I was never taught ‘Stranger Danger’ when I was a kid. After the first few years spent raising an overly obnoxious child, my parents seemed to adopt a very “que sera, sera” attitude with regards to my health and safety. I was so busy being a walking ball of annoyance myself, that I don’t think I ever realized what true terror was until I was introduced to movie monsters that were decidedly different than the kooks Scooby-Doo routinely tangled with.
I know, I know. People are scary because they’re real. But for me, and I’m sure plenty of other horror fans out there, the scariest stars will always be the unknown, un-nameable things. The things that never were and never will be human. This list is for those who both delight and despair in our creature features, and who know exactly what I mean when I say I check under my bed every night praying the noise I heard was simply an axe murderer and there will only be two eyes staring back at me.
Let’s take a look at some of the stuff that kills childhood.
Pennywise is an obvious choice when talking about the destruction of childhood, what with his main choice of victim being children and all. Clowns are pretty damn ass scary on their own, but Pennywise is no ordinary clown. It knows what you fear most, and It gleefully takes advantage of that in the most horrifying of ways. As the movie or book (pick your medium) progresses into terrifying madness, I don’t think anyone was surprised that Stan took his own life rather than again face Pennywise the Clown/Bob Gray/Eater of Worlds–It.
Definitely one that makes you want to barricade yourself in your house for a decade or two. The Thing’s ability to replicate is unnerving to say the least, and the idea of not being able to trust anyone who isn’t actively sporting an earring or blatantly showcasing their fillings makes me sweat. Plus, it isn’t like the killings in this movie are quick and efficient! There’s a good amount of blood and pain and fire and darkness ’cause they’re in Antarctica and ugh just talking about The Thing gets my heart rate up so high that I’m ready to move on right now.
“But that’s not even a horror movie!” I can already hear the indignant taps of your fingers typing out the most obvious complaint to this choice. Well, IMDB classifies this as a horror, and that’s good enough for me, because to this day, Gremlins is the ONLY movie I cannot watch. Just thinking about having to add a picture to this one is making me feel physically ill. There is something so unspeakably wrong about those freakin’ creatures that I just do not understand how dumbass Billy took one look at Gizmo and didn’t throw him in the fireplace. Yeah, that’s right. I don’t find anything about Gizmo cute and fluffy, and frankly every character’s inability to see what obvious Hell spawn these things were right from the get-go makes me wish the whole cast was killed off. Because that’s how people learn.
There’s no lack of demons to pick from, but I felt the demon that (arguably) started it all was the best choice. For some reason, I’ve met more than a handful of horror fans that cited ‘The Exorcist’ as their very first horror movie. Lax parenting, I tell ya. Besides being such a significant film genre- and studio-wise, the demon from ‘The Exorcist’ is one of the more intense demons I’ve ever seen portrayed. The staircase scene from ‘Annabelle’ had a lot of us on the edge of our seat, and that jump scare in ‘Insidious’ with the demon face elicited gasps from around the theater, but in what other movie have you seen a possessed child do the things Regan did? Masturbating with the crucifix and then shoving her mother’s face into the blood….that’s hardcore, especially for a movie from 1973.
I didn’t know how to feel when I finally sat down and watched this movie. I love dogs! Love dogs, hate people, this should have been right up my alley. But wow…Cujo was maybe a tad scary? I mean, put yourself in Donna’s shoes and suddenly you’re faced with man’s best friend being completely unfriendly, and that is confusing stuff. It’s like eating so much ice cream you throw up, and you’re like, “hey man, wait a second. Ice cream isn’t supposed to do that.”
Whether you have a natural (and entirely healthy, thank you very much) fear of sharks or not, Jaws is a scary son of a bitch! You can’t deny this movie had a powerful effect on audiences. With over 67 million Americans seeing ‘Jaws’ the summer it was released, the first blockbuster was affecting up to 43% of viewers with a long standing fear of the ocean. If you can go swimming without hearing the iconic, ominous score playing in your head, congratulations; you’re a freak who’s never seen the movie.
I just have to throw this one out there–I had issues with bubblegum for a long time after seeing this. I know The Blob was not bubblegum, I know bubblegum cannot turn around and chew ME…but I was a kid, ok?
Always a fun one, and always a title that inevitably comes up when people discuss their most traumatic childhood movie. I’m not saying it wasn’t good, I’m saying it was so good that the long lasting effects of that chest-burster scene are the reason I don’t have any kids. A parasite growing inside me until it becomes too big and forces its way out? No thanks; I saw what happened to Kane.
This list is by no means all inclusive (I had one shamefaced suggestion for ‘Leprechaun,’ but I assume after ‘Gremlins’ made the list my credibility is already fast declining), but these are certainly the monsters that instilled in me the practice of checking my closet every night before I get into bed. I hope, for your sake, you’ll do the same tonight.