Biggest Terrifying Cinematic Moments From My Youth That My Old Age Now Finds Laughable:
As a kid, I was always exposed to a wide range of fantastic motion pictures. I’m confident when I say that the 80’s had the best movies, mostly because Harry Potter and Pluto Nash had not been invented yet. My dad had the largest collection of Sony Betamax movies of anyone in the city, and as I look back, he probably had more Betamax tapes than anyone in the state. He still has a working Betamax player and still watches his tapes to this day. How many of you can say that they got that amount of useful life out of any VHS or DVD player you’ve ever purchased? I can’t go more than two weeks without my Xbox getting the Red Ring Of Death. Maybe he knew something about durability that the rest of us VHS bandwagon folk were completely unaware of. Regardless, he picked up and rented thousands of titles during my youth. I got copies of Temple Of Doom only weeks out of the theater release, and we got a copy of Jedi while they were still selling all those crappy tie-ins like C-3PO Cereal and those boxes of nasty bitter chocolate Ewok cookies. All the kids in my class were always trying to come over after school to watch all the good movies my dad had collected.
There were some comedies, a few scary ones, weird stuff like Caveman(that grunting movie with Ringo Starr), lots of action movies, and a beautiful copy of Bachelor Party. That one had to be my most favorite of his beta tapes. Two reasons: drugged-up sex donkey and transvestites. It was an epic time to be a young fan of movies because back in the 80’s the ratings systems were pretty weak. A PG rating meant that the movie contained plentiful boobies, and quite a bit of cursing. I miss those simpler days. I think Blazing Saddles had a PG rating and it still used the N” word about 500 times. There were other movies my dad had that were pretty boring, but stood out for occasionally having really terrifying moments in them. I recently acquired a few of them and re-watched them for those moments I can so vividly remember as being pants-shittingly scary, but watching them now is almost comedic with how bad the props and special effects were back then. How did we ever fall for this crap? Why did they even bother making movies back then without a green screen and a team of CGI artists?
5. Opening Up The Face Melting Box:
Indiana Jones And The Raiders Of The Lost Ark, 1981
This is an epic action/adventure movie, and nearly perfect in every sense with the setting, scope, breadth, and almost perfect pacing. It moves along tirelessly, telling a grand tale of archeological discovery, artifact thievery, and lots of Nazi beat downs and propeller death inbetween. The part I hated as a kid was the climatic segment when the Nazis think it’s a good idea to open up the Ark so they can have a tea party with Cthulhu. Instead of getting the promised sacred powers and unlimited strength, the angels that come out of the box morph into demons and start melting faces off instead and zapping Nazis like squirrels trapped in a bug zapper. This segment was so gross, I would always hide my head or close my eyes, and then later brag with my friends about how bitchin’ that scene was. Now that I’m older and wiser, it looks more like wax heads being microwaved in fast forward. Which is pretty much how they did it at Industrial Light & Magic.
(NOTE: I could not find the crocodile video on YouTube, so please enjoy this Billy Ocean video from the sequel)
4. Bad Guy Gets His Hand Eaten By a Crocodile:
Romancing The Stone, 1984
I don’t remember too much of the plot line of this movie, but It was about some hot romance writer running away to the Amazon or something with Michael Douglas. They were beating each other up over some gigantic emerald or something and they were pursued by Columbian drug lords throughout the movie. Danny Devito was the short little bald guy who kept selling them out to the bad guys. At the movie’s climax, they are standing on these fiery grate things, and the main bad guy starts laughing as he holds the giant emerald up, and at that precise moment a big crocodile jumps up and eats his hand off, spewing blood all over the place. This was so absolutely realistic to my kid senses, but with the filter of age, it just looks like a Macy’s mannequin arm sticking out of that guy’s torso.
You guys got me! Ha ha ha! My non-moving static, non-moving arm is firmly in reach of a hungry crocodile! What could possibly happen next? ARRRrRRRRGGHHHHH!!!!!”.
After I had become desensitized to this scene, my friends and I would rewind and replay this scene over and over adding a different commentary track each time. This became hours and hours of fun for all.
3. Children Fighting The Kraken:
The Goonies, 1985
It all depends on the cut of the movie you watched, most versions on the Goonies fighting the giant octopus on the side of One-Eyed-Willie’s boat were cut out because Spielburg deemed them too gay”. I think my main fear of this scene was from my irrational fear of nautical things in general. It looked like six kids molesting a rubber prop back then, and still looks like that now. The most important knowledge you can take from that scene is when you are in the hungry clutches of a giant octopus, it can be defeated by having the Asian kid in your group insert a tape deck playing Whitney Houston into its’ mouth. Really. That’s how the kids manage to escape the same beast that attacked and almost sank the Nautilus and made Captain Nemo octopus poop. On a side note, Sloth also freaked me the hell out a little as a kid, but I am more understanding of radical disfigurement like that these days. I work with at least three dudes presently that look like they came directly from Sloth’s gene pool.
2. That Fucking Thing In The Closet:
Time Bandits, 1981
This is a strange movie from the great fantasy era of 1980’s moviemaking. The plot revolves around a group of little people who travel through time stealing historical stuff. They are always being chased by this disembodied head who is always yelling stuff at them. In the first twenty minutes of the movie the Bandits appear in modern-age London and try to escape through a kid’s closet by pushing the walls back as they are hunted on their heels by the giant glowing head, yelling at them with a heavily reverbed voice. This always creeped me out as a kid, but looking back at it now, it looks like a Monty Python skit. A very low-tech, low-budget Monty Python skit. I’m glad Roger Rabbit came out when I was older or I’d probably have nightmares from the film/animation combination.
1. Little Kid Gets Gruesomely Executed By His Siblings At The Pool:
This scene was disturbing to a five year old Teh Ben, and honestly, it’s still kinda disturbing thirty years later. This movie was a larger than life animal” type of tale like Jaws, but with 1/20th the budget that Jaws had. Every other part of this low-budget movie is an absolute laugh riot. There’s so many close-up shots of this giant rubber alligator that it almost looks like it might be a Burger King commercial in disguise. It’s a simple tale of a baby alligator getting flushed down the toilet in Chicago and it grows to be 35 feet long in the sewer and it eventually comes above ground to eat lots of people, because that’s the natural story progression when it comes to giant mutated animals.
In the infamous pool scene, there is a big Halloween party or something going on, and a few kids dressed as pirates break off from the festivities to be obnoxious and make the little brother walk the plank” blindfolded off the diving board. Little do they know that the 35-foot long alligator is lurking in the pool, and even at the last minute, the little kid pulls up his blindfold and sees the giant rubber gator in the pool, and despite his terror, the kids still push him in. Then the pool turns into a frothy mix of bubbles, screams and blood. This scene alone kept me out of a pool for at least four years. Then I stayed out for even more years after that from fears of urine-spread diseases.
RUMBLE OF THUNDER!!!!!
Honorable Mention: The Banshee That Eats Souls:
Darby O’ Gill And The Little People, 1959
While technically not an 80’s era movie, it seemed to enjoy a bit of a heyday in that decade. I remember it being played on TV a lot and we even watched it in grade school once. The movie is kind of boring and mostly centers around the town drunk messing with leprechauns until they finally get sick of his shit and put the death curse on his daughter. The Irish banshee then materializes in the night to claim her soul and that scene would absolutely make me lose my shit. It was a petrifying moment of absolute terror when the ghost lady showed up wailing. I watched this last week with the subtitles stuck on and I quickly skipped forward to the banshee scene, and I could not believe my eyes. That scene was just a negative print of an idiot in a ghost costume. It looks like a Black Sabbath video. Suck it, Connery.