WARNING: Some of these contain spoilers! Most notably, the Turner and Hooch one!
ALSO! I get the feeling a lot of these will be removed for copyright reasons, so this post may be nothing but dead links in a few months… or days…

Matt Revert is taking a lovely wee holiday this week, so I thought I’d fill in for him on Destroying My Future. I love the idea of Destroying My Future (Matt’s idea, by the way). Everyone has certain films that are burnt into childhood memories as pure evil, whether it be from a film you were too young to watch or specific scenes from films intended for kids. I want to talk mostly about the latter.

The 80s were a wonderful time for kids. Family movies hadn’t been pussified yet and could cover content now considered wildly inappropriate. I’ve stood by that every child needs a bit of trauma in their childhood movie viewing, and hey, kids love a good scare just as much as adults. But there were some moments from films that truly horrified me. Scenes that have been seared into my memory and still haunt me as an adult. Only those that felt this trauma as a child can understand that special nostalgic fear when watching these films as an adult. For Matt’s first Destroying My Future article, he wrote about Return to Oz. I personally can’t understand his terror of that specific film as I never saw it as a kid, but I sure as hell understand that deeply rooted horror.

And now, in order of how much they damage they caused to my child-psyche, five scenes that traumatised the Child-Me…

Some poor guy has his heart ripped out and then is lowered into a pit of flames while still alive

When I was a youngling, this scene was a thing of legends. I had a copy of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom taped off the telly. Whenever I’d watch it – which was a lot, it remains my favourite Indy flick – my mum would always fast-forward the heart removal scene, claiming it was “too graphic” for me. While not knowing what was in this scene probably traumatised me more than the scene itself, when I finally did see it, I was shocked. I mean, here’s a scene in an Indiana Jones film, a film aimed at a reasonably young audience, and Spielberg sees it fit to show a guy having his heart torn out then thrust into a pit of flames… still alive no less! God, the 80s were great. To be Spielberg would go onto make a more traumatising Indy film in Kingdom of the Rubbish Pink Skull.

Artax drowns

Here’s a scene that I imagine would feature on many people’s list. Yes, it’s the depressing, depressing death of Artax, Atreyu’s horse. The NeverEnding Story is a great film, I still love it to this day, but this scene… this scene! Watching Artax becoming overcome with sadness and essentially committing suicide is enough to traumatise me now, back when I was a kid it ruined me. The industrial music score also makes it all the more unnerving.

Arnie slaughters an innocent couple

The Terminator is kind of the odd one out on this list. It’s the only one geared towards adults and a film I definitely shouldn’t have watched at the young age of seven. I can’t even remember how I ended up seeing it. The Terminator is ingrained in my memory as a grimy, sleazy film and the violence shattered me, even if it wasn’t all that gory. It was the scene of Arnie slaughtering the completely innocent roommate of Sarah Connor and her boyfriend (as if punishing them for sex, slasher movie style) that really haunted my dreams. No shit, I had nightmares about Arnold Schwarzenegger. Pretty funny now that I think about it. Watching this now, I can see that it’s not quite the blood-drenched nightmare I saw as a child. But it’s the aggressiveness that gives the scene its impact.

Hooch takes a bullet for Tom Hanks

This is the only film on the list that I don’t particularly like as an adult. In fact, I don’t even remember enjoying this as a kid. It was just one of those movies I watched over and over for no particular reason other than I had it on VHS. (Much like the equally traumatising – for different reasons – Andre.) Turner and Hooch may not be a great movie, but it ranks highly in the “Films that Taught Me How Shit the World Is” category. Here we have a film that I assume has an audience of kids in mind – I mean, it’s a film about a big slobbery dog and Tom Hanks for fuck’s sake – yet it ends with the lovable dog being SHOT IN THE CHEST AND DYING A SLOW AND HORRIBLE DEATH IN THE FUCKING ARMS OF TOM HANKS. This film lulls you into a sense of security. “The dog won’t die,” Child-Me thought. But guess what, Child-Me? The dog dies. This is a more depressing than Old Yeller.

Podling has his living essence drained

And here we have it. The scene that to this day has me waking at night screaming in a sweat-drenched terror. The Dark Crystal is an amazing movie. In fact, it’s one of my favourite movies of all time. I watched it to death as a kid, renting it every other weekend along with the Gremlins movies. It is a far, far more impressive movie than Labyrinth (which I enjoy), the Henson film that seems to be the more beloved of the two. And I think I know why most lean towards Labyrinth. Despite David Bowie’s creepy costumes, Labyrinth doesn’t really ever get too dark. The Dark Crystal, on the other hand, takes puppet movies to places they’d never been before and would never go again. There’s quite a few unsettling moments in The Dark Crystal, but nothing comes close to the scene where the Skeksis drains the living essence from a cute little Podling. Watching The Dark Crystal as an adult, this scene has lost none of its power. It is not only the disturbing puppet effects, but the dialogue delivered by the Skeksi and the cries of the Podling. Good grief. Sadly YouTube embedding has been disabled by the studio (it’s been blocked in some countries too), but click the image of the Podling above to go to the link!