Horror Movies that scar children...
Deep down, we all hate clowns. They're loud, in your face, and rarely ever funny. Plus, their face paint always make them look like they're frowning and angry. Using a scary clown in your horror film feels almost like cheating.
There have been many scary clowns, but none take the cake like Pennywise. Played to utter perfection by Tim Curry, Pennywise succeeds as both a regular clown and a homicidal one, which is key when it comes to giving kids nightmares for the rest of their life.
If you're a kid, just keep telling yourself, "It's not real. It's not real." If you're an adult, just keep telling yourself, "It's not just a giant spider. It's not just a giant spider."
This horror film seems tailor made to scar children. As adults, we know better than to fear a stupid little doll that can be thrown across the room. But children don't have this much common sense. Besides, they're a lot closer to Chucky's size, so maybe he would be harder to physically deal with at an age when you have yet to mentally unite dolls and fireworks.
Chucky not only wants to kill and probably rape your mommy, but he fully intends to steal your body first. And because it's a transfer, you get stuck inside a doll for the rest of your life. That's a lot to consider when the lights go out and you're surrounded by stuffed animals.
Pet Sematary would be scary enough for children simply because it features a really cute little kid getting smeared by a semi truck, then coming back to life as a demon child who kills his own mother.
But that's not even the scariest part of the film. Pet Sematary doesn't start supplying nightmares wholesale until Zelda shows up. This memorable movie monster is actually just a girl whose sickness turns her into a twisted witch. The only thing worse than having a monstrous sister is spooning slop into her weird mouth everyday. She doesn't work so well on adults, but no one who met Zelda as a child ever forgot her.
A lot of people see The Exorcist as a nightmare for mothers, but it's very much a nightmare for little kids, too. Unless you think being forced to stab your privates with a crucifix and growing a demon face sounds like a gentle daydream, that is. The idea that your body could simply be abducted and used like that is pretty horrible even to kids who think projectile vomiting and head-spinning sounds like fun.
And in the newer version, kids have the whole "spider-walking" scene to deal with, which will give you nightmares no matter how old you are.
The Ring is scary for both children and adults simply because Samara's J-horror moves are unnerving no matter how old you are. But for a kid she's extra scary because kids watch everything, especially things that are off limits. It's easy to imagine going through a bunch of your parents' stuff and unknowingly coming across Samara's video. Sorry kid. There go your plans to grow up to be a cowboy. Speaking of cowboys, kids tend to love horses. This film does not love horses.
That aside, Samara kills you by climbing through your TV set, a concept which places the entire world of television under new, menacing light. In other words, if you want your little ones to stop watching TV, try showing them The Ring.
Silent Night, Deadly Night
Silent Night, Deadly Night is about a kid who witnesses a man dressed like Santa Claus kill his parents. When he grows up, he dons a Santa Claus suit himself and goes on a murderous rampage of his own.
This film scars kids in a number of ways. First, it's a bad way to find out that department store Santas aren't the real deal. Second, the mean spirited violence and rape scenes will probably traumatize young eyes so bad that they, too, ultimately go on to kill people while dressed as Santa. And three, they might decide they want to watch Silent Night, Deadly Night 2.
It's bad enough to have an abusive alcoholic dad who breaks your arm. It's worse when he's doing everything in his power to chop you up with an ax. You use your psychic abilities to call for help, but your savior gets taken out the moment he arrives. If the adult world can't help you, to whom can you turn?
Any kid out there with mean fathers ought to steer clear of The Shining. The only thing worse than being hunted by someone in your own family is having visions of twins who throw rivers of blood at you, and the kid in this film has both. It also has Jack Nicholson making out with a hideous old hag, which is simply not a safe sight for childhood.
On top of all that: the Furry scene.
Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter
Out of all the Friday the 13th films, this one is especially ill-suited for children. You might not think that since the main character, Tommy Jarvis, is a really cool kid who pulls off the remarkable feat of chopping Jason Voorhees into what would probably be a very expensive Japanese delicacy. In that sense, it's kind of a rally cry for little kids everywhere.
But that ignores the idea that Jason first kills Tommy's mother. This is unsettling not just because it's really scary for a kid to lose their only parent, but because Jason seems a lot less fun when he's taking out innocent single mothers. That's probably why her death occurs offscreen. Otherwise the little kid inside all of us would be scarred.
Poltergeist II is nowhere near as good as its predecessor, but it has enough crazy stuff going on to justify its existence. For instance, there's a scene where Craig T. Nelson drinks a possessed tequila worm and throws up a big snot monster five minutes later. But that's nothing. This is a film where a kid gets attacked by his own braces.
If you never had braces, lucky you. If you did, then you know just how terrifying this scene plays for someone whose mouth is packing more chrome than a Harley. Of all the crazy things to come after you, your braces are probably the last you'd expect and the last you'd want.
Let the Right One In
Friends are great, aren't they? Even if you're friend is a vampire, that's still pretty good. And if you have to stay with that friend until you die of old age, that just means you were meant to be together forever. And if you need to spend that time murdering people so your friend can drink their blood, I guess you... I think maybe you should get a new friend.
It's possible that kids watching Let the Right One In only see how cool it would be to have a vampire killing all your enemies, but I don't think that's very likely. Kids are generally smart enough to understand how horrifying the ending of this movie is. If they know what's good for them, they'll be too scarred to ever become friends with anyone ever again.
Speaking of friends and speaking of vampires, this slightly cheesy adaptation of Stephen King's Salem's Lot happens to contain one scene that will really mess with kids.
A description just won't do it justice. It's a simple "let me in" scene between two boys, one of whom is a vampire. It's been done before and since in countless vampire movies, but this one is special thanks to the eerie sound of the vampire's nails impatiently tapping against the glass. The moment is over almost as soon as it begins, but it was enough to scar countless children who walked into the living room at exactly the wrong time.
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