Staff Picks: Movies that Scared the Sh*t Out of Us as Kids

In honor of Halloween, we asked some of our staff writers to write about the movies that scared them the most as kids.

The Descent: I tried to watch the spelunking horror flick with my parents when I was ten. I managed to make it through the horrendous opening sequence, which depicts a person being impaled through the head, only to start shrieking at the first sight of the film’s gray, pig-nosed monsters. My parents wisely turned off the film and, over a decade later, I still don’t know how it ends. —Torinn

When a Stranger Calls: This babysitter slasher was so normal and seemed so realistic, I still have anxiety answering unknown numbers to this day. The killer says close to nothing in this movie because his calls and the labored breathing said enough. I will say, the babysitter’s perseverance in protecting the children was redeemable. I can’t say i would go to the same lengths with a killer breathing down my neck. —Tess

Poltergeist: The television didn’t scare me. I had seen the image of the girl’s hands on the television so much that I was desensitized to it. However, watching a bunch of zombies pop out of the ground and force the house into a sinkhole while the family screams and runs for their lives — that took me off guard, and I hoped my house was not built on a graveyard for years to come. —Hannah

Chicken Run: In the eyes of the critics, Dreamworks hit a homerun with Chicken Run. It made a strong commentary on the oppression of minority groups in the Western World during the 18th and 19th centuries and — now that I’m an adult — I can appreciate its script. However to this day I still carry the scar of watching these clay creations of chickens and humans come to life in their discontinuous fashion. —Siani

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: I don’t know why, but I watched the Indiana Jones films out of order, saving Temple of Doom for last. The movie was far more gory than either the Last Crusade or Raiders of the Lost Ark (I don’t talk about the new ones) — something I was expected at the mere age of eight. I made it through one particularly graphic scene just once, only to run upstairs for it whenever the I watched the movie again. —Elyakim

How the Grinch Stole Christmas: How the Grinch Stole Christmas is commonly marketed as a Dr. Seuss classic about the spirit of Christmas. However, to me, it’s the story of how a deranged cat — colored the most sinister shade of green — wreaked havoc on a small town. To make matters worse, Jim Carrey embodied the Grinch using his signature talents, such as outlandish facial expressions and bizarre pronunciation of words. While they added a comedic element to his other roles, Carrey’s skills brought an air of unpredictability that, as a ten year-old, terrified me. Similar to the Batman’s Joker, you could never know what the Grinch is capable of. —Soubie

Coraline: Wanting to prove my worth as a “big kid”, I, at 10 years-old, was determined to finally watch Coraline. I powered through it like a champ with one eye open– that is until I had to watch Coraline’s Other Mother chase her around with the treacherous button eyes. To this very day, I have no idea how that movie ended. —Siani

E.T.: Late one night, I crept out of bed and tiptoed down the stairs to find my mom sitting in front of the television. There, I saw a misshapen brownish creature with bug eyes dying by the side of a lake in the woods. Horrified, I ran back upstairs and hid beneath the covers. —Victoria

Scooby Doo: Monsters Unleashed: I’ve always been a wimp when it comes to horror movies, so I have to say that, even to this day, Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed is the most terrifying film I’ve ever seen. I loved the cartoons and assumed the movie wouldn’t be so bad -- after all, it was made for kids. But, apparently, nothing is scarier to me than animated monsters. The eerie and cartoonish soundtrack sets an anticipatory tone throughout the movie, which makes even the cotton candy monster frightening. —Staci

The Seed of Chucky: I will never forget the moment I was flipping channels as a child and saw the terrifying image of Chucky on TV. Everything about Chucky was horrifying to me, — his voice, the gashes on his permanently twisted-looking face. To top it all off, when I visited California at a young age, it seemed like everywhere my family and I went, there was a man dressed up as Chucky looking for people to take pictures with him. As if seeing his image on screen didn’t scar me enough, I also had to deal with these encounters. There was no escape from Chucky. —Sydney

©2018 by The Penn Moviegoer. Proudly created with