Large Marge Somehow Isn’t The Scariest Scene In ‘Pee-wee’s Big Adventure’

Are there two scarier words than ‘Clown Hospital’?
Large Marge Somehow Isn’t The Scariest Scene In ‘Pee-wee’s Big Adventure’

Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, in addition to maintaining its legacy as the greatest movie romance between a screechy man-child and a red Schwinn bicycle, is also widely remembered for doing for the rubber sheet industry what E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial did for Reese’s Pieces. 

Yes, an entire generation was famously traumatized by the “Large Marge” scene; that moment in which Pee-wee Herman is picked up by a creepy truck driver, who goes into graphic detail about a terrible accident … before briefly transforming into a hideous monster. Later Pee-wee discovers that the trucker, Marge, died “10 years ago” –  a detail that a lot of kids probably missed because they were busy violently sobbing in the theater lobby. 

But in revisiting Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, weirdly Large Marge isn’t the only moment of unbridled horror in this otherwise fun-loving movie. 

Just as scary, and perhaps even more so, is a nightmare sequence where a hospitalized Pee-wee dreams about his bike being operated on in a gothic funhouse by a team of clown-faced surgeons. At least one of the doctors is totally norm– no, wait, he has a terrifying Joker-like smile underneath his surgical mask. It’s like Patch Adams, but 5 - 10% scarier.

Sticking a backdoor pilot for Pennywise Hospital into a children's movie may seem like an odd choice, but ‘80s filmmakers were apparently all for shoehorning clown-based nightmares into family entertainment.

The clown motif in Pee-wee’s nightmare is at least a callback to the (also extremely disturbing) scene in which Pee-wee’s bike is first stolen after it was chained up next to a creeptastic dummy. 

If all this wasn’t upsetting enough, the dream culminates with the bike being lowered into the bowels of Hell and set ablaze by Satan (Pee-wee’s rival Francis Buxton in a Devil costume) and his demonic minions. Yeah, ‘80s Hollywood was also pretty into traumatizing children with unsettling dreams about Hell.

At least the proposed sequel about how Pee-wee gets addicted to pills and is subjected to shock treatment could lighten things up. 

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter (if it still exists by the time you’re reading this). 

Top Image: Warner Bros.

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