What movies scared the @#$& out of you when you were a kid?

Exorcist_lHello, PopWatchers. Come and play with us. Come and play with us, PopWatchers. Forever. And ever. And ever.

Why am I writing like I’m possessed by those nightmarish twin girls from The Shining? Because I am! Boo! No, actually, I just feel that way after reading my colleague Christine Spines’ terrific essay about how the devil-child horror movies of the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s really screwed her up as a kid. You know: Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist (pictured), The Omen, Carrie. Creepy stuff, eh? Well, for decades, Christine admits, she remained scarred from watching, at a ridiculously young age, Linda Blair fiddle with her crucifix and Sissy Spacek getting showered in blood. Sure, you may not have been 5 years old when you first saw a scary movie, but I’m willing to bet that you suffered similar trauma as a kid. Lord knows I did: I still get the willies when I think about little 7-year-old me, watching that kid getting attacked by that tree in Poltergeist ("one one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand…") and not being able to sleep for a decade thereafter.

So, yeah, what horror films have most damaged you? The Devil commands you to speak up!

addCredit(” The Exorcist: Everett Collection”)


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  • jcarla

    You made have been 7, but I was 12 when I saw Polergeist in the theatre and during the tree-attacking scene there was an ACTUAL thunderstorm raging outside. A heighten experience I did not want. I also stayed far away from the TV for a week after that movie.

  • KeepinItFresh

    Does anyone remember the “Shadow Man” episode of the Twilight Zone that ran in the 80s? I could not sleep for weeks… Also anything where people had shaved heads. “Young Sherlock Holmes”, the one episode of “Greatest American Hero” where aliens landed (I think)- they had shaved heads and wore mirrored sunglasses. Also an episode of Charlie’s Angels where women in an evil cult almost shaved Cheryl Ladd’s head. Am I the only person who remembers these things? Also the Sergeant Peppers movie with the Bee Gees scared the crap out of me. Anyone?

  • Jennifer

    I was in elementary school when the miniseries of Stephen King’s “It” was shown on TV… I wasn’t allowed to watch it, but my friend Niccole did, and to this day she is TERRIFIED of clowns. These days I like to leave pictures of Pennywhistle all over her MySpace page, just because I’m such a good friend! }:->

  • maaike

    Until a few years ago I figured my fear of clowns came from when I was about ten and kids weren’t allowed to go to a certain local mall, where a clown would kidnap children. I now think I might have made that story up after seeing a clip of IT – somehow fiction became fact for me. I’m still convinced every clown is a potential serial killer though…

  • Daniel

    Not a horror movie, per se (well, really on any level), but I was terrified of the child catcher in Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang. Oh – and any time a toy or clown was evil in any movie. I can’t watch Chucky.

  • kdl

    I was totally freaked out by the TV movie HELTER SKELTER. I was convinced that when Charles Manson was up for his (first) parole, he’d get out and come straight to my house. I guess the heart of my fear was that random murder/true crime had never occurred to me before. HELTER SKELTER made it very real to me.
    Also I grew up in Detroit.

  • BLM

    When I was 6 years old, my mom asked a movie employee what movie would be good for me and my 12 year old brother. The employee suggested The Toxic Avenger. I was so terrified in the first 10 minutes, I spent the rest of the movie hiding under a sheet of newspaper. Thank you, movie store employee, for helping to create my unnecessary fear of deformity!

  • Secretary

    I still have not recovered from seeing ‘Pet Sematary’ – that scene where the husband and wife are talking about the wife’s sister who had spinal meningitis…yikes…I’m getting chills just thinking about it…

  • s

    Well the witch in the Wizard of Oz used to make me cry. When I got a little older Poltergiest and the Exorcist kept me awake for nights. I still fear there are clowns under my bed.

  • Suz

    It’s not a horror film, but when I was little I snuck a glimpse of The Godfather while my parents were watching it (I was supposed to be in bed), and I happened to come in on the part with the severed horse’s head. I had nightmares for weeks, and it took a really long time before I was willing to watch the entire movie as an adult. Now, of course, it’s one of my favorites. But I never forgot that moment.
    Gremlins also freaked me out as a kid. That part near the end when one of them jumps out of a fountain after you think it’s dead. Oh man did I jump. It’s amazing how not scary that movie is now!

  • D

    It begins and ends with “The Exorcist.” My brother and I had to watch “Stop or My Mom Will Shoot” immediately after, just so we could sleep that night (with me sleeping on his floor out of fear of being along).

  • Pyschic Scars

    I never even saw all of Poltergeist, but the snippets I did when I was 7 scared me to death. The reruns of the old Twilight Zone TV series in the 80s kept me up at night, too.

  • Brownhound

    “It’s Alive.” Cheap effects but really creepy.

  • Joe C

    Without a doubt, ‘The Shining’. The whole movie was creepy, but when Jack Nicholson’s head pops into the room where his wife is hiding and he bellows: ‘HERE’S JOHNNYYYYYYYY! oh man. It helps that Jack really is a little crazy. Great stuff.

  • Lissa

    Poltergeist!!! oh my god that scared the hell out of me! “They only moved the bodies!!” that damn clown under the bed made me hate clowns forever and the tree eating the brother…oh and dont forget when the guy ripped his own face off and the creepy little woman that helped the family! if i was around any tv that went “snowy” i freaked out and turned it off cuse i knew i would be sucked in just like Carolanne!

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