Everybody has at least one childhood memory of a movie scene that forced them to hide their eyes, turn off the movie or flat out withdraw from society entirely. The CutPrintFilm staff has compiled this list of scenes that ruined our lives before we even reached our 10th birthday!
- Terminator 2: Judgment Day – “Your foster parents are dead.”
Okay, so when this movie made it to VHS in 1991 I was only 9 years old. Admittedly, I was not the intended audience for T2 but that was not going to stop me from seeing the totally radical liquid metal effects that everyone was talking about all summer. I’m sure my parents did their best to keep from seeing this movie, but they were no match for a barely supervised sleepover birthday party that September. Ten fourth grade boys gathered around a TV and laughed as Arnold Schwarzenegger phlegm-barked out his new catchphrase, “Hasta la vista, baby.” And then this scene happened. The T-1000 robot takes on the form of John Connor’s foster mother and tries to trick him into coming home. Arnold figures this out immediately and gives John the bad news. Ok, no big deal, I can deal with this. Then the camera slow pans to John’s foster father, pinned to the wall WITH A FUCKING SWORD-HAND THROUGH HIS HEAD WHAAAAAAT!?!?!? The whole rest of the sleepover was ruined for me because I just wanted to go home to make sure my parents were safe and that we still had milk.
“Remember me, Eddie?!”
Who Framed Roger Rabbit was one of those movies I watched over and over as a kid. I was amazed by the mix of live-action and animation, and probably confused at how attractive Jessica Rabbit was. But amongst all the amazing special effects, the film also contained a rather menacing and memorable villain, Judge Doom, played by Christopher Lloyd. Doom starts out fairly creepy to begin with, and the scene where he “kills” an adorable cartoon shoe by dunking it into his toon-killing liquid called DIP is fairly traumatizing. But that’s nothing compared to the big reveal at the end. Through the whole film, main character Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) has a hatred of toons, because a toon killed his brother (by dropping a piano on him). It turns out that Judge Doom was that toon, and when he reveals his cartoon nature—featuring giant red eyes that turn into knives and an insanely high-pitched voice—I remember wanting to hide beneath the movie theater seat.
“Do you hear what I hear?”
Gremlins is one of the most memorable things from my childhood, I loved it–yet it terrified me. I still can’t watch this scene without feeling a sort of nostalgic panic. Billy’s mom is home alone, baking cookies and listening to Johnny Mathis’ “Do You Hear What I Hear” when suddenly she hears a noise upstairs. Well, it turns out her fuck up of a son can’t follow 3 simple rules and now it’s left to her to kill these monsters. What I love about this scene is that instead of being a typical movie and having Billy’s mom panic… She begins to brutally murder the gremlins! This scene was so traumatizing that for a great part of my life I couldn’t listen to “Do You Hear What I Hear?” without getting freaked out–it was like listening to a horror soundtrack on Christmas.
The Clown Dream
Most kids were scared by the Large Marge scene and understandably so. It scared me too. But once it gets the big scare, the movie barrels on. Plus, in hindsight the claymation effect used for Large Marge’s face is purposefully silly looking. The clown dream, on the other hand, is something that permeated my nightmares. For starters, the music is just a pounding march that spirals over and over. Pee-wee’s bike starts out in pieces and these nice clown EMTs look to be trying to help! They put it on a gurney and…wait…oh no. Why are they rolling it down a prop hall from Beetlejuice? Why is the clown on the left making grotesque smiling faces at it? Oh good, a doctor! Wait….he’s a clown too?! WHY?! Ah, yes it appears they have welded the bike pieces back together and Pee-wee will ride once more! Oh no it’s Francis and he’s in a tight devil outfit!!! They’re burning the bike! I shit you not, I had actual nightmares where this scene played out entirely. Good thing my mom let me watch this movie over and over as a kid.
“Looks like coyotes come back.”
For a children’s movie there is some pretty scary stuff in E.T. The scene where menacing astronauts are creeping through the house, the scene where E.T. and Elliot look like dead zombies, and the scene where E.T. is just laying in a creek somewhere, are a few memorable ones. However, none of those freaked me out like Elliot’s first encounter with E.T.
Hey, why does Elliot have a cornfield in L.A.? Because it’s scary looking! Even closing my eyes didn’t help as a child, because that noise that E.T. makes is just as terrifying. This scene is so scary that M.Night Shamalyan filmed a shot for shot homage in his sci-fi thriller Signs.
Is Zelda Dead Yet?
I grew up on horror movies and developed a sort of tolerance for them at a young age. I still loved watching them, but they never really scared me. But every now and then there would be an exception. Pet Sematary didn’t just scare me as a kid—it traumatized me. This film, which is filled to the brim with death, was probably the first time I became truly away of my own mortality. I spent weeks after the film terrified that I was going to die. The film doesn’t hold up very well now—a lot of the acting, aside from Fred Gwynne, is terrible—but there’s one scene that fucking destroyed my child-like mind that still holds up today. In this scene, Rachel Creed (Denise Crosby) tells her husband Louis (Dale Midkiff) the reason she’s so hesitant to talk or even think about death: when she was younger she had an older sister named Zelda; Zelda died of spinal meningitis when Rachel was a child, and Rachel was the only one home to witness it. It’s a fantastically upsetting scene, and it’s heightened by the make-up work and the actor (it’s a man—Andrew Hubatsek—playing the female Zelda). And it still gives me the creeps.
They’re Creeping Up On You
George A. Romero and Stephen King’s anthology film Creepshow is more silly-fun than scary, and it’s a film I like to revisit every Halloween. But even now, I find myself always skipping the last story in the film, They’re Creeping Up On You, which features E.G. Marshall as an asshole businessman living in a perfectly sealed and electronically controlled apartment. One night, a blackout sweeps through New York, and as a result, thousands upon thousands of cockroaches swarm Marshall’s apartment. It all ends with Pratt having a heart attack; the film cuts to his dead body, with a not a roach in site. And then all of the god damn roaches come exploding out of his body. I grew up in a somewhat run-down section of Philadelphia, and occasionally when you flicked on the light at night in the upstairs hall you might see a roach scurry across the rug to hide under something. It was always terrifying. So this scene, which features a shitload of roaches, was not something my younger self could handle, and it’s something my now-adult self still finds flesh-crawling.
“Don’t touch it! It’s in the soup!”
This was the first time I saw anyone die in a movie. I don’t mean an animated character death where they cartoonishly disappear off a cliff either. I’m talking about clear, definitive, no questions asked death. The premise of The Witchesis basically that these witches are trying to turn all of the children in this town into rodents, more or less. They have a magic potion that will accomplish this task which you can see in action during the film’s other horrific scene. Scary huh? That has nothing on the scene above though. A chef working at the hotel where the witches are carrying out their evil deeds tastes the soup that the potion has been slipped into. She turns into a mouse and immediately figures out it was the soup that transformed her. She scurries out into the dining room, as a mouse, warning people not to touch the soup and then SPLAT. Anjelica Huston’s queen witch stomps on her, killing her. The human being was turned into a mouse and then MURDERED. And no one on screen seems to have a problem with it! In fact, it’s never even mentioned again! Except over and over in my every waking thoughts.
“The food ain’t that bad!”
Well watching this scene alone when I was 6 is probably the reason I refused to finish my dinner as a child. I also wondered what that other thing is that Parker would rather be eating (It’s pussy). Anyway, this scene pretty much scarred me for life. The way that Ian Holm is looking across the table just knowing that something terrible is about to happen is probably what freaks me out the most. I was so terrified by the chest busting that even the parody version in Spaceballs was unwatchable to me. The only thing worse than having that baby xenomorph run out of the room is watching it sing “Hello My Baby.”
Toxic Waste Man
In the late 80s and early 90s, toxic waste and pollution was THE hot topic. It appeared in the headlines, the evening news, very special episodes of TV, movies and even cartoons (Captain Planet, anyone?). Aside from the horrific murder of Detective Alex Murphy (Robocop himself) at the beginning of the movie, the only thing I took away from Robocop as a kid was the scene above where one of Clarence Boddicker’s goons drives his van directly into an enormous tub of toxic waste. How do we know it’s toxic waste that comes pouring out the back of the van? Because it’s stenciled on the front of the tub in giant block lettering. As ridiculous as this sounds now, as a kid, sneakily watching this on low volume so my parents didn’t catch me, this scene was absolutely terrifying. Said goon is literally melting! He’s begging for someone to help him and he gets the next best thing as he limps out in front of Boddicker’s life-sized Hot Wheels car and EXPLODES upon impact! I turned the movie off immediately. It wasn’t until years later that I realized Robocop was meant to be taken as satire and not a real world expose. Regardless, I always kept my eyes pealed for any open vats of toxic waste in my community.