When someone mentions childhood trauma I immediately think of E.T. That film terrified me and shaped me in ways I can’t describe. Thanks to the Internet however, I now know there are countless others who feel the same and so writing about it would be kind of pointless, because now it is acknowledged as a scary film by thousands.
So instead I will write about what is perhaps a more obscure fear, and one that remains creepy even to type about to this day.
I speak of course of Judge Doom from WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT.
After BACK TO THE FUTURE, I loved CHRISTOPHER LLOYD. As Doc Brown he was hilarious, crazy and exactly the kind of guy you’d want as a ‘fun uncle’ type relative. Not responsible enough for kids, but manic and exciting enough to spend a summer on holiday with him (the metaphor is weak but you get my drift). So you can imagine how fricking horrible it was to see an actor who’d been entertaining and lovable in one of my favourite films to appear as THIS:
Christ, look at him.
The whole movie, Judge Doom is little more than a menacing, icy presence. Dressed in all in black with those dark, emotionless glasses, he was indeed scary, but nothing more than a relatively basic villain.
Then, as we approach the end of the film and he gets flattened by a steamroller, his true colours show. In classic Michael Myers style, his flattened, paper-thin body gets up from the ground with a new, high-pitched voice and he’s revealed to be a ‘Toon. He re-inflates himself and it’s all pretty intense, but not all that scary. The he turns around with those big, popping red eyes and screams and half the world’s children (including me) piss themselves.
The next scene is him using his ‘Toon powers to attempt to brutally slaughter Eddie, and eventually he is killed by the Dip and melts, screaming all the while.
It’s not just the eyes and the voice. It’s the face. And the laughter. And the idea that a cartoon, something that’s meant to be funny and entertaining could be so evil and murderous. And it’s the fact that there is no explanation given as to why he killed Eddie’s brother, you just get the idea he’s a batshit insane killer. It’s also the idea of an authority figure (he’s the Judge of Toontown or something) going rogue, which is still a fairly common horror device.
Overall, that reveal traumatised me to no end, so I felt I should share it with your site.
Honourable mentions also to WATERSHIP DOWN, PLAGUE DOGS, WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY and PEE-WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE. Also the scene in THE BRAVE LITTLE TOASTER when the NICHOLSON-esque Air Conditioner goes crazy and just explodes. Its little burnt face at the end is almost sympathetic.
So yeah. I had a fun childhood.