Rob Reiner and William Goldman's The Princess Bride is a classic movie beloved by all ages. With a framing story in which Columbo's own Peter Falk reads the tale to an ailing Fred Savage, how could it be anything else? But that doesn't mean that The Princess Bride doesn't have plenty of creepy or downright frightening scenes that scarred us when we watched it as kids. Who could forget the Rodents of Unusual Size that Westley and the eponymous princess bride encounter in the Fire Swamp? Or that scene where Westley gets the life sucked out of him?
Some of these scenes scarred us at the time, while others have become more unsettling the longer we think about them. (And, we have to admit, sometimes we love being freaked out by these weird moments.)
The Shrieking Eels 'Always Grow Louder When They're About To Feed On Human Flesh'
After being kidnapped by Vizzini, Fezzik, and Inigo Montoya, Buttercup believes she's found a way to escape when the trio spots another ship on the horizon at night. She dives into eel-infested waters to swim for the ship. Unfortunately, the eels in question are the notorious "shrieking eels," who live up to their name as they emit eerie, echoing cries and circle the waters around her.
"If you don't believe me," Vizzini says, when he informs her of her plight, "just wait. They always grow louder when they're about to feed on human flesh." As the cry of the eels increases in volume, we see their mouths, full of sharp teeth, just as one begins to charge her. At this point, Peter Falk as the grandpa interrupts the story to reassure his grandson, in case the boy was getting too nervous. Unfortunately, no one did the same for us.Scary to this day?
The Gruesome ROUSes Attack
"Rodents of Unusual Size?" Westley says to Buttercup, "I don't believe they exist." As if on cue, one of the huge rats leaps from the shadows of the Fire Swamp and attacks Westley. With its patchy fur, thick tail, and slavering jaws, the ROUS was certainly nightmare fuel when we were younger, but even now the fight is actually fairly gruesome.
The ROUS locks its jaws on Westley's shoulder but is ultimately dispatched by Westley, who first rolls it into one of the swamp's "flame spurts" and then takes several very deliberate stabs at the creature - all while it kicks and shrieks.Scary to this day?
Westley Gets The Life Sucked Out Of Him
While Buttercup agrees to marry Humperdinck on the condition that the prince spares Westley's life, the villainous Humperdinck instead turns Westley over to his nefarious vizier, Count Rugen, who straps our hero into a memorably weird machine in an underground dungeon - and then proceeds to very slowly suck the life from him. The process takes a long time and is obviously quite painful. Rugen, who hopes to write the "definitive work on the subject" of pain, observes Westley's agony with interest.
While Rugen would probably have been content to torment Westley for who-knows-how-long, a vengeful Humperdinck ultimately cranks the machine to the max after Buttercup insults him, sucking the life from Westley's body and leaving him, by all appearances, a goner. (It turns out later that he's only "mostly dead," of course, thanks to his love of Buttercup, and he's able to be revived with the help of Miracle Max, but that doesn't make these sequences any less disturbing.)Scary to this day?
Our Protagonists Almost Perish In Quicksand
In real life (and most movies) quicksand doesn't really live up to its name, being a somewhat slow morass that gradually sucks a person down to their doom. In the Fire Swamp in The Princess Bride, however, the "lightning sand" is very quick indeed. In fact, Buttercup is there one moment and gone the next as she is immediately sucked out of sight into the sandy ground. Fortunately, Westley is able to grab a nearby vine and dive in after her, eventually pulling them both, gasping, back to safety after a tense few moments.
It's hard to say which part of this scene is more startling: the suddenness with which Buttercup initially vanishes, or the first visit from one of the swamp's Rodents of Unusual Size, which we witness while our heroes are otherwise indisposed beneath the ground.Scary to this day?