5 movies that scared the bejeezus out of me as a kid (and still do)

You can all pretty much come up with at least one movie that freaked that living crap out of you as a child, right? The sleeping-with-head-under-covers, unable-to-look-into-mirrors, jump-into-bed-from-10-feet-away kind? Yeah, I do too. It only took a minute for me to come up with a list of 5 to Justin, who, with eyes wide, nodded silently in agreement. We were both like, “YOU TOO!? HOLY MOTHER, SCARIEST MOVIE OF MY LIFE.”

So in very particular order, here are my top 5 scariest childhood movies:

5. Ernest Scared Stupid

Okay. I know this may make me seem like an incredibly huge wimp because Ernest movies are just about as un-scary as you can get, but THE TROLL. Holy mother, the TROLL. He turned kids into little dolls. Appeared in their bedrooms and turned. them. into. dolls. CAN’T HANDLE IT. As much as I hated this movie, I feel like I watched it at least 30 times as a kid for some reason. Why did I torture myself so?!

The first 30 seconds of this should explain.

And also, this photo…

“Wacky”? NO.

4. The NeverEnding Story

Some people LOVE The NeverEnding Story, like my best friend in 3rd grade and her little sister.  (Hi Jocelyn and Ellen!) There are so many disturbing things that happen, I just can’t even imagine why this was meant for kids to watch!

The horse getting sucked into the quicksand made me cry every time. Any time horses die, it’s over and the movie is dead to me. What about the huge statues in the desert with the big naked boobies? You know, the ones that SHOOT FREAKING LAZERS and fry people up like bacon? My friend would pop that movie in the VCR every time I’d come over for a slumber party and I always had to psyche myself up it for it. I’d be all, “Hold it together, Mo. Just another hour until it’s over and then we can — NOOOOO! DON’T LOOK INTO IT’S EYES!”…



Then there’s the fact that I’m 25 years old and I still don’t understand what any of it meant.

3. Gremlins

Let me just say that whoever came up with the idea of Furbys was one sick mofo.

“Hey! Remember that movie from the 80’s with those creatures that turn evil and try to kill you if they eat after midnight?  Well I just had an amazing idea for a children’s toy… and the best part? THEY TALK!”

Scarred. For. Life.

2. Hansel and Gretel

A lot of people haven’t seen this version of Hansel and Gretel. Basically, Cloris Leachman plays the witch who lures children to her gingerbread house, traps them in large cages, forces them to eat sweets to fatten up, then dips them in a large vat of batter and fries them in oil to become life-sized gingerbread cookies that she then eats. Not creepy at all.

The 6:00-7:00ish mark should put some hair on your chest:

I know you’re there… I CAN SMELL YOU!

1. Return to Oz

Easily, without any hesitation, the most frightening, disturbing, nightmare-inducing movie of my childhood AND adulthood.

Take a ride back to Oz with Dorothy Gail and her talking chicken. There you will see the ruins that was once the beautiful Emerald City, where headless dancing women have been turned to stone.

Look out for the wheelers! Those guys’ll getcha!

And if you happen to find yourself in a room full of disembodied heads, try not to make too much noise.

Holy frick. I just peed a little.

Having to search for these photos made me relive the horrors and I actually found myself covering up the computer screen with my hand. Not even kidding.

So there they are, people. The five creepiest movies of my young life. What are yours?

44 thoughts on “5 movies that scared the bejeezus out of me as a kid (and still do)

  1. O M G! I have been wondering what nightmare of a movie the headless women and witch that I saw at a birthday party a long, long time ago was! :(

  2. Ok. Now I have the theme song for the Neverending Story stuck in my head. I agree, the horse scene sucked, but I always liked the rest of it. I also really liked Labyrinth with David Bowie as a kid. :)

  3. How did you miss Something Wicked This Way Comes? Hello? I still have a hard time going to a fair. But the scariest person in a movie has to be the child catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (when he’s peddling candy to catch the kids and turns his head upside down to look in the basement window where the kids are while saying “all free today”…just got chills). Man, adults really wanted to scare the living daylights out of kids years ago. Well played filmakers, well played.

  4. Get out of my head. No, really.
    I never liked Ernest movies, so I was lucky enough to have missed that crazy troll movie.
    My mom wouldn’t let me watch Gremlins. And now they just look like Furby dolls to me. Am I the only one that remembers those things?
    Neverending Story was my jam. I watched it constantly as a child. I was convinced that wolf was going to come through the TV and eat me. And what is up with that dog’s nipples?
    That Hansel and Gretel movie scared the pee out of me as a kid, and watching that clip just now didn’t help. Who eats kids?
    Return to Oz is the weirdest mess I’ve ever seen. I still have nightmares about the wheelers. I thought I was the only one that had ever seen this because everyone thinks I’m crazy when I try to explain it. I’m glad it scarred someone else’s childhood, too.
    And let me add this version of Alice in Wonderland to your list: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088693/. I was inexplicably scared of the Jabberwocky. And Carol Channing as the White Queen? That, my children, is why you should never do drugs.

    Thanks for sharing! (And sorry for the novel of a comment.)

  5. love it!! ohmorgosh my brother and i quote hansel and gretel to each other ALL THE TIME. we’re obsessed. and ernest scared stupid scared the stupid crap out of me also!

  6. I am so glad that I’m not the only one fah-reaked out by Ernest Scared Stupid. That part where the girl finally getse the courage to look under her bed and then sits back up on the bed and turns over to see the troll next to her ON THE BED?! I almost died. And now, at 28 years-old, I still think about that if I’m by myself at night. Scarred for life, I tell ya!

  7. My mother never censored the television that we watched as kids (what was she thinking??!) so to me, those movies are kids movies. The ones that scare me as a kid were all the Freddy Kruger and Jason movies that our baby sitter would bring for us to watch (I was just 6 years old!) and I distinctly remember being scared crapless when my mom took us, TOOK US! to see Alive, Pumpkin Head, and Lord of the Flies.
    For some reason, I don’t really enjoy going to movies now…weird!

  8. I was never really scared of the Neverending Story movie, but the book scared the living daylights out of me. I used to have nightmares. But I loved it! And I used to love the movie as well, but then I bought it on DVD a while ago (“I used to love this!”), and was sadly disappointed :(

  9. @Kristen: OMG, YES! I still have nightmares about the way he peeks into the window where the kids are hiding. !!!!!!!!!!! Good call on that one.

  10. @Allison: No, thank you for the novel, I love it! I’ve heard about the Jabberwocky from that movie, but I haven’t seen it. The cover image alone is creepy… the white rabbit and mad hatter?! HOLY S.

  11. @Hesper: THAT is the exact part I was thinking of while writing this post! WHAT THE HECK. Who makes kid movies like that?! We were doomed to never sleep again.

  12. What ever happened to Ernest? Like, where did he go? Not that I miss him, I’m just curious.

    Chucky scared the bejesus out of me when I was little. Like, I had nightmares for MONTHS.

  13. Return to Oz was one of my favorites growing up! It never even crossed by mind to be creepy.

    Another favorite that is probably more freaky, The Labyrinth!
    (creepo David Bowie)

  14. Gremlins was pretty scary. So was Chucky and all of it’s sequels. I haven’t messed with a doll since.

    Also the Grinch in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. That particular scene when he smiles really wide, ever so slowly and menacingly. *SHIVER* (Did I mention I mean the cartoon version? Bc that was scary enough before I watched the “real-life” version)


  15. Return to Oz was scary! I never understood how it was the sequel though? The whole movie is pretty dark and demented.

  16. OMG Gremlins is so scary. That scary Gremlins photo and the Hansel and Gretel one… nightmares tonight!
    Apparently when I was young I was so scared of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I don’t remember it at all though!

  17. YES!! All of those plus LEPRECHAUN!!!!

    Holy crap that movie scares me even now.

    And I agree with you on the dying horse thing. Game over. Immediately.

  18. Hansel and Gretel scared me as a kid too! I think it was a “TV” movie in the 80’s.. When I was watching the clip you posted, my husbands all “What are you watching?” and proceeds to tell me he’s downloading the full movie tonight so I can re-live my childhood fears!!! Yikes!

  19. Mine was Jaws and Amintyville. Couldn’t go in a pool without checking the deep end for sharks for, like, a year. And amnityville, when the lady is looking out into the evening from her second story window and two red eyes pop up. I absolutely lo ed neverending stoey tho.

  20. Honestly, the more morbid and scary the child movie was the better! But I’m a morbid person lol

    My stepbrother was afraid of the movie “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”. Cute and harmless to most but to a 5 year old boy the Child Catcher was someone to be afraid of and he frequently had nightmares about him.

    BTW, stumbledupon your blog the other day and I’m in love with your crafts and your daughter is so adorable!

  21. You are noy alone with Earnest T! That troll still freaks me out. I Love the Wizard of Oz…i dont how I would handle watching the return..it does look scary!

  22. My grandpa was babysitting my little brother and I when I was about 7 and he let us watch Pet Semetary. Oh my God, the nightmares. But the one that freaked me out the most was The Peanut Butter Solution. No one I’ve ever met has ever even heard of it, but it’s supposed to be a family movie and instead scared the crap out of me. I just went and watched the trailer on YouTube and they try to say it’s a comedy, but trust me, it isn’t.

  23. ET scared me – when he gets sick and turns white. I remember bawling hysterically and my mom was like “It’s just a movie! He’ll get better!” and I was all “TURN IT OFF NOWWWW PLEEEASE!” The only thing that came close to scaring me that much was the Thriller video.

  24. Hands down, The Brave Little Toaster. That dream sequence with the clown…I would literally run and hide under the dining room chairs.

    Also? Jurassic Park. I had to leave the theater, I could not deal. In 6th grade my boyfriend sat me down and made me watch “just the scary parts” in an effort to get me over my fear.

  25. OMG, this is why I love you! First, I such a megacrush on ATREYU, holy crap! Second, I totally forgot about Hazel and Gretel, I don’t remember anything but Cloris’ face. Third, THANK GOD someone else besides me remembers Return to Oz and the crazy heads!

  26. Even though I never actually saw Freddy Kruger it still gave my nightmares–into adulthood. The movie previews on tv and the posters around town were enough. As an adult I learned that he gets into your dreams and then the nightmares started all over again. Also, I saw the Are You Afraid of the Dark? opener recently and practically wet my pants. I had no idea I was still scared!

  27. Oh my goodness you hit the nail on the head with Return to Oz. That movie was soo weird and those Wheeler guys were a thing of my nightmares. Who makes this stuff?!

    This one probably makes me sound super wimpy but I had a huge fear of the movie Hook when I was little, and embarrassingly enough, I still avoid it! I loved the Peter Pan cartoon so I don’t really know what the deal is but I just find it so creepy! There’s the Boo Box and the whole Rufio scene towards the end.. creeped me out so bad.

  28. OH MY WORD! YES! Those are ALL movies that scared me at times during my childhood. I also *hated* ET, and so does my husband, thankfully. I saw that Alice in Wonderland many times, it was a made for tv movie. Soooo long (it was aired in two parts because it was so long!) and scary too! I’ll never forget the song from that movie that goes “Jam tomorrow, jam yesterday, but never ever jam today”. LOL. Another scary movie I haven’t seen mentioned in the comments is Pee-wee’s Big Adventure. Here’s the clip- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzolCu-QLw0 My dad would watch this scene OVER AND OVER in SLOW motion, I kid you not, back when VCRs had a slow button. I was TERRIFIED as a kid. Oh wait, here’s a clip exactly like what my dad would do! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjL7NoWiwd8&feature=related Watching it just now made me crack up though.
    Also, all of the Indiana Jones movies. Ripping hearts out of humans, burning people alive in a fire pit, skulls, bugs, snakes, the guy drinking from the wrong cup and decaying rapidly, gives me shudders just thinking about it. I have no idea why my parents EVER let us watch these!! We’d be running out of the room crying while my dad watched all of this stuff, and yes, with the freaking slow-mo (he’s insane, I know, the things parents do to traumatize their kids)!
    Morgan, I love you! Thanks for the flashbacks. Even if I’m now terrified to walk into a room alone.

  29. Oh, and I don’t think my husband will ever watch NeverEnding Story again in his life. The Nothing and the crazy wolf scared him so bad as a kid! I don’t think you could pay him to watch that movie again.

  30. Holy crap, man, I just watched Return to Oz the other night. I got it on DVD awhile back just for nostalgia’s sake, but dude…those Wheelers still creep me out. And when Dorothy’s in the hospital and the girl says the screaming is the patients who’ve been “damaged?” Yowza. Scary.

    Ever seen “Watcher in the Woods?” It’s a freaking Disney movie and scary as all get out. I didn’t watch it as a kid, but my husband’s school showed it to his class when he was a kid…in freaking elementary school!

  31. I just watched Return to OZ the the day because I wanted to see if it was like what I remembered. Holy crap is that movie creepy! What twisted mind came up with that film and though ” Hey, let’s make this a Disney movie for kids?” The whole thing about her getting electrocuted because shes everyone thinks she crazy? Was the producer on drugs??

  32. Finally….someone who understands a scary movie when they see it. I will never ever again…in all my life….watch The Never Ending Story. Seriously….it’s just sick.

  33. My mom was really strict on the movies she let us kids watch. We weren’t allowed to watch PG movies until we were in our upper teens. But…we still watched some movies that SCARED the crap out of me. For instance, The Great American Tale (Fievel) gave me nightmares for months. Yup. I’m that pathetic.

  34. yes yes yes. I agree with ALL of these. Never ending story freaked the heck out of me. So twisted and strange!? That and Labyrinth…. David Bowie was just too odd….

  35. I just watched Return to Oz for the first time in my life (and I’m 30) last month on cable and it scared the crap out of me. Those scary monkey wheeler things OMG! My boyfriend thought I was nuts. I’m glad I’m not alone. However I agree all of those were scary as a kid.

  36. It was a book that I remember totally freaking me out as a kid. My first grade teacher read “Tailypo” to us near Halloween. If you haven’t heard of it, this man is out hunting and only manages to cut the tail off this big creature. Having nothing else to eat, the man cooks and eats the tail only to have the beast come to get it’s tail back that night when the Man’s in bed.

    We were poor. Dad hunted quite often to supplement our diets. Had me jumping at every little noise when he brought home a kill for years! Rebounded big time when he started teaching me how to hunt seven years later. Still gives me the shivers if I recall it, especially on nights the neighborhood dogs are riled up.

    That said, children’s movies today, even the dark ones, are nothing compared with children’s tales of old. The original fairy tales were dark, bloody, and gruesome before Disney sanitized them. And the actual legends about the fair folk are nothing at all like Tinkerbel and her bunch. They’re much more like Bowie’s Jareth from Labrynth.

  37. @Amanda E: NO JOKE, I was going to write about Tailypo! My 3rd grade teacher read it to us and it gave me nightmares for years (once I was able to fall asleep again). Horrible, horrible, horrible.

  38. OMG. I’m a new reader, and I was just scrolling through when I found this post and nearly had a fit. These movies freaked me out, too!

    I recently re-watched The Neverending Story, and it holds up. They don’t make them like this anymore. A few other (scary) favorites of mine: Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal.

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