Ask any 80s kid what their scariest movie moment was growing up, and you’re bound to hear about Freddy, Jason, the tree in Poltergeist, maybe even Chucky. The obvious answer is something from a horror movie, but that’s not the only possible answer. Because ask enough people and someone is going to mention a scene from an otherwise decidedly non-horror movie: Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure.
Midway through the movie, when Pee-Wee, hitches a ride from a big rig, a moment occurs that traumatized an entire generation. Large Marge is driving the truck, and she tells Pee-Wee a terrifying story about a terrible crash. As she’s winding up the story, she suddenly looks over at Pee-Wee and her face transforms into something terrifying and grotesque, shocking both her passenger and the audience.
Pee-Wee gets out and learns that Large Marge herself was the victim of that very accident and that he’d been riding with a ghost. As a young kid, that moment was scary as hell and has stuck with me for decades. Apparently, I’m not alone. Over the weekend Paul Reubens himself shared a tweet remembering Large Marge on what would have been her birthday, had she survived!
— Pee-wee Herman (@peeweeherman) December 5, 2021
That tweet was liked nearly 30,000 times, presumably by 30,000 people who had the same nightmare I did after seeing the movie.
Pee-Wee has starred in a few more movies, including a Netflix revival a few years back, but few moments live up to that car ride with Large Marge. It was fun to see it revisited by the man himself!