Guilty Pleasures: The Strange Films You Watched As a Child

I have always loved watching movies, and growing up three blocks from the local video store, it was often the event of choice at our household.  We had one of those old popcorn machines and we’d make big bowls for everybody.  And then we’d all settle down in the living room for a film.  I often learned in college that the movies I watched growing up differed from the films all my friends were watching.  In my opinion, they missed out, cause these guilty pleasure kid flicks are the best!

     The Dark CrystalStill a favorite, I often quote this one today much to Joe’s dismay.  “Smells like gelflging…*sniff, sniff*…could be IS gelfling!”  The Dark Crystal tells the story of Jen, a gelfling boy, whose destiny lies in finding a missing chard of crystal and restoring the order of their world.  A Jim Henson/Frank Oz co-production, the creatures are unique and the fantasy world is eerie.  I had the opportunity to visit the Science Fiction Museum in Seattle, Washington two years ago, and the special exhibit was on Jim Henson!  They included many of the muppets we know and love, but I was way more excited about the full room of early sketches and costumes for The Dark Crystal!  This film is like a shorter, kid-friendly Star Wars.




     WillowProbably the film I watched the most of any growing up, all my siblings loved this movie.  Warwick Davis, who was pretty popular back in the day, starred as Willow, a halfling man who finds a princess baby and vows to protect her from the evil Queen Bavmorda.  Along the way, he is aided by some unlikely and flawed heroes.  There are brownies, teeny tiny warriors that are always messing around with fairy love potion, Willow’s best friend, Meegosh, a sorceress named Fin Raziel, and a surly warrior named Madmartigan.  I’m totally trying to convince Joe to dress up as Madmartigan and Sorsha for Halloween, but it has yet to come to fruition.  I can see a twinkle in his eye when I remind him he’ll get to walk around telling people, “I am the greatest swordsman that ever lived!”



     The NeverEnding StoryI think I fell in love with Barret Oliver, who played Bastian in this film, and it only grew when he went on to act in Cocoon and play Dicken in The Secret Garden.  The NeverEnding Story is an early fantasy film version of The Pagemaster.  A young boy, Bastian, is being bullied, and one day he hides out in an empty attic and finds a storybook that involves him in the ending.  Along the way he roots for Atreyu, the boy sent to save the princess from dying.






      LabyrinthWho doesn’t remember David Bowie as the Goblin King in Labyrinth?  After a rough night of babysitting, Sarah wishes her baby brother away to the Goblin King, and if she wants to get him back, she has 13 hours to make it through his labyrinth or she’ll lose her brother forever.  Another Jim Henson classic, the creatures are all shapes and sizes and personalities too!  And David Bowie, clad in a lot spandex, channeling a little Ziggy Stardust, has some amazing songs in this movie.  I believe this soundtrack was played at Joe’s and my Halloween party last year.






Surprise Attack!!:  Bet you weren’t expecting to see Little MonstersThis rare gem of a sci-fi flick stars little Fred Savage and a rather unrecognizable Howie Mandel.  This film freaked me out!  I was convinced it was all real, that a whole world of monsters really did live underground and the doorways into our world were underneath the beds of children.  I recall watching this movie several times, and it creeped me out everytime.  It’s a little bit Goosebumps, little bit Gremlins, little bit Monsters, Inc.  It’d probably be really funny to watch now, or annoying, Howie Mandel has gone downhill for me since I grew up.  Nonetheless, this was a rare cult classic that probably made its way into some of your homes (and underneath your kid’s beds too).



Do you remember these movies?  Do you own any of them?  I totally still do.  What films did you watch on repeat growing up?

42 responses

  1. Switch Little Monsters for The Princess Bride and those are my movies- I watch all of them at least once a year.

    1. I totally thought about Princess Bride, but I STILL watch that one, so I couldn’t describe it as strange or only for childhood. Of course, I’d watch a lot of these anytime if you asked too.

  2. The first four are long time favorites (I’ve seen Labyrinth at least 50 times, probably more). I’ve never heard of Little Monsters but it sounds fun, so I’ll have to find a copy of it.

    Thanks for the nostalgic ride, Jess 🙂

    1. Gremlins also came to mind, but you already blogged about that. LOL.

  3. Oh my gosh this post made my day!! I loved ALL of those (except the last one, which I haven’t heard)… add in Drop Dead Fred and those are all my repeat-movies too.

    Are you reading Wicked right now? Just saw the musical last weekend and it was the most magical night ever!!

    1. I squealed reading your comment! I saw Wicked a year ago and LOVED it. I’d kill for those costumes. I am reading the book now, which is much darker than the musical but really intriguing. I like it.

  4. See, I don’t even think of The Dark Crystal and The Labyrinth as “Guilty Pleasures” because they are truly beautifully made, intelligent, fun movies. They’re CLASSICS and most people I know who were children in the 80s saw those movies. I STILL watch those movies at least a couple times a year. AND I even got to see The Labyrinth on the big screen when my local movie theatre was a doing an 80s/90s retro movie night every Tuesday for three months.

    1. Ok, thank you. Joe was not a fan of The Dark Crystal, but my friend and I occasionally burst into Chamberlain whines. MMMMmmmmmm.

  5. I haven’t seen Willow or Little Monsters. I love the others. Haven’t seen The Dark Crystal in donkey’s years.

    Movies I watched and loved growing up? Ladyhawke (1985), Max Dugan Returns (1983), Cloak and Dagger (1984), The River Rat (1984).

    Fun post. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. 😀

    1. OMG! Go rent Willow! Now! Or steal it from a stupid dikeeny!

  6. I own Willow! I still enjoy that movie a lot. I’ve seen The Neverending Story, but I own the book and like that a lot better. I’m familiar with the other films, but I don’t think I’ve seen them. I should add them to my Netflix for some childhood classic fun!

    I was obsessed with The Wizard of Oz and The Little Mermaid from the ages of 4 until now, LoL! I also loved Indiana Jones, Star Wars (original trilogy of course!), The Sandlot, The Karate Kid, and The Goonies. My siblings and I liked renting The Witches (the movie based on Roald Dahl’s book), The Court Jester (that’s an older hilarious movie with Danny Kaye) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Secret of the Ooze. Heehee, now I feel like watching all these great movies again!

    1. I can’t believe I forgot to put The Goonies! So good! And The Witches. Definitely LIttle Mermaid, Wizard of Oz, Sound of Music. I’ve even seen The Court Jester, aren’t you proud? I will forever love Indiana Jones and the tv show Relic Hunter, which starred Tia Carrere as a female Indiana Jones, basically.

  7. Little Monsters and The Neverending Story were definitely two of mine…as was Cloak and Dagger (again with the similiarities, Catie Rhodes!), Midnight Madness (Disney movie – teams wearing different colors go on a city-wide scavenger hunt), Grease 1 and 2 (I’d walk around and sing all of the songs by heart), and of course the classic, The Wizard of Oz.

    1. I went through a Grease phase. One birthday I asked for the movie and the soundtrack and all my friends and I had a mass sing-a-long. I think I could recreate that now with Mamma Mia! LOL

  8. Wow, I’m old! My kids watched Drop Dead Fred and Edward Scissorhands over and over. I’ve heard of the others, but haven’t seen them.

    1. LOVE EDWARD SCISSORHANDS! I think of him when it snows the first time. After that, I just get crabby that I live in Wisconsin.

  9. Labyrinth is definitely a favorite. As I was scrolling down in your post, I was hoping you’d include it. Yay! We can continue being roommates.

    1. Phew! How do you feel about Fried Green Tomatoes and fuzzy navels?

      1. Fried Green Tomatoes…enjoyed the movie, love the food.

        Fuzzy Navels…not much of a peach schnapps girl, and I’m definitely not fond of fuzz in my navel. But we’ll grow a little mint plant indoors and I’ll make myself mojitos. How’s that?

        1. I like mojitos better than fuzzy navels. It was a test. You passed, roomie.

  10. I came to this post specifically to see if my childhood favorites where here! I’m glad a couple people above mentioned Drop Dead Fred. I was hoping I wasn’t the only weirdo little kid that loved that movie. And I could watch Neverending Story every day! I still love it.

    1. Atreyu!!! Thanks for stopping by, Andrea. I’m going to have to watch Drop Dead Fred now, keeps coming up.

  11. I watched all of these recently. All good, apart from Little Monsters. Film sucks so bad.

    1. I never said it was GOOD films, I said STRANGE. Hahaha. I’m just so happy that you recently watched The Dark Crystal.

  12. As soon as I saw this post, I thought “Never Ending Story”, and there it was! Allow me to “Hook” to that. I loved that movie when I was younger. “Lookie, lookie, I’ve got hooky”. I loved that line in the movie.

    1. Oooh, excellent addition, Shatha! We were just talking about Hook at the dinner table last night!

  13. Haven’t seen a single one of those – guess I’m missing out! I was more likely to be watching The Princess Bride or The Goonies. But I also love mojitos, so all hope is not lost! 🙂

    1. LOL. Yah, sadly I forgot the Goonies. I thought of Princess Bride for sure, but that one is just such a classic, I couldn’t call it strange.

  14. My most random favorite that not that many people remember is TEEN WITCH. Soooooooooo good!!!!!!

    1. I don’t think I ever saw Teen Witch, but I feel like that would’ve made my sister’s list maybe. I fell in to the later witch series like Charmed and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, which are absolutely nothing alike. LOL

  15. Ah neverendingstory brillant! I never watched Labyrinth as a kid but watched it at Uni and it was pretty laughable as in a bad way but I’m guessing as a kid I would have loved it! I will always love ET, Back to the Future and Beauty and the Beast!

    1. I watched ET a lot, but I was also terrified he lived in my basement. His sausage fingers creeped me out.

  16. I love Labyrinth and Dark Crystal. I’m also a fan of The Last Unicorn and Flight of Dragons.

    1. OMG! Someone else who saw Flight of Dragons!!! I cannot TELL you how many times I’ve mentioned that movie and received blank faces and cricket noises. I LOVED that movie. Unfortunately, I can’t find it anywhere!

      1. I’m so checking IMDB for this gem!

    2. Flight of the Dragons!!! I forgot about that one! Yet another reason I know you and I would get along with movie marathons. Empire Records this friday? LOL

      1. I just cleared my schedule! =)

  17. I’ve seen Willow, but I wasn’t a child when it came out. Loved it. Val Kilmer was so hot in that movie. I haven’t seen the others, but I’ve heard about them.

    We didn’t have VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, Netflix or any of the others when I was growing up so we always looked forward to Saturday Night at the Movies. Every Saturday night, a TV network (I think it was ABC) would show movies that had been popular at the theaters. That’s how I first saw the Bond movies. Every summer for a few years, the network would broadcast them all, and back then, there were only about eight of them.

    Thanks for a fun blog, Jess.

    1. What no VHS, even?! That’s so wrong! How are we girls supposed to get our Cary Grant on? 😉

  18. […] Guilty Pleasure Friday again, and I needed to add one more movie to the list of Strange Films You Watched as a Child.  I can’t believe I forgot this one!  So, it’s getting it’s very own post on […]

  19. Wow, Jess, my own top five movies! Great post!

    1. I know they are the best!

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