"Confronting the worst things the '80s ever did to us"
March 26, 2008 2:52 PM   Subscribe

That's cracked wacked!
posted by blue_beetle at 2:58 PM on March 26, 2008 [2 favorites]

They left out my personal favorite, the my little ponies movie, with a character known as the "grundle king"
posted by fermezporte at 3:01 PM on March 26, 2008 [3 favorites]

I was babysitting the puling sprogs who were the target age for these shows.

They'd fight with me when I tried to get them to watch higher-quality TV.

Now I can say I was protecting them from these moments.

Also: the Thunder Cats no-clothes inclusion is a cop-out.
posted by batmonkey at 3:06 PM on March 26, 2008

It wasn't a cartoon, but the scene in The Neverending Story where the horse dies screwed up a lot of little girls, including my sister.
posted by you just lost the game at 3:10 PM on March 26, 2008 [8 favorites]

Does BotP count when it (and the show it was cut, pasted, & dubbed together from: Gatchaman) was originally released in the '70s?

'Coz if that counts, then the death of the Captain in Starblazers should really be on the list.

That episode was heartbreaking.
posted by batmonkey at 3:14 PM on March 26, 2008

Why does Secret of NIMH always get fingered for these? I'm honestly perplexed about that one. I was quite easily scared by stuff in movies, but I remember NIMH as entirely enjoyable and when I watched it again a couple of years ago I didn't see anything that struck me as particularly trauma-inducing.
posted by Wolfdog at 3:14 PM on March 26, 2008

It wasn't a cartoon, but the scene in The Neverending Story where the horse dies screwed up a lot of little girls, including my sister.

Oh god. I was 8 and a half, and I slunk down in my seat, mortified, as my 5 year old brother SOBBED HIS EYES OUT. I have my own little boy now, and I'm feeling a little sheepish about it.
posted by peep at 3:16 PM on March 26, 2008

(I don't maybe have a good basis for comparison because I've never seen any of the ones in the link.)
posted by Wolfdog at 3:19 PM on March 26, 2008

Wot, no Last Unicorn!?
posted by eric1halfb at 3:19 PM on March 26, 2008 [2 favorites]

I remember the GI Joe one, but I didn't remember that it was a simulation. I just thought that the show went batshit.
posted by brundlefly at 3:23 PM on March 26, 2008 [4 favorites]

Last Unicorn is far more traumatic when you're older.
posted by Wolfdog at 3:24 PM on March 26, 2008

I don't think any of that holds a candle to the animated Raggedy Ann & Andy film. I vaguely remember a pulsing seething ocean of caramel goo and a hypnocamel.

I'm pretty sure that was late 70's though, so it's not very fair to compare.
posted by Drastic at 3:26 PM on March 26, 2008

I'm honestly perplexed about that one. I was quite easily scared by stuff in movies, but I remember NIMH as entirely enjoyable and when I watched it again a couple of years ago I didn't see anything that struck me as particularly trauma-inducing.

Besides scenes with snarling, intelligent rats trying to kill each other or fleeing in terror of their lives from this or that, and that spooky demigod of an owl figure like as not to devour the main character as far as the viewer can tell, NIMH's whole production had this general undercurrent of dissonant and paranoid themes that were among the most potent and uneasy animated memories I carried out of my childhood. Right up there with dark, half-remembered flashes of the rotoscoped Nazgul from the old LotR cartoon.
posted by cortex at 3:29 PM on March 26, 2008 [8 favorites]

Also, I recall the Huggabunch film I saw as kid as being kind of wack at moments, too, despite (or perhaps because of) the overwhelmingly saccharine majority of the content.
posted by cortex at 3:30 PM on March 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Ralph Mouth doing a voice on the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon screwed me up.
posted by zzazazz at 3:35 PM on March 26, 2008

For me it was the "don't do drugs" episode of Bravestarr (which I've mentioned on MeFi before).

Also, one out of every five or six Smurfs episodes was traumatic, so it's hard to pick just one. Watching that show was like playing Russian Roulette--would the scary cartoon be the first, or the third, or the second? (See, for example, this description of the scariest Smurf cartoon IMO, "The Purple Smurfs.")
posted by Prospero at 3:40 PM on March 26, 2008

A couple of the commenters on the original post mentioned episodes of Robotech in which characters died, but for my money the biggest shock of the series comes later on, in episode 27. Here, see for yourself: skip to about 5:30 in this YouTube video. Just as Rick is (finally!) kicking Minmay to the curb, the Zentraedi fleet surrounding the Earth opens fire...

Holy cats, did they just sterilize the surface of the Earth? "They can't be doing this, they can't!" But, but, but...did I just watch five billion people get exterminated on weekday afternoon syndicated TV? "Probably."
posted by The Tensor at 3:43 PM on March 26, 2008 [2 favorites]

I remember the GI joe bit, and remembered that it wasn't real. But at the same time, it wasn't really different from a dream sequence, so I didn't find it warping in any way. But maybe I'm weird like that; some of my favorite episodes for various tv shows are when they involve long dream sequences (or should I say segments of non-reality), while ms. nobeagle hates them with a passion.
posted by nobeagle at 3:43 PM on March 26, 2008

Holy crap, I found video of the Purple Smurfs episode. Watch it before it gets taken down.

For those of you about to watch this who don't know the plot--God help you.
posted by Prospero at 3:47 PM on March 26, 2008 [6 favorites]

how could have this have missed the list? easily the most disturbing thing I've seen.
posted by skjønn at 3:49 PM on March 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

I was always partial to Rocket Robin Hood myself.
posted by bwg at 3:51 PM on March 26, 2008

You know how sometimes you happen to run into something that ends up being a puzzle piece in a totally insignificant and trivial mystery? And then you are compelled to write about it even though no one but you will care? Well, that Jem video with the sort-of-racy lyric "making love to a fantasy" sheds some light on a rare, unreleased They Might Be Giants song called "I Need Some Lovin'," the vocals of which are claimed by the band to have come from a Jem and the Holograms song. One part of this song goes, "brass bed with a sign that reads 'nobody rides for free'," which is also kind of child-inappropriate. It's definitely an original TMBG song on account of the lyric "the ocean of tears running down my spine". Because of this post I now suspect that "I Need Some Lovin'" is a joke based on that real-life censor-passing sex reference in Jem. Anyway, here's a link to the song to compare [Sendspace, 1.3 MB mp3].
posted by tepidmonkey at 3:52 PM on March 26, 2008 [2 favorites]

The Hobbit animated movie: cue nightmares about being cocooned by spiders in an underground cave.

My Little Pony: The Movie: cue nightmares about drowning in Smooze.

Thundercats: cue inappropriate crush on Lion-O.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 3:53 PM on March 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

I thought the most disturbing G.I. Joe episode was the one where three of the Joes somehow wind up in a distopian alternate dimension where they're all dead. They actually find their own bodies in a mass grave or something. You didn't often see a lot of '80s cartoon characters confront their own mortality.
posted by Rangeboy at 3:55 PM on March 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Aha! Wikipedia tells me the episode is the two-parter "Worlds Without End."
posted by Rangeboy at 4:01 PM on March 26, 2008

This post and comments are in English and yet are incomprehensible to this old dude.

(All of my childhood "traumas" were to be found in books. I'm looking at you, Where the Red Fern Grows.)
posted by maxwelton at 4:02 PM on March 26, 2008 [2 favorites]

I swear I remember an episode of Voltron (the one with the five lions, not the "Air Team, Land Team, Sea Team!" one) where the main characters died and floated around in some sort of limbo for most of the show. I can't find any footage of it on YouTube, nor any evidence of its existence anywhere else online, but it had quite an impact on young Mr. Card Cheat.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:03 PM on March 26, 2008

I don't know about undercurrent of dissonant and paranoid themes but as best I remember, everything worked out well. The owl seemed scary but just standing strong and being brave took care of it. The fights were certainly nothing like the more honest (and I think truly frightening) savagery in Watership Down - and the fact that it was animated rats as opposed to animated people or animated whatevers doesn't seem too important. The escape plan works out, and it ends with promise. I guess everybody's different as to what scares them, but that kind of thing I never would have found scary; for myself, I suppose I'm saying it was easy to trust things would turn out well, and that made the scary parts tolerable (and the other way 'round, the sunshine at the end wouldn't have seemed satisfying if there wasn't some darkness that had to be passed through). If I try to put a finger on what really was scary to me as a kid it would be something like "bad things happen for no reason" or "things still go wrong even when you do your best" or "in the end, evil triumphs". I couldn't, or wouldn't go near anything classified as "horror" until I was well grown up.

Last Unicorn, as a kid, I certainly found the red bull very scary. It was something clearly supernatural and it somehow seemed you couldn't trust it to play by the rules, whatever that means exactly. The end of Mommy Fortuna is kind of horrible, but also feel just, and I think you could get that even as a kid.

Watership Down we read when I was pretty young, and I absolutely loved it; it was one of my favorite fantasy worlds. I didn't see the film until much later and I really would have found that disturbing as a kid. It would probably have spoiled my enjoyment of the book, too.

Most of the examples in the link, they strike me as things look peculiar from a grown-up perspective but would fit in a child's more fluid world view without any particular difficulty. I mean, they say as much, right? Our perspective didn’t change until later, thanks to the Internet and a lot of things we’d just as soon not discuss.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:08 PM on March 26, 2008

Does anyone else remember the evil care bears? Who possessed a care bear glare, as opposed to the regular stare?
posted by leotrotsky at 4:12 PM on March 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Can we add the entire Gremlins movie? My parents took me to see it when I was six. That excursion didn't last long. :) Oh, and I know it's not a cartoon, but what about the part in Goonies where they threaten to put his hand in the blender? Even older and wiser at age seven, I couldn't handle that.

And there were evil care bears, I remember them.
posted by salvia at 4:14 PM on March 26, 2008

Nice point, maxwelton, even if it's not exactly what you had in mind.

An equally as enlightening/entertaining list could be made of the books we read in grade school that were full of fairly mature "thematic material." Mortality being one of the most frequent "offenders."
posted by eric1halfb at 4:16 PM on March 26, 2008

Seconding Robotech. The series was a bit of a trojan horse, hiding some pretty upsetting stuff under an apparently cliched action facade (and awful dubbing / re-editing). But I mean that as a compliment: it changed my attitude to animation for the rest of my life.

The 80s movie that screwed me up worst was Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits (1981), which I saw when I was 9. It gave me nightmares for years. I'm pretty conflicted about it now: I appreciate the movie's imaginativeness and non-cuddly edginess, but it sure plays some mean tricks on young viewers and speaking as a parent, I wouldn't knowingly expose a child to that.
posted by snarfois at 4:24 PM on March 26, 2008

This list is worthless without Raymond Briggs' When The Wind Blows. It's strong stuff for an adult, and the book and animation should be labelled 'guaranteed to cause lifelong nightmares'.
Pesky nuclear winter.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 4:26 PM on March 26, 2008 [4 favorites]

If we're going to veer off from cartoons and the '80s ('79, though, so close!), I really want to see who else may have been juked by "Black Hole".

Maximillian's little blender-blade move was unexpectedly warping.
posted by batmonkey at 4:27 PM on March 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

The most terrifying thing about that GI Joe episode was not that Shipwreck's family melted into a large pile of goo, it was that, for some reason or other, my brother and I always saw the first part, but never the second.

So there's the giant pile of goo, moving towards Shipwreck, and... that's it.
posted by Katemonkey at 4:31 PM on March 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

They missed the entire run of Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures, produced by Ralph Bakshi. It was on CBS in 87/88, right after Pee-Wee's playhouse.
posted by not_on_display at 4:32 PM on March 26, 2008

skjønn -

That video is truly, truly disturbing. I think that masked thing's voice is what got me the most. But I've never really trusted masks.
posted by sandraregina at 4:38 PM on March 26, 2008

I vaguely recall an episode of (I think) the Ghostbusters cartoon that involved these creepy skeleton-like robots who were kidnapping people into an alternate dimension so they could wear their bodies and infiltrate human society. Freaked my shit real good.
posted by EarBucket at 4:42 PM on March 26, 2008

When I was a wee lad, I was taken to see the Gene Wilder "Willie Wonka" movie. Augustus Gloop got sucked up the pipe and I ran out of the theatre a-wailin' and a-cryin'.
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:50 PM on March 26, 2008

The relevant part of the Bravestarr episode
posted by khaibit at 4:51 PM on March 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

It's the second time in 24 hours that I'm using this phrase, but here we go: Nightmare Fuel.

For me (born in 1980) it was the Garfield Halloween Special, specifically the point where the decrepit old man spun around in the chair and scared the bejeezus out of Garfield, Odie, and me & all my friends.

Still, I watched that episode over and over, always, really, for that part, where I'd clench up my ass like a motherfucker knowing what was coming. I also adored Watership Down as a toddler - and in fact my love has a tattoo of the Black Rabbit of Inlay on her back, and goes by FrithontheHills on some forums, Hyzenthlay on others, including this one - though it scared me as well. I don't know what I would've thought of Plague Dogs had I seen it at that age.

I read somewhere recently, probably in a Ken Tucker book, that Jim Henson and Maurice Sendak both understood that kids needed to be scared a little bit, that it was part of their development, and that they crave it to an extent. I know I did, maybe to an abnormal degree.

This upsets me because a few years ago Dubold and I worked together on a Japanese import cartoon for FOX. While the show ws certainly stupid in a lot of ways, it was no worse than any other kids' cartoon, and much better than many. What was interesting about it - and I came to love it - was the way in which the show tackled mature themes without pandering. One character's parents were always fighting, and it was understood that it sucked, but the girl just lived her life and got away from the house as often as she could. Another girl's parents were overprotective - which came through in her acting out in ways which didn't betray her goodness of spirit, and another girl's parents were divorced, with the girl now living with her dad, who desperately wanted to get back together with her mom. One episode dealt with the girl helping her father, who went into a drunken rage one night while the girl just lay in bed listening to it. It turned out that the father had also been keeping the mother's letter away from her. Another dealt with the girl running away from home to find her estranged mother, and mistakenly believing that her mom had started a new family without telling her. All this in a very light-hearted show squarely aimed at children.

Every "real" element of the show had to be fought for tooth-and-nail, and there were some wins and some losses, but the one that really pisses me off was a generally fun one set at Halloween. The kids all go to a graveyard for the festivities, which involved ghosts and other such nonsense, but also involved an ancillary character who was worried that he hadn't lived up to promises that he'd made to his grandfather, who had recently passed. At the climax, the grandfather's ghost finds the boy and assures him that he's proud of him, and it's a truly sweet, touching moment.

The entire episode got axed (eventually the entire season as well, but that's another story) not because of the ghosts, or anything too frightening, but because FOX standards and practices prohibited any kids' show from acknowledging death. So not only does FOX apparently actually have standards and practices, but what they decide is bad television is just as warped and wrong as hat they decide to be good.

Me, I thought that the episode would probably be good for a handful of the kids who saw it, and I's happilly take all the nightmare fuel from my youth over the sanitized bullshit protectiveness that pervades today.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:53 PM on March 26, 2008 [9 favorites]

I was about 12 when I first saw this, not technicaly a cartoon but certianly directed at children. God damn snakemen.
posted by khaibit at 4:54 PM on March 26, 2008

If we're going to veer off from cartoons and the '80s ('79, though, so close!), I really want to see who else may have been juked by "Black Hole".
Don't recall being so, no. But then I read 2000AD as a kid, which cheerfully dealt with death. Although I do remember being mildly perturbed by the "melto bomber", who had an m.o. of leaving his bombs in briefcases at random restaurants and then calling the owner for a ransom. He got his comeuppance when a kind stranger returned his briefcase to him just as he pressed the detonator. The last panel was of a melted blob of flesh with only their eyeballs unaffected and sitting on top.

At least, that's what I remember; a quick google suggests it has been remembered by no-one else.
posted by Auz at 4:58 PM on March 26, 2008

Oh, and not a cartoon, but Sesame Street did a special episode where Big Bird went to China and was menaced by an honest-to-God demon.
posted by EarBucket at 4:59 PM on March 26, 2008

And speaking of Sesame Street, the sketch where Bert and Ernie explore a pyramid always made me vaguely uneasy as a child.
posted by EarBucket at 5:01 PM on March 26, 2008

I think the most screwed-up thing in Star Blazers was when that crewman revealed he was in a roller coaster accident as a kid, and all his limbs were actually prosthetics, which turned out to be BOMBS! he could configure to blow himself up and get Wildstar out of whatever jam they were in. Jesus, am I remembering that correctly?

That, and the sentient hockey puck on Galaxy High who ran around the ice yelling "Hit me! Hiiiiiiit meeeeee!"
posted by steef at 5:24 PM on March 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Geez...how could they miss the G.I. Joe episode where Iceberg gets turned into a killer whale? The guy gets strapped down to a table, zapped by a ray and turns into a freakin' killer whale. That was messed up.

The Secret of Nimh was scary, as I recall, several times. Once, when they show the rats being injected with the chemical to make them smart, the whole part where they're in pain. Then when Mrs. Brisby is in the bird cage and she gets hurt trying to escape, you're not used to seeing animated characters wounded with blood back then! Not to mention, when her home sinks into the mud, etc. I loved the movie as a child, in part, because it was much more adult and mature than most other animated shows at the time.

The Last Unicorn...definite weirdness and worry over the Red Bull. There was something just very ominous and dark that contrasted with the pretty white unicorn.

Another G.I. Joe moment is when Cobra Commander gets turned into a giant snake...and the wonderful stages in between from man to reptile.

A lot of crap was heaped on Shipwreck. He was the animators go to man to really hit the guy around, like the time they had him taking money to spy for Cobra to pay for his mother's medications. The dude never got a break.
posted by Atreides at 5:29 PM on March 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Dude, the Inhumanoids was probably the cartoon that most consistently freaked me out. From the Cthulhu-inspired Tendril to the fact that one of the main characters was decomposed in the intro movie... wow, that sure made me uneasy. It made it seem like "anything goes" and no one was safe.

Plus, where's the clip from the Mark Twain claymation thing?

There was also that face-changing machine on the Muppet Show. That scene crreped me out.
posted by Eideteker at 5:31 PM on March 26, 2008

My moments trauma came from watching Rickety Rocket on Saturday morning TV, and years later, as it was rebroadcast in syndication. People actually got paid to produce that series, and some network hotshot thought it was a good idea to air the reruns in an afterschool slot.
posted by Smart Dalek at 5:32 PM on March 26, 2008

Can we add the entire Gremlins movie?

Definitely. Not for the monsters and the slapstick violence, which I just thought was cool, but for the completely pointless and horrifying scene where Phoebe Cates describes how her father tried to play Santa Claus and got stuck in the chimney and died. One of the most out-of-place and inexplicable scenes I've ever seen outside of a Lynch or Jodorowsky film. What possible purpose did that serve? Were they just trying to pad the film in the most fucked up way possible?

I don't remember anything on this list, but I'm glad they didn't go for the cliche and throw in Optimus Prime dying. As traumatic as it was, it's been discussed to death.
posted by DecemberBoy at 5:41 PM on March 26, 2008 [3 favorites]

I don't think any of that holds a candle to the animated Raggedy Ann & Andy film. I vaguely remember a pulsing seething ocean of caramel goo and a hypnocamel.

Oh man, I am relieved to know that I didn't just hallucinate that film. For years (before IMDB) I would try to explain the whole creepy-camel-afterlife-whatever it was scene to people and they would just stare at me. That film was weird and creepy, but I was actively terrified by The Hobbit, Gollum in particular. Not appropriate for 5-year-olds.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 5:43 PM on March 26, 2008

I was recently invited down into a small underground room that was uncovered a few days ago by some friends of mine working on a local archeology site, there was about two feet of space to crawl into it through, and about a foot and a half of space inside between loose earth and the brick ceiling. I crawled in , and upon turning back to look at the opening became filled with a terrifying certainty that I was about to be buried alive.

Thank you Watership down. The terror you instilled in me as a child is still ruining really cool things for me.
posted by emperor.seamus at 5:44 PM on March 26, 2008

I was always partial to Rocket Robin Hood myself.

Seriously, the 1967- Spiderman cartoons, Rocket Robin Hood, and that crazy Wizard of Oz cartoon have this category sewn up. The 80's haven't got anything weird by comparison.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:46 PM on March 26, 2008

I found video of the Purple Smurfs episode.

Jesus. I think I repressed that. GNAP!
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:51 PM on March 26, 2008

Ah, the Black Hole! Yeah, the blade-hand thing...

I remember an episode of the Galaxy Rangers where there was this alien artifact called an "emotion doll". Whenever someone touched it, they were overcome with alien emotions and basically went insane, I think (Lovecraft, anyone?). I didn't even watch the whole episode. When some gangster, I think, forced another guy's hand onto it a la Jack Nicholson in Batman, it freaked me right the hell out.
posted by adamdschneider at 5:53 PM on March 26, 2008

Oh, and it's not a cartoon, but Castlevania 2 scared the piss out of me as a kid when it came out. I remember begging my mom to take my to the store to buy it, then being too sheepish to explain I was scared to play it later. Yeah, I was a weenie.
posted by adamdschneider at 5:55 PM on March 26, 2008

When I was very young and watching Saturday morning cartoons, I would often hide behind the couch, not because of the conflict in the program, but out of fear that the protagonists would emerge from the TV and blame me for what was going wrong.

Catholic guilt anyone?

After I got past that, however, none of these really scared me. Although the naked Cheetara always surprised me.

Now, that scene with the twins from The Shining that I saw on TV? That shit freaked me out.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 5:57 PM on March 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

The Witches. Not a cartoon, and technically not from the Eighties, but sweet Jesus did that movie fuck me up as a kid.
posted by ruddhist at 6:02 PM on March 26, 2008

This scene from Pee Wee's Big Adventure is one that I refused to watch until recently.
posted by inconsequentialist at 6:15 PM on March 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

No Secret of NIHM or Dark Crystal?

What really bugs me from childhood and what I havent seen mentioned elsewhere was that trippy GI Joe episode "Worlds Without End" where the Joes travel to a parallel dimension where Cobra is ruling the world and manage to run into their own corpses. One of them falls in love with the Baroness who is a Joe sympathizer. A few of the Joes even stay behind in this dimension to fight Cobra. Some info here (scroll down). Christ, that was weird.
posted by damn dirty ape at 6:34 PM on March 26, 2008

Also, some advice: do not show The Hiding Place to a nine-year-old child. It's not going to end well.

Trust me.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 6:38 PM on March 26, 2008

After reading more of this thread, I see rangerboy mentioned this. Okay, so I'm not the only one who found this incredibly unsettling.
posted by damn dirty ape at 6:38 PM on March 26, 2008

Second Castlevania 2. What a horrible night to have a curse.

In one Transformer Episode, a mad scientist helps the Decepticons mind control people with chips, including Spike. Never mind that it's a rip-off of Wrath of Khan. I had a huge fear when good people were turned evil, converted, or forced to do things against their will. Some part of me was scare to death that the sanctity of my mind could be overwhelmed. Or maybe that my parents could also be converted to evil.

*shivers* Unfortunately, it's a common theme in these cartoons.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 6:41 PM on March 26, 2008

Damn dirty ape, that's RangeBoy. Y'know, like Norm "Head Cheese" Scrumpkin?
posted by Eideteker at 6:45 PM on March 26, 2008

I remember seeing the GI Joe "UR FAMILY MELTZ LOL" episode when I was about 8 or so. I had one of those interesting moments in childhood where you say "What the FUCK!?!?" in your head, but without words. Just a sort of ".............!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!................" kind of feeling.

Also, (and I realize this comment may come back to haunt me), I remember being a little older, maybe 10 or 11, and catching a scene in My Little Pony where the Ponies were locked up in a metal cage(?) and being threatened with torture(?) or something. I'm not sure why, but I was sexually aroused by that, in a very limited, pre-pubescent way, of course.

Nowadays you can catch me in your local BDSM club, going by the name "Starlight".
posted by Avenger at 6:45 PM on March 26, 2008

Ooh, the Raggedy Ann & Andy caramel goo. I remember that from reading the novel, although I'm pretty sure I also saw the film.

The ending of Time Bandits upset me pretty badly (not to the point of crying, screaming, etc.--I just felt really disturbed). I think I was less concerned about The Black Hole on film than I was by the novelization's conclusion.
posted by thomas j wise at 6:56 PM on March 26, 2008

This thread is nothing without A Mouse and His Child and that anime version of The Little Mermaid.

And also watching this on HBO one too many times for a 7 year old.

And Thomas J Wise... I felt the exact same way about Time Bandits- I never understood it was a comedy.
posted by haplesschild at 6:58 PM on March 26, 2008 [2 favorites]

Time Bandits was pretty fucked up, that's for sure.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:00 PM on March 26, 2008

damn dirty ape, feel free to relive the trauma now that I've found the second part of the episode.
posted by Rangeboy at 7:05 PM on March 26, 2008

Not cartoons, but both H.R. Pufnstuf and Land of the Lost creeped me out deeply as a child.
posted by MythMaker at 7:14 PM on March 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Aw man, for me it was The Dark Crystal. I had nightmares about the Skegsis for years.
posted by gaspode at 7:21 PM on March 26, 2008

I know it's not a cartoon, but for me one of the freakiest 80's films was that Return to Oz movie. Between Nurse Jean Marsh using electrotherapy on Dorothy in a turn of the century insane asylum, Evil Witch Jean Marsh stealing peoples heads and keeping them as trophies, and those friggin WHEELERS, there was some scarring going on there. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one, either.
posted by unreason at 7:25 PM on March 26, 2008 [2 favorites]

I thought I was the only one terrified of Castlevania two. I had recurring nightmares where I would be wandering through a forest and the evil music would play. The trees would all become gnarled and try to eat me. I was afraid to go to sleep for a few weeks until they went away.

Oddly enough, the Chip n' Dale's Rescue Rangers game gave me nightmares as a kid too.
posted by Betty_effn_White at 7:31 PM on March 26, 2008

How can you mention Black Hole w/o mentioning that the bad guy is trapped inside his robot Maximilian *IN HELL* at the end? That was pretty weird for any kid's movie, let alone a Disney movie.

Also, through my own children I've discovered the horror that is The Brave Little Toaster.
posted by stinkycheese at 7:36 PM on March 26, 2008

oh my god, the brave little toaster. I'm pretty sure whoever made it hates children. Not only did it make me feel terrible about throwing anything away, the dream sequence with the evil firefighter-clown was absolutely unnecessary. I watched it a few months ago for the first time in years and I could not get over how the appliances almost meet their gruesome demise every few minutes (electocution, drowning, quicksand, etc). And the air conditioner that has an emotional breakdown. Sweet jesus, why?
posted by Betty_effn_White at 7:58 PM on March 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

Not so concerned about '80s cartoons; have you seen some of the disturbing shit that's on now? Mainly in the pre-school age group. I sit and watch loads of it with my son. Mainly its the quality of the animation or puppetry that does my head in.

"Lazy Town" scares the hell out of me. I don't know what it is; some combination of the stupidly over saturated colours, the mixture of real-human-with-weird-makeup-and-hair with some pretty weird looking, lifeless puppets. I end up liking the evil guy way more than the good guy.

"Jane and the Dragon". I can't keep my eyes off this show. I think it's actually very well done, in a way, but it also hikes a little too close to the uncanny valley for my liking.

"Finley the Fire Engine". This is just one ugly show. Really badly animated and modeled. Reading the Wikipedia page on it, I see it's produced in that great center of high quality tv shows, the Isle of Man. But then why do all the characters have such cheesy, American accents?

"Dougy in Disguise". That kid annoys the shit out of me for some reason. Hyperactive, tiring.

Anyway, I've had my bitch. On with the show.
posted by Jimbob at 8:14 PM on March 26, 2008

The scariest thing I ever saw was the episode of Diff'rent Strokes where Arnold is friends with that epileptic mime. And then the epileptic mime has a seizure. I get shaky even thinking of it (and I think of it often). I think that episode is 100% responsible for my inability to have meaningful relationships. I am 98% sure that this episode exists. I can only be thankful that there were things such as H.R. Pufnstuf and Saturday morning cartoons filled with incomprehensible creatures (Snorks) to soothe the trauma.
posted by Mael Oui at 8:31 PM on March 26, 2008

Yeah, Return to Oz was terrifying- The Wheelers scared the crap out of me.

Also, did anyone else notice how horribly depressing Astroboy is? I think that scarred me on a subconscious level.
posted by indienial at 8:34 PM on March 26, 2008

As far as Return to Oz goes, it was much more the waking-up-in-an-asylum that scared me. Also, IIRC, that hospital included someting along the lines of heads frozen in carbonite.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:37 PM on March 26, 2008

Also, whoever thought, "we need a new Dorothy.. oh, I know - Fairuza Balk!" needs to be criminally punished.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:38 PM on March 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

This is some really great nostalgia, but as far as it being nightmare material its pretty weak tea. What scared the piss outta me when I was six in 1979 was seeing Alien. Hell, I even had the toy. My dad was pretty cool.
posted by anansi at 9:39 PM on March 26, 2008

What scared the piss outta me when I was six in 1979 was seeing Alien.

posted by adamdschneider at 10:01 PM on March 26, 2008

Put me down for The Brave Little Toaster also. What were they smoking when they made that one?

The demonic-fireman scene is bad, but actually I think the whole section where the appliances are hiding out in (as memory serves) some sort of repair / junkman's workshop, who we come to find out basically -- in the fucked-up terms of the movie -- butchers appliances alive (for spare parts, natch) ... that takes the cake. I suppose it's really nothing more than a repackaging of Hansel and Gretel, i.e. friendly-stranger-with-ulterior-dinnertime-motive, but it's disturbing because it's placed in relatively mundane surroundings.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:24 PM on March 26, 2008

What scared the piss outta me when I was six in 1979 was seeing Alien.

When I was seven or eight my mom rented Alien when we got our first VCR. Scarred me for life.

Also they forgot Plague Dogs, all of the scariness of Watership Down with none of the hope. If you're feeling really happy watch it and Grave of the fireflies in the same evening.
posted by Tenuki at 10:35 PM on March 26, 2008

Thirding the Wheelers. More intensely, the scene where Dorothy has to try to take the key from Headless Queen Whatsername without waking her up. And then she wakes up anyway from something else. AND SHE DOESN'T HAVE A HEAD.

Brave Little Toaster upset me for weird reasons. I just didn't get a lot of little insignificant things in it. Why is his dog named Quadruped? Why does this car have such giant wheels? What's college about? And I think it may have been one of the first movies I'd ever seen where each character actually had a range of emotion, rather than "he's the upbeat one, he's the grumpy one" --so when someone would be happy, and then sobbing, and then angry, and then back to happy, I think I just didn't know what I was seeing. The only typical scary scene I even remember from it is the car-crushing one. Being crushed into a tiny cube on a conveyor belt was the most horrible thing I'd ever seen happening to something that basically had a soul. It was like it could happen to me.

Now, what I can't believe no one has mentioned is the Giant Mouse of Minsk from An American Tail. (Can't find a clip, unless you can get this to work, which I haven't bothered with because I've seen it. It's probably in Part 8.) Don Bluth, of course, can always be counted on for this sort of thing, but that one is just a masterpiece of scary. I watched it again sometime this past year and I STILL couldn't relax.
posted by jinjo at 10:46 PM on March 26, 2008

Care Bears! Fortunately, I don't remember it being that disturbing.

Things that scared me as a child: Large Marge from the Pee Wee movie, any scene in Clash Of The Titans involving Medusa and Ren and Stimpy.
posted by extramundane at 10:47 PM on March 26, 2008

I was always concerned about the property damage in G I Joe, but it didn't frighten me. I wondered about how much the insurance rates were in Joeville or whatever it was called. You just know that the buildings there couldn't get insurance.

The Purple Pieman on Strawberry Shortcake scared me. Apparently purple was a bad thing to be when we were young, since I had forgotten those Purple Smurfs, too. GNAP GNAP GNAP.

I had a record and a book of Ralph Bakshi's version of Hobbit and I always had to flip very quickly past the pages with Gollum because they were too terrifying.

And now I have to go to sleep and hope that Holly Hobbie doesn't get me. Not the new, apparently 'hip' Holly that they're selling the young people these days. The original. When I was little I was convinced that the reason she always wore that bonnet was because she had no face.

Oh, I'm not going to sleep well after remembering that.
posted by winna at 10:51 PM on March 26, 2008

Robotech. Good By Big Brother. [spoiler alert] They kill of the mentor of the main character. He is wounded in battle, unhooks himself from his hospital bed and drags himself to his girlfriend's house. Then he dies in her arms.

There's also an episode where a famous war hero sells out his troops in secret. Nasty stuff.
posted by wuwei at 11:47 PM on March 26, 2008

Whoops I was wrong, he doesn't leave the hospital bed. He goes straight from his jet.
posted by wuwei at 12:11 AM on March 27, 2008

I'm sorry I'm late, but the entirety of Beverly Hills Teens, (the one with the jacuzzi in the back of the limo) the show that seemingly begat the Paris Hilton media generation, and my 8-year old favorite, deserves a mention here.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:21 AM on March 27, 2008

(But The Last Unicorn is one of my favorite movies, and the fact of the matter is that, when in Sunday school we were asked to draw a picture of what we were most scared of, I drew the Red Bull. Didn't give me no fuckin' wings, neither. Watching it high a bunch of times in college got me very, very okay with it. Listen to me! Don't listen!)
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:30 AM on March 27, 2008

Seconding the mention of The Plague Dogs which may just be the most relentlessly bleak and unfriendly movie of all time.
posted by quartzcity at 12:45 AM on March 27, 2008

Seriously, the 1967- Spiderman cartoons, Rocket Robin Hood, and that crazy Wizard of Oz cartoon have this category sewn up. The 80's haven't got anything weird by comparison.

That whole Dimentia 5 thing?
posted by bwg at 1:08 AM on March 27, 2008

Ack... spelling... sucks ...

Dementia 5 if you please.
posted by bwg at 1:12 AM on March 27, 2008

batmonkey: Thanks for reawakening my repressed memories of The Black Hole.

Auz: I've got that Melto Bomber 2000AD issue on the shelf here :) 2000AD often pushed the boundaries.

I really appreciated Nimh for its serious tone throughout. When I re-watched it recently I thought the tacked-on happy ending was its weakest part.

The Black Crystal was wonderful: scary enough to enter my imagination, but just on the right side of too scary.

Besides Time Bandits, the other big source of nightmares in my childhood was the pilot episode of Star Trek.

Navelgazer: Agree entirely. I'm also a believer in that kids have to be scared, and kinda crave it to a degree. But it's like all flirting-with-danger activities in youth: sometimes you get hurt. And what's a parent to do? Never mind how you raise your kids, they'll have nightmares about something. (I have a baby of 1. The other day I had my first nightmare of her dying.)
posted by snarfois at 2:49 AM on March 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oops, I meant Dark Crystal.
posted by snarfois at 2:49 AM on March 27, 2008

As mentioned several times above:
Raggedy Ann & Andy meet The Greedy. "There's not one delight I haven't tried..."

Oh, there is, Greedy. Beating right in front of you.
posted by massless at 3:04 AM on March 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I came into this thread to declare my love/hate relationship for "Return to Oz" but see that I've been beaten. All of you also scarred by that movie are my new best friends. I even bought the DVD and watched it recently to see if it was scary. Not as bad as I'd remembered, but the second Dorothy ran into that damn HALL OF HEADS I lost it. Oh yes. What a great scene.
posted by chronic sublime at 3:24 AM on March 27, 2008

Oh god, The Brave Little Toaster. I am pretty sure that "children's" movies are not supposed to make the children feel terror and despair.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 5:59 AM on March 27, 2008

The yip-yip martians from Sesame Street used to freak me right out. Not while I was watching them, but later when I was doing something else, like playing with blocks and suddenly I'd think "yip-yip-yip-yip-yip-yip uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh" and I'd have to go to bed and hide under the covers. You look them up. I think they first show up in a Bert and Ernie skit and they're probably seem kind of cute and funny now.

I just watched The Greedy video and maybe I'm a big scardy-cat, but that made me want to go right back to bed. To think that The Greedy was so warped by loneliness that he turned into a monster. Haven't we all be lonely? I want a cookie now.
posted by wobh at 6:35 AM on March 27, 2008

I didn't even remember the bit in the Care Bears movie about them raising the dead, because I was too busy having a crush on Dark Heart. A crush which essentially explains all the trouble I've had with men ever since, which is frightening in and of itself but is a different story.
HOW is the Dark Crystal not on this list? Even the guys we WEREN'T supposed to be scared of looked like they were melted or put through some hideous industrial accident, and the Skeksies are like...if you could reach down into the deepest, most twisted part of you and then DRAW it, and make it giggle. Fucking god.
Also, I need to mention the fieries from Labyrinth and that talking cream puff and hat rack from Young Sherlock Holmes. There are just Wrong Muppets, people. Wrong, grotesque muppets.

I haven't thought about the purple smurfs till this thread, but the second I saw "GNAP", my spleen curled up.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 6:51 AM on March 27, 2008

A lot of what we're listing is way off from the strictly "cartoons from the '80s" theme of the list.

Looks like we have many other lists started, actually. Some really neat ones.

I'm going to put in for Alien not being appropriate for kids, either. I was 8. It was the unrated, pre-wide release version at Alabama Theatre in Houston. My mom loved to take us to these because she could get free tickets. My little brother was 6. As soon as things went awry, we were under our seats. My brother called out, loudly enough for the entire audience to hear, "Mom, I think this is R!" She still tells this story with some weird sense of pride. For what, I have no idea.
posted by batmonkey at 7:12 AM on March 27, 2008

For whatever reason the episode "Windstorm in Bubbleland" on Mr. Rogers freaked me right out. Reading back on it here, I think the death of the hummingbird got me. Or maybe it's the idea of aerosol sweaters or a porpoise newsman, I dunno, I had weird phobias as a kid.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 7:44 AM on March 27, 2008

I remember watching an animated movie with my dad that was about a boy whose head was shaped like a cone, or not shaped like a cone. At any rate, his head was shaped differently from that of everyone else in his community, or on his planet or whatever, so everyone was mean to him. They may have exiled him. He may have had a dog.

Does this ring a bell for anyone? It may have been made in the 70s, although I watched it in the mid to late 80s.

At any rate, it really disturbed me. Why couldn't everyone just be nice to him? Dang.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 8:29 AM on March 27, 2008

ZOMG GNAP SMURFS. I remember crying. God.

And Christ, haplesschild, The Mouse and His Child? SOBBING. I had repressed that, thanks so much for bringing it up again. :p

Did anyone see Unico and the Isle of Magic? Lord Kuruku scared the piss out of me, especially when he called for his human dupe. "Tooooobyyyyyy..." My sisters used to chase me around, saying that. Especially at night. Bitches.

Funny, though, I went to see Sweeney Todd with one of them, and at the end when they're calling "Tooobyyy..." she leaned over and did it again. Twenty-five years later.
posted by cereselle at 9:03 AM on March 27, 2008

Sorry, I just had to post this description of Unico:

"Based in "Unico and the Kingdom of the Sun," which was newly written as a theater version, this animated film features a battle between the wizard Kukuruku and Unico. Kukuruku builds a castle using dolls transformed from men as building parts. The story revolves around the sorrow and terror of men who have been transfigured into dolls, and a girl named Cherry who wishes to recover the kindness in her brother, who is a student of Kukuruku."

Sorrow and terror of men who have been transfigured into dolls. Good times.
posted by cereselle at 9:05 AM on March 27, 2008

the littlest brussels sprout: Could you be, perchance, talking about The Point? I watched it several times as a kid, and while I don't think it disturbed me, I did find it pretty downbeat.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:16 AM on March 27, 2008

Large Marge still scares the crap out of me, in my mid-twenties. But the childhood terror that really sticks with me is some movie where Big Bird got kidnapped. At one point the kidnappers had him tied to a chair, and they shined a blue light on him. For some reason this was the scariest thing to me. My heart is racing just thinking of it.
posted by vytae at 9:17 AM on March 27, 2008

adamdschneider: Yes, that's it! Thanks... although just reading the IMDB page gives me the creeps.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 9:26 AM on March 27, 2008

When I was six, my grandfather took me to see the movie Wizards. I guess the assumption was that it was animated and therefore meant for kids. It wasn't. I loved it, but any movie where the climactic scene has a character delivering the line "Oh yeah... one more thing: I'm glad you changed your last name, you son of a bitch!" and then shooting and killing the antagonist is probably not ideal for most little ones.

Three years later he made the same animation-is-for-kids mistake and took me to see Heavy Metal.

I wouldn't say either particularly scared me (except maybe the scene with the zombie pilots on the island, that kinda freaked me out a bit...), though I now do have a lifelong love of half dressed warrior women and a mistrust of evil wizards.

My grandpa is just awesome.
posted by quin at 10:28 AM on March 27, 2008

quin reminds me: The papa's name is Sonov, now here comes the switch...
posted by Wolfdog at 10:40 AM on March 27, 2008

I swear I remember an episode of Voltron (the one with the five lions, not the "Air Team, Land Team, Sea Team!" one) where the main characters died and floated around in some sort of limbo for most of the show.
Are you thinking of Sven? He got severely injured in a sword-duel in the beginning of the series, allowing the princess to take over his Lion. Then he's later found with long hair living as a spirit-broken hermit on the enemy planet. It wouldn't call his fate traumatizing, more tragic. Also, kind of a bummer because they could have done more with him on the show having a protagonist who was more of an anti-hero.

Also, of that entire list, the only episode I actually saw was the GI Joe episode.
posted by deanc at 11:22 AM on March 27, 2008

Can we add the entire Gremlins movie?
Definitely... for the completely pointless and horrifying scene where Phoebe Cates describes how her father tried to play Santa Claus and got stuck in the chimney and died.
That shit was most fucked up. It came out of nowhere and was empty and jarring.
I have this thing about other people's families, as in, I really like them and they seem to like me. Like, I'm perpetually with a family I have no relation to for holidays. This family I know, the Kerstings, the entire extended family agreed one Easter that I look like Phoebe Cates, ("a chubbier Phoebe Cates," as an uncle downing Maker's Mark pointed out.)
posted by thebellafonte at 11:54 AM on March 27, 2008

adamschneider: that Ken Tucker book I mentioned above (Kissing Bill O'Reilly, Roasting Miss Piggy) most definitely devotes a chapter to The Point as one of his favorite things that had ever been on television, a bizarre but wonderful collaboration between Harry Nilsson and - IIRC - Dustin Hoffman, who was then replaced by Ringo Starr in vocal overdubs.
Very weird, but awesome, and wouldn't be able to get away with it today at all.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:15 PM on March 27, 2008

And yes, littlest brussel sprout, he had a dog, named Arrow.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:17 PM on March 27, 2008

Castlevania 2 never really scared me, but for some reason, King's Quest IV did. I never got very far, and I finished every other game in the series. I don't even remember why it was scary. I think there may have been some day/night system where weird shit happened at night. How scary could 16 color EGA have really been?
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:20 PM on March 27, 2008

Also, what was so scary about the purple Smurfs? I watched the video in this thread, and it seems like a pretty standard Smurfs episode. I guess the idea of the Smurfs being wiped out by a hideous disfiguring disease could be pretty scary to a little kid, but really, all they do is turn purple and jump around going "GNAP GNAP". And everything goes back to normal in the end.
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:34 PM on March 27, 2008

Durn Bronzefist: that crazy Wizard of Oz cartoon

posted by evilcolonel at 4:51 PM on March 27, 2008

I'm going to put in for Alien not being appropriate for kids, either.

Actually, I fucking loved it. It was scary as hell but that's kinda the point. My father used to take me to see all kinds of horror stuff when I was a kid, and when we got a vcr we rented all kinds of stuff. I am a huge horror movie fan (although I bemoan the current state of American horror cinema) and the flicks that I saw with my dad were really formative for what I like now. With my dad I saw: Alien, The Thing, Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead (one of my favorites), From Beyond, Evil Dead, Escape from New York, Parasite (horrible movie but it was in 3-d and I was 8), An American Werewolf in London. . . the list goes on. We were the only two that liked horror movies and we were movie buddies. With all of our other differences, this was something that we were able to bond over.
posted by anansi at 9:13 PM on March 27, 2008

For whatever reason, the scene in Roger Rabbit where someone was killed by having a safe dropped on their head scared me for what felt like months. I would lay in bed and be afraid a giant safe was going to fall through the ceiling onto my head.
posted by flaterik at 9:57 PM on March 27, 2008

Decemberboy: How scary could 16 color EGA have really been?

I was scared out of my wits by Dragontorc and Tir Na Nog on the ZX Spectrum. (Especially how in Dragontorc you could hear the approaching footsteps of skeletons before they leapt out at you.) 48KB games in 8 colours. Interesting how those "arcade adventures", as they were called at the time, have about as much play value in them (as in challenge and completion time) as, say, Half Life 2.
posted by snarfois at 2:21 AM on March 28, 2008

the scene in Roger Rabbit...
I thought for sure you were going to mention the scene where Judge Doom gets slowly steamrolled while convulsing and gibbering.
posted by Wolfdog at 7:02 AM on March 28, 2008

Has anyone else seen Once Upon a Forest? Adorable little forest creatures are accidentally GASSED TO DEATH when a tanker truck overturns, including one of the protagonist's moms. And then they have to go find a magic herb to cure their friend who will also die from the gas if they don't get back in time. It's horrible. And everyone always thinks I'm talking about Fern Gully when I describe it to them.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:18 AM on March 29, 2008

Yeah, what was so scary about the purple smurfs? I'd seen that episode as a kid.
posted by salvia at 2:03 PM on March 30, 2008

Also, what was so scary about the purple Smurfs? I watched the video in this thread, and it seems like a pretty standard Smurfs episode.

As implied in one of the links in my other comment, it's got a minor but crucial difference in plotting from every other Smurfs episode. The usual pattern is that Papa Smurf saves everyone from catastrophe at the last minute. This episode is the only one in which Papa Smurf fails:

Fortunately, [the infected Papa Smurf] proceeds to smash the lab, which causes a fire, which in turn makes the magic powder explode over the village and reverse the process. But the damage to fragile 9 year old minds has been done, because for a brief moment, the Smurfs are extinct, completely wiped out, replaced by, for all intents and purposes, zombies. That they are restored to normal by pure chance makes the inevitable happy ending seem less reassuring and more like a brief glimpse into a random, unknowable universe.

posted by Prospero at 2:34 PM on March 30, 2008 [2 favorites]

« Older Smoking Gun scoops the L.A. Times   |   Library of Congress Historic Baseball Resources Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments