Growing up, there were a lot of movies that I saw that probably caused at least 85% of the nightmares that I am still having to this day. I’m guessing that most of these movies were watched when I had a babysitter, and I was able to go through my parent’s collection of movies that were recorded off of TV onto a plethora of VHS tapes. We also had HBO when I was little, so I remember a few times when I’d accidentally wake up really early and sneak down to see what was on there only to be deeply horrified later. In any case, these movies have had a lasting effect on me that I will likely never forget! Without further ado, here is my top ten list of movies I should have never watched as a kid!
10. Alice Through the Looking Glass (1985)
I know what you’re thinking. Really? Alice in Wonderland? That’s a kid’s story!! Well, yes, you’re right. It’s a kid’s story…up until this ONE scene… The Jabberwocky. This thing scared the crap out of me as a kid. The worst part about it is that this was a made-for-TV movie, so the Jabberwocky scene was the LAST scene that you see of the first part before it ends. I stayed up a little bit later just to watch this movie and now I have to go to bed with that image in my mind. So many nightmares.
9. Tales from the Crypt (1989-1996)
I know this is kind of cheating because it’s a TV show (though there was a movie), but I felt like it was worth mentioning. This show was on HBO and it was on CONSTANTLY. I remember reading the TV guide and seeing “Tales from the Crypt” marathons filling up the entire evening. I never wanted to watch this show, but my parents liked it. I could get through maybe a third of just the intro before I had to leave the room. I knew if I stayed long enough to have to see even a second of the Crypt Keeper, there would be little sleep for me that evening.
8. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Okay, this is one of my favorite movies of all time. The first time I ever saw it, I was glued to the edge of my seat the entire time – which is pretty impressive for a mostly hyperactive child. I’m pretty sure I even wanted to be an archaeologist after watching this movie. BUT there is one scene that made this movie mostly unwatchable for me after I saw it, and that’s when this happens… There were two other movies on this particular VHS tape that we had recorded. I wouldn’t even touch this tape for years just because I knew that scene was on there.
7. Class of 1999 (1990)
This movie is a little more obscure but I remember seeing it when my parents were out and we had a babysitter (it was really our only other chance to watch HBO). A short summary – it’s the future and gang violence is out of control. Schools are more like prisons who have armed guards at the front door that will check in any weapons that students have in order to prevent any outbursts. Playing off the recent popularity of The Terminator movies, the head of the school decides to try out new robot teachers in an attempt to keep the students even more in control. The plan backfires when the students learn that the robots used to be used for military operations, and are a little more hardcore than they originally expected. In one scene, a teacher punishes a student who isn’t cooperating by breaking his back and killing him. This causes the gangs to band together and use the school as a battleground for an all-out war against the robot teachers. So there you have it in a nutshell. You can see the appeal for a kid to watch a movie about students rebelling against their teachers. But…a robot teacher KILLS a student in front of the entire class. You can imagine what sort of effect that would have on a young mind.
6. The Lost Boys (1987)
Again, another movie that isn’t as well-known as others, but we had it on our VHS tapes, so I eventually ended up seeing it (actually, after writing this, I now realize that this movie is more well-known than I thought!). The reason I ended up watching it in the first place was because it had Alex Winter and Corey Feldman who I both really like from “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” and “The Goonies” respectively. Those two movies were pretty kid-friendly, too, so this movie must be okay! Nope, we’ve got vampires. I had NO idea that this movie was about vampires. It’s called “The Lost Boys!” I thought maybe it had some connection to Peter Pan. I was wrong.
5. Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)
Speaking of vampires, I was 8 when this movie came out. It was a HUGE deal. There was so much marketing for this film. It was all over the place. I didn’t see it in the theater, but the first chance we had to rent this movie, we did – and somehow my parents were okay with that (I think they wanted to see it as much as I did). Well, it’s rated R, so I got what was coming to me. The imagery in this film is definitely NOT for a child’s eyes. And we have Dracula looking like this: I believe it’s this scene where Dracula comes out and breathes flames onto a cross that’s supposed to be protecting our heroes. I had played tons of vampire games by this time, and I knew how vampires were supposed to work, so when Dracula basically just gives a giant middle finger to that classic way of warding him off, I was blown away. I remember thinking something like, “Why isn’t that working?? WHY ISN’T THAT WORKING!!!?”
4. The Gate (1987)
Yet another movie that a part of our illegal VHS collection! Again, most people probably haven’t heard of it, but it’s a very interesting concept. A group of kids (it has kids in it so it’s a kids movie, right!?) are digging a hole in the backyard and mistakingly discover a portal to Hell. I don’t really have to say much more than that. In fact, you should check out the trailer to this movie. It will give you a good idea. There’s a scene where an eye starts growing in the middle of one of the kids’ hands. To get rid of it, he uses a giant shard of glass and stabs his own hand. I will never unsee that scene. The rest of the imagery in this movie is equally as terrifying. I think this is where I first got the idea of having monsters under my bed, too.
3. Poltergeist (1982)
Why did I ever watch this? This movie just constantly messes with your mind. I think I thought it was okay because the Dad is the main character from “Coach” and that was such a funny show. Again, I was wrong. First, we get the creepy lady with the weird voice who is supposed to make the poltergeist go away. Then, she doesn’t even do it right so you have no idea how they can even fix the problem. Later, we have the guy from Coach jumping through a portal to go after his daughter while we wait for an uncomfortably long time to see if they ever come out again. This movie scared me so much that I remember one night I even had to have my Dad check for ghosts in my room before I went to sleep. It was weird, it was creepy, and it made me constantly think I’d see random objects flying around my house. I also gained an additional fear of static on a TV screen. Cool!
2. Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)
When I first saw this movie, I was big into Bozo and his grand prize game! This movie really turned my perspective around on clowns. Again, another case of mistaken identity when I think the movie will be okay because clowns are funny. This whole list is turning out to be about how I was extra naive as a child. Anyway, in this movie, we have giant clowns going around town and turning people into huge globs of cotton candy which they then store on their spaceship so they can use straws to suck out their blood for feeding. The clowns look mostly harmless at first and usually lure people in with their charm, but then this happens: Clowns ruined forever. Sorry, Bozo.
1. Gremlins (1984)
How fitting that the movie that I shouldn’t have watched the most came out on the year of my birth! I saw this movie when I was in 1st grade. 1991. I was 7 years old. The effects of this movie carried over into my schoolwork as I remember for an art project I drew a picture of a giant gremlin and then wrote underneath, “A grimlin skiered me!” (I couldn’t spell very well yet). The reason I drew that particular picture is because I had watched the movie the night before and had very vivid nightmares about it. I still remember the nightmare. I was playing in my backyard in the evening and gremlins came from all over to attack me. I tried hiding under our boat, but they were everywhere. That was it. This movie could very well be the source of all my crazy nightmares. No amount of Carebear movies could ever erase this movie from my mind. Looking back at the movie today, it’s more silly now than scary. But to the mind of a 7 year old, sweet little Gizmo spawning an army of reptilian demons is not so friendly.
What movies do you remember from your childhood that you probably should have never watched?? Leave me a comment!