Monday, October 18, 2010

11 Kid Movies that Still Scare Me as an Adult

I like horror movies, believe it or not. I'm always excited to see what the next big scary film is going to be, so I can add it to my horror movie collection. But sometimes I don't need something new and over-the-top creepy to make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Sometimes all I need is to revisit the movies of my childhood.

So now, faithful readers, I'd like to present to you eleven kid movies that still scare me as an adult. What makes it a "kid movie," you may ask? Well, it usually means a G or PG-rated movie that I watched as a child. Hopefully at least one of these films still scares you, too, otherwise I'm going to look like quite the pansy.

So without further ado, here they are in order of their fear factor:

11. The Witches
I loved reading this book as a kid, so when the movie came out I was really excited to see it. I was not prepared for what I was about to see. The witches in the movie were truly horrifying. Anjelica Huston, specifically, haunted my nightmares with her long, pointy nose, purple eyes and grotesque skin. To this day, my skin starts to crawl when the witches lock the doors of the conference room and start taking off their shoes, gloves and wigs. *shudder* To this day, I'll yank on the hair of any woman who is wearing gloves. . .just to be sure.

10. Garfield's Halloween Adventure

This 1985 made-for-TV movie may have been forgotten by many, but not by me. Cliched jokes and catchy songs aside, this television special always makes me feel like I'm back in my 4th grade class, fearing that the ghost pirates are going to end up in my house or that I would run into real monsters while trick or treating. I actually did have a couple nightmares where I relived the moment when Gar-Halloween-field and Odie are hiding in the cupboard and the ghost pirate suddenly pops his head in. Yes, it's only a half-hour long, but that's plenty enough to get me into the Halloween spirit.

9. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

In case you can never remember which one is which here's a tip: The one called "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" focuses more on Charlie, whereas the one called "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" gives more background on Willy Wonka. Now you know. Regardless of which version you go with, it's always a little disturbing to have children punished in various, horrible ways in a candy factory. However, it is the 1971 version that has that freaky tunnel scene right after Augustus gets sucked into the river of reddish (probably blood) chocolate. I don't know which screenwriter was on acid, but no kid should have to see a millipede crawl across a dude's face, a giant eyeball and a chicken getting beheaded while some dude is singing/screaming at them in the midst of flashing, colored lights. That scene is messed up and it still gives me the willies (pun intended).

8. E.T.

Most people get warm, fuzzy feelings when they think about this movie. They think of cute little Drew Barrymore, they think of the iconic flying bike scene, they think of a cute little alien with a glowing heart. Me? I think of one scene and one scene only: when Elliott first runs into E.T. in the cornfield. That's right, the part where E.T. makes some weird screaming noise and Eliot screams right back. That part made me cry as a kid and I still want to close my eyes during that scene. The digitally-enhanced version makes that part significantly more cheesy-looking, but if I ever hear that noise E.T. makes while I'm walking through an alley, I can guarantee I will wet myself.

7. The Secret of NIMH
This is a dark, dark movie. Why do we even show it to children? The animation alone is enough to give a kid nightmares! Additionally, it has some very disturbing imagery and themes. Plus, this film is full of freaky eyes. The cat's eyes are freaky, the owl's eyes are freaky, the old rat's eyes are freaky, it's not normal to draw animals like that! Plus, it deals with animal experimentation and a lot of characters die! The owl chomping down on that bug is disgustingly horrifying. Even the comic relief of Jeremy the crow can't keep this movie from giving me the creeps.

6. Pee-Wee's Big Adventure

Pee-Wee Herman is inherently creepy, but he's not the reason this movie made my list of creepy kid movies. I think you all know the reason that Pee-Wee's Big Adventure is scary - say it with me: Large Marge. That scene in the movie is horrifying beginning to end! The music, the story, the way Large Marge tells the story, Pee-Wee's reaction, the lighting. . .it is all prepping you for that horrible moment when her face transforms into clay animation terrification! I remember avoiding taking a shower one night because I was convinced that Large Marge was going to be in the bathroom (she's a trucker, she hangs out at rest stops. . .it makes sense, right?). This film was Tim Burton's and Danny Elfman's big break as masters of the macabre, and I'd like to think that Large Marge had a little to do with that.

5. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

I find Disney's animated adaptation of Washington Irving's story to be much more terrifying than the Tim Burton version. Bing Crosby should have made an album telling scary stories, he has a knack for it. This whole animated short gives me the shivers. I still get goosebumps when Ichabod is riding through the dark forest near the end. It just does a great job of setting the mood for the upcoming arrival of the headless horseman. They try and put a little comic relief in during the chase, but it only enhances the fear. After all, when people laugh, they open up their emotions, which is a perfect time to strike with a scare. This one is a Halloween must and it's the one I plan to use to teach my kids to like horror movies - either this or Michael Jackson's Thriller.

4. Darby O' Gill and the Little People

Beware the Banshee! I usually watch this one during the St. Patrick's season, but it would also be appropriate for October because of those two horrifying moments when that terrible specter manifests herself. Some people say that the special effects aren't that good, but I think the shoddy special effects of the late 50's only make her more terrifying. The multicolored horse is freaky, too, but every time I hear the mournful wail in the background of the movie, I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. And I cannot confirm nor deny that I close my eyes when Darby opens the door, knowing the banshee is outside to take Katie away and we get to see a close-up of her horrible face. Thank goodness my fears are soon washed away by the soothing singing of Sean Connery.

This bizarre and twisted tale came from (where else?) George Lucas' head. Directed by Ron Howard, this fantasy film had a number of things that would haunt a child's dreams. Bavmorda, the evil queen, was frightening herself, but Patricia Hayes, the good sorceress, who is supposed to be our friend in the movie, is also terrifying. Then you have those hairy trolls crawling all over the walls who then morph into a giant two-headed fire-breathing monstrosity. However, the most disturbing part for me, still, is when Bavmorda turns our heroes into pigs. I'm not scared of humans, normally, and I'm not scared of pigs, normally, but it's that weird in between point that really freaks me out. It looks like a really painful transformation. Many people like Willow, and I do, too, but it still gives me the creeps.

2. The Dark Crystal

This film shows that Jim Henson had a dark side. This is a trippy and disturbing film. I remember being terrified as a kid that my soul would be sucked out through my eyes, and I'm pretty sure those spider-like Garthim and the vulture-like Skeksis came from someone's nightmares. And don't even get me STARTED on Aughra, the one-eyed scary seer lady! I still have a hard time watching this film as an adult. It's just such a stressful and upsetting story. I know that there are people out there who like this film, but I just don't think I'll ever show it to my children. Or maybe I will, but it will be a punishment. "You'd better stop throwing your food on the floor or I'll make you watch The Dark Crystal." "No, Dad! We'll be good, we swear!" Problem solved.

1. Watcher in the Woods

This is one of the few PG-rated horror movies out there, so it's one of the few that my parents would let me rent for sleepovers when I was a kid. It is truly frightening. They don't pull any punches in this film just because it is a Disney movie. I had nightmares about the old woman with Bette Davis eyes pushing me down into the water, about the blindfolded girl talking to me in a mirror and about my siblings suddenly saying "Nerak" in a creepy low voice. Yes, this film still scares me - I'll admit it. Although, I will admit that it got a little less scary when I watched the deleted scene where they actually show the Watcher. It looked a little too muppet-y to me. I'm not saying I wouldn't be freaked out if that thing was hovering above my bed, but sometimes things are more scary when they're not completely visible.

So there you go. Call me a fraidy cat if you want, but parts of these movies still scare me. They're not as frightening as some of the horror movies I've enjoyed as an adult, but every now and then these movies will make me want to turn on a bunch of lights in my home when I'm getting ready for bed. After all, who knows when something from my childhood will come back to haunt me?


Rosa Lee White said...

I used to have this reoccurring nightmare that all the women in my life turned into witches. I never understood what would have sparked it until now. :) That was one of the freakiest movies ever! All of these definitely deserve to be on the list. It was well worth waiting till this morning to see your post.

Sara Ann said...

I was so excited to see The Witches when it came out too! I can't believe I was 10 years old, wow, yeah that makes me feel old. I love Pee Wees Big Adventure. The first time Neil and I held hands was while watching that movie. I know. Our kids will be so proud. And Watcher in the Woods still scares the crud out of me. Have you seen "Something Wicked this way Come?" if not, add it to your list, it's freaky!

--jeff * said...

first off, how is it that i never commented on your totally subjective halloween movie list from last year?? i've got plenty to say about some of those, and i will, if i get around to leaving a comment there.

as for this batch...

garfield's halloween special: don't remember getting especially scared per se, but this is a rather creepy and macabre cartoon, with that old guy in the chair telling the pirates' tale and the actual ghosts themselves. pretty cool, but rather intense for a kids show. (do they even make holiday specials anymore?)

willy wonka: yeah, that tunnel scene is messed up, man. i remember being old enough to start noticing "what the heck are they showing in the background there??" and then being a little disturbed when i saw what it was.
the rest of the movie has moments of awesomeness (mostly gene wilder), though some of it is just goofy (mostly the oompa loompas).
nice work on distinguishing the two versions, by the way.

e.t.: yeah, i really couldn't understand the people who talk of this movie with sweet affection. when i was a little kid (i.e. until the age of 16 or 17), that "e.t. in the corn" scene scared the heck out of me every time.... as i got older, the "e.t. nasty and pale dying by the river" imagery haunted me. and those astronaut guys coming out to get eliot didn't help, either.
i'm sure it doesn't help that one of my earliest memories is going to see the movie in the theaters on its original run and being scared then.

pee-wee: it's silly and benign now, but yeah, large marge really scared me back in the day.
oddly enough, philo returning to the planet zorkon wasn't as traumatic (though i didn't see that unil i was in high school...)

watcher in the woods: HECK YES!!! to this day i still don't want to watch that movie. we watched it on the last day of school in fifth grade. i had a sleepover that night and at the end of our hallway at home is a floor to ceiling mirror. sca-ry.
that stupid movie freaked me out for... ever?

excellent list. though i don't remember really getting scared by willow. in fact, i don't remember anything about willow, except for "i remember you! i stole the baby from you while you were taking a pee-pee!" so funny...

Andrea said...

Watcher in the Woods -- one of the scariest movies ever. I hate when she's intently looking out the window into the woods and the window cracks. Or the part where she sees the girl in the coffin.

Dark Crystal is one of the best movies ever made. It scared the pants off me as a kid, but I loved it anyway. Then there was the time I saw the Skeksis in real life. Complete horror. Brilliant nonetheless.

Have you ever seen Legend? That movie is F-R-E-A-K-Y! And beautiful, and weird.

The Former 786 said...

Rosa Lee, I'm glad you feel I was justified in ignoring you guys. :)

Sara Ann and Andrea, I totally should have included Legend and Something Wicked this Way Comes! Both good selections! That would have made the list an even 13 - perfect for Halloween.

And Jeff, it's good to do film talk again. :)

jo said...

Watcher in the Woods! Aaaaa! I agree with you 100%. I mean, that voice that keeps saying "Nerak" still gives me the shivers.

Bethany said...

The Hobbit was right up there with The Secret of Nimh for me. Both were freaky and my sister loved watching them!

Oddly enough, Willow never scared me. It has some really scary parts, especially for a kid, but I was fine with them. I guess it was the dark cartoons that got me. And of course, Watcher in the Woods. How could that not scare a little kid (and adults)?

Real Whipped Topping said...

As soon as I saw this I scrolled down to make sure that you are a sane person by putting "Watcher in the Woods" as #1. I can't even get my wife to discuss watching it, it scares her so bad. Alex Kirry.

The Former 786 said...

I'm glad to see that Watcher in the Woods is genuinely terrifying to people other than me. We should have a viewing party or something to all get over our fears.

It's been a long time since I watched The Hobbit, Bethany, I'll have to give it another chance.