Childhood Chills: 15 Scary Movies That Haunted Viewers for a Lifetime


Kids possess different and heightened fear responses than adults. A mild horror movie like Gremlins may terrify a young kid but make an adult laugh. However, watching scary content during those formative years in life can stick with you for much longer than you wish. The internet speaks about the scariest films they consumed as a child that followed them through life and continue to keep them awake at night. 

1. The Exorcist (1973)

The Exorcist
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

As horror fans prepare for the remake release, those who watched at a young age recount the horror imposed on them by Regan MacNeil. Most film fanatics claimed after watching the movie, they thought Linda Blair was following them. Another person claimed that they couldn't fall asleep without the company of their dog, terrified the same fate as Regan's awaited them. 

2. The Ring (2002)

The Ring, Daveigh Chase, Naomi Watts
Image Credit: DreamWorks Pictures.

Horror movies specialize in casting the creepiest child actors. Paired with ghostly makeup and haunting visuals, no child is safe watching these pictures. Samara Ring is another girl who haunted many kids well into adulthood. Somebody chimes in, sharing they can't shower without feeling Samara's presence. 

3. Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

Who Framed Roger Rabbit Kathleen Turner
Image Credit: Buena Vista Pictures.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit won the award for animating the most sinister scene in children's animation. Well, one of the worst, some animators illustrate brutal plotlines for kids. In the 1988 film, a man takes an innocent shoe who trusts him and burns him alive in a vat of acid. The animators didn't back away from any horrors. They added sound effects and shifted the shoe's face to emphasize his pain. 

4. Watership Down (1978)

Watership Down
Image Credit: Nepenthe Films.

A forum member recalled how her mom turned on this movie the same day she got her first pet. As the horror on screen unfolded, the member's mom went about her business with the household chores. What was the person's first pet? A rabbit. 

5. Poltergeist (1982)

Poltergeist Heather O'Rourke
Image Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Poltergeist contains every traditional horror element. We have a creepy kid, clowns, skeletons, gelatinous substances, and spooky entities haunting a house. Someone said they had never watched a horror movie before this one and haven't turned one on since. 

6. Alien (1979)

Alien Sigourney Weaver
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Someone states their father sat them down to watch Alien around age six but started with the infamous “chest-burster” scene. The father fast-forwarded all crucial information and storylines prefacing the “chest-burster” scene and landed upon the segment that added to the kids' nausea and disallowed him to look away. That's one surefire way to horrify a child.

7. Jaws (1975)

Jaws (1975)
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

My friend works in the film industry and discovered her adoration for the movie-making medium around age two, but she won't watch Jaws ever again. She made her roommate attend the screening during one of her film classes since her initial watch sparked her lifelong fear of sharks. Steven Spielberg's masterclass continues to terrify millions of open waters.

8. Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

A Nightmare on Elm Street Robert Englund
Image Credit: New Line Cinema.

Nightmare on Elm Street differs from all other 80s horror because it isn't afraid to break convention and stray from strict horror boundaries. The director and writers had no issue altering the trope of slasher films and creating a new, insidious scenario, targeting the one place you try to escape to overnight, dreams. 

While kids strive to overcome nightmares and fear of the dark, avoiding sleep builds tension and distorts reality. They can't escape horror during the day or during their slumber.

9. Coraline (2009)

Image Credit: Focus Features.

Henry Selick knew what he was doing when he adapted Neil Gaiman's Coraline in 2009. While the PG-rated film found a cult following, hundreds of viewers confess the animation lingers in the back of their minds today. For some people, claymation is enough to swear them off of certain films, and Coraline is the example they give.

10. IT (1990) 

It 1990
Image Credit: DawnField Entertainment.

A former Maine resident noted she will not stand on a drain in the shower to this day after watching the Tim Curry version of IT as a child. She did express she was able to watch the 2017 version, though! 

11. The Omen (1976)

The Omen, Harvey Stephens
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Spooky movies work best with a plausible plot. That's why so many kids in the '70s hid from The Omen. A couple distressed over the loss of their child adopts a young boy named Damien, who stirs up malicious plans for his babysitters and his parents. After strange occurrences continue happening, his family grows suspicious of his identity. 

12. Signs (2002)

Signs Mel Gibson, Cherry Jones
Image Credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution.

One person says they grew up in a rural farm area full of cornfields, similar to the setting of Signs. Hence, their imagination got the best of them after watching the film at a young age. In Signs, a former priest stumbles upon crop circles on his farm, which he believes came from otherworldly creatures. 

13. Candyman (1992) 

Candyman (1992), Virginia Madsen
Image Credit: TriStar Pictures.

Stand in front of the mirror and repeat Candyman five times, if you dare. According to this respondent, they still refuse to invoke the Candyman in front of a reflective surface. Others remember they wouldn't close the bathroom door for years out of fear that the man with a hook would follow them and hurt them. Another contributor says they won't watch the remake because they're still recovering from the original. 

14. Jumanji (1995)

Alan Parrish faces off against Van Pelt
Image Credit: TriStar Pictures Interscope Communications.

An individual confessed the image of young Alan getting sucked into the Jumanji board game haunted him for years. He sometimes still has nightmares of the scene even though he has watched the movie numerous times. 

15. Cujo (1983)

Cujo (1983)
Image Credit: PSO International.

We love our pets, but the idea of our beloved dog turning into a terrifying beast who goes on a rampage in our towns just doesn't sit right with us. That's probably why Cujo is so scary and why a lot of people online don't want to watch it again.

Source: (Reddit)

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