Even more than 30 years later, there aren’t many family movie moments that can frighten kids as well as adults, but Pee-Big wee’s Adventure’s Large Marge tale holds the enviable distinction. On January 11th, 1974, Large Marge was killed in a terrible car accident on a highway, and she continues to haunt the nightmares of almost everyone who has seen the film. Pee-wee Herman paid tribute to her greatness on Twitter on the 44th anniversary of her passing.
In Pee-Big wee’s Adventure, Pee-wee is hitchhiking on a dark, foggy night when Large Marge picks him up. She is initially silent before telling Pee-wee her terrifying story. She starts out by stating, “On this same night, 10 years ago, along this same stretch of road in a dense fog just like this,” and continues by claiming to have witnessed the worst accident in her life. It sounded “like a garbage truck dropped from the Empire State Building,” according to one report. “And when they eventually pulled the driver’s body from the twisted, flaming wreck,” she continues, “they found him dead.” Many viewers recall their first experiences with fear at this point.
She instructs Pee-wee to remark, “be sure and tell ’em Large Marge sent ya’!” when he exits her vehicle. Thanks to the Claymation masters that created Killer Klowns from Outer Space, the sequence is greeted as a spooky turn into The Twilight Zone, replete with a popcorn-spilling shock for viewers of all ages. In that small 2-minute moment, Tim Burton really established something that has stayed with many kids throughout their youth. Large Marge, a character who was born on December 5th, 1937 and died on January 11th, 1974, was portrayed in the film by late character actress Alice Nunn, who passed away in 1988.
Tim Burton and Danny Elfman collaborated for the first time on Pee-Big wee’s Adventure, and they successfully produced a masterpiece that didn’t quite fit the mould of a children’s film. Instead, the film appeals to both children and adults, and if it were made today, it almost feels like it would be given a PG-13 rating. The story of a man-child who is obsessed with finding his stolen bike takes some bizarre turns, and Twisted Sister even makes an appearance while they are on the Warner Bros. set.
Pee-Big wee’s Adventure helped shape Tim Burton into the filmmaker he is today and gave the world access to the legend of Large Marge. Even if few people observe the day, it ought to be. Pee-wee Herman is doing his lot to spread the word that January 11th should be a day of memorial for Large Marge; the rest is up to us. Check out the heartfelt memorial to Large Marge that Pee-wee Herman posted on Twitter down below. Make sure to mention that Large Marge sent you!
— Pee-wee Herman (@peeweeherman) January 11, 2018
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