Everyone remembers the films that scarred their little kiddie souls for life. From disturbing Disneys like Snow White (1937) and Pinocchio (1940), to David Bowie’s bulge in Labyrinth (1986) to an accidental viewing of Stephen King’s IT (1990) (How did that happen to so many of us!?). Whether we stumbled upon a late-night televised fright-fest or just watched what we assumed would be kid-friendly that turned out to be traumatizing, these films will always remain permanently imprinted in our minds.
Taking inspiration from Kindertrauma, the awesomely amazing site that takes a look at everything and anything that freaked us out as young ‘uns, I decided to comprise a list of what films, aimed at children or otherwise, scarred mini-me for life.
• Return to Oz (1985)
The unofficial sequel to the Judy Garland classic was more gritty than glittery. For a start, it begins with Dorothy (played by Fairuza Balk) undergoing electric shock treatment because she won’t stop harping on about some weird place called Oz. Talking chickens, frantic freaks on wheels and a crazy headless witch with a collection of screaming heads make this a bleak and often terrifying continuation of the much-loved classic.
This won’t be shown on Christmas Day anytime soon.
• John Carpenter’s Village of the Damned (1995)
A bunch of funny-haired alien children with psychic powers taking over a small American town would barely make modern horror audiences flinch. But it sure made terrifying television to my unfortunate young soul who stumbled upon it late one ‘90s night. Creepy children have always been a popular choice for shock value, from The Omen (1976) to Let Me In (2010), and I can’t remember anything that terrified me more than when one of those platinum-haired brats forced their mother to shove her arm into a vat of boiling water. Although admittedly I would probably guffaw at it now.
• Garfield’s Nine Lives (1988)
I can feel your eyebrows raising. But even Kindertrauma agree with me on this one. This adaptation of the book of the same name is split into segments detailing the lifespan of the lasagne-loving furball, from cave-cat to space-cat. Sounds cute and cuddly, right? Wrong. I watched in horror as a poor girl’s beautiful cat died (the Diana episode), and if that wasn’t enough they just had to stick in some animal testing. Yep, some poor kitty escapes from an animal testing lab, endures a whole lotta traumatizing crap along the way and eventually turns into a creepy dog with glowing eyes. Oh yeah, and Garfield meets God at the end. Who turns out to be a cat. Guess they just had to throw in some blasphemy as well.
Unfortunately it’s been taken off YouTube. You’ll just have to scope it out to see the horror for yourselves!
• Heavenly Creatures (1994)
Another late-night television special I wish I had avoided. Crazy clay-loving fantasist lesbians are always going to be scary, but when they decide to butcher one of their mothers with a brick stuffed into a stocking they become part of another league altogether. Did I mention it’s based on a true story? Jeeeez.
After questioning my Facebook friends on what films made their skin crawl as nippers, Return to Oz and Roald Dahl’s The Witches were rated the scariest alongside other traumatic terrors such as Beetlejuice (1988), The Last Unicorn (1982), Mary Poppins (1964) and The Shining (1980).
So what films had your young self squirming with fear?