12 Movie Scenes That Terrified Us As Kids

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Vote up the movie scenes that scared you as kids.

Everybody has a pile of movies they watched too early. Sometimes seeing those movies early is a badge of honor among friends, meaning you either braved something your friends couldn't or you learned something that at the time was nothing but myth whispered in hush tones at the playground.

Other times, though, you weren't ready for the movie you saw, and a scene or two really sticks with you badly. These are just a few of the scenes that rattled us for years and years after we saw them.


  • I grew up in a household where horror movies weren’t a part of our entertainment diet. Now we weren’t weird religious people, it just wasn’t something we watched. But then one night, after driving for hours in the desert on a winter night, we arrived at my uncle’s house and he had this newfangled device called a VCR. So with all the lights turned off and the fireplace roaring I finally got to see my first horror movie: Poltergeist

    I had no idea that horror movies could be fun. Or that parents could smoke pot without any negative repercussions. I also didn’t know that I should be scared of clown dolls that come to life and attack you in your own bedroom. The poor son in the movie already had a tree try to eat him and now this clown doll is trying to kill him. It’s not only terrifying, it’s rude. 

    The thing that stuck with me in this movie is that it’s the first time I remember seeing a misdirect in a movie. When the kid thinks the clown is under his bed, he very slowly reaches down to look and… nothing! Phew, all good then! But the camera pans up and the clown is right next to him! What the heck? I thought we were safe. I was tricked and I loved it. Kudos Tobe Hooper (or Steven Spielberg according to rumors). 

    Either way, a lifelong love of horror was born that night as well as the knowledge to never feel safe until the credits roll.

    -Mark Rennie

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  • 'It' - The Opening Scene
    Photo: It/ABC

    Scores of Xennial and Millennial kids remember all too well tuning in to ABC on a typical fall evening in 1990 and having the absolute crap scared out of them. Such was the case with It, the beloved Stephen King miniseries that turned a generation of children into coulrophobics. And the TV movie didn’t waste any time going for the proverbial jugular: not even three and a half minutes into the film, evil shapeshifting clown Pennywise (Tim Curry) straight-up murders an innocent little girl named Laurie Anne (Chelan Simmons). The act itself isn’t shown, but the blood-curdling screams of Marianne’s mother (Merrilyn Gann) are more effective than any on-screen violence could ever achieve.

    But as far as scenes that scar a young mind for life go, the real winner of It is the first flashback to the 1960s, a now-iconic moment of horror that no ’90s kid can ever forget. This is of course the sad fate of Georgie Denbrough (Tony Dakota), who wanted nothing more but to play with his newspaper boat in the rain, and ends up in the literal jaws of the vile clown, who is hanging out down in the sewer, by the way. Again, there’s no blood in the scene, but it doesn’t need to be: the shot of Georgie screaming as Pennywise, fangs protruded, yanks at his arm is quite enough. Kids across the nation have been avoiding sewer grates and opting for magicians at their birthday parties ever since.

    -Chris Schultz

  • Part vulture, part dinosaur, but with the fashion sense of Miss Havisham decades after her wedding, we all knew the Skeksis were bad news for all creatures that dwelled on Thra. But the poor, poor Pod People didn't deserve this fate. They just wanted to sing and dance and raise Gelfling foundlings in peace. In the '80s, kids were forced to watch in horror as a poor Pod person was strapped into a seat and was forced to gaze upon the Dark Crystal. Slowly, their lifeforce drained from them, turning them skeletal. As their eyes dulled and their breathing became labored, they finally stopped struggling and gave up, becoming a mindless drone, fit to do nothing but serve the evil Skeksis. The scene is awful and scary, especially knowing that this was the fate of all of Kira's kinsmen...and eventually, Kira herself.

    -Erin Maxwell

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  • The first time I saw Who Framed Roger Rabbit I was entirely too young and entirely alone. That proved a potent combination during the movie's climax when Judge Doom is literally steamrolled – which doesn't kill him but reveals that he was a toon all along. The way he slowly reinflates, the camera showing his hands and legs filling with air, and his eyes popping out of his skull to reveal his deranged toon eyes certainly rattled me, but it was his flattening that stuck with me for years. Maybe it was the slightly janky mid-'80s CGI, but the way he peeled himself off the ground and awkward shuffled over to the air tank lived rent-free in my head. I wouldn't watch Who Framed Roger Rabbit alone for nearly a decade.

    Flat Doom didn't just haunt my dreams though, he haunted me while I was awake too. When I was growing up we had a bar room in our basement that had no windows which made it inky dark unless a light was on and I became convinced that flat, floppy Doom was hiding just inside those shadows waiting for me to slip up. My parents learned about this fear and instead of consoling me, they weaponized it. Growing up I played a bit too many video games and to help combat that Mom and Dad moved my system into the basement knowing I hated being down there alone. Occasionally, I braved the dark to play but for no more than 30-45 minutes at a time. Flat Doom cutting into my N64 time may have been the most monstrous thing he ever did to me.

    -Jacob Bryant

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