10 Spielberg-Spawned Nightmare Moments from the ‘80s

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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:

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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.

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E.T. (1982)
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.

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Poltergeist (1982)
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.

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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. 

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Gremlins (1984)
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.

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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.”

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Goonies (1985)
Sloth love Chunk! Sloth love Baby Ruth! Sloth ultimately lovable but initially terrifying!

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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.)

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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.