As horror fans, we’ve learnt to deal with our fears. In fact, we enjoy being scared and get a kick out of spooky films (when they’re well made, that is).
Now, I personally struggle to find horror films that truly scare me: instead, what I search in horror cinema is that inexplicable unsettling feeling that makes your mind wonder and makes it hard to catch some sleep.
However, as kids we were way more easily scared by a multitude of pictures, some of which are completely unrelated to horror! Inspired by one of my favourite YouTube channels (I Hate Everything… check it out!), I decided to join the “Childhood Trauma” party: a way to delve into an odd combination of fear and nostalgia based on non-horror movies that scared the hell out of me as a little, chubby boy. As a few loyal readers might know, I was introduced late to horror cinema: I was 13 when I watched Alien (1979) and Event Horizon (1997) for the first time, and they represented my first encounter with (sci-fi/)horror cinema.
Still, even before those two movies turned that little boy into a horror fanatic, I had plenty of traumatising experiences with films unrelated to horror that shook my world. The following is a bottom-up list of movies that fuelled my nights with nightmares and my days with unjustified paranoia. This is my top-10 childhood traumas:
Continue reading below and find out what movies traumatised little me…
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10. The Neverending Story (1984) – This classic fairy tale about a troubled kid sucked in a fantasy world through the pages of a book has been many kids’ favourite film in the past 3 decades. I, however, always hated it for one specific reason: the scene where the knight tries to pass the Sphinxes’ gaze and gets fried alive. The film is rated U (Universal, suitable for all) but my child self would strongly disagree!
9. Labyrinth (1986) – Jennifer Connelly’s 16-year-old protagonist Sarah is given 13 hours to solve a labyrinth and rescue her baby brother when her wish for him to be taken away is granted by the Goblin King (David Bowie). As a kid, this classic “kids movie” felt like a nightmare: during her journey, Sarah falls into pits full of horrific slimy substances, meets critters who ripped their own bodies apart and finds herself in an M.C. Escher painting. The only reason why I watched this nightmare-inducing spectacle as a little boy was Jennifer Connelly: damn, I was in love with her (and I still am, by the way)!
8. Fantasia (1940) – Before Disney became the cookie-cutter, inoffensive, politically correct garbage it is now, their animated movies truly shaped little kids around the world. Fantasia, a collection of animated interpretations of great works of Western classical music, is still a timeless classic and one of the best animated movies ever. Nonetheless, being subjected to dinosaurs dying of mortal wounds and demonic mountains with Satan-like demons popping up truly messed me up in my early years.
7. The Muppets Show (1979, Season 4, Episode 14) – I’m cheating a little bit, here. This is, in fact, not a movie but a terrifying episode in one of the most beloved TV shows ever: The Muppets. I must admit that, although I love the Muppets, there was something creepy to them as a kid. Nonetheless, this episode starring Liza Minnelli featured a killer on the loose… and loads of shootings, stabbings, hatchets, arrows through the head, choking, and the obligatory body falling out of the closet. Come to think of it, my childhood fear of closets might have originated here…
6. Anastasia (1997) – I haven’t seen Anastasia in more than a decade, but I clearly remember Rasputin (voiced by Christopher Lloyd) giving me shivers. Also, that fucking white bat with giant ears haunted my nights for a couple of weeks…
5. Hyde and go Tweet (1960, Sylvester and Tweety) – We all love Sylvester and Tweety, right? Well, we do… until the beloved and cute yellow bird turns into a freaking Mr Hyde-like monster with blood-thirsty eyes and a voice that seems to come from hell! No jokes, due to this short movie I developed a phobia for chicks that probably disappeared only in my 20s…
4. All Dogs go to Heaven (1989) – What’s more adorable than a made-for-tv cartoon about talking dogs? I don’t know, because All Dogs go to Heaven is actually about about death, revenge, Heaven and Hell. Despite the child-friendly style of animation, the themes of this movie always made me uncomfortable as a kid. On top of that, there’s the unforgettable and depressing ending where Charlie actually does die and go to Hell: his ghost comes to say goodbye to Anne-Marie, and the whole screen turns red as a dragon-demon-thing materializes, to show us for sure that he’s ended up in the Bad Place. As an adult, I love child-friendly movies that show consequences… as a kid, though, I used to curl up in bed just thinking about that damn scene!
3. Princess Mononoke (1997) – Hayao Miyazaki’s masterpiece, Princess Mononoke, is now my favourite animated film of all-time. It’s a perfect picture about Japanese mythology, care for the environment, love and friendship, the damages of consumerism: all of that told in a beautiful way and with an unprecedented style of animation that remains spotless to this day. When I was 5 years old and I watched it in the theatre, though, the blood-thirsty demonic boars ruined my childhood for good!
2. Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) – aside from Jessica Rabbit being a pleasure memory from my early teens (for obvious reasons, please don’t make me explain), this noir-like cartoon truly terrified me for one specific reason: Judge Doom, played by Christopher Lloyd. Maybe Christopher Lloyd is just a creepy actor, I don’t know. Anyway, the combination of horrifying animation and real-life creep-factor makes this character one of the scariest villains ever… at least that’s how I felt when I was a little boy. The scene where he reveals himself, with those haunting red eyes, probably made me pee in bed a couple of times.
1.The Goonies (1985) – This is one of those movies that, to me, evokes a strong sense of nostalgia. I love The Goonies and its undying charm. However, when I first saw the film and Sloth appeared on screen with a little jump-scare… oh boy, that was the most terrifying thing I had ever seen at that point. To this day, I think the makeup of Sloth would make for a truly horrifying monster in any hard-core horror movies, which is why The Goonies was my biggest childhood trauma!
“Hey, you guuuys!” What movie scared you as a kid? What moment in any kids’ movie turned you into a psycho horror fan who can’t live without scary flicks? Let me know in the comments!
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