15 Scary Movies We Were Much Too Young To See

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Nerve readers on the films that haunted their childhood dreams.

Some childhood experiences are universal: Saturday-morning cartoons, chocolate-chip cookie dough, after-school babysitters with mean children who force you to watch movies that are much too terrifying for a kid your age while their mother smokes cigarettes in the backyard…  So, in honor of the release today of Scream 4, we asked our readers to reminisce with us. 


When I was in the fourth grade my friend's mother — she was one of those cool, divorcee moms — let us rent, The Exorcist, widely known as one of the most terrifying films ever created. After turning out the lights and enduring the entire Satan-and-vomit-filled movie, we tried to go to sleep. In the middle of the night I sat straight up in bed and let out a bloodcurdling scream (much like the young lady in the film, The Exorcist). It turned out I also had strep throat and a fever of 102 degrees. Visions of demonic possession and crucifix masturbation had become mixed into my hallucinatory fever dreams to create a terror I've never forgotten. — Kelly



My aunts and uncles all piled into a pitch-black room to watch Child's Play, and decided to take their four-year-old nephew with them, of course. After the movie was over, they sent me back to my room full of toys. Way to go. — David


Puppet Master scared the crap out of me when I was five or so. My older brother made me watch it with him, because he was too afraid to watch it himself. To this day, I can't sleep with my feet uncovered for fear of having them cut off. Closet doors must be closed at night, and there cannot be any dolls near me in the dark. I am still mad at my brother for this, and it's been twenty-one years. — Renee


Event Horizon. I was eighteen when I rented it on VHS at the local video store I worked at in 1999. I don't know if it was all the doomsday talk running rampant or if it was just a late night with too much sugar (perhaps the fermented kind) in my system, but for some reason the tiny possibility that there might actually be a hell crept into my mind. To this day, I can't travel through space using an artificially created black hole without pissing myself. — Frank


Don't be Afraid of the Dark. 1973, seven-years old. I still think that someone is under my bed, staircase, or dining room table. Thank God my name isn't Sally. — Johanna


Fire in the Sky. I was five-years old and my mom told me not to watch it when she was flipping through the channels… then she left, so I put it back on. Basically a guy gets abducted by aliens and dragged down a spaceship hallway where the aliens stick shit in his eyes. Then the guy comes home and has flashbacks of his abduction. It's not a children's movie. — Katie


The Exorcist. I was nine-years old, and my mom left us with a babysitter. I begged and begged her to let me watch it. She relented. I was tormented for years after, and would awake thinking my bed was shaking! — Jacqueline


I was raised on scary movies and spent my childhood afraid of everything. (Thanks, Dad!) But, the first was when I was four. It was a B movie called Squirm. It can pretty much be summed up in four words: worms in the shower. I still hate it. — Krystal


The Serpent and The Rainbow. I was eleven or twelve. I wandered in and out of the room while the adults were watching. Around the scene where he hallucinates with his "spirit" jaguar and is then pulled into the ground by all the zombified hands. Finally, in my late twenties, I bought it on DVD and forced myself to watch it in its entirety. Didn’t work. I still have nightmares of being dragged into my grave and am occasionally petrified to walk over certain patches of grass. — Jamay


Nightmare on Elm Street 3, at the age of six. I might have been okay, but my then-ten-year-old brother made a glove out of real knives, and traumatized me by running them down the door jamb while I was trying to sleep. — Carla


I watched Dead Ringers with my parents when I was way too young, probably about six or seven. To this day I refuse to see a male gynecologist, yet oddly, I have a thing for Jeremy Irons. — Nicole


Children of the Corn, on a half-day from first grade. Also, my older cousin: a bastard. — Rachael


The 1988 remake of The Blob. It wasn't even the whole movie that frightened my six-year-old brain, just the preview. A man's head is sucked through a drain pipe. That this was even a possible outcome of approaching a sink crippled me. — Anthony


Stephen King's It. Clowns were already creepy. And then that clown sucked the little boy into the gutter and ate him. — Will


When I was fifteen, I spent a summer night doing two things that ended very badly: drinking a disgusting mix of alcoholic beverages all poured into one large plastic cup, and watching Requiem For a Dream. I'm not sure if it was the alcohol or the scene where that guy throws up into the instant mashed potatoes, but I definitely ended up puking my guts out that night. For weeks, all I could think about were talking refrigerators, Jared Leto's blistered arm, and crowds of men surrounding Jennifer Connelly screaming "come! come!" I still feel nauseous when someone suggests revisiting that movie. — Libby