It’s a rite of passage for kids to watch at least one horror movie at too young an age, a movie that was destined to mess you up good. Real good. Nightmares, the conviction that the monster from the movie was under your bed, a tiny existential crisis, or a life-long fear, most of us didn’t emerge from childhood unscathed by a movie that got us at precisely the right time with precisely the right scare – I certainly didn’t. Unpleasant at the time, but horror movies scaring the crap out of us as children are moments we can now look back on with fond nostalgia.
There are a few movies that got me good in my formative years, and I was curious. I asked Twitter to share with me the horror movies that scared them silly as kids and, as always, Twitter delivered.
As you can see, Gremlins was mine. While many horror movies left a mark, including Child’s Play (he could be hiding anywhere), A Nightmare on Elm Street (he can get you in your DREAMS), and the IT miniseries (just straight up eff clowns, man), they all came a bit later. Gremlins was my earliest taste of horror and thus the most memorable.
I was happy to find a number of people who agreed with me and also picked Gremlins as their movie.
(For the record, it’s horror-comedy – but just try telling 5-year-old me that.)
And another one of the movies that scared me most made the list…
A Nightmare on Elm Street
The fact that Freddy Krueger could get to you in your dreams apparently messed up an entire generation of us 80s kids because it kept popping up in my mentions with regularity.
Yeah, nope. Sleep is supposed to be our safe space. No, thank you to this.
The classic Stephen Spielberg-penned screenplay also came up frequently (as did two movies he directed, Jaws and E.T.).
Dolls also deeply messed us up.
Something about so much malevolence being packed into such a tiny body makes them all the more terrifying. Or maybe it was Chucky’s unrestrained glee at killing.
I can’t say I ever had an asthma attack, but I can definitely say Chucky stirred up extreme “NOPE” feelings in me.
Continuing the trend of tiny, evil things, the murderous Irish myth also featured in the answers.
As did a classic, beloved film that nevertheless scared the crap out of quite a few people.
I loved the first Ghostbusters and going to Ghostbusters II is one of my earliest moviegoing memories. Other people…they don’t have such warm and fuzzy memories.
We move from New York to Japan next…
Japanese Horror Film Remakes
They may have missed the 80s’ slasher films and love of small critters, but the generation right after got hit with the early ’00s trend of Japanese horror remakes.
Of course, you knew this list had to include the King of Horror.
So Many Stephen King Movies
Just…so, so many.
For a lot of kids, one of the most terrifying things in childhood wasn’t a horror movie at all…
Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’
Despite being terrified of the aforementioned movies, Halloween was one of my favorite times of the year. I especially loved it because that’s when Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” played on the radio and the music video would get airtime on MTV. I was into it – but many, many others weren’t.
And there were a number of things that aren’t actually horror movies (or horror music videos) whatsoever.
Things That Weren’t Horror Movies At All
Look, we all have our weird, primal triggers that spark terror in us. Sometimes it’s a visual that strikes us just right, sometimes it’s a sound that worms its way into our brain, sometimes it’s a combination of the two that gets us in a vulnerable spot when we were least expecting it. What can I say? Kids’ brains are weird.
And lastly, a movie that will give any ’80s kid flashbacks:
There are so many more movies that I left out, so it’s worth clicking the original tweet and checking them out. Some of the answers are downright hilarious and others will have you nodding in sympathy and saying, “Me, too!”
What horror movie spooked you most?