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Steven Spielberg: Lovable, ballcap-wearing imp, or perpetrator of some of your greatest nightmares? If you came of age in the ’80s — a decade in which Spielberg directed or produced countless blockbusting classics — the answer is most definitely the latter. Thirty years ago, with the one-two release of Gremlins and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Spielberg found himself in the middle of a dark period, during which even his most seemingly family-friendly films had at least one traumatizing moment. Don’t believe us? Here’s proof:
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
In the film’s climax, Nazis tampering with the Ark of the Covenant invoke “The Lord’s Vengeance,” resulting in their faces being melted off — a feeling that those watching Hook would be able to relate to several years later.
Remember how cute and lovable E.T. was? Somehow we all managed to mentally block out the part when the alien, after successfully phoning home, is found lying near-dead in a ditch. It took several bags of Reese’s and at least three years of therapy to expunge this moment from our memories.
Far more disturbing than the skeletons in the unfinished backyard pool or the infamous face-peeling scene, is this bit of haunted-house horror that involves a scared kid, a stormy night, and a homicidal clown doll.
Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)
The scariest thing in this movie was watching Nancy Cartwright – future voice of Bart Simpson! – get sucked into a television set. Not until Jar Jar Binks would a cartoon again evoke this level of terror.
Evil gremlins are dispatched in various ways — a sword, a microwave, a blender — in this curiously violent horror-comedy. But its most scarring scene is when gremlin leader Stripe meets his maker in a department-store garden fountain.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)|
Offering a human sacrifice to the god Kali, a Thuggee high priest performs some impromptu open-heart surgery. Nizwar Karanj, who played the unwilling organ donor, recently told Yahoo Movies that the first cut of the scene was “too gory for censors.”
Sloth love Chunk! Sloth love Baby Ruth! Sloth ultimately lovable but initially terrifying!
An American Tail (1986)|
The incident that drives little Fievel Mouskewitz and his family from their village in Russia to an uncertain future in America is a vicious attack by an army of Cossacks — and a pack of marauding cats. (In a needless attempt to further emphasize their evilness, these ferocious felines were given … mustaches.)
Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)
In a movie starring a bra-less cartoon vixen and a baby who chomps on cigars, Christopher Lloyd’s terrifying reveal is the moment that actually stole our innocence.