but... he can't get through. Over several minutes, we see Artax sinking deeper and deeper into the swamp.
Atreyu is now furious with Artax, yelling at him, talking trash to him, trying to do everything in his power to convince Artax to think positive, but the poor horse is unable to do so! The look on the horse's face itself just reeks of fear.
After a few more seconds, the screen goes dark for a moment... and then we see Atreyu sitting down, crying...... and no Artax. The actual sinking was terrifying, and then afterwards, you were left in tears along with Atreyu. So sad...... but (SPOILERS) Artax comes back at the end! YAY!
The Great Riddle Gate (Sphinxes) After talking with the giant turtle, Atreyu goes off on a search for the Southern Oracle. He meets an elf looking guy who knows all about the Southern Oracle, and learns that he has to pass through 3 gates to get to the Oracle, each with their own special test. The first one is within a telescope's view of where he lands after riding his Luck Dragon and meeting Engywook (thank you Wikipedia). The gate tests to see if someone is confident enough to proceed through the gate with no self-doubt whatsoever.
I dunno about you, but to me, that's a pretty damn intimidating sight. As Atreyu and his new buddy watch, they observe a knight approaching the gate in his full set of armor atop a horse. Engywook teases, saying that they'll see how sure of himself he really is as the knight proceeds to the gate. They watch as the Sphinx's eyes slowly start to open, then BAM! Two lasers shoot the knight, killing him immediately. Now we know how powerful these seemingly innocent statues are. Despite the warnings, Atreyu knows he has to push forward in his quest and makes his way to the gate. The whole scene is very suspenseful with ominous music playing throughout. He stops to look up at the statues, and the angle does an amazing job giving us an idea of the scale of these things.
As Atreyu approaches the gate, he sees the knight lying dead between them. You know he's dead, but as Atreyu gets closer, a burst of wind picks up his faceguard and what remains of him is revealed!
A burnt, charred corpse! That's what happens when you doubt yourself in the gate's presence! AHHH! Atreyu freaks out, understandably. Seeing this powerful knight felled so easily has him doubting himself, and the suspense gets even more intense as his gnome buddy realizes what's about to happen, yelling that he has to go! OR ELSE! The music plays... intense, LOUD! AWFUL! And........... THE SPHINX'S EYES START OPENING! OHMIGODDDDDDDDDDDDDD!
RUN ATREYU BEFORE YOU GET DISINTEGRATED! He runs, he dives, and the lasers JUST miss him! PHEW! I thought that was the end for our kid hero! And to die in such a horrid way! Bastian totally knows how we feel, as he himself flops to his back in the attic where he's reading, breathing heavily. You know you want to experience the thrill again... and I've done you a favor...
Enjoy! And on a side note... I gotta say, the Sphinx has some pretty awesome boobs.
I've gotta wonder if the person who designed that setpiece had a huge grin on his face the whole while he was shaping them
Gmork/The Nothing Throughout the film, you hear tons of talk about "The Nothing". It's a disembodied entity that we later find out is the destructive force created when humans stop using their imagination, and it destroys Fantasia. While we never see the entity, we do see it's servant - a big, huge, scary, black, wolf-like creature. It's been pursing Atreyu throughout the movie, and they finally come face to face towards the end. And, what a terrifying face it is! Those teeth! Fur as black as night!
The two characters have a deep talk and Atreyu finds out what's been happening to the world. As the conversation wraps up, Gmork strikes at Atreyu! THE FINAL BATTLE IS ON!
Atreyu quickly falls back, ready to defend himself!............. and the battle is over, Atreyu winning with a sharp stone to the heart. It was pretty anti-climactic, but it was intense for those 3 seconds!
The Ivory Tower in Space Despite Atreyu defeating Gmork, it takes more than that to save Fantasia. By this point in the film, the world is little more than chunks of rock and stone floating through space. The world is destroyed, most everyone is dead, and all is lost... deep in sorrow, Atreyu knows the only shred of hope is to find the Ivory Tower and the Princess. Good thing he's still got his Luck Dragon, because luck is what it takes to find the Ivory Tower. All of a sudden, out of the blackness of space, the rubble parts and there's the Ivory Tower!
I realize the actual visual itself isn't scary, but what scared me so much about it was deeper than visuals. I thought, if it was Earth and events unfolded just as they did in the movie, my friends, my family, my pets - everything and everyone in the whole world would have been obliterated, with nothing but pieces left over, the remnants of a once great planet, reduced to nothing. Even scarier, I thought that if the actual planet and ground was left floating aimlessly through space.. then, logically, people would be left floating aimlessly through the eternal darkness of space too, just floating, lost forever...... THAT is what was so scary about this scene!
The Goonies is possibly the quintessential kid's movie of the 80s. It was full of memorable characters and featured a grand adventure taken on by kids. For those that don't know (HA!), the main character, Mikey (though it was more like an ensemble of main characters, but he was the closest to a leading character) is bummed because the land his house is on is being bought out by rich punks to build a golf course. His parents can't afford to pay to keep their house, so they're having to move. Mikey is most concerned about his group of friends, "The Goonies", and what will happen to them once they all move away. It's their "last Goonie weekend", and they're all upset. Conversation eventually leads to discussion about wishing they could find "rich stuff" to pay whatever necessary to keep their houses. Mikey's dad is a curator at a museum and stores tons of stuff at his house, so they raid the attic in hopes of finding something, ANYTHING, that would lead to riches. His clumsy Goonie friend named Chunk accidentally knocks a framed picture over, the glass shatters, and they find a map with a doubloon with strange holes cut in it. Mikey recalls that his Dad told him the story of "One-Eyed" Willie (how profane!), a pirate who got trapped somewhere around the area. After he relays the story, the Goonies decide to set off on a quest to find him and his gold and save their homes. Now, on to the scary stuff.
WTF IS THAT?! As we get into the movie, the original Goonies have had 3 others join them - Mikey's older brother Brand, the hot cheerleader Brand is crushing on who has a completely douchey dude trying to hook up with her that she wants nothing to do with and a strangely male name, Andy, and their not so hot nerdy friend Stef. The whole group has made their way to a restaurant that amazingly lined up with the holes cut in the doubloon they found in his attic, and they're sneaking around trying to figure out what to do next. After some convincing, the majority of them make their way into the restaurant to investigate. A slightly scary encounter happens with "Mama" Fratelli where she threatens to serve the boys fresh tongue cut from Mouth's mouth with some nastyass brown water while the others wait outside. As they're creeping around, Stef, still outside, steps on a rake, and THIS IS WHAT SHE SEES!
Hence the title of the section - WTF IS THAT?! Whatever it was, it was only on screen for about a second and a half as Stef lets out a blood-curdling scream and bolts into the restaurant. It was so fast that I didn't have enough time to make out what it was, but in the context of the movie, my imagination turned it into the back of a decomposing head with stringy hair hanging off the scalp. It's still hard to make out, but it looks like a bunch of dead fish around the handle. Whatever the case, I was making this same face right along with her!
Sloth AKA the "It"! The bad guys in the flick are the Fratellis, and he's the deformed offpsring of Mama. They lock him up in the basement of their old restaurant as one of his brothers belts out Italian songs all the time while he screams and they neglect him and treat him like shit. There was a good amount of buildup to the big reveal of this guy. As Mikey tries to push food towards him, we hear this guttural scream as this figure is silhouetted against a shining light pouring in through the grate on the wall.
Later, Chunk is trying to help Sloth out and we see what he really looks like!
AHHHHHHHH! Those eyes! Those ears! Those teeth! That head! It really WAS an IT! Of course, he ends up being one of the nicest people in the world and befriending and eventually saving all the Goonies! Poor guy.... But some amazing prosthetics!
SKELETONS EVERYWHERE! Skeletons scared the hell out of me when I was a kid. It's embarrassing, but I couldn't watch this movie the whole way through without covering or closing my eyes until I was probably 10 or so (10 just seems like a good age to not be scared), as this movie was an hour long nightmare almost in video form from all the skeletons! Data said it best when he fell through the floor on Willie's ship - "...AND DATA TIRED OF SKELETON!" Since there were so many, I've just narrowed it down to the ones that I remember scaring me the most.
He was a well known treasure hunter who was also the last known person to go off in search of One-Eyed Willie, and he never returned. As The Goonies explore, they find themselves walking the same path as Chester Copperpot and, unfortunately, they find him... Or, what's left of him at least. A crushed decomposing skeleton! UGH! As if that wasn't enough, he also had a key that was needed to get to Willie around his neck. The Goonies needed it now, and they got it... and it required them pulling his whole skull away form his body! DECAPITATION! Ahhhh! Brand was at least kind enough to place it back on his body... as if the skeleton wasn't enough, this scene concluded with the whole group having to run for their lives as massive boulders, the same size that crushed poor Chester, started falling from the ceiling after they set off a "booty trap"! Fortunately they made it.... but PHEW I was running in my seat!
OMGGGGGGGGGGGGG! The most disturbing organ EVER! After they get past the key room, they find this disgusting, horrifying organ waiting for them. They find music notes on the back of the map, and the only way to proceed is to play the notes on this thing. Fortunately, the hot cheerleader girl Andy has taken some piano lessons. UNfortunately, she's got a LONG ways to go. Not only is this nightmarish visual on the screen, but whenever she plays the wrong note, a huge chunk of the platform they're standing on collapses! AYE! As they stand on the last platform thanks to Andy's terrible music reading skills, Mikey tries to make light of the situation of Andy trying to find a B flat by saying "Don't worry, if you get this one wrong, we'll all be flat!" The group grimaces at this. I would too. And smack him! But, they overcome another obstacle and play the last note correctly and make it through! WOOHOO!
After the Goonies go down what looks like one of the best waterslides EVER, they find themselves in the presence of Willie's pirate ship! They climb on and explore. As we learned at the beginning of the movie when Mikey told the story, Willie was so focused on keeping his treasure a secret that he killed every last crew member he had, their skeletons now littering the ship. This one though... this one stuck out to me as being the scariest! When I was a kid, it looked to me like the skeleton was bug eyed (LARGE MARGE STRIKES AGAIN!). As goofy as it sounds, that was so scary to me back then. I would always have to look away when this scene was coming up for that very reason. When I could finally watch it years later, I realized it was daggers. Not that that makes it any better!
Here he is, the man himself! Mikey finds him and has a heart-to-heart (as possible as that is with a corpse), but he still freaked me out. And they even went so far as to have Mikey lift the eye patch! WHAT'RE YOU DOING MAN?! DON'T BE TOUCHING A SKELETON! EWWWWW! But you really did feel that Mikey owed him a lot, as his legend set him off on the adventure, and they did indeed find their "rich stuff", enough to pay whatever they had to and save their home! Mikey lovingly dubs Willie "the first Goonie", then turns around to see that the rest of the group has caught up to him and been watching as he talked to Willie. It was a touching moment. Who would've thought I'd be shedding some tears at a decomposing pirate skeleton? Nice work Spielberg!
The Pearls After the Goonies grab their loot and start to make their escape, they're trapped by the Fratellis! NOOOOOO! They proceed to shake down everybody, racking up tons and tons of jewels before making them walk the plank one-by-one. The walking of the plank was unsettling to me, but the part that really got me was when Mama reached into Mouth's mouth and started pulling. My imagination turned this into her actually RIPPING OUT HIS TEETH! He even groaned and grimaced while she pulled!
Ahhh... kids and their imaginations. If Neverending Story was true.... my Fantasia would have been the craziest world EVER!
Who Framed Roger Rabbit
This was such a cool movie. I loved how it integrated cartoons and live action so seamlessly into scenes. It is kinda raunchy, but I think it can still be considered a kid's movie. Others may beg to differ, but it's kinda like Shrek - lots of stuff there for kids, and adult humor used throughout the movie that goes over kid's heads. I remember there even being a kid's Touch n' Talk (?) sticker book for this movie. I can't recall what they were actually called (Touch n' Speak? I dunno), but it's basically a hardcover book with stickers and outlines indicating where to put stickers, and it also had buttons along the side that had several sound effects. When you'd see the icon in the book, you'd press the button that matched the picture. Anyway, there was only one scene in this movie that scared me, which is why I figured I'd use it to wrap up part 1! And here it is..
Judge Doom He was the villain in the movie. He was a pretty intimidating and scary dude throughout the whole flick, wearing a long black trench coat, top hat, carrying a cane, and wearing dark sunglasses. But the real terror of Judge Doom didn't come until the movie was nearly over, when Roger Rabbit and his detective buddy have solved the case of what happened to Jessica and had found him for the final showdown. They fought for a bit, and then..... his true self was revealed....
HE'S A TOON! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! His face, those eyes in particular, scared me shitless! And he even talked different, with this high-pitched, screaching voice! He talked about how he'd killed the detective's brother, and we realized how evil this dude really was!
I was frozen with fear as they tried defending themselves, but then as if the dude couldn't get any freakier, his hand turns into a huge buzzsaw!
That scene about gave my poor 5 year old body a heart attack! Speaking of heart attacks...
Seriously... who DIDN'T have a crush on Jessica Rabbit? I was only 5, but I still knew a hot girl when I saw her! Perhaps only rivaled by one other...
Holli from Cool World. But that definitely was NOT a kid's movie!
End of Part 1!
I hope you guys enjoyed the article! I loved reliving these scenes and thinking back to how much they freaked me out. Part 2 will be coming soon. I know, you're saying to yourself "AT LEAST GIVE US A CLUE!" (right?) Well, here you are!