Five Movies That Scared the Shit Out of Me When I Was A Kid

When I was a kid, I certainly didn’t watch movies anywhere near as much as I do now, but of the ones I did watch, many of the memorable ones were horror movies. And a lot of them scared me. These days when I watch horror movies they’re not as scary as they are strangely farcical, but my nightmare recollections of first seeing these movies ring true in my head and they were far from funny…

1: Audition (1999)

I know what you’re thinking: how the Hell did you get to watch Audition as a kid? Well, it was right after me and my Dad watched Ring (1998) (see below). I was thirteen and we’d just started to really get into foreign movies. My Dad didn’t regret showing me this movie; he knew I was mature enough to handle it, but it still scared the bajeebuz out of me, nonetheless.

2: Ring (1998)

The second scariest of the horror movies I viewed before I became an adult was watched right before Audition. They’re similar movies in some ways, except Audition‘s scarier because its plot could actually happen to you. We enjoyed watching Sadako (whose long dark hair was intensely scary for me for some reason), and even had a good time with the remake when it was released in 2002.

3: The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Since most people define this as horror (whereas I see it as a thriller) I suppose it makes the list. I remember watching it fondly at age twelve, intensely scared, riveted and moved by Hopkins as Lecter, and then never seeing it again until I bought it recently. A fantastic film, but still an insomnia trigger at the ripe young age of 12.

4: The Shining (1980)

Jack Nicholson swinging an axe at his desperate, screaming wife was enough to give me nightmares at age ten. I remember feeling like little Danny throughout the whole movie, and, according to my brother, I started talking to my finger for a while, answering questions with it and having conversations. This quickly passed and I moved on but there’s no doubt The Shining has had an effect on me and my perception of horror films.

5: The Evil Dead (1981)

I remember it well. 1996, at the age of nine. My brother sneaks into my dad’s video cabinet and slithers away with a copy of this Sam Raimi classic. He invites me into his huddled bedroom to watch it with him. I’m curious. We watch it, and my brother makes me swear not to tell Dad we saw it. I agree. But the film has such an effect on me that I start to look disturbed and have trouble sleeping. When my mum asks me what’s wrong, I break down and tell her. An unpleasant memory, but hey, I got to hear my brother get a verbal thrashing from Dad so that’s cool.

What horror movies scared you as a child? What are your favourite horror movies? Do you have any recollections of experiences with horror movies when you were young? Leave a comment below.

Thanks for reading.

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About Tyler

Patient observer of all things film and music, from Béla Tarr to Boards of Canada. Foul mouthed and clinging to the edge of sanity.

Posted on May 24, 2011, in Lists, Movies and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. Yup, yup, yup, yup and yup. Okay, so I didn’t see Evil Dead until I was a teen. And I wasn’t a kid when Ringu and Audition came out, but all these movies sent chills down my spine.

    Another fantastic serial killer movie is Frailty…check it out if you haven’t seen it.

    For days, I covered up my the tv near my bed with a sheet because I didn’t like seeing the reflections in it after watching the Ring.

    Takashi Miike is a master! Audition is by far my favourite, but some of the others I love are Ichi the Killer, Sukiyaki Western Django, Visitor Q and Full Metal Yakuza. That guy is ultra-violent and super funny. He also does a “Masters of Horror” called Imprint that was extremely creepy if you can track that down. Great stuff!

  2. I’ve never been too into horror movies, but there are a few films or moments within films that have given me a good fright…

    #1 – Apocalypse Now: There’s a scene where Chef (the Saucier from New Orleans played by Frederick Forrest) goes out into the jungle to pick some fresh mangos. I’m pretty sure that there was no music involved in this scene, just the ambient sounds of the jungle. Not sure if you’ve seen this film, so I apologize for the spoiler, but when that tiger jumps out and chases Chef and Martin Sheen back to the boat, my heart practically leaped out of my chest. I saw this film in the theater with my Dad when it was released in 1979 (an amazing year in American Film by the way!), and I will never forget that scene. Never get out of the boat!

    #2 – Star 80: Eric Roberts (brother of Julia) gives one of the creepiest performances that I have ever seen. If you’re not familiar with the story, it’s about Dorothy Stratten, a former Playboy playmate, and her relationship with Paul Snider. It’s a story of obsessive love (lust?) taken to the extremes.

    #3 – The Birds: Although I had seen this film on numerous occasions growing up, it wasn’t until I saw it on the big screen in college that it truly had an effect on me. I was taking a course on Hitchcock, and the instructor pointed out that The Birds doesn’t have a musical score. All you hear throughout the film is the sound of birds, which intensifies as they get progressively more aggressive. To this day, I am freaked out whenever I see pigeons (aka rats with wings) or sea gulls flying near me. I always feel like they are about to attack me. It’s quite sad really.

    Great post! Thanks for sharing!

    G-LO

    • I haven’t seen Star 80, but I’ve seen the other two multiple times and I will agree, they were scary moments. I saw a few Hitchcock movies as a kid (Psycho, Rear Window and North by Northwest, but for some reason I wasn’t allowed to see Vertigo), and they gave me a good scare, but not nearly as much as the five mentioned above.

  3. I saw Evil Dead too but not remembering much. The movies that scared me most and made me stay awake at night were It and Salem’s Lot…

    • I thought It was too farcical to be taken seriously as a horror. Then again, there’s something seriously off-putting about clowns and it may be the cultural influence of Pennywise.

  4. All great choices, Audition was creepy….

    • And Silence of the Lambs is probably my second favorite horror film right after the Shining. Except the book The Shining was much scarier and actually made me cry. Films never scare me, I never jump, I never get surprised, but seriously the book was horrifying.

      • I liked the book a lot, too, but Stanley Kubrick’s direction and cinematography skills made the movie a heap more enjoyable.

        A few friends and I recently had a poll for best halloween movie, and I nominated Audition, which none of them had seen. It didn’t end up winning, but I showed it to them on Halloween anyway.

  5. As a pre-teen child I never had a singular film scare me in it’s entirety but there are certainly elements of films I vividly remember having to surreptitiously avert my eyes and cover my ears to.

    1. Ghostbusters. “Zool” that freakin’ dog demon in the fridge and it’s counter part whom possesses Miss Weaver and Mr Moranis respectively. But I had to endure these horrible beasts to get to the Stay Puffed Marshmallow Man. Oh right, not to mention that librarian ghost losing her rag at the start.

    2. The Neverending Story. The inappropriately named ‘The Nothing’ is the traumatising antagonist of this almost family friendly film. Of course ‘The Nothing’ is not nothing at all, he’s a big-arse, rabid wolf with glowing red eyes!

    3. Scrooged. One of my favourite Bill Murray films, which I recently snatched up on DVD, is just as great as I remembered it – and I remember it line for line with so much home viewing as a kid on recorded VHS – except now I don’t jump with shock and disgust at the grotesque little souls that inhabit the ribcage of The Ghost of Christmas Future.

    4. Bram Stoker’s Dracula: Vampire films in general. I remember going to Mel Brooks’ Dracula: Dead and Loving It (the parody of Coppola’s Dracula) and having to pretend to read the press pamphlet (in pitch darkness) unable to bear the tension of Lucy’s haunting seduction in the graveyard. But Dracula in wolf form in Coppola’s film was somewhat disturbing.

    5. The Exorcist. This I saw at 14 or 15 and I have not been brave, or rather stupid enough to watch it fully again since. I know what scares me and it is the unseen. The forces that torment with extraordinary power but are never truly revealed. I’m not religious and the idea of supernatural forces seems infinitely improbable yet they scare the crap out of me, not while watching the film, but after the fact while trying to sleep and the imagination runs rampant with every house creak. I was talked into watch paranormal Activity recently and that was a stupid decision on my part. But The Exorcist with its subliminal flashes of underling evil, the slow build up of oddity to oppressive, the haunting soundtrack and (award winning) sound mixing, all encapsulated by a little girl. Terrifying.

    I’m from Queenstown. Nice to see a Kiwi voice make it to the imdb hit list (thats how I found your blog.)

  6. As a kid I will say: any film with Freddy Kruger or Jason and HELLRAISER.

    Even as an adult I will say Alenjandro Jodorowsky’s films are pretty disturbing and scary.

    And some french films as:

    High Tension (2003).
    Inside (2007).

  7. Mine would definitely be The Exorcist. I couldn’t even watch it in its entirety. I’ve always had an aversion for horror movies ever since so I couldn’t really add more to the list. I did think Cloverfield was very immersive.

    • Ah, The Exorcist. Funny you should mention that. When I was eleven, my Dad let me watch The Exorcist, but my mum walked in when Regan was doing-the-deed with the crucifix and she turned it off. I never saw it fully until recently.

  8. Good list except I haven’t seen Audition yet. I’m afraid I’m going to have to see it now. Most of the horror films that I’ve seen haven’t really scared me except the five I’ve listed here. Usually, I had to watch these films five or six times before the scare effect hit me. Maybe it was because I didn’t understand everything that was going on (The Exorcist is one example). Or, I saw the dark humor behind the proceedings (The Shining). Anyway, here goes:

    The Fog (1979) and Suspiria (1976): Both of these films are not meant to be profound or logical. The storylines and chain of events don’t make sense when you really think about them. However, John Carpenter and Dario Argento use music, cinematography and performance to convey a living nightmare. Note: Suspiria’s best moments are the first fifteen minutes. Watch it with the lights off and you’re good to go.

    The Thing (1982): One of the few examples of a remake that equals the original. The paranoia, claustrophobia and impending doom is so vivid that you can almost feel the alien crawling up your leg. Besides, any Carpenter film that features Kurt Russell is going to be good.

    Night of the Living Dead (1967): Um, yeah. There’s no need to elaborate on why this one is scary as hell. Similar to the Thing in its use of space and paranoia as an equal threat to the zombies, and the black and white only adds to the fun. However, the ending is the scariest and most ironic moment in the film.

    Carrie (1976): This movie made me scared to reach high school age. I was terrified of being the outsider or the loner that everyone picked on. I didn’t get picked on so much, but I was definitely a loner.

    • RE: Watch it (Suspiria) with the lights off and you’re good to go: I’ve been planning to watch it for a while, so when I do, I’ll do that.

      I’ve been meaning to see The Thing and Night of the Living Dead (not to mention all of Carpenter and Romero’s films), and I highly enjoyed Carrie.

  9. I would like to know if you ever saw a dracula movie that started out…
    semitary sceene, buireal, man takes a shovel throws it like a spear into the coffin you hear a scream, blood flows from coffin. I had to leave the theater, I was so scared. I would like to see this movie again, I think it had to be in the early 1960’s any info would be appriciated. thank you david varela. david.varela@goodrich.com

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