A Trip Down Horror Lane

It’s that time of year.

The time when one has engorged oneself on countless bags of mini-snickers that one was able to procure regularly from the massive Halloween candy pile on display since early August.

The time when an avid TV viewer can turn on the channel, and see Michael Myers dough-boy face looking impassively back at her.

The time to watch horror movies.

This time of year takes me back to the days when a young Speaker7 put a steak knife under her mattress for “just-in-case” purposes.

I have no business watching scary movies. It is something I cannot handle yet I cannot help myself.

By day, I am a rational pragmatic person who makes decisions based on logic and reason. But at night, that person is gone, replaced by someone who is convinced that lump of dirty clothes in the corner is, in fact, the evil spawn of Jason and Chucky.

I’ve gotten better. I know there is no way in demonic-possession I’m going to watch any of the Paranormal Activity movies. I will never see The Exorcist and I sure as shit ain’t sitting through any movie about a haunted dibbuk box some jerk bought on eBay.

I’ve learned my lesson from a childhood spent sleeping on the floor of my parent’s bedroom. It would follow the usual pattern. I would stay up late by myself watching some horrible movie on HBO. I would go to my bedroom and start panicking the moment I turned out the lights. Five minutes later, I would run down the hall to my parent’s bedroom, and pull out the mattress they kindly stowed under their bed for this very purpose.

So what were the movies that caused me to lose my shit?

1. Salem’s Lot

I don’t even remember the plot of this movie. I just know at one point this blue-looking vampire fuck was flying outside someone’s window. I thought I could protect myself by placing all my stuffed animals on the window seat by the top of the stairs. Yeah, like they could do anything. And you thought Edward Cullen’s sparklyness was frightening.

Length of time on parent’s bedroom floor: one week.

2. Amityville Horror II: The Possession

Yes, okay, the house is filled with some demon spirit that possesses the older brother who then shoots his entire family to death. My house was not filled with evil spirits, but did have an older brother who once chased me around the house with a weed-whacker so–wait, why am I watching this?!?

Length of time on parent’s floor: a month (“More like a year.” — Speaker7’s mom).

3. Friday the 13th

I don’t remember the name of my kindergarten teacher, but I sure as shit remember a bald-headed Jason popping out of the water and grabbing the last remaining camp counselor by the neck and pulling her underwater.

Length of time on parent’s floor: a week

4. Rosemary’s Baby

I would still watch this movie. I think I might have even watched it while pregnant because I am a big genius. To this day I think tarragon is tannis root, and I’m always suspicious of it.

Length of time on parent’s floor: a week.

5. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

I know technically this is not a horror movie, but I just have two words for you: Oompa Loompa.

Length of time on parent’s floor: 0, but I wanted to, I really wanted to.

6. The Shining

The little boy with the talking finger, the elevator of blood, the deranged father–yes this is the stuff of nightmares, but they got nothing on those twins, man. Those creepy-as-shit twins. I would make out with a decaying old woman any day of the week over having a conversation with those twins.

Length of time on parent’s floor: six weeks

7. Nightmare on Elm Street

I thought I could handle this one by watching it with the volume turned completely off, a boom-box playing Duran Duran and multiple bags of salt-and-vinegar Wise potato chips, my number one comfort food. Didn’t work.

Length of time on parent’s floor: two months.

8. Scream

Okay, so technically I was not a child when Scream was released in theaters. I was more like in the 20-year-old range. I saw this when I was home for the Christmas holiday and it’s very likely that I snuck into my parent’s room and slept on their floor and snuck out in shame very early the next morning before they woke up.

Length of time on parent’s floor: one embarrassing night.

So what movies have caused you sleepless nights?

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120 comments

  1. Speaker7,
    I used to think that the young teen who has sex with his sister in Amityville II was Rick Springfield… Equally spooky. I still think that The Grady Twins from The Shining and Regan MacNeil from The Exorcist are the scariest evil incarnations ever, right up there with Paul Ryan.
    Le Clown

      1. You guys should read my short story in which I imagine an alternate reality where Paul Ryan became what he was planning to do before he went to Washington: become a ski instructor in Colorado… it makes me so sad.

  2. Glad I’m not the only one the Oompa Loompas used to scare. They creeped me out more than any of those other movies you mentioned. And yet it was one of my favorite movies, and I watched it over and over again. Masochistic, I suppose.

      1. I think it was their telepathic powers over us. Perhaps they’re still using their mind control. Seems as good as any other excuse for some of my behaviors.

      1. I know. Nothing speaks kid-friendly like the chance of turning into a blueberry or falling into a chute that leads to a furnace. :)

  3. Maybe some horror movies will take your mind off of the impending tonsil surgery?
    I watched the Exorcist in my best friend’s haunted hundred year old house and the POWER WENT OUT. Basically, fuck you, universe. I still don’t think I have recovered from that. For some inexplicable reason my mom let me rent C.H.U.D. when I was in kindergarten (I don’t think they knew how movie rentals worked then) and I still won’t step on a manhole cover. The only other movie that scared the shit out of me was E.T. I think I was still thinking of C.H.U.D.

  4. Holy crap! Willy wonks also! I flipped out when the kid went through the chocolate pipes. I mean I was young but I knew people could drown!

    I watched a movie about a possessed house and used a similar stuffed animal tactic.

    Poltergeist–one word–Clown (no insult to Le Clown)

    Blair Witch–nope not a kid, ended up not scary but I watched the whole thing in a movie theater with ears plugged and eyes half open.

    Peter Pan–is this guy taking me away from my home to go deal with pirates and crocs? Screw that!

    1. Yes! That chocolate pipe scene always made me feel claustrophobic. And I also watched Blair Witch with my hands over my eyes. That goddamn scene at the end.

  5. Ok, i need to admit that the wizard of oz was viewed from behind the sofa until i was….ok, it was last year. Its a lot of little people and angry trees, you know?

  6. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory gave me the wiggins and I would go through great lengths to avoid watching this movie as a child. But for me, the scariest was Mr. Wonka as played by Gene Wilder. Scared the snot out of me.

    1. Sorry about that. It was difficult for me to spend time putting a little dialogue bubble over the twins’ heads. It felt like they were actually talking to me.

  7. I used to watch horror movies all the time when I was young and younger. I watched the Possession of Emily Rose (supposedly based on a true story) and I kept waking up at 3 a.m. (the worst time because that’s when the most evil is out and about) and couldn’t get it out of my head. Salem’s Lot and Shining — very scary. I watched Halloween again last year and it wasn’t as scary as when I was young. The Exorcist — I saw it once and very long ago. I can’t watch it again because it scares the shite out of me. Never saw the oompa loompas but it sounds bad.

    1. I cannot watch any possession stuff. Just can’t do it. Isn’t there some specific time that someone keeps waking up in the Amityville movies? I know it’s the dead of night and now I don’t want to think about it or else I will be waking up at that time tonight.

      1. I know. I can watch serial killer movies but that levitating and possession stuff — no can do, baby. The Exorcist was on yesterday and I’m almost succumbed but then I thought, NO. You’ll have this shite in your head for weeks. That 3 a.m. thing is supposed to be when the Devil can take possession of you — not midnight — 3 a.m. is the witching hour. I’d wake up and the clock would say 3:33 a.m. ARGH-H-H.

  8. I watched Salem’s Lot on a Sunday afternoon. I am proud to report that I never spent a single night on my mom’s bedroom floor. Although I did go through an entire box of craft sticks making crosses to place in strategic locations.

    1. That is brave. The crosses are a nice touch. I used to think having my entire body covered by blankets would thwart vampire bites. This became rather unpleasant in the summer.

  9. You have a great list of scary films there although I’ve never seen either Willy Wonka movie so I don’t know if I would find it scary. I would add The Bad Seed, The Omen and the first Alien movie.

    1. Good additions. I’ve only seen pieces of The Omen because of the whole devil thing. The first Alien is fantastic. I just saw The Thing last night and that was pretty good.

  10. I write thrillers so there isn’t a whole lot that scares me…but I don’t like movies like “The Ring” or “The Grudge” but love things like The Hills Have Eyes, Hostel and Saw. When I was a kid, I saw a movie about someone getting a door placed on them and rocks piled on top until they were crushed…even though it was daytime when I watched it, I had nightmares for weeks.

      1. It could be….makes sense. Worst part is, one day I look in the back yard and leaning against our pool shed was a door covered in red stain. I thought I was going to shit myself.

  11. House on Haunted Hill got me as a child — I grabbed my sister’s neck and nearly strangled her. My parents wouldn’t let me watch scary movies after that. I pretended to be upset about that.

    In my 20s though I watched Halloween all the way to the end. I had to see them catch the bad guy. They didn’t.

    Never again.

  12. Do you have a secret policy that says that the first picture on your post must be the scariest? (your last two posts have been eye-poppers in my reader…)

  13. Horror moves, are you kidding me? I wouldn’t even watch Ghostbusters until I was in my 20s. I honestly thought it was a horror movie. It has GHOST right in the title. Also, I have yet to see Gremlins. Seems too scary.

    1. From my cloudy recollection, Gremlins wasn’t too bad. Kind of made fun a little of horror films or maybe I’m just remembering wrong. Gizmo is pretty cute.

  14. I generally avoid. I am absolutely terrified of such movies.
    However, The Shining and Rosemary’s Baby are so good that I could not *not* see them. And I’m happy I did!
    My personal list? Jurassic Park (that counts, right?), 28 days later, Hellraiser (any), The Ring (American, I would die of fear before opening credits of the Asian one) erm… that’s what comes to my mind now.
    The movie that I wish I could see but never will dare to: Seven.

      1. Oh really? Silence of the Lambs was fantastic. I think it’s easier for me to watch thrillers, it’s the proper, irrational horrors that render me catatonic. I discovered that our subconscious does not distinguish reality from fiction, so when we’re watching a horror movie, our id thinks it’s true and panic.

        In fact, the reverse is probably also true – the more you watch of that, and the more numb you become, the more dangerous it is, I suppose, because your subconscious becomes perfectly at ease with all the atrocities portrayed…

    1. Not to be a downer, but zombies do exist. In Haiti. I read an article about in Harper’s and wished I did not know how to read. They use some slow acting poison, which causes a zombie-like state. The zombies don’t eat people if that provides any comfort.

      1. WHAT?!!!

        I am a very naive person, so please tell me you were joking otherwise I will believe that.

      1. Oh! Well no – *you* I’ve been following for a while, I meant Laura’s unlikelyexplanations. Unless it’s your alter ego? ;)

      2. But your Excel spreadsheet prep skills must be great, according to the article. Bloody hell…

  15. I can’t remember if it was Scream or something like Scream, but my husband and I tried to watch one of the really popular horror films and wound up turning it off after about 20 minutes. We were too scared to continue! I love OLD horror movies, like Frankenstein, but not the slasher kinds. Exorcist didn’t bug me. Neither do vampire movies. Jack Black? He scares me.

  16. I’ve also never seen the Exocist and never plan to, but for me the number one scare-me-enough- to wet-my-pants flick was The Birds. My folks took me with them to the drive in to see it when I was about three. My mom had to get rid of her canary the next day. A sparrow on the electrical line was cause for a melt down.

    1. I’m surprised you can even handle existing in a world with birds. That movies is a creepfest. Like Psycho. I would never stay in a roadside motel because of that movie.

      1. I came to love birds – but only lately. My sister has a business selling them, but I prefer the ones at the feeder – they are under my control – a track me and they starve! Psycho made me want shower doors instead of a curtain. Can’t watch it either.

  17. I love every bit of the childhood reminiscing in here (naturally). I love that you are as freaked out by identical twin girls in matching dresses as I am. But, wait, are you still freaked out by identical twin girls in matching dresses? I will run screaming from a park if I see identical twin girls in matching dresses riding in a stroller. Freaks me the hell out.

    Scariest movie for me is still Poltergeist. And then The Shining. And probably then this weird USA Network B-movie about a group of escaped loons who dress up like clowns, title unknown.

    1. Well, you did see Poltergeist at the age of 4, yes? No one would survive that experience unscathed. The escaped-loons-clowns movie sounds horrifying, and something I never want to see. Clowns=bad news. The book It should have ruined clowns for me if I didn’t hate them so much beforehand.

  18. Lordy, I love horror movies. It’s interesting how many people include Willy Wonka in their lists. Gene Wilder’s Wonka was pretty creepy, but the movie itself didn’t scare me. The three movies that scared the crap out of me the most:

    1) Halloween — I had Michael Myers’ image in my head for weeks after the first one. Halloween II scared me almost as much.
    2) Silence of the Lambs — not technically a horror movie but it screwed with my head for a good long time.
    3) A really crappy made-for-TV movie from the early 70s called Terror in the Wax Museum (not to be confused with House of Wax with Vincent Price). It took place in the chamber of horrors in a wax museum (duh) where the wax figure of Jack the Ripper came to life.

  19. Holy shit, The Shining. For the love of all things holy. My sister thought it would be a brilliant idea to let me watch it when I was a kid. I’ve never been the same. It still scares the crap out of me.

  20. Rosemary’s Baby. Would you believe that when I was pregnant, I read an article in a pregnancy/baby magazine counting down the top 15 movies about pregnancy and THAT was included? Holy mother. Possibly the worst recommendation in the history of the universe. I saw that movie eight years ago. Never again. Scariest movie ever. It makes The Exorcist look like Legally Blond.

    1. Well I guess it would be a good movie if you wanted to go the natural-birth route since Rosemary technically does that. Of course, she’s being held down by a group of elderly satanists at the time…but that could be in somebody’s birth plan. Who am I to judge?

  21. I don’t do horror movies. *shudders* Either nobody sleeps for a month (and I mean nobody) or i think they are stupid and end up laughing at them the whole time. I am unable to properly enjoy them.

  22. When I was three, my parents took me to see Bette Davis and Joan Crawford in “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?” What the fuck were they thinking? It gave me nightmares and I was terrified of both of those actresses for years until I started watching films they starred in separately during Hollywood’s Golden Age. Still, I was a weenie when it came to watching that one again. About five years ago, it played on TCM. I decided to give it another glance. I’m proud to say that middle aged me had no problem getting through it. In fact, I thought it was very camp. A remake is now in the pipeline and I’m actually very curious to see it if it happens. Depending on the cast it could be hilarious:

    http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/12/whatever-happened-to-baby-jane-its-getting-a-remake/

  23. I cannot believe no one has mentioned It, that movie scared the pants off of me. Literally, my pants came off. A few years ago I thought it was time to give it another go and read the book but after the first four pages, I scared myself so bad I had to get my boyfriend to take it out of my house.

    1. I didn’t even attempt the mini-series. I read the book. That was enough. I didn’t need to see Pennywise the dancing clown dancing around on my tv screen.

  24. He-Who and I are in discussions about taking on Managing a fishing resort way up north in Canada. He honestly looked at me and said, “It can be just like The Shining”. How he thought this would be a selling point I don’t know. Other than that two things come to mind. One, is a movie called, “The Boys From Brazil”. A psychological thriller about 99 children cloned from Hitler that live all over the world and each one has things happen to them so that they start out exactly as Hitler (ie: the parents die, etc.) They come together as boy army in the end. The imagination makes this terrifying. The only other thing that terrifies me is Hugo. Every time I see him I want to run away screaming.

    1. Oh my god…that Hitler movie sounds horrifying and something I’m likely to rent in the future because I’m a masochist. It would kind of cool to remake The Boys of Brazil with little clones of Hugo.

      1. OK, well, that will be a new nightmare for me tonight. Hugo with a little Hitler mustache cloning himself.

  25. I was a wimp like you about horror movies when I was a kid: any old thing sent me to my parents bedroom. I would say “Nightmare on Elm Street” did it the worst though.

    These days, I celebrate Halloween by watching 31 horror movies during October.

    1. That sounds awesome as long as it does not include any devil and/or possession movies. I just saw The Thing and The Cabin in the Woods. I really liked The Thing, the other was okay.

      1. Yeah The Thing is one of the best horror movies ever. Mostly because, in spite of the horrifying special effects, it works on creating a creepy, paranoid and mysterious mood.

        I haven’t seen “The Cabin in the Woods” but I hear it’s really good…if you’re a big horror movie buff.

  26. Oh god! yes, Willy Wonka! It almost turned me off of chocolate rivers completely!

    I hate most horror movies. Except Stephen King. I’ll always watch his. I have to, it’s state law.

    I would say the freakiest movie I’ve seen in awhile was The Others. Followed by Mall Cop. Nope…on sec thought…it’s Mall Cop.

    (This post had it all…I hereby nominate it for FP.)

    1. I figured Maine would have a law like that. I loved Misery and Carrie. I will never watch the mini series It because of horror-clown-monster. Thanks for the FP nod.

    1. How could I have forgotten Leatherface? Yup, I blocked that out…and now I’m thinking about that creepy scene when they bring out the grandfather and he sucks blood from the girl’s finger. Cheezits cripes, I am not sleeping tonight.

  27. The worst two for me were The Ring and Paranormal Activity. Oh, and Blair Witch Project would come in at #3, I think. That movie makes camping all the more difficult.
    I have a love/hate relationship with these movies. Every so often I’ll watch one and love to be scared, but then in the weeks following, I haaaaate them for all the lingering terror and childlike whimpering.

    1. Camping is difficult enough without the idea that there’s some witch and/or serial killer out there that’s wants to lure you to her/his creepy lair and make you stand in the corner.

      1. Word.
        Speaking of word, a word to the wise- don’t camp with someone who’s seen BWP or they may bundle some sticks and place it right outside your tent.

  28. A long time ago in another life, I watched a late, late movie called Devil Rain with Ernest Borgnine. Poor Ernie never had a chance with me after that. Rosemary’s Baby was supposedly critically a very good movie, well done, by John whatshisname (the husband in the film). Yeah, really well done I disliked Mia Farrow before and have hated her ever since. I have a difficult time with most horror movies because the stupid girl always runs UPSTAIRS into a dead end or trips while running, and if there’s a dog in the movie the dog always gets killed. I hate it more when the dog gets killed than when people do. Poor doggy….

    1. Good points. If I was in a horror movie, it would be very boring because I would be like “Yup, not going there. Not doing that. I’m sleeping at the police station.” etc.

  29. That version of Salem’s Lot with David Soul (Hutch of Starsky and) rocked and scared the crap out of me and my brother. I have a picture of my sisters (twins) holding hands in the backyard with their matching Easter dresses straight out of Shining.

    Silence of the Lambs fucked me up.

    1. Oh and when I was in junior high babysitting in this old tudor house, the commercial for “When a Stranger Calls” would always come on TV, which led to a terrified 14 year old running through the house locking everything she could find and praying for the return of the Obsitniks (really their name).

  30. OMG, I am not good with horror books or movies. I saw Firestarter as a kid at a friend’s house and it really freaked me out. I remember her mom hanging in the closet. Like, hi, honey! You really didn’t want to piss that little girl off.

    Also I saw Flowers in the Attic at a friend’s house as a child (my friends had terrible parents). Nothing like poisoning your children and locking them in an attic for a great family movie.

    My favorite “scary” movie is The Hand That Rocks The Cradle with Rebecca De Mornay. It was hard to feel sorry for those people. I mean, she’s all creeper in the interview about everyone she loves dying and they’re like, hey, she sounds great! Screw the references! Please watch my small children!

      1. That pretty much describes all of V.C. Andrews’ books, from what I’ve heard. She was creepy stupid and weird.

  31. The boat tunnel scene in willy wonka still haunts my dreams. Anytime I’m falling or stuck or being chased in nightmares, gene wilders voice is screaming and spraying those colors… Terrifying

    1. There’s no earthly way of knowing, which direction we are going. There’s no knowing where we’re rowing. Is it raining. Is it snowing. Is a hurricane a blowing?

  32. You should quote your mom more often. I like her already.

    Just this past weekend I made Peppermeister turn off this Australian horror movie about a deranged girl who got rejected by a potential prom date, so she kidnapped him and tortured him. I have to be in the right frame of mind for scary movies. Like, not too drunk. So, I haven’t seen a lot of scary movies lately.

  33. This was HILARIOUS. I’m a wimp, too. I always think I can handle it and then….yeah, nope.

    I saw The Ring on a date in high school and once I got home, I begged my mom to let me sleep with her. She said no. I went back to my room, unplugged my phone and my television, and slept with all the lights on. I did that for 7 days…until I realized no weird scary woman was coming out of my tv screen to kill me. I was 15.

  34. I watched Nightmare on Elm Street when I was 10. My mom never let me watch horror movies, but that one was playing at a friend’s. I noticed all the characters were sleeping on their backs right before their horrific demises, so I retrained myself not to sleep on my back and did that for years.

    Also, I saw Candyman once at around the same age, only halfway through. To me, it’s way worse to only see part of the horror movie rather than the whole thing.

  35. I think that you should combine your last post with this one and add “Attack of the Rampant Tonsils” to the horror list.
    I am surprised that no one mentioned the original Alien, which combined sci-fi with horror.
    “In space, no one can hear you scream.”

  36. I am a fully certified arachnophobic so the movie eight legged freaks erm freaked me out. You may ask why I would watch a movie about spiders if the mere mention of the word has me all aquiver. Well, as I actually do have more brain cells than a certain Miss Steele I knew to avoid big scary things like the plague. But what do you do if you are sitting in a giant metal tube at 30000 feet and the movie de Jeur is about big eight legged hairy monsters? I could hardly sneak although I did seriously consider facing severe lack of oxygen, frigid temperatures and various felony charges rather than have to endure that film. That flight was the longest flight of my life and had me itching all over and for weeks afterwards every time I closed my eyes all I could see were big hairy tentacles. No other movie has ever scared me like that one and I’ve watched several of those on your “watch through fingers” list

  37. Holy fuck…I’ll never sleep again.

    Also, can I just tell you how happy I am that you included Willy Wonka in this list? I found the Oompa Loompa dancing and accompanying music really creepy. I’d rather be sodomized by a remote control than have an Oompa Loompa touch me anywhere.

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