20 Scary Movies That Left Us Traumatized for Life

Pet Sematary

Some movies are so disturbing that they stick with you for life. Whether it’s a plot twist, a creepy villain, or graphic scenes you can’t forget, they leave a lasting impression. A group of online forum members shared stories about the movies that scarred them. 

1. Event Horizon (1997)

Event Horizon
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Just when you thought this was a movie about space and the inner astronaut in you was going to get to learn about black holes and other cool stuff–think again. This movie is not for children! Traumatizing, confusing, gory, take your pick. Event Horizon was overwhelming as a kid!  

2. The Ring (2002)

The Ring
Image Credit: DreamWorks Pictures.

The Ring was awful to watch as a child because any static on a TV screen made you bug out. Also, you felt like you had watched the tape yourself, so you thought you only had seven days left to live. It was a horrible experience. Talk about being unable to watch TV back in the day when there was static on the screen. 

3. Candyman (1992)

Image Credit: TriStar Pictures.

Many contributors to the online thread mention that Candyman may not have had a good story, but standing in the mirror and saying his name five times was scary and intriguing. But why would any of us do that? 

Well, I did it to prove that I wasn’t scared. And then I spent like two weeks looking over my shoulder because I had mild anxiety. I couldn’t rewatch that film until I became an adult, and I still felt some kind of way at the end! 

4. The Human Centipede (2009)

The Human Centipede
Image Credit: Bounty Films.

In all fairness, most people in my age range saw The Human Centipede as a teenager. That did not help at all. It was still so gross and disturbing that you needed a barf bag to watch it. For me, the body horror genre had reached its peak with this disgusting fantasy flick. I would never watch that again, purely because of how unnerving it was from a depravity perspective.  

5. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)

Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Image Credit: New Line Cinema.

The idea that a leather-faced murderous man walks around with a chainsaw is bizarre. Add in a creepy little town, and the fact that his whole family is in on the plot to lure innocent victims to their demise just makes it all the worse. 

As an adult, I thought it was a good horror flick, but as a child, I have no idea why I would even try to watch a movie like that. The graphic nature of the death scenes was intense, to say the least. 

6. Child’s Play (1988)

Child's Play
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Watching Child’s Play was one of those experiences where even if you saw it at an age where you’re old enough to understand dolls couldn’t come to life, you still side-eyed all the dolls in the toy store. Several people mentioned that they no longer wanted their Barbies, action figures, or stuffed animals after seeing Chucky in action. And I can’t blame them; why even risk it? No thanks! 

7. Jaws (1975)

Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

No kid in my neighborhood wanted to swim at any beach, lake, or other body of water after seeing Jaws. Multiple individuals online agreed that you understood a great white shark couldn’t possibly be in a lake, but it didn’t matter. This movie took one of the most enjoyable activities (swimming) and made it absolutely terrifying. 

8. Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

The Nightmare on Elm Street
Image Credit: New Line Cinema.

Nightmare on Elm Street produced insomnia in a lot of kids who didn’t want to go to sleep from the fear that Freddy Krueger was coming in their dreams. Couple that with the eerie song from all the movies, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster for any parents who thought they’d get a sound night of sleep after letting their kids see that. I was so afraid of him when I was younger, yet I kept watching each new movie that came out of the franchise. 

9. Gremlins (1984)

Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Gremlins was more horror comedy than anything to me, even as a kid. These tiny creatures running around terrorizing the city, because you broke one of the rules to raising it was outlandish by the time I’d seen it. Looking back, the movie is way funnier than it is scary, but we can see how people were scared when they were little. 

10. The Exorcist (1973)

The Exorcist
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Any movie that focuses on someone being possessed by a demonic entity seems inherently traumatizing to a child. Regarding The Exorcist, should we begin with little Regan’s head spinning around, vomit flying around the room, the convulsions, or the spider-walk down the steps? There’s so much in here that’s unsettling that there were various individuals from the online movie forum who all pointed to different scenes that traumatized them in the worst way. 

11. Leprechaun (1993)

Image Credit: Trimark Pictures.

The leprechaun in this movie was a far cry from the bright and cheery fellow on the Lucky Charms cereal box. Lubdan was mean, ugly, and willing to murder anyone who stole his gold. This film is similar to Gremlins in that there was supposed to be some comedic relief from the violence, but depending on how young you were, you were petrified nonetheless. 

12. The Blair Witch Project (1999)

The Blair Witch Project
Image Credit: Artisan Entertainment.

First, how many kids knew that The Blair Witch Project was a fictional movie?! I thought it was a documentary that showed real-life events about a witch who tortured people. I’ve only ever seen it once in my life and never needed to watch it again for it to have a lasting impact. I didn’t find out until adulthood that those people in the film were actors! 

13. Pet Sematary (1989)

Pet Sematary
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

The number one reason I have always thought cats were creepy is because of Pet Sematary. I know it’s mostly the people who come back and go on a violent spree, but I couldn’t shake the image of those glowing eyes and super aggression that Church, the family pet, displayed. The idea of people being buried and then coming back to destroy the people they love was just too much. 

14. Children of the Corn (1984)

Children of the Corn
Image Credit: New World Pictures.

A town is full of murderous children that go around and eradicate all the adults, participate in sadistic blood rituals, and sacrifice people to earn favor from the god of the corn crop. I’m not sure if much more needs to be said to explain why I and many other members of the online forum were panic-stricken after watching such an overtly sinister film. Trying to understand whether any of it was real was awful, and then the filmmakers created the sequel.

15. The Descent (2005)

The Descent 2005
Image Credit: Pathé Distribution.

When a group of friends goes on vacation one year after one of the women loses her husband, the group decides to go hiking and the group is trapped in a cave. While as an adult, being trapped without supplies is terrifying, as a kid, it's the creatures that live in the cave that were ultimately what scared us.

16. Coraline (2009)

Image Credit: Focus Features.

Coraline is technically a children's movie, but the movie not only terrified us as children, it still doesn't sit well with us as adults. Many love this movie, but the buttons-eyes can be really off-putting

17. IT (1990)

IT 1990
Image Credit: American Broadcasting Company (ABC).

Back in the 1990s, IT was terrifying children before the late-2010s film series came out. This miniseries stars Tim Curry and is based on the beloved Stephen King book, with Pennywise terrifying the town and children in their homes. Maybe this is where everyone's fear of clowns came from.

18. The Hills Have Eyes (1977 and 2006)

The Hills Have Eyes, Vinessa Shaw, Aaron Stanford
Image Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures.

Moviegoers have said both the 1977 and the 2006 versions of The Hills Have Eyes terrified them as kids. Both follow a similar plot line, where a family is traveling across the country and ends up falling into the hands of mutated cannibals in the desert.

19. Signs (1984)

Image Credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution.

Crop circles were a fun idea as a kid, but when we were shown Signs at too young of an age, the idea of aliens, space, and crop circles became terrifying. It doesn't help that the aliens are beyond terrifying in this film.

20. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

A Clockwork Orange
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

While A Clockwork Orange is a beloved classic, this movie is eerie to watch, even as an adult. As a child, I can see how this movie became a film that gave them nightmares. 

Source: (Reddit)

Entertainment Writer at Wealth of Geeks | + posts

Creshonda Smith is a creative writer that thrives on learning something new everyday and sharing that knowledge in a way that captivates others. She has 15 years of experience as a freelance writer for various companies, but she was previously a Clinical Social Worker, having obtained her Bachelor's and Master's degrees from The Ohio State University. After nearly 10 years in the field, she decided it was time to return to one of her childhood passions—writing that inspires. Creshonda will tackle any topic, but she prefers lifestyle articles centered around Health & Wellness, Parenting & Family Advice, Food + Drinks, Personal Growth, and Traveling. She has four beautiful children and has been married for a decade. Her favorite hobbies include traveling to anywhere there's a beach, reading, writing, and playing UNO! Creshonda has been a contributing writer for Wealth of Geeks since June 2023.