The spoopiest time of the year is here, and with it comes some of my favorite go-to movies for the month of October. One of my favorite horror-esque movies is the 1984 classic Gremlins – which just so happens to be featured in this month’s CURSED Loot Crate!
I have a little one, coming up on a year and a half, and I was just talking to my mom the other day about Emily getting to watch all my favorite movies with me as she grows up – and then I watched Gremlins again and remembered: “damn, this movie is pretty intense for PG!”
It’s been acknowledged by many that Gremlins, along with another movie coming up on this list, was responsible for the MPAA’s creation of the PG-13 rating – and I gotta be honest, it’s for a pretty good reason! Gremlins is flat out creepy, but it’s also pretty gory too, as we see the titular Gremlins getting all sorts of exploded and cut up and what not. Long story short, it’s pretty crazy that this is a PG movie (it was never resubmitted for re-rating, so PG it is!), but there are quite a few PG movies out there that are absolutely deserving of at LEAST a PG-13 – so for this week’s Friday Five, let’s take a look at five other PG movies that are a bit too spooky, or intense, for kids
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) – You know how I said there was another movie along with Gremlins that many say was a major catalyst for the creation of the PG-13 rating? Welp, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is it. Released in 1984, after Gremlins, the much darker and weirder sequel to Raiders of the Lost Ark received a PG rating despite some pretty mature shenanigans going on, which include but are not limited to some intense child “labor” in a mine, a scene involving the consumption of monkey brains, and last but certainly not least, a dude ripping a guy’s still beating heart out of his chest – yikes! Definitely a bit of a departure from Indy’s first film, and certainly not one for the young and/or faint of heart!
The NeverEnding Story (1984) – The NeverEnding Story was one of my absolute favorite movies growing up, despite the fact that there were some real heart-wrenching parts and some parts that were just down-right spooky – at least they were when I was Atreyu’s age, how was he so damn courageous? I mean, seriously, the unstoppable force known as “the Nothing”, and his servant Gmork, were scary as hell when I was a kid, and the scene where Atreyu loses his beloved horse, Artax, to a slow and agonizing death in the Swamp of Sadness after evading Gmork. The scene was incredibly heavy for a kid, and I legit bawled when I first saw this scene, and I’m somewhat certain I’d bawl if I saw it today, too. (Side note, Swamp of Sadness is probably the most apropos name for a location in a movie I’ve ever heard of, outside of maybe “Death Star”)
Beetlejuice (1988) – Now, Beetlejuice is an interesting one for this list because it came out several years AFTER the MPAA had created the PG-13 rating. And that’s a bit crazy, because despite the fact that it has some genuinely funny and heartwarming moments, there’s also some really creepy stuff that happens in this movie, and there are some scenes that just flat scared me as a kid – the whole afterlife scene, and particularly the ghosts trapped behind that one spooky door, was enough to make me want to leave the room for that scene. But on top of that, there are some, ahem, suggestive themes involving the titular character hanging out at a brothel – oh, and Beetlejuice drops a big fat F-Bomb and grabs his crotch. Not exactly family friendly PG stuff!
Poltergeist (1982) – This one actually surprised the hell out of me when I saw it, but yep, Poltergeist is a PG movie. Which is crazy, because there are some legit arguments for this movie being rated R – I mean, there are some mature-adjacent scenes like people are smoking the Devil’s lettuce, but mostly this movie should be R-rated because holy crap it was scary. There’s a scene where a kid is attacked by a doll that literally makes me not want to have dolls anywhere near my bedroom and a scene where a dude is literally ripping the skin off of his face. Oh, and then there’s the scene where the dad in the film is swimming with rotting corpses. I mean, I definitely saw this movie when I was too young, but in retrospect, I’m not too surprised, because this damn thing was only rated PG – what the heck?!
Jaws (1975) – Jaws came out almost a full decade before the PG-13 rating was even a thought at the MPAA, but looking back on it, it feels like a movie that could have garnered the ole R. I mean, it’s literally a movie that follows a bloodthirsty great white shark as it chomps its way through a quiet beachside town – leaving a ton of blood and gore in its wake. And if the dismembered body parts and lead characters being chomped to death right in front of your eyes isn’t enough, it’s also got some nudity, some pretty harsh language, and a sprinkling of sexual humor to top it all off! But personally, here’s why it shouldn’t have been PG – this movie singlehandedly made generations of children afraid of sharks in such a profound way, and that makes it a real tough watch for any kid in my opinion. I mean, heck, if I thought about a shark swimming in a pool in my backyard, I’d freak out – no joke!