Monday, March 26, 2012

8 terrifying movies from childhood

The Deseret News ran a piece on "40 dark movies made for kids" the other day. I went through the list and even though half of it seemed to be made up of the Harry Potter films, there were quite a few that I actually saw in my own childhood, and yes, they were terrifying to me:

Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Raiders of the Lost Ark
The Watcher in the Woods
Something Wicked This Way Comes
Return to Oz
The Neverending Story
The Secret of NIMH
Jurassic Park

I do take issue with the article's assertion that all of these movies were "made for kids," though. Just because they were rated PG does not mean they were made for kids, at least if they were made before 1984ish, when the PG-13 rating was created to bridge the (huge!) gap between PG and R. Furthermore, it's not like my parents sat me down in front of these movies right before bedtime and intended me to watch them. I saw Willie Wonka at a church activity. A babysitter let my siblings and me watch Raiders of the Lost Ark, with special emphasis on the face-melting scene. I think I saw The Neverending Story when my grandma was in charge of us kids one evening.

The Watcher in the Woods and Something Wicked This Way Comes, on the other hand, were standard, parent-approved slumber party fare in my day.

I seem to recall watching Return to Oz with my family. Perhaps they interpreted my silence during the film as my acceptance of its material and an ability to work it into the safe idea of life I had constructed for myself. WRONG. My silence meant terror.

I read the book of The Secret of NIMH before I watched the movie, but it was still freaky. I had forgotten about it until recently, though, when I checked the DVD out of the library and started watching it with my girls. We turned it off after about 12 minutes. Some little friends were watching it with us, so now they'll have their own "the babysitter let us watch that movie" experience to look back on when they're older.

Jurassic Park must have marked my passage into adulthood because I remember being terrified by it, but it was also AWESOME.

Not on The Deseret News list, but other terrifying movies from childhood:
The Fugitive - watched it late at night when we stumbled upon a free HBO preview while my parents were out.
Flowers in the Attic. Yeah.
The Ring - oh wait, I was an adult when I saw this one, but yes, it terrified me and I couldn't sleep for weeks.

Speaking of movies for kids, we watched The Muppets on Saturday. I want to issue an apology to everyone I have interacted with since Saturday afternoon. If you thought I was teaching your class, or attending to our conversation, or writing up child language observation reports, you were mistaken: I was thinking about this movie. And singing the songs in my head. And sometimes out loud. One of my friends actually said to me at one point, "Do you know you are whistling?" Uh, sure. I totally knew I was whistling "Life's a Happy Song" out loud.

Find a way to see The Muppets. It is a gem of a movie. And not terrifying at all.


Lisa Lou said...

Sometimes I think about PeeWee's Big Adventure and cry in my heart. That movie gave me nightmares!

Bridget said...

I agree, except I think I watched it enough times that it no longer frightened me after a while. The only part that I would STILL fast-forward through, as an adult, is the freaky dream sequence. WHY DO MOVIES HAVE FREAKY DREAM SEQUENCES???

Liz Johnson said...

You know what really freaked me out as a kid? The book "Are You My Mother?" I remember being completely freaked out for that baby bird who was essentially wandering the allies in search of its negligent mother.

Jessie said...

I think I'd still be afraid of Something Wicked This Way Comes even if I watched it this afternoon. Terrifying. I'd add "Lady in White" to the list, even though hardly anyone knows that movie.

Britney said...

I'm not surprised that our lists overlap quite a bit. Return to Oz and NIMH were especially scary. A few others that still haunt me are The Peanut Butter Solution and Darby O'Gill and the Little People.

Bridget said...

I almost added Lady in White to my list but I don't think I watched it in my actual childhood. That is a dang creepy movie.

Bridget said...

Darby O'Gill!!!! I thought about having my kids watch that for St. Patrick's Day...and then remembered, NO WAY.

Shannan Deshazer said...

Once again you write something that rings 100% true with me. Watcher in the woods scared me through my entire childhood. What about Labyrinth with David Bowie?

Holly Mayer said...

I will add The Flight of The Navigator and Babes in Toyland.

Christi and Clifton said...

Oliver Twist and Pinocchio? Those were "dark" to me when I was a child.

Alyson Poundstone said...

Funny, my kids are watching the Muppets right now as I read this!

Suzanne Bubnash said...

Lord of the Flies creeps me out.

Movies such as The Watcher in the Woods and Something Wicked This Way Comes (both of which I like) were intended for your older siblings to watch. It's the downside of being a younger child--you are exposed to things not meant for you.

I've never heard of Return to Oz--or I was out cold the night everyone else watched it. Flowers in the Attic--I was appalled your aunt showed you that.

Within my acquaintance are parents who have taken their children to violent R rated movies, saying "he/she is mature for his/her age" or "he/she can take it." It's the psychological equivalent of throwing their kids in front of a speeding semi; the consequences will come back to haunt them.

Jenn said...

I saw Hunger Games this weekend and there were some YOUNG children in line. Mostly the crowd was adults and adults with teenagers, but I saw a couple kids much younger than that and was terrified for them. Apparently, some adults think it's okay to let an 8 year old watch a 17 year old kill a 12 year old with his bare hands.

Scariest movie of my childhood was a Garfield Halloween Special.

PS: Hunger Games was excellent.

Alli E. said...

We used to watch "Watcher in the Woods" all the time! It was so scary, but we could not help watching it over and over again! Wasn't it a Disney movie?

Kathy Haynie said...

I always cried during The Wizard of Oz. The old one. I'm afraid it is really true. Even for the 50s, I was a major crybaby.

And I agree w Holly about Flight of the Navigator. My kids watched it but I was creeped out.

Steven said...

THE RING! Try watching that when you're 11 years old at 3 in the morning. It was years before I could look at a blank TV screen and not get freaked out. But then I watched it again when I was 16 and was totally fine.

I love watching scary movies with you, by the way :)

Liz Johnson said...

I'd like to add my "amen" to "Babes in Toyland." Creeped me the heck out as a kid.

Jeremy Palmer said...

Shannon has it right. David Bowie freaked me the heck out as a kid. Why did these movies mess with our minds so much?

elliespen said...

"The Dark Crystal." Holy crap, I had nightmares over that one. Also "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken," but I don't think very many people know that one. (And yes, the Garfield Halloween special was terrifying when I was little.)

Glenda The Good said...

The Dark Crystal still scares me...I mean I wish I could go back in time and erase those memories :)

Elena Bebe said...

For me it's got to be Legend.
I think I watched it when I was 4. Oddly enough, I still remember it quite well.
I also vividly remember Night of the Living Dead as an extremely terrifying movie (though I didn't watch the whole thing). I must have been around 5 then.

Teresa Jane said...

When I started reading your post, I was going to comment about Flowers in the Attic! Then I read on and saw that you remembered. What a horrible movie. Watcher in the Woods was freaky. I still remember the creepy music. I totally remember watching The Fugitive with you when mom and dad were gone. Good times.


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