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June 13, 2011

Midnight Top Five - The "Scariest Creatures in '80s Films Suitable for Children's Viewing" Edition (Guest Post by Syrin of My Own Little Corner)

(Note from The Mike: I promised you all that I'd leave FMWL in good hands while I take a rare real world vacation this week, and I meant it.  Please welcome Syrin, hostess at the diminutive-but-mighty blog My Own Little Corner, who's got a double dose of Midnight Top Five action for you all!  Please check out what she's got to say below, and head over to her site to see some awesome stuff!)
While my parents weren't overly strict, they did lay out certain rules.  One of these rules meant absolutely no R rated movies before the age of 13.  It was a valiant effort on their part to shelter me from sex, language, and violence that my young mind wasn't quite ready for.  However, the horror boom of the 80s meant that a lot of horror elements were sneaking into comedies, even those primarily targeted towards children.  As such I present to you the top five things that had me turning away from the television and movie screen and ducking under the covers at night.

Stripe's Death - Gremlins
The gremlins themselves didn't really scare me.  While certainly not what I would call cute, they're just sort of reptilian creatures with pointy teeth that cause a lot of trouble.  However, that scene as we watch Stripe decay once he is hit by sunlight?  The stuff of nightmares!
 The Dark Overlord - Howard the Duck
I haven't seen Howard the Duck in many, many years.  I really need to sit down and revisit it to see how well it holds up.  I think it certainly is one of those movies that could only have been made in the 80s.  More than anything else, I remember being caught totally off guard when this seemingly innocent funny movie about a talking duck suddenly had this huge, disgusting scary monster show up at the end.  I may have left the room when it appeared.
The Waiting Room - Beetlejuice
I didn't see too many movies in theaters when I was a kid.  We used to rent a lot from the video store instead.  So I remember my friends ranting and raving about Beetlejuice and how funny it was long before I got to see it.  I also distinctly remember thinking they were trying to torture me when the waiting room scene came on.  Mr. Shrunken Head was particularly frightening to me.
 The Librarian Ghost - Ghostbusters
Ghostbusters is definitely one of my favorite movies of all time.  I watched it over and over again, and I will happily defend the sequel too.  For a movie about ghosts, it is pretty short on scares.. except for that opening scene!  If anything will make you stay quiet in a library, it's this woman!
 Large Marge - Pee Wee's Big Adventure
But the absolute scariest thing I ever saw in a film in my childhood doesn't come from the horror genre at all.  Of course, it is a film made by Tim Burton, and as his first full length film I think it served as a warning to all of us that this man had a very unique vision.  I don't think I've run into a single person of appropriate age who didn't get their pants scared off by Large Marge.  My brother and I watched this movie again and again and again, but I can tell you right now, after the first viewing, whenever I heard "It looked... like this!" I would cover my eyes until Pee-wee stopped screaming.
OR: See Large Marge on YouTube....IF YOU DARE.

Because these sort of things were just so prevalent in the 80s, I thought it would be fun to turn it around a bit and talk about the scary creatures that didn't make me run for cover.

Audrey II - Little Shop of Horrors
While I didn't actually watch the entirety of Little Shop of Horrors until I was an adult, I remember seeing at least parts of the movie in my childhood.  They even made a cartoon adaptation of it!  While Audrey II grows to be large and monstrous and feasts on human blood, the power of humor and music makes him not quite as threatening as some of the creatures and people above.
Slimer - Ghostbusters
Pardon me for mentioning Ghostbusters twice in one post like this, but I think it would be wrong to not talk about Slimer in this context.  For awhile there, he was even more popular than Casper in the friendly ghost category.  He had his own fruit punch and toothpaste, and basically dominated The Real Ghostbusters.  While I think nearly all cartoons automatically count as not really scary, even in the first film he's too busy gorging himself on food to inspire fear, and his one encounter with Peter Venkman definitely inspires more laughs than shivers.
The Troll - Stephen King's Cat's Eye
For the longest time, I didn't know Cat's Eye was an anthology film.  The only part of the movie we had on a VHS tape was the final segment staring Drew Barrymore titled "The General."  The troll who steals her breath away is not meant to be cute or cuddly but there's something about seeing him float with balloons and spin around on a record player that always made him adorable to me.
The Wild Gang - Labyrinth
Somehow, despite being a Jim Henson fan since I was an infant, I didn't see Labyrinth until I was a teenager.  I fell in love with it immediately.  Imagine my surprise when later I was told by a couple people that The Wild Gang gave them nightmares.  But.. they're so cute!  And fun!  And it's such a great song!  I'm calling it here that anything created by the Jim Henson gang cannot scare me, and therefore these guys belong on the list.
The Chamberlain of the Skeksis - The Dark Crystal
Yeah, I'm fully expecting a fight on this one, but what's the point of a top 5 list without being a little controversial?  There is no doubt that the Skeksis as a race are incredibly ugly creatures.  And that scene where the Emperor turns to dust?  I'd even allow that it could belong on a list with the scary ones above.  But the Chamberlain himself is too likeable to be scary.  His constant whimper, his pleading "Please.. gelfing.. come to castle.."  make me find him more cute than scary.  He's one of the most entertaining characters in the film and probably my favorite out of all them.

Think I got it all wrong?  Have some more fun creatures to add to either list?  Were you immune to the terror of Large Marge?  Sound off in the comments!

9 comments:

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Two Midnight Top Fives in one post?!?! Awesome! =D

All the Gremlins (except Gizmo) always terrified me. An adult once left me alone in the lobby of a cineplex that had a huge (to my little self) cardboard display to promote Gremlins 2. I sat frozen, just staring at it, not daring to move until someone came back for me.

I totally agree about Slimer and the Wild Gang. There's a reason the former became a virtual pet in the cartoon and you couldn't squeeze darkness out of Jim Henson if you pumped him full of squid ink first. (That may be the worst metaphor of my life.) And the troll in Cat's Eye? I'm watching him for the first time thanks to this embedded clip, and he is cute! LOL!

But--and you knew this was coming (LOL!)--I always found "Mr. Shrunken Head" kind of adorable. =P

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Yikes! I just saw the troll's close up! =S Not pretty!!!

Syrin said...

Well of course there's at least one item on each list you and I feel differently about! :)

The troll is sort of a fun mix of both cute (in what happens to him, at least) and creepy in how he looks. I think if they had gone for stop motion animation rather someone in a costume I'd be a lot more scared of him.

Speaking of stop motion: I couldn't include him because it's not a movie for kids, but stop motion marionette Freddy Krueger in The Dream Warriors is also adorable to me!

TheGirlWhoLovesHorror said...

I was always a little scared of the Wild Gang myself and when I showed Labyrinth to my 6 year old nephew recently, he immediately didn't like that part either! Terrifying, Jim Henson, truly!!

And the Library Ghost... WORD. Ghostbusters actually walks a very fine line between scary and funny, and that part is one of the reasons why!

Syrin said...

I'm assuming it's the removal of body parts that makes the Wild Gang so freaky? I'll admit thinking about the puppeteers in black cloth behind them, and how cool that whole technique is, prevents me from being freaked out by that.

Hey! Look Behind You! said...

Ok I'm 30 years old and still today Large Marge and the Troll from Cat's Eye horrifies me!

I don't know if it's the bug eyes thing at the end of the Large Marge scene or just the fact that she was a creepy ghost lady but *shudder* that bitch freaks me out!

And I saw Cat's Eye at a very young age and the thought of a troll coming into my room at night and stealing my breathe is just scary. My parents didn't like cats so I was scared that I was doomed.

But anyway, really great list!

Syrin said...

Maybe that's why the troll didn't scare me - we always had cats when I was growing up so I knew I was safe! :)

Dod said...

Great list! I think I have to revisit a lot of these again.

I still remember my first reaction to Large Marge: heart suddenly beating heavier, and my vocal assessment of "what...the...HELL?"

I also have a soft spot for "Ghostbusters."

The Mike said...

I don't think I was ever scared of The Troll in Cat's Eye, but he was definitely pure evil in my eyes. I'm thinking the final battle of that film might have been the first time that pre-teen The Mike ever did a fist pump. I shall always be on The General's team.

Thanks so much for sharing, Syrin!