The Three Stooges scared me, especially Moe. I would watch them on Saturday afternoons, transfixed yet terrified. I don’t know why I continued to watch if it scared me. I was kind of a dumb kid.
There was an episode of Sesame Street where Ernie and Bert explore an Egyptian pyramid, and a statue comes to life and messes with Ernie. It’s about how sometimes all you’re scared of is your imagination, so it’s a great learning experience, right? Except that at the end it all turns out to be true even though Bert didn’t believe Ernie!
I was petrified that my stuffed animals and toys would come to life and start talking to me.
Another Willy Wonka casualty here! But for me it was the fizzy lifting drink. Basically College Humor has distilled my nightmares into a video for your enjoyment.
I think we’ve discussed this on the boards before - this episode scared the shit out of me and made me freakishly afraid of everything Egyptian for a really long time. Anything to do with mummies, pyramids, etc, was right out. Actually, thinking about that episode is still giving me the willies a bit right now. Strangely, I was never afraid of my stuffed animals coming to life though.
I was forbidden from watching Unsolved Mysteries as a kid after an episode about a young girl who disappeared while walking home from school and was never found. On TV they showed the girl walking along, and then she sort of faded out and vanished. Even at that age I knew that was a special effect, but for some reason it deeply disturbed me and I had horrible nightmares for ages.
When my son was a little guy, my mother sent him a Mr Potato Head. He waited patiently while we put it together for him. But when we put the last piece in, we found out that it was an EXPLODING MR. POTATO HEAD!! He screamed, we screamed. We had to put it outside before he would calm down.
(There was also a Crawling Baby Mickey we had to lock in a closet . . .)
I wouldn’t think he could remember those things but he says he’s still traumatized. He has us convinced that that’s why he won’t eat potatoes.
When I was a little kid, my dad took me trick-or-treating across the street to the neighbor’s house. They had a life-size ghost sitting in a chair on their porch. I went up to look at it thinking it was just a dummy, and tried to sit in its lap. The only problem is, it was my neighbor dressed up waiting to catch unsuspecting kids like me. I screamed and ran all the way back across the street and for years I felt like my dad had betrayed me by letting me do that. He and the neighbor, of course, thought it was hilarious.
When I was 4 and my sister was born, we went to England to introduce her to all the relatives on both sides. We stayed with my father’s parents. My grandfather had a very loud and odd-sounding snoring problem. Because we lived (in Canada) in a rural area with bears, I had been told to stay away from them, but was unsure of what a bear actually was. I reckoned it growled. Cue me in bed alone listening to my grandfather snoring, totally convinced it was a bear growling, on its way to eat me. I didn’t really sleep at all for the 3 nights we stayed there and I remember my parents taking me to the doctor when i started sleeping during the day. I STILL remember the terror of knowing there was a growling bear outside my bedroom door.
One of my very earliest, almost pre-verbal memories is of my mother’s use of the phrase “the ANSWER is NO” - she always said that as a sort of final warning if I was asking for something. The word ‘answer,’ because of the pronunciation, made me think of ‘ant’ and I interpreted this phrase from my mom as a threat that somehow if i asked again for thing X, a gigantic ant would show up. I hated ants, a lot. The image, still in my mind, is of me in the kitchen standing beside an ant (also standing, and about the size of my mom) - it’s a still image, my brain never took it beyond that totally vague threat of the giant ant’s presence and what it might do.
Stephen King’s IT scared the shit out of me when I read it at about 9 yr old. I had to throw it out of the room every night after reading it it scared me so much. Aaaugh.
When I was about 12 or 13, there was a show on HBO, I think it was, about all the predictions made by Nostrodamus. For MONTHS, I was completely freaked out that the world was ending, so badly that I had problems sleeping, afraid that this was the night that horrible things would happen and the world would end.
Would it help if you knew that that baby chimp was a decoy for the real thing? [The one which would become Caeser in the next film]
I assume then that you will be steering way clear of that upcoming Ted film about the stuffed bear come to life, then? [Clear candidate for numerous Worst of 2012 lists it would seem, based on the previews.]
Why, yes it does. It would have been even more helpful if one of my parents had explained it at the time. Did the viewer know this at that point? I do recall them saying “it isn’t real, it’s just a doll” as they tried to calm me. I assumed they meant it in the sense of “it’s only a movie; no real monkeys were harmed”, which I knew at some level, but was still freaked by the sadness of it.
Very interesting,John. Thanks!
I watched Robocop when I was 5. The scene where they kill him was horrifying. They had a cartoon for kids, so I figured the movie would be awesome and bugged my mom until she finally rented it.
I watched Aliens when I was 9. I somehow missed that Bishop was a robot, so the end of the movie was horrifying. For years I figured that’s what it would look like if that happened to a person.
The episode of Rescue 911 where the person got their tongue stuck to the wall of the freezer gave me a phobia of leaning too far into the freezer when I was young.
When I was 10, we would carpool to band in the mornings, before school. One morning, at about 7:00, I called our neighbor to tell her we were on our way to pick her up. I had dialed her number a thousand times before, but must have dialed it incorrectly that day, because a very angry sounding man answered the phone and yelled that I had the wrong number. It was pretty early in the morning, so I kind of understand now, but at the time it scared the crap out of me.
Even today I struggle with a fear of dialing a wrong number and I hate making phone calls because of it. He probably never thought of it again, but it has played a huge part in the story of my life. It was also this memory that made me terrified to have kids because such a little thing could screw them up so badly.
The Golden Girls; it’s really pathetic. I think it was Sophia’s elderliness that bothered me. It must have come on just after something that my family watched. I was always careful to leave the room as soon as the theme music started.
Unsolved Mysteries scared me too, but that’s completely reasonable when you’re five.
The Chowchilla kidnapping. The adults were all talking about it, and I must have been hearing some news reports, because I have a strong memory of hearing the phrase “buried alive” over and over. At the time, I interpreted that as if the victims had been corralled into a grave and had dirt shoveled directly on top of them, or something. It didn’t help that we were visiting my grandmother at the time, and I didn’t have the comfort of my familiar surroundings.
I know the guy convicted for it was recently released, and that doesn’t bother me on a gut level. But when I went to read an article just now to refresh my memory, I found I can’t really read it. I do enjoy reading some real-life crime accounts, like Ann Rule writes, but I can’t do this one.
Dam bulls. Or bull dams. Either one. Both involve my father either placing me at age 3, dressed in my cowboy outfit, on the back of a bull, which then bucked me into the next county, or showing me what the face of Hoover Dam looked like by grabbing me by the waist and holding me over the edge, so I could look straight down (age 5). To this day I am a confirmed carnivore, eating beef with relish, and a moderate acrophobe. But only when on something solid. Ballooning, flying and the like don’t bother me at all. But looking over an edge still ooges me out a bit at first.
Chowchilla had the same effect on me. The bizarre nature of that crime heightened the horror.
King’s ‘The Dark Half’. To this day, the thought of reproducing makes me woozy just because of the sheer number of possible failure points. (Not to mention evil twins. )
Dot and the Kangaroo. For years, I was scared stiff of the bunyip thanks to that one scene in it where the protagonists watched stick figures come to life and be chased by the monster. Although looking at it on youtube now, I had no recollection of how cheesy the effects were.
The movie “The Man Who Saw Tomorrow,” with Orson Wells narrating the story of Nostradamus’ predictions. I was about eleven when I saw it, and it completely traumatized by it. I was convinced that we’d be nuked by a blue-turbaned Arab in 1994. Convinced. I laid awke nights over it.
Edit : I think phall is thinking of the same thing in post 28.
Back in the day when nickelodeon would go off the air at 6pm and become the most boring anti-nickelodeon channel for adults, they aired a show called The Third Eye, a sci-fi show for “older children”. They even had a disclaimer that younger children may find it disturbing. I was a younger child and I found it disturbing. No idea why a channel that played Belle and Sebastian and Pinwheel would also air that nightmare.
The musicalversion of The War of the Worlds.
I must have been 7 when my brother got a copy for Christmas along with the illustrated book. The music and the paintings creeped me out but more to the point put the concept of an alien invasion into my mind. I remember lying awake at night searching the sky for green falling stars and wondering if the dog down the street was barking at a fighing machine.
Still one of my favorite albums.
Along the same theme, in the George Pal movie there is a shot during the evacuation of L.A. that shows a young boy and his dog eating icecream from an overturned vendors cart. That image always haunted me as I could really see that kid & pooch as me & my dog.