For many kids back in the day nestling up to the family TV raring to watch “THAT’S INCREDIBLE!” the opening monologue was often viewed with a bit of trepidation.
So what was it going to be this week? Something cool like the Rubik’s Cube Championship or a death defying stunt that you could talk about with your friends the next day at school? Another “Filler” segment about some blind or armless guy with a talent? Or maybe, just maybe, it would be something so disturbing, so unimaginable, that you were going to be tossing and turning all night to a montage of horrific ideas and images! No not even that, more like something that was going to burn into your psyche and change your perception of the world forever!
Unfortunately as a kid your curiosity always got the better of you, so you asked your Mom for a glass of milk and prepared yourself to watch what you knew was a bad idea. Still, you just had to know what that radical surgical procedure was all about! Oh crap, I’m not going to get any sleep tonight am I John Davidson? Where’s my Mego Spider-Man doll, I mean action figure? He’s bunking with me tonight!
The following “THAT’S INCREDIBLE!” segments are probably the most disturbing stories you remember as a kid even if you’ve forgotten the source!
Haunted Toys R Us – Talk about hitting things too close to home for a kid! After this episode most of us never looked a Toys R Us the same way again! I always thought being in a toy store after hours would be a dream-come-true until I saw this “haunting” episode. Never before had toys sitting on a toy store shelf looked so ominous! Adding insult to injury they showed toys that you owned jumping out at you in one of their sadistic “Re-Enactments”! It wasn’t until later in life that I learned that “Re-Enactment” didn’t really mean “Actual scary footage”! Interesting side note, a younger-ish Sylvia Brown [Most known for being a regular on The Montel Williams Show] was featured in the segment. They were probably pulling one over on us but that photo they supposedly caught of a dark figure standing in the toy isle was enough to make any rational kid toss and turn throughout the night! Feel good about yourself there Kathy Lee Crosby?!
Man with 2 faces – Really?! I know “its life” that people sometimes suffer from these kinds of abnormalities but for a kid to suddenly be introduced to the “Man with two faces” made for a frightening wakeup call! Until this unfortunate soul from China was featured in this now infamous “THAT’s INCREDIBLE” episode, most of us had never imagined someone could be born with a condition that horrific! “Those teeth! Those horrible teeth!” Now being older and wiser it’s hard not to feel sorry for the guy growing up an outcast but as kids we were nothing but mortified! In fact, his condition still disturbs me! So glad those “saint-like” plastic surgeons decided to work on him for free and give him a normal life! I wonder what ever became of him. Did he ever find love through an arranged marriage? I would Google him but I’m just too freaked out!
Man goes to Hell during near death experience – As a kid I never really gave Hell much thought. Other than that my older brother was probably going there after breaking the head off my Luke Skywalker action figure. Yeah I still remember that bro! Anyway, before this episode aired most people lived their lives in relative peace not giving it a second thought about what awaited them in the afterlife. That all changed when this nightmarish segment told the tale of a man that went to Hell during a near death experience! Attendance at Churches must have skyrocketed after this surreal story aired. I can still remember Hell’s landscape being described as a grey, desolate place with dead trees everywhere. The man was even followed by a demon or maybe the devil himself if memory serves. It always stuck with me how the guy got out of Hell by begging to Jesus for help! Glad it works in Hell because that never saved me from any family get-togethers!
Unfortunately [Or maybe fortunately] there’s nothing on YouTube showing this macabre episode. So let’s instead indulge ourselves in this legendary Arcade Game Championship episode!
Amityville Horror – Chances are you were too young to see the original Amityville Horror movie when it came out [Unless of course you were fortunate enough to have those cool parents that let their kids see R rated movies!] No biggie, we all got to see this chilling episode of THAT’S INCREDIBLE no matter how lame our parents were! The one thing that everyone remembers about the accursed house was how it seemed to have sinister glowing eyes! The legendary shape of those attic windows is what most likely raced through your mind as you unsuccessfully tried to fall asleep that night. That or the creepy possessed doll giggling! If the segment seemed familiar it was because “In Search Of…with Leonard Nimoy” also tackled the topic. With so much publicity the story just had to be true! Kids tried to convince themselves that the whole thing was made up just to sell some books but their imagination wasn’t buying it! I remember as a kid some residential house on my block had the same kind of ominous windows adorning the front door. “How could you live in a house with those kinds of windows?!” “Seriously didn’t you see the THAT’S INCREDIBLE episode?!” Geesh some people!
Children with aging disease – We weren’t as frightened by these “old children” as we were the “2 faced man” from China but it made us ponder life’s complexities all the same. Who didn’t feel sorry these elderly kids that reminded us of Gus, the old fireman from “Leave it to Beaver”? Most people remember their heart strings being ripped out when the featured kid explained how his favorite Disney character was Pinocchio because he “wished upon a star” and became a “real boy”. “Excuse me. I just got a little verklempt. Talk among yourselves”… Every now and again for reasons unknown I get reminded of those poor kids I saw on THAT’S INCREDIBLE lo those many years ago. They may have had a short run on this planet but their memory lives on in the hearts of all those that happened to watch this memorable episode! Which is pretty much anyone alive back in 1980!
Man with constant sweaty palms – “Are my hands getting sweatier? The more I think about it the more my hands sweat! OMG! I’m getting it too!” Aside from feeling bad for guy that suffered from this odd condition, we were all still wigged out by it! How bad would it suck to suffer from chronic sweaty palms?! I can only think of one thing that it might be useful for but this is a family friendly article! Imagine the horror of getting your comics drenched in sweat every time you read them! The horror! The questions abound in the mind… “How long would it take before your remote control short circuited?”, “How would you ever successfully handle an Arcade joystick?”, “Would you ever be able to clutch a Big Gulp again?”, “What would become of your record sleeves?”, “Is that the alarm clock going off already?” Thankfully the episode did offer a hopeful ending since the poor guy was cured by some medical procedure. Unfortunately it involved brain surgery so you still dreaded ever developing the condition! Fran Tarkenton what’s wrong with you participating in a messed up story like this?!
Since there’s nothing on YouTube regarding this obscure episode why don’t we relive the classic Rubik’s Cube Championship!
These now infamous episodes were shocking to watch as a kid and memories of each one still spring up now and again for some odd reason! For better or worse we’ll probably keep them burned in our psyches forever. What cruel THAT’S INCREDIBLE segment gave you insomnia or still “haunts” your memory?
I like my special effects optical and my monsters rubbery! I love Stop Motion Animation and Model Making! Not making it with Models though unfortunately. My favorite food is a bag of Lay's potato chips along with green onion dip made from an 8oz LIGHT sour cream.
For anyone who actually finds any of my musings worth reading, I am sorry! Just kidding, I’m sincerely grateful and couldn’t be more appreciative!
Thanks for reading!