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In Honor of Halloween: What Movies Scared You as a Child?

In Honor of Halloween: What Movies Scared You as a Child?

My family was recently chuckling about an overnight stay at The Curtis-a DoubleTree by Hilton in downtown Denver a few years ago where each of their 16 floors is dedicated to a different theme. Their 13th floor is “horror” and for Halloween they converted in into a veritable haunted house with a haunted elevator ride, hallways dripping with cobwebs, staffers dressed up in creepy costumes like a clown and Freddie Krueger, and redrum “murder” scrawled across our bathroom mirror with spiders and bugs all over the sink. One of the rooms had a bar with a creepy lady serving up treats and shots…in the head.

Sounds scary? It might have been for young kids but we had so much fun interacting with the playful characters that we spent our entire evening laughing!

I’m pretty careful about the shows our kids watch and they had never heard of any of the creepers we encountered in those hallways but I must confess we unintentionally traumatized our daughter a few years ago.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind was on television. I have never seen it so my husband Jamie announced we would have family movie night. We thought nothing of it. Hadley (then 4) and Bode (2) had played in the room when we watched plenty of movies before. The difference? Hadley decided to watch with us.

My kids were pretty sheltered and only watched shows like Dora the Explorer or Sesame Street. But Swiper the Fox and Oscar the Grouch don’t have anything on UFOs and aliens. Who knew?

The children watched the first 45 minutes with us and then we put them to bed. A few minutes later, Hadley was back, professing she was scared.

I have to admit, we kind of blew her off. I mean, the kid doesn’t usually get scared and would give Boo of Monsters Inc. a run for her money. We gave her a soothing hug and a kiss and told her to go back upstairs.

We didn’t hear another peep out of her but then we found out why. After the movie, I rounded the corner from our TV room and there was poor sweet Hadley, passed out on the floor. She had been too freaked out to go to her room by herself and had fallen asleep.

Remorse enveloped me and we carried her to her bed. That’s when the screaming started. Jamie soothed her for a while and finally brought her in our bedroom. “I have a plan,” he announced. He placed her beside me in bed and walked out of the room. Some plan.

Once she fell asleep, he came back and put her in her own bed but she kept waking up and she eventually came to sleep in our bed.

At least one of us slept that night.

Good wife that I am, I blame my husband. I should have seen him planting the early seeds of trauma. Back when Haddie was 2, she was watching Chevy Chase’s Vacation with him and I overheard the following conversation:

“Wow, Daddy. What are they doing?”

“Just looking for a place to dispose of the body, Sweetie.”

What movies scared you as a child?

Amber Johnson
Author: Amber Johnson

Amber is the founder and editor of Mile High Mamas, travel writer and former columnist for The Denver Post. She is a passionate community builder and loves the outdoors. She has two awesome teens and is happily married to a man obsessed with growing The Great Pumpkin.

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Amber is the founder and editor of Mile High Mamas, travel writer and former columnist for The Denver Post. She is a passionate community builder and loves the outdoors. She has two awesome teens and is happily married to a man obsessed with growing The Great Pumpkin.


  1. I was very easily scared by movies as a kid. E.T. used to give me nightmares, and I still won’t watch it now because it scared me so bad when I was little! Your story made me laugh because it reminded me of myself as a scared little kid. 🙂

  2. Ashley beat me to it… E.T. terrified me!

  3. That’s funny about E.T. It didn’t scare me but I remember thinking he was a creepy little creature and couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. 🙂

    I didn’t share my scary movie. I was TERRIFIED of Disney’s Watcher in the Woods. I think if I watched it even today it would still freak me out!

  4. Gremlins. Ooh, how that scared me!

  5. E.T., Wizard of Oz, original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Snow White (the witch scared the bejesus out of me!) just to name a few. But one can’t forget the classics – Jaws, Friday the 13th and Poltergeist. E.T. lived in my closet for years and those umpa-lumpa guys followed me wherever I went. And of course Jaws lived in my swimming pool!

  6. My sister was terrified of E.T. Seems to have traumatized lots of folks, no? Let’s see…for me it was probably Beaches. Or My Girl. Any movie where people (especially kids) died. Not scary but super sad, which is kinda scary I guess.

  7. Poltergeist! I was not easily scared by movies but that one just creeped me out as a kid.

  8. The movie IT used to scare me. We went to dinner one night! My husband and I hadn’t been alone since I was pregnant with our Madison and then the 12 weeks we were in Children’s Hospital. So finally a couple weeks after she passed away we were made to go out. The baby sitter showed that movie to my then 4 year old daughter I was so mad. Anyway, she is terrified of clowns to this day. Didn’t tell her the same movie did the same thing to me. LOL

  9. I am a horror movie freak. I wanted to go to Saw 5 this weekend but just never got the chance. I love those movies. I love the rush it gives you and the sitting on the edge of your seat kinda feeling. Or when the whole theater jumps its so funny.

  10. I cannot go to see those movies anymore. Too humiliating. I jump at ANY little thing, even when there isn’t anything to jump at. 🙂

  11. When I was about 10 years old, my sister and I went to a home daycare during the summer months. The woman who ran the daycare had two kids of her own but they were in their teens and were on a different level than the rest of us. Those older kids had some of their friends over one afternoon and they watched Friday the 13th on their shiny new VCR. Because the older kids were “cool” and I wanted to feel included, I joined them. (Why the daycare provider didn’t protest is beyond me.) Anyway … Big mistake. Friday the 13th haunted me for years. I didn’t want to attend Girl Scout Camp for fear of Jason!!!

    A few years later, I watched A Nightmare on Elm Street and it was by far the scariest thing I had ever seen at 13 years old. I lost serious sleep over that movie — for fear of falling asleep would allow Freddy Kruger to enter my dreams and kill me. (C’mon! If it could happen in the movies, it could happen in real life!!)

    These days, I am wise to the special effects, generous blood and gore and ridiculous story lines that horror movies offer. I still don’t care for them. I do, however, love a great suspense/thriller that really gets my heart beating, accompanied by an entertaining, believable story line!!

  12. I loved scary movies as a kid but I couldn’t watch certain scenes like the melting faces on Indiana Jones and the Lost Ark, or the face peeling scene in Poltergeist. Of course, when I was finally old enough to make myself look I found them to be ridiculously funny.

  13. Wizard of Oz (the bad witch and the monkeys) as a child and as a teenager The Exocist scared me so much that I could not sleep!

  14. When I was in the FOURTH GRADE I got my hands on the book Amityville Horror and read it. Didn’t sleep for 3 months. THEN I watched the movie.. Again, no sleep for months..

  15. I was freaked out by Watcher in the Woods. It was an old Disney movie that is still quite creepy. My older sister loved it, so that explains the trauma!

  16. The clown under the bed in Poltergeist. That alone convinced me that things live under the bed … and still do when my imagination takes control of my mind. 🙂

  17. Me too, Ashley! E.T. scared me so bad that I’ve never watched the whole thing again. What is it with that movie? I can’t even say what about it scared me, but I remember being in the theatre watching it and be so scared.

  18. I, too, was scared of E.T! I had nightmares that the guys in white suits were coming to take me and my friends away.

  19. I saw Poltergeist when I was about 8 or so. I was sleeping over at a friend’s house and we watched it. I’m still scared to death of that movie and God help me if my tv shows white snow! LOL

  20. The Disney movie “Watcher in the Woods” was scary to me with Betty Davis all old and shrivled up…

  21. Oh my gosh.. I forgot about Watcher in the Woods. That scared me to tears!! 🙂

  22. The Hobbit creepy seventies animated version. Gollum was going to get me.

  23. Hi! came here via KEEP BELIEVING.
    Let’s see….Cujo scared the pee out of me.
    Oh, a wonderful babysitter let me watch Salem’s Lot when I was six. Yeah, nice one there.
    And Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory totally freaked my bean.
    I still can’t stand those oompa loompa’s!

  24. Gremlins. . .couldn’t sleep for YEARS without waking up and sneaking into my parents’ room.

  25. Aw, poor kid!

    Can you believe my parents took me to see the Godfather in the cinema?!

  26. I wouldn’t have thought anything of watching that one with the kids around either. Poor girl. I’ll never forget watching The Exorcist with my older sister. I was terrified for months and never got really got over it. Some images you just can’t get out of your head.

  27. I had nightmares about The Wizard of Oz (the witch throwing fire off the roof, the flying monkeys) until well after I graduated from law school!

    And in high school, Jaws was the most frightening thing I could imagine – I still don’t like the ocean (and thus arrived in Colorado!)

  28. Forget the movies! I was scared of the Count on Sesame Street.

  29. And my dughter is terrified of the octopus lady (is she a witch or what?) on The Little Mermaid.

  30. I don’t remember watching scary movies as a child, but I do remember watching Psycho!!!!

  31. I was pretty sheltered as a kid, so fair warning, but… Escape from Witch Mountain.

  32. For me it was an episode of Twilight Zone. A child fell thru the wall into a void, his parents could only hear him calling to them in fear but couldn’t find him. Eventually the father figured out that one of the walls wasn’t solid but had opened into a twilight zone; the mother held his feet while he stuck his body into the void and managed to pull out the terrified child just as the wall began to solidify again. MY BED WAS AGAINST A WALL!!!

  33. i didn’t get scared from movies or tv shows that i was allowed to see when i was young, and i did see a few. it wasn’t until i was a teenager that some of the movies at the time made me cover my eyes or scream at the appropriate times. but i wasn’t afraid once i left the theater.

    now MY kids…. that’s a different story =)

  34. I scare so easily! Even as an adult I refuse to watch scary movies. I don’t even watch Law and Order or CSI on TV. I get TOO freaked out! So it would almost be easier to list the movies that didn’t freak me out!

    But I do remember being especially traumatized by Little Shop of Horrors. For weeks every time I closed my eyes I could see Seymour chopping up the dentist. And I was like 11. I slept upstairs in my sister’s bed with her for like 2 weeks!

  35. I’m with Nicole on this one! I get freaked out by watching ER! I guess it’s the real life stuff that gets me even more than the blood and gore horror flicks – but I still don’t watch those either! As a teen, I tried to be tough and watch Poltergeist and Friday the 13th, etc., but eventually I had enough of the nightmares that ensued as a result. Plain and simple, I don’t like that “rush” of being scared.

  36. Oh, I was terrified of the big fire that killed Bambi’s mom in Bambi. It’s amazing how scary Disney movies can be. All that good vs. evil.

  37. There was a movie called Trilogy of Terror that scared the living daylights out of me and my little sister. To this day, I cannot watch that movie when it comes on TV. And it ALWAYS comes on around Halloween. As I got older I loved scary movies until I saw “My Bloody Valentine” in high school. Swore off scary movies until I met Hubby and then swore off them again when I saw “The Fly” with Jeff Goldblum. Hubby watches the scary movies by himself now.

  38. I remember being scared of The Wizard of Oz. I would hide behind my dad’s chair whenever the wicked witch came on the screen!

  39. Wizard of OZ – witch & flying monkeys

  40. everthing is true and i love scary movies like the return of leather face and saw and friday the 13th they are bloddy and good so long

  41. E.T! It still scares me to this day. There is something horrifying about that nubby finger! My uncle always told us a story about how he was terrified of the flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz!

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