Sometimes seeing the wrong movie at too young an age can really stick with you.  Say you saw Child's Play or Nightmare on Elm Street before age twelve.  You might have had a hard time getting to sleep or looking at your stuffed animals in the same way after. But what about the movies you're supposed to see, the general interest flicks constantly rerunning on cable that Mom and Dad wouldn't bat at an eye at if they walked by and saw you watching?  Often, it is only later that the truly disturbing stuff really shows its face. Sure, it's scary in Pee-Wee's Big Adventure when Large Marge's eyes jump out of their sockets, but what about the movies we saw as kids that are filled with the real?  I’m talking about stuff like abortion, suicide, etc. – the kinds of things that can actually happen, things that are so serious they went over your head at the time.

Or didn't.

Screenjunkies presents... 7 Dark Moments in Popcorn Flicks…

We Go Together… Like Broken Condoms and Teen Pregnancy

Anyone with an older sister or who was bored and had cable stumbled upon Grease over and over. Yeah, it's mostly about a preppy and a greaser falling in love, but whatever.  In between all that, Rizzo and Kenickie are in the backseat of a car, making out, then before they can even get started, the condom breaks.  They have sex anyway; Rizzo thinks she's pregnant, is branded a slut, sings a song about it (“There Are Worse Things I Could Do”)… but then, luckily for high school senior with few job prospects, she turns out not to be pregnant after all.  Hand Jive! 


You Know What’s Not Funny?  John Candy as a Homeless Widower.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles Homeless Widower - Watch more Movie Trailers

Hey, just another comedy, right? Steve Martin! John Candy!  In Planes Trains and Automobiles, two businessmen meet during Thanksgiving, get their flights cancelled, and one comically annoys the other for about ¾ of the movie. But then, a twist. Del, the John Candy character, is a pathological liar. The wife he has been talking about for the whole movie is dead! For eight years! And he’s homeless! Steve Martin invites him over for dinner. The end. 

Big Top Alcoholism

So let's say you're in a pre-Netflix era video store, sometime in the 1990's, browsing through the VHS rentals. 

“Hey Dad, it’s Shakes the Clown.  Can I rent this, my distracted and busy parent?”


“And it's got Mrs. Brady from the Brady Bunch in it!”

You pop the tape into the video player.  The credits roll.  At exactly one minute into the film, setting the tone for everything to come and worse, Shakes the Clown is passed out drunk and a child pisses on his face. Later, Shakes will consume insane amounts of alcohol and tumble down the endless spiral staircase of depression.  *honks nose*


Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner.  Not When You Can Have an Abortion.

Dirty Dancing - Baby & Penny - Watch more Movie Trailers

Dirty Dancing, like Grease, is another flick mostly seen by guys with older sisters and cable, and yet another movie about an innocent girl and a rebel guy falling in love where a secondary female character has sex and this time, does get pregnant. In an impressive writing feat of allusion and innuendo, though the dreaded word “abortion” is never uttered, Penny has a “situation” and gets an appointment with a hack doctor who performs the operation with a “dirty knife” and no painkillers. Heavy stuff.


There Is No Great Pumpkin, or God for that Matter.

Talk about a depressing message for kids. Shown every year most Halloween nights, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown basically sends a message that the cosmos are a dark, uncaring place, but that you should keep your hopes up anyway, despite that fact that there is no real reason for doing so. While everyone else is out having fun trick or treating, Linus sits, missing out on all the action and awaiting the Great Pumpkin, who, despite all evidence to the contrary, Linus believes will show up and bring toys to the kids who are most sincere. Of course, The Great Pumpkin never shows, Linus gets no toys, is mocked for his beliefs, and all the other kids think Linus is crazy. And yet, despite no signs and plenty cases of mistaken identity, he waits, every Halloween, year after year after year....


Don’t. You. Forget About Me.  I’ll Be Alone… Attempting Suicide.

Though rated R, back then ratings meant nothing (Poltergeist was PG!) and any smart kid could sneak into anything anyway. The edited version of The Breakfast Club that runs on cable is equally as disturbing as the one that ran in theaters. We have a nerd who brought a gun to school and tries to kill himself, a kid whose dad burns him with cigars, and our happiest character, a girl who whose parents just kind of ignore her and has no friends, a situation which causes her to spend a day in detention making dandruff art.  In this clip, the suicidal nerd cries and the jock laughs:

Ponies Can’t Swim

Being an orphan is tough, being a poor orphan is tougher, and being a poor orphan high school dropout is pretty much as depressing as it can get. Take Ponyboy in The Outsiders. He lives with his older brother, which, on the surface, sounds like it might be fun. But one day Ponyboy comes home late. So how does big brother show his concern? Slaps him around a bit, tosses him on the floor, that kind of loving display. This causes Ponyboy to run away from home where some kids try to drown him, but luckily his friend Johnny kills his attackers for him. In the 1980's and 1990's this film was often show in junior high school classrooms. To see the gruesome drowning attempt, check the 5:50 mark of the clip above. In a shockingly restrained move, the stabbing takes place off-screen. Later, Johnny, the guy who saves Ponyboy's life, dies, along with basically all of his other friends, one of whom is shot by police as his friends look on.

What other classic movies that YOU love have dirty little secrets? 

-- J.C. Sirott

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