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.
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Top Image: Warner Bros.