Children’s films should be fun. They are meant to be something the whole family can watch together, share popcorn, and smile. But if you really think it’s true then you are probably a 90s kid. If you were an 80s kid you would know that kids movies can turn into nightmares sometimes because 80s movies like The Dark Crystal and The great adventure of Pee-Wee are probably as notorious for scaring children as they are for making them smile. I mean, for real! There are some surprisingly scary moments in a bunch of these ’80s movies.
Of course, the 90s have The witches with its infamous ballroom scene. But this movie came out in 1990, so it looked more like a holdover from the 80s. But in the mid-90s we were getting stuff like Space jam and Flubber. Remember Flubber? It’s almost like the studio directors sit down together and decide, “You know what? Maybe we shouldn’t make films that scare children. “
Yes you had the opportunity Jumanji, but otherwise kids movies weren’t really scary back in the 90s. So I want to take you back to the movies that had you running around your parents’ room or hiding under the covers. Because these scenes were serious nightmares.
“Feel the power of the black crystal! “- The black crystal, 1982
I’ll be honest with you. I have not seen The black crystal like a child. I saw it as an adult, and I’m glad I did because it would have seriously spoiled me as a kid, but hey! Because like many children, I grew up with Jim Henson. The Muppets, Sesame Street, Fragile rock. All the happy stuff. Corn The black crystal is sinister from its very first scene. Unlike most children’s stories, it is a story of genocide. A disgusting tribe of vulture-like creatures called the Skeksis want to use a divine gem known as the Black Crystal to give them ultimate power, while the last of a race called the Gelflings aims to stop them.
As mentioned, the whole movie just has an unsettling feeling. But the scene that I’m sure would have given me night terrors as a child is one in which the Skeksis drain a dose of his “life essence.” I wouldn’t necessarily say this scene is “surprisingly scary” because the whole movie has a dark tone to it. But watching the podling being tied up while a purple light steals its “essence” is horrible, especially with the blind gaze it gets after it’s all over. Did Jim Henson really think showing torture was right for children? I want to know.
“Come get me, Gmork! “- The Neverending Story, 1984
The Endless Storrrryyyyy! The story of a boy’s imagination reading a book, The never-ending story is a wonderful and fun yarn with a lot of fancy. You have Atreyu, of course, as the hero of the story, and the adorable, ride-on, Falkor. You have the rockbiter and the gnome, Engywook. Ahh, good times. But then… well, then you have Gmork. And Gmork is not the right time.
The surprisingly creepy scene in question is where Atreyu faces off against Gmork, who is hiding in a wall and almost speaking in a somewhat calming mellow tone. I could imagine falling asleep with that voice. But this is juxtaposed by what he is really talking about, which is the Nothing. Atreyu then tells Gmork to come get him, and the beast jumps out of its hole with sharp teeth in attack mode. But it was his green eyes and the way he looks out of his hole that terrified me as a kid. I saw those eyes in my closet at night, waiting for me to fall asleep. Sinister! See here.
No Head – Back to Oz, 1985
I remember I was in the schoolyard when someone asked me if I had seen Back to Oz. I said of course. Dorothy, the scarecrow, the cowardly lion, but then he stopped me and said, “No, not The Wizard of Oz. I said Back to Oz”, To which he explained that Dorothy was in a mental institution, then she was transported to Oz again, but everything was messed up. At first I didn’t believe it because it was an age when you couldn’t just check the facts on your cell phone. So I went to his place and he had a VHS tape. And then I looked at it… and I wanted to cry.
The Wheelers were pretty scary, but it was the Princess Mombi head scene that haunted me on the way back in the car from my friend’s house. In the scene, Dorothy enters a room where the heads are in display cases. Dorothy slips into the room, then Princess Mombi sits HEADLESSED, then all the heads in the windows start SCREAMING. I was so mad at my friend for showing me this scene as I was literally haunted for days after watching it. God. How is that a children’s movie ?! Watch it here.
Large Marge, The Great Pee-wee Adventure, 1985
Pee-wee’s great adventure is a silly movie about an adult man playing with toys and looking for his missing bike. I show the opening scene of this movie to my kids all the time because it’s silly and fun. But one scene I’ll NEVER show my kids is the infamous “Large Marge” moment, where Pee-wee is picked up by the side of the road, and a truck driver gives a terrifying account of what happened to her.
This scene still scares me since it comes out of nowhere. First of all, the music is really scary in the way it plays during its storytelling, and the story it tells is really scary too. But that’s the moment she turns to Pee-wee, then her face changes to that insect-eyed Claymation expression that will always haunt me. Damn it, Tim Burton! Watch it here.
Junk Lady, Labyrinth, 1986
I started with Jim Henson, and I’ll end with Jim Henson. Now, Labyrinth is nowhere near as scary as The black crystal. In fact, I used to dance around the room with my daughter when she was still a baby at the “Magic Dance” to put her to sleep. But there’s one scene in particular that always bothered me as a kid, and that’s the junk scene.
Jennifer Connelly’s character is just coming out of a dream when this creepy disgusting woman arrives and starts grabbing all of her possessions and giving them to her, telling her how much she loves them. Now, aside from looking scary, what always pissed me off is the fact that the old lady knows so much about Jennifer Connelly’s character. She’s not just a stranger. She knows her. Deeply. Intimately. And it never really pleased me. I’ve always imagined her in the corner of my bedroom every time I looked at myself in my mirror, and it’s messed up. Watch it here.
And that’s all I have for you. Honestly, there are a ton of other movies that scared me as a kid (like Howard the duck and Big problem in little China), but I’ll keep it at five. But what do you think? What was the scariest scene on this list? Let me know in the poll below! And for news on more modern tariffs like the 2021 movies or even the 2022 movies, be sure to stop by here often.
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