Labyrinth (1986)

When I first started compiling this list, I knew that Jim Henson’s bizarre fantasy film Labyrinth had to be on it. Just consider the plot: A 15-year-old girl wishes her baby brother away to Jareth, the King of Goblins. If she doesn’t make it through his labyrinth in 13 hours, her brother will be turned into a goblin. The stakes don’t get much higher than that. Throw in the fact that David Bowie’s genitalia is exposed by his skin-tight costume throughout most of the film, and it’s hard to argue that Labyrinth doesn’t belong on this list.

You may wonder why a film like Labyrinth makes the cut while the arguably more menacing film The Dark Crystal doesn’t, but there’s a simple explanation: As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, this list is focused on movie plots where real kids are in danger. To paraphrase Star Wars, The Dark Crystal takes place “a long time ago in a [fantasy world] far, far away,” so it doesn’t count. Same applies to The NeverEnding Story.

Flight of the Navigator (1986)

Another sci-fi film, Flight of the Navigator cheerfully toys with the idea of a 12-year-old child being abducted by an alien spacecraft and then returned to Earth eight years later. The catch: he’s exactly the same age and doesn’t remember any of it. Of course, everything gets sorted out and the kid (David) learns some valuable life lessons on the way, but if you take a step back and really look at this movie, it’s pretty messed up.

This kid disappears for eight years. God knows what those aliens did to him while he was gone. Even worse, when he gets back, he’s poked and prodded by our scientists to find out why he hasn’t aged. Also, can you imagine what his family had to go through? They thought their son was dead. They went through the five stages of grief and everything. Then out of the blue, their kid comes back and he looks exactly the same! Now that’s truly crazy.

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