Yesterday I discussed movies which scared me as a kid. Either because they were deliberately scary, or because it was a little too mature for me to be seeing when I did. Of course some movies are intentionally scary, even comedies. Ghostbusters and Beetlejuice are two great comedies, but there are some creepy, even flat out scary, scenes in these films. So saying that you scared makes sense, But what about films which were not supposed to be scary, but have that one moment which scares the crap out of you?
Today I wanted to talk about movies which were not scary, and yet contain a scene which scared me as much as any intentionally scary movie. These are usually moments that people remember very well because they come out of nowhere, and leave a strong mark on us making us ask “WTF?”. These are mostly 80â€™s films because, well, I was a kid in the 80â€™s. And as always, just opinion.
#5. Raiders of the Lost Ark
This is cheating, but this story has always been one of my favorites from being a kid so I thought I would share. We all remember Raiders of the Lost Ark. It was a great action movie, in fact Iâ€™ll go so far as to say it set the standard for action movies in the 80â€™s. Harrison Ford was fantastic, and the film was a lot of fun. The thing I remember the most about the movie was the ending. We all know how it ends; the ark is finally uncovered and opened. Indy and Marion shield their eyes, and then the villains discover why you should never stare at the ark very long. My father was sitting next to me at the theatre, and just as the villains faces began to melt I felt a hand clasp onto my face to shield me from the scene. It probably startled him to, that was a gory image. So I never saw that, until years later when I did finally see it and realized that my father may have made the right choice. So that was a scary moment averted, and I love that story.
This was one of the biggest movies ever when this came out. There were lines of people waiting to see, and I still remember how it was playing in theatres for months it seemed. Now to be fair, this is kind of embarrassing. I almost considered not putting this on here, but it still counts even if itâ€™s silly. In the beginning of the movie we see Elliott searching for the alien with his flashlight. At one point he shines at right at him, and E.T. screams. That scared me, I admit. Of course I made it through the movie just fine, except that this film is darn depressing. I still donâ€™t understand why I like it so much. Sure there are some charming moments, but the scene where E.T. literally dies on the table is one the most disturbing moments ever. This was a kids film? Maybe it wasnâ€™t, I donâ€™t know but I like this movie even if I canâ€™t explain why. Steven Spielberg isnâ€™t one of the greatest directors alive for nothing. I had the toys, games, and even the god awful Atari game.
#3.Star Trek II-The Wrath of Khan
I spoke before how this film did not resonate with me when I first saw it. I was too young to follow what was going, I wasnâ€™t even familiar with Space Seed at the time, and appreciate the brilliance of the film. There were only two things I remember about seeing this, one was the kid behind me who wouldnâ€™t shut up. The other was a scene which kind of scared me. There is a line between grossed out and scared, and this scene really treaded that. We all know what scene I am talking about, right? That damn ear slug scene! If somehow you donâ€™t know, itâ€™s early in the film when Khan kidnaps Chekov and his new captain. In order to get answers from them, he takes these little slugs and has then crawl into their ears. The intention is to get them to be open to suggestion. But the scene is hard to watch especially as a kid. I think the music and the visuals did a great job of selling the moment. That, and way Chekov screamed. His scream is famous for a reason. True that seems more fake today, but at the time it was downright chilling.
That damn robot scene! Ok for those who may not know, Superman III was the lighthearted one also starring Richard Pryor. Why someone thought making Superman a comedy would work is beyond me (course they also made it a Broadway show, so who knows?). The plot involved a super computer which toward the end of the movie, begins to take on a life of its own. The three villains are inside the computer when they realize this is happening, and make a hasty retreat. Unfortunately, one does not get away as the computer literally drags her back in. What happened next scared the crap out of me. The computer proceeds to transform the woman into a robot, in a quick sequence where she given all sorts of electronics and her personality is quickly submerged. The robot then attacks the other two villains, before Superman finally arrives. True the woman is seen to be fine in the end, but that scene still freaked me out. I know it doesnâ€™t sound scary here, but the scene is pretty intense. For years I was embarrassed that I had been so freaked out, until I saw some YouTube comments saying they were also scared by that moment. I donâ€™t know if it was how fast the whole thing was, or the scream of the woman, or maybe those cold dead silver eyes. Oh lord, those eyesâ€¦.. Anyway, if youâ€™re not familiar the scene is available on YouTube to check out. Off topic, but this film was pretty bad except the junkyard scene. I thought that was pretty good. And yes, I can watch that scene today and realize it wasnâ€™t so bad. Funny how we see things different as kids.
#1. Dumbo & Pinocchio
Ironic that not only is Disney of all things #1, but they had two scenes which scared me. I decided to couldnâ€™t decide which was worst, so I made it a tie. I have already talked about these so I will not go into too much detail. Dumbo was a nice little film, kind of sad at times but nothing to horrible. Then comes the scene where Dumbo and Timothy get drunk accidentally, and proceed to have the famous Pink Elephants on Parade scene. I hated this scene; it just freaked me out and haunted me for years. My now ex-wife used to tease me about it. Thank heavens the crows follow it, they saved the movie. Pinocchio is kind of dark with odd images, but I donâ€™t think itâ€™s supposed to be scary. Then we get the Pleasure Island scene. That god damn Pleasure Island scene! Lampwick is talking with Pinocchio, and as he does he begins to transform into a donkey. At first itâ€™s not that bad, until he realizes what is happening and starts to scream in terror for help. The transformation is complete, and Lampwick starts to tear the place apart. This scene flat out scared the crap out of me, and I never forgot it. The worst part me be that we never find out what happened to him or anyone else on that island. Pinocchio escapes, and thatâ€™s that. Then you hope the next scene would be better, and we get the whale sceneâ€¦.argh! Anyway, Dumbo was a decent film, I have learned to appreciate it. Pinocchio I flat out hated, there is just nothing redeeming in it for me. And yes, I am aware that compared to the original novel the Disney movie was darn right tame. Still hate it.
Honorable Mention-Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory
This is a great kids movie. Itâ€™s got fun songs, pretty images, and a realty well told story. I love this film. However, there is one scene which has terrified many and it makes no sense. We know what Iâ€™m talking about, that annoying tunnel scene. They group get on a boat and go into a tunnel, and then all hell breaks loose! Odd disturbing images while Wonka recites a very dark poem. This scene is terrifying, but I honestly donâ€™t remember being terrified by it per se. It was definitely a WTF moment!Â I decided it deserved a mention because it fits this discussion perfectly and has scared many kids over the years.