The One Messed Up Thing About These '80s Movies Nobody Talks About

From action movies to teen dramas to slasher flicks and screwball comedies, the 1980s gave pop culture some of its most beloved films. It was the decade of Die Hard, Top Gun, Sixteen Candles, and more, movies with a legacy that plenty of films are still trying to live up to today — and along the way, it provided us with some of the most messed-up moments that the big screen ever saw. And the weird part? You might not have even noticed them until now.

Whether they were classic comedies that inadvertently raised the questions of how parallel universes are supposed to work or retro action films that accidentally kept the Nazis in power, here are some of the most messed-up moments in '80s movies that nobody ever really talks about.

Ghostbusters: Venkman's experiment works

1984's Ghostbusters is one of the most beloved comedy classics of all time, spawning a franchise that includes three movies, two cartoons, a handful of comic books, and a whole lot of merchandise — and it's also full of weirdness that goes well beyond the supernatural forces gathering at the top of Dana's apartment building. Walter Peck, for instance, is presented as an intensely unlikeable and needlessly fussy bureaucrat, but let's be real here: If there were four dudes actually running around with "unlicensed nuclear accelerators" claiming they were fighting ghosts by burning down chunks of the Sedgewick Hotel, you'd probably want the EPA to send somebody down there to check it out. 

Even weirder, though, is how the movie's characters ignore one of its first hints of supernatural powers. When we're introduced to fan-favorite Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), he's running a psychological experiment with a couple of grad students. The whole thing is meant to underline Venkman's smarmy, lecherous personality by being rigged to let him make time with a pretty blonde — and to show viewers exactly why the university was inclined to fire the whole department — but there's one thing that's often missed while we're focused on Venkman's flirting: the experiment actually works.

The whole thing is ostensibly designed to show whether stress, in the form of electric shocks, can enhance psychic abilities. As evidenced by the fact that the volunteer actually does start accurately sensing the patterns on the cards, it does, but Venkman chooses instead to keep the charade going. It's pretty surprising, since scientifically proving the existence of psychic powers probably would've been the biggest story of his career. Uh, if he hadn't also fought a giant ghost marshmallow with nuclear laser beams later that year, that is.

Ghostbusters II: Did everyone just forget about the Marshmallow Man?

Set five years after the events of the original, Ghostbusters II starts off with so many leaps in logic that it sometimes feels less like a sequel and more like a reboot. Dana Barrett, for instance, has not only ended her relationship with Peter Venkman, gotten married to someone else, had a son, and gotten divorced in the space between the movies, she's also managed to completely change careers. They're not even closely related, either. She goes from being a professional cellist at the New York Philharmonic to working in art restoration at the Museum of Modern Art, two highly specialized jobs that require vastly different training and education.

It's even worse for the Ghostbusters themselves. While Peter seems to be doing okay for himself post-breakup by hosting a television show, the team has fallen on some pretty hard times. Winston and Ray are even reduced to appearing in their uniforms at children's parties. The reason? They were sued for all the property damage at the end of the first movie and forbidden from busting any ghosts.

That is, of course, the joke. It gives audiences the same kind of scrappy team of lovable losers that they loved in the first movie rather than having them be hugely successful. At the same time, the New York City that we see in Ghostbusters is under pretty constant attack from the supernatural, and even New Yorkers probably aren't going to forget that time a giant sugary kaiju stomped through the Upper West Side and flattened a church. Even if they were willing to write the whole thing off as mass hysteria, somebody probably remembers when they had to shut down the streets to clean up 50 tons of marshmallow fluff. Having citizens denying that happened is a stretch even for a movie that asks us to believe in mood slime.

The Princess Bride's secret ending

While it wasn't a huge success when it hit theaters in 1987, The Princess Bride became a cult classic on home video, and it's easy to see why. Framed as a story being read to a sick child, the swashbuckling tale of fencing, fighting, torture, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, and miracles has the feeling of the best fairy tale ever told, and gave people seeking revenge for the deaths of their fathers the perfect speech to quote as many times as they needed to.

But what many moviegoers might not realize is that The Princess Bride isn't just a book in the movie, it's one in real life, too. Written by William Goldman, who also wrote the screenplay for the film, it even has a similar framing sequence, in that it's Goldman doing an "abridged" version of a story his grandfather used to read to him on sick days, full of commentary and asides. It's got plenty of scenes that didn't make it to the film, too, including detailed origin stories for Inigo and Fezzik, and a terrifying trip through Prince Humperdinck's zoo of death. But there's also a different ending in there, one that's much darker and more ambiguous than the happily-ever-after of the movie, in which Westley continues to suffer from having his life drained, Inigo's wounds reopen, and Humperdinck's men close in as the group tries to escape.

You might think that's not a big deal and that movies based on books change things all the time, and you'd be right, except for one thing. In the novel, Goldman claims to be surprised at the ending himself, because his grandfather always skipped over that part. Given that Peter Falk's character in the film often skips over things that he doesn't think young Fred Savage would like, it stands to reason that he might've bailed on this part, too, keeping it from both his grandson and the moviegoing audience in the name of a happy ending. Who knew that movie was lying to you for the past 30 years?

Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure: You can't avoid your fate

One of the more interesting things about Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure is that it treats time travel as a closed loop. Rufus is, after all, only able to come back in time to help the Wyld Stallyns with their history report because he lives in a future where they already succeeded, and the movie plays with the idea of Bill and Ted being helped out by their future selves, as long as they remember to actually do what they need to in the future. That's what time travel experts call a "closed loop," and you see a similar, albeit much less funny, approach in Terminator. But if you actually start to think about the inescapable pull of destiny, it gets pretty grim.

Throughout the movie, they collect important historical figures to come address the students of San Dimas High, and, given that we're working within a closed loop, they logically have to return them to their own native times so that they can fulfill their own histories. The thing is, most of those histories involve horrifically violent deaths. Abraham Lincoln is, of course, shot in the back of the head by John Wilkes Booth. Billy the Kid is famously gunned down by Pat Garrett. Socrates was sentenced to die by poison. Joan of Arc is burned alive at the stake for heresy and then had her body burned again to prevent the faithful from collecting relics. Genghis Khan's cause of death was unknown, but c'mon, it probably wasn't pleasant. Only Beethoven, Napoleon, and Freud died of natural causes, but even then, the latter two suffered from particularly painful varieties of cancer.

Given the nature of a closed loop and the fact that Bill and Ted never actually learn anything about history, they couldn't have changed their fates even if they wanted to, but still. It's a pretty rough image to keep in mind when you're watching Jane Wiedlin take over an aerobics class at the San Dimas mall.

Back to the Future: Where's the second Marty?

Unlike Bill & Ted or Terminator, 1985's classic Back to the Future presents a view of time travel where you can change the past — and even cause the timeline to splinter into alternate realities, like the "good" version of Hill Valley that Marty returns to at the end, or the bad version where Biff's in charge that we see in Back to the Future II. It's that first one that makes things confusing. We know that Marty McFly's in danger of being wiped out if he doesn't fix the timeline in 1955, as evidenced by the scenes where he almost fades out of existence before he manages to get his parents back together, but we also know that the 1985 he returns to isn't the one that he left — the Twin Pines Mall has become the Lone Pine Mall after Marty knocks one of the trees down with the DeLorean. What really complicates things, though, is that Marty sees that timeline's version of himself heading back to the past in Doc Brown's time machine after he arrives back.

You might think that's just closing the loop, but watch the end of the movie. The Marty that leaves isn't the one who grew up in the crappy subdivision with an underachieving father, it's a Marty who grew up in a world where George McFly was a successful go-getter who writes sci-fi novels about Darth Vader from the Planet Vulcan — presumably becoming as rich as George Lucas and Gene Roddenberry put together. So where did that Marty, Marty II, go when he traveled back in time?

Comic book writer Ryan North went into this in-depth in his book-length review of the Back to the Future novelization, but the short version is that the timeline winds up splintering into infinite branches, each with a Marty who can never truly go home again, and lives out his days in a universe of his own making. No wonder he's depressed in the future.

The Goonies: How is the treasure still there?

In addition to giving an entire generation of kids some pretty unrealistic expectations about what they could find by poking into holes in their back yards, 1985's The Goonies stands as one of the best adventure movies of all time. It has action, danger, deathtraps, and rewards the brave and clever kids with an unimaginable pirate treasure at the end. But even if you're completely on board with the premise and the adventure, it's hard to believe that the treasure would still be there when Mikey and his pals got to One-Eyed Willy's ship.

While it's actually pretty easy to believe that nobody would make it past a pipe organ made of bones, it's a little tougher to believe that Chester Copperpot was the only person in 350 years to try following the caves all the way to the Inferno. If nothing else, somebody had to go down there to dig the wishing well, or to put in the water pipes for Astoria's country club. Even if they were killed off by one of Willy's many deathtraps, someone would've eventually gone looking for them.

What really makes it hard to believe, though, is that the treasure map is only in Mikey's attic because it was donated to the local museum. Any curator worth their salt should've at least verified the authenticity of a document like that, and if they had, they would've spotted the treasure map right away. Since Mikey's dad didn't, it stands to reason that he's actually pretty terrible at the basic function of his job, which is probably why they're in such bad financial shape to begin with.

Raiders of the Lost Ark: Indiana Jones accidentally kept Hitler alive

Of all the messed-up movie moments on this list, this is probably the most well-known. That said, it's also arguably the most unintentionally jacked-up plot point in movie history, once you stop to think about the implications.

If for some reason you haven't seen Raiders of the Lost Ark, well, stop reading things on the Internet and go spend two hours with the greatest adventure movie of all time. The internet isn't going anywhere. OK, remember how the entire movie is about world-renowned adventurer and actually pretty terrible archaeologist Indiana Jones trying to recover the Ark of the Covenant from the Nazis? And remember how in the end, when Belloq and his Third Reich associates open up the Ark, the vengeful spirits within come out and kill all the Nazis by literally melting the flesh off their bones? You should remember that; it's pretty great and one of the most memorable Nazi-melting movie moments ever filmed.

But here's the thing: The only reason Belloq and the Nazis do that ceremony out in the desert instead of in the heart of Nazi Germany is because Indy himself destroys the airplane that was going to transport the Ark back to the Fuhrer. If he hadn't, Belloq would've opened the Ark back in Berlin, where Hitler himself — and likely the rest of the Nazi high command — would've been present to be melted along with everyone else. Considering Raiders takes place in 1936, Indy's involvement kept World War II from ending nine years earlier than it actually did.

Rambo III: One of the most ill-advised team-ups of all time

OK, this one's a pretty huge bummer. As you might recall from school, the United States and the Soviet Union spent most of the 20th century locked in the Cold War. Fortunately for all of us, things in the real world never heated up to the point of total nuclear annihilation, but in pop culture, the battle was raging on multiple fronts as each country attempted to score PR victories. Rambo III was one of them.

After fully transitioning from a taut thriller about a Vietnam veteran with PTSD being rejected by society to basically just being a cartoon about shooting people, 1988's Rambo III sent its hero on a mission to stop the scourge of communism in Afghanistan. In the process, he battled against the Russians with the help of the mujahideen who, at the time, were working to overthrow the pro-Soviet government. In retrospect, that may not have been the best move.

The real-life version of the Afghan mujahideen that Rambo teamed up with would later evolve into the Taliban. And as you also might recall, America's strategy of propping up that particular group to keep the Soviets in check didn't exactly work out that well for the country, or anyone else, about a dozen years later.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit: Toontown gets paved over

Even looking back from three decades later, 1988's Who Framed Roger Rabbit? still stands as a masterpiece. Even in a time when we've seen plenty of movies where people are acting alongside computer-generated characters who aren't actually there, Bob Hoskins sells the idea of interacting with a cartoon better than anyone else, and the reveal of Judge Doom as a maniacal, dagger-eyed toon is one of the most enjoyably terrifying moments to ever make it into a movie that was ostensibly for kids.

But while Judge Doom winds up being dissolved in a boiling vat of dip at the end of the movie, the thing we never seem to talk about is that he actually wins in the end. His entire evil plot revolves around destroying Toontown and paving it over so that he can build a new kind of road called a "freeway." And it turns out that even if Eddie Valiant stopped him in the '40s, that's exactly what eventually happened. It has to be. Just ask anyone who's ever been to Los Angeles: There's a whole lot of freeway, and no sign of Toontown.

Unless you head down to Hollywood Boulevard to watch Mr. Incredible and Batgirl get into a fistfight while Chewbacca tries to break it up, that is, but even Judge Doom never got that depressing.

Gremlins: It's right there in the name

Thanks to Phoebe Cates telling a story about her father dressing up as Santa Claus and dying while stuck in the chimney on Christmas Eve, 1984's Gremlins is one of the most depressing movies of the entire decade, and that's before you get to the part where the eponymous monsters go on a killing spree that finds a couple dozen people violently murdered. If anyone had bothered to pay attention, though, they could've avoided the whole thing.

Well, not the part with Kate's dad dying and ruining Christmas. For everything else, however, there was a warning right up front. When Billy's dad buys Gizmo in Chinatown, Mr. Wing refers to the fluffy little creature as a "mogwai," and unfortunately, nobody thinks to ask what that actually means. It turns out that it's not a name for Gizmo's species — it's literally just the Cantonese word for "monster" or "demon." Not exactly the kind of thing you want to give a child on Christmas morning.

Unfortunately, the Peltzer family never bothered to brush up on their foreign languages. If they had, or if Mr. Wing had done a little extra work to describe Gizmo as, say, "a self-replicating flesh-eating murder beast from hell," maybe they would've been a little more careful about feeding him after midnight.