Last week, we put together a list of terrifying moments from the ’80s we’ve never been able to get over. Well, our fans over on the IFC Facebook page doubled down, and reminded us of a whole lot more. Here are a few spooky scenes, from our favorite 80s shows and movies that still give us nightmares.
17. The Librarian Ghoul from Ghostbusters
Movies don’t get much better than this ’80s classic, but when you dig beneath the Bill Murray quips and confusing feelings about Dana becoming Zuul, you’re left with a freaky ghost story every bit as terrifying as Poltergeist. We still get chills thinking about the nice old librarian lady suddenly turning into a demon from hell after Ray yells “Get her!”
16. The Clown Puppet from Poltergeist
Speaking of which, Poltergeist itself made us leave the nightlight on a few years later than was socially acceptable.
15. Zelda from Pet Sematary
In a movie about rabid animals rising from the grave, somehow a sick woman with spinal meningitis is the thing that still haunts us to this day.
14. Dan Aykroyd in Twilight Zone: The Movie ?
While the Twilight Zone movie had a checkered history behind the scenes (it literally killed cast member Vic Morrow and two children), the scariest thing to make it into the film was this short scene, starring two of the biggest comedy stars of the ’80s. You want to see something scary? Surprisingly, it isn’t Albert Brooks and Dan Aykroyd singing along to Creedence Clearwater Revival.
13. The Puppets from the “Land of Confusion” Music Video
Holy hell, what was happening here? This Genesis music video somehow manages to be the most ’80s thing ever made — with grotesque puppet versions of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Collins himself — and a conduit straight to our nightmares. (Fun fact: the puppets came from a UK sketch show called Spitting Image that aired briefly in the U.S.)
12. The Troll in the Wall from Cat’s Eye
Drew Barrymore had enough to worry about during the ’80s, what with a drinking problem when most of us still had bedtimes. Now she has trolls sneaking out of her wall, and stealing her breath? That just seems unfair.
11. Darkness from Legend
Tim Curry made an appearance on our last list, for his terrifying performance in the miniseries IT. But before he ever put on the clown makeup, he played the Devil himself, in this cult hit that helped launch Tom Cruise’s career. Who would have guessed Tom’s personal life would be the creepiest thing to come out of a movie with Frankfurter basically playing Lucifer?
10. E.T. Dying
This is the moment when most kids in the ’80s learned that death comes for us all. E.T. phone home? More like trust issues phone therapist.
9. The Demons from The Gate
Stephen Dorf realizes a hole in his backyard is a gateway to demons, confirming everything we suspected about that pile of dirt we found by the driveway. It’s also the best acting Dorf has ever done outside of trying to make e-cigarettes seem cool.
8. Clowns Steal Pee-wee’s Bike in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure
We talked about Large Marge scarring our childhood, but how could we forget the freakish clowns that haunt Pee-wee’s own nightmares?
7. Christopher Lloyd Murders a Toon in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
We all went to see this, hoping Daffy and Donald Duck would finally meet. We had no way of knowing that Doc Brown himself, Christopher Lloyd, would go full-on, bug-eyed serial killer, melting an adorable cartoon shoe in “The Dip.” We sometimes still hear the shoe’s screams when we close our eyes at night…
6. The Sandworms from Beetlejuice
To an adult, the early work of Tim Burton is full of dark whimsy and inventiveness. To a kid, it’s straight out panic-inducing. Strangely, these terrifying sandworms became central to the early ’90s Saturday morning cartoon version of Beetlejuice where Lydia and The Ghost with the Most were suddenly friends for some reason. What were they trying to do to us back then?
5. The My Little Pony Song “Nothing Can Stop The Smooze”
Nothing can stop The Smooze, kids. Nothing! Not your parents. Not the police. You’re all alone. This terrifying song, in the middle of a My Little Pony cartoon of all places, confirms that adults were just trolling us for most of our childhoods.
4. Gmork, The Neverending Story
On the one hand, this ’80s fantasy classic gave kids a cuddly flying dog pal in the form of Falkor. On the other, it gave them nightmares thanks to Gmork, the creepily realistic wolf creature who tried to kill our hero Atreyu. Kids today with their CGI will never understand the horrors of puppetry we were exposed to back in the day.
3. The Jabberwocky from Alice Through the Looking Glass
’80s parents were too busy adjusting their shoulder pads to vet this miniseries version of Alice in Wonderland which starred John Stamos, Pat Morita and a million other childhood favorites and turned the Jabberwocky into a living, breathing manifestation of our fears just in time for bed. Runner-up creepy moment: Carol Channing as The White Queen just straight up turning into a goat for some reason.
2. The Tree Monster from The Ewok Adventure
Ewoks were the pivot point between the perfection of the original Star Wars trilogy and the nightmare the prequels would become. A series of TV movies were made about our loveable little friends, and apparently this happened in one. At this point, you have to wonder if maybe we were just a bit too easily scarred by things back then.
1. The Skeksis from The Dark Crystal
The Gelfling heroes of The Dark Crystal were freaky enough, but Jim Henson created living nightmares with the Skeksis. These rotting bird monsters were about as far from Big Bird and Kermit as you can get.