large marge pee wee's big adventure

My Kindertrauma: Large Marge

Probably the definition of true kindertrauma. I can’t think of anything more iconic than this nightmare fuel. I remember distinctly fast-forwarding through this part when I watched it on VHS. It was just too scary. It’s bad enough that stop-motion is creepy-looking as hell (see House on Haunted Hill for a great example). There’s not much I can say about it that hasn’t been said. Let’s break it down, see if that helps.

The movie’s had some dark areas up to this point, but nothing ridiculous. Pee Wee hitchhikes with a criminal, but has to dress in drag to get past a roadblock. There are a few odd visual gags like the creepy clown and Francis Buxton drooling black liquid. Eyebrow-raising, but nothing traumatizing. After a jumpscare that’s not really jumpy involving some headlight glasses and cartoon eyes, ominous music starts as lights slowly fade up on a Mack truck. Bad enough we spent the eighties learning about how dangerous hitchhikers were — either being one or picking one up — but we were about to find out why.

The lady in the truck could be a lunch lady or a grocery cashier or a grandma. Except for that grim look on her face. With no prompting, she speaks for the first time. “On this very night, ten years ago…” sounding like she smokes ten packs a day (and back in that time, smoking was cool. Just ask Joe Camel.) I didn’t even understand the metaphor she was using (a garbage truck… dropped off the Empire State Building) but I could hear the tone of her voice, see the lifelessness in her eyes, the gray and black fog as if traveling the river Styx. And then…

“It looked…



The face doesn’t even look like a car accident victim. It’s some goofy eye-bulging, tongue-wagging cartoon thing, like bootleg Looney Tunes. But the fact that it’s only half a second, that it’s uncanny valley stop motion, that you aren’t expecting it, makes it the worst Kindertrauma I ever seen.

And the icing on the cake is when Pee Wee enters the truck stop and says “Large Marge sent me”. Everything stops. This is a movie called Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, essentially a Saturday Morning children’s program where the whiz-bang sound effects and colorful visuals never stop. No one says a word. It turns out SHE was the worst accident she’d ever seen. And that Pee Wee was riding with…

…her GHOST!

Eric Juneau is a software engineer and novelist on his lunch breaks. In 2016, his first novel, Merm-8, was published by eTreasures. He lives in, was born in, and refuses to leave, Minnesota. You can find him talking about movies, video games, and Disney princesses at where he details his journey to become a capital A Author.

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