How '60s And '70s TV And Movies Made Us Scared Of Quicksand

By | August 30, 2022

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By the time of 'Blazing Saddles' (1974), quicksand scenes were a cliche to be ridiculed. Source: YouTube

Why were we afraid of quicksand? On TV shows and in movies of the '60s and '70s, quicksand was a go-to plot twist that could be inserted virtually anywhere for a jolt of suspense. Quicksand scenes were common, far more common than actual life-threatening quicksand is in the world. The insidious and nearly inescapable wells of malevolent sand struck a disproportionate amount of fear into the hearts of those of us who are over 30.

Yet, thanks to Hollywood, young people spent an inordinate amount of time planning precisely how they would escape one of these death pits, should we ever happen upon one while out walking the dog. According to one quicksand enthusiast, quicksand appeared in nearly 3% of all movies made in the '60s. So what's the deal with quicksand?

A Quicksand Explosion On The Silver Screen

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Where do you Stand on the Rise and Fall of Quicksand?(Slate)

In 1960, the quicksand trend was clearly gaining momentum. Quicksand played a role in Disney’s Swiss Family Robinson and the hokey sci-fi film 12 to the Moon -- yes, we went to the moon and found quicksand there. Few directors could resist quicksand's persuasive tug, as the stuff appeared in 1 out of every 35 movies in the ‘60s. The ubiquity of gloppy, suffocating danger would eventually make its way into our everyday lives.