Movies That Scared the Living Daylights Out of Me as a Kid

The Black Caldron

I thoroughly enjoy this movie. I think it looks really amazing with and is different from most animated movies out there. However, whoever thought this was a kids movie should be fired. Holy shit the whole movie is like a Tim Burton and J. R.R. Tolkien had a love child and that love child had a nightmare on acid. This movie still gives me the chills as an adult. The villain is named ‘The Horned King’ and has a skull for a face. Wherever he goes he is accompanied by an ominous and creepy score, and his eyes are black as night except for his blood red pupils. His voice rasps and echoes across the room whenever he speaks. Just scary stuff, scary stuff. Then theres the side kick goblin looking thing who is supposed to be funny but is mostly just kind of grotesque. Then theres the army of the undead… Need I say more about why this scared the pants off a six year old me?

Two scenes in particular standout. One where the Horned King lowers a corpse into the titular cauldron to raise an army of the dead. And the other, the death of the Horned King. When a movie has a scary death for the villain, it might not be the best choice for kids. The whole movie plays like a twisted demented version of Fantasia with strong visuals and striking score to enhance the already creepy story. 

Shrek

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A very odd choice for this list, I love Shrek now. Its comedy gold, and theres a fantastic drinking game to play along with it, looking at you Gator. Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy are a perfect pair as Shrek and Donkey respectively. If you haven’t seen Shrek before you really need to sort your life out, spend a night in, and get rickety-rickety-wrecked to a kids movie. Its fun, I promise. I have friends…

But what got to little 3 year old me was the witch. I feel like I don’t need to say spoilers because this is a 16 year old classic that you almost definitely have seen. But just incase, spoilers… Fiona is an Ogre. She was cursed by a witch to be beautiful by day, an ogre by night. Usually its the other way around and she looks like Selena Gomez then the next morning you wake up with a naked Quasimodo sprawled across your bed hogging all the sheets. But I digress, I was terrified of the witch sneaking up next to my bunk bed leaning over the top bunk and cursing me. I remember telling my father my fear and in my head he laughed at me for how ridiculous I was being. Either way, I was up that night looking over my shoulder for the wicked witch.

Pinocchio

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A classic choice for scary as shit kids movie, I was no different than all the other kids. Pinocchio is a classic, and an absolute must see, especially if you want to scare your kids away from running away from home. It will scar your kid for 20+ years. While there are many parts of the movie that are creepy and bothered me, but nothing comes even remotely close to how badly one scene messed with me. You guessed it, the donkey scene.

At a pool house, the totally real boy Pinocchio sees his new friend drink totally 100% not beer. It is just some other unidentified light brown foamy liquid. But as his new friend begins slurping down his ‘root’ beer or whatever you want to call it, he starts turning into a donkey. His shouts of horror are scaring as he slowly becomes less and less human. His shouts slowly becoming the weird shriek of a donkey that theres no way in hell I will be able to spell. The scene is still horrifying as an adult as the terrified child realizes the gravity of his situation. The owner of the pool house takes him away to use him as labor. Truly nightmarish stuff for a child to see

A Time to Kill

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Another odd choice on this list, A Time to Kill is a fantastic courtroom drama that I actually love now and highly recommend. It stars a young Matthew McConaughey, Samuel L. Jackson, Kevin Spacey, Sandra Bullock and an even younger Jack Bauer. All of them put in extremely emotional and powerful performances, especially McConaughey whose ending monologue caused pre-teen AManNamedSue to tear up a little; the first movie to ever do so. I personally put up there with the best courtroom dramas, maybe one tier under the all time greats, 12 Angry Men, A Few Good Men, and To Kill a Mockingbird. Praising the movie aside, back to my childhood trauma.

A Time to Kill the KKK in modern (1990’s modern at the time) Mississippi. Racial tensions surround a controversial case, and with giving too much away, shit goes sideways pretty quick. There is no mystery to solve in this courtroom drama, unlike 12 Angry Men but is a moral, ethical, and political debate, more akin to To Kill a Mockingbird. The terror came from Jack Bauer’s resurgent Klu Klux Klan. While there were no lynchings or anything graphic like that, the thought of an organized group of people doing horrible things to others really scared me for some reason. I knew that bad people existed and that people did bad things to each other, but I guess I hadn’t quite wrapped my head around organized terror groups yet. Either way it scared me and I didn’t sleep fearing that the KKK was coming to get me. The fact that I’m white, and lived in Vermont at the time didn’t matter. The KKK was after me I just knew it.

James and the Giant Peach

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I just want to start off by saying fuck this movie. Unlike all the other movies on this list, I have not rematched it and I refuse to. I have no idea what it is about this movie in particular but my god I was creeped out every single time I saw it. It might have something to do with the weird animation, or the bugs or whatever it was that nearly kills them. I’m going to be honest, I barely remember the movie but refuse to re-watch it because thats how much it messed me up as a kid. Screw this movie and its creepy bugs and weird animation. I don’t even wanna talk about it anymore, I’m gonna start getting flashbacks.

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