You guyzzzzz it’s HALLOWEEN! This is Halloween! This is Halloween! Life has been so freaking busy just lately and I’ve been feeling exhausted, but I couldn’t not pop my head up and write a halloweeny post could I? Heck no. I had half a mind to draw up a list of my favourite folk horror or folk horroresque movies from yesterday and today, but I thought I might leave that for next year (if I’m lucky, Ari Aster might come up with another joyous journey into the uncanny in the meantime). Instead I thought I’d tip this all on its head a wee bit and talk about some movies/programmes/scenes that were seared painfully into my mind’s eye as a kid: stuff that scared the crap out of me, but that (in most cases) probably shouldn’t have.
One or two of these were intended to be scary, but probably weren’t meant to strike quite so much terror into my heart as they did. I became desensitised to horror from a pretty young age, so these particular examples are from when I was probably at least under the age of 11 or 12, but for the most part much younger.
I hope you have fun lolzing at me when you read this post, and when you’re done you should let me know what scared the heck out of you when you were a little kid (particularly if it was something that probably shouldn’t have…..)
1. Great Expectations (1946)
I have an extremely vivid memory of this 1946 horrorshow being on the telly at my paternal Grandparents’ house on a Sunday afternoon, probably in the 1980s. Either before or after the Antiques Roadshow (which was compulsory viewing on a Sunday back then) this harmless-enough Dickens adaptation was as dark and gritty as you’d expect from such an epic tale of revenge and betrayal and bitterness, but it was the scene in which Pip finally confronts and walks out on Miss Havisham that left me sitting wide-eyed in front of the telly watching AN OLD LADY BURN TO DEATH, SCREAMING. Is it just me…..?
2. Beastmaster (1982)
Okay there is so much wrong and distressing in this film, y’all. How many FAMILY MOVIES (this was a PG in its UK cinema release) feature half of the weird and terrifying stuff that happens during this one, never mind the actual child sacrifice? Personally I was most distressed by the ferret death, to be honest, but most of it was pretty awful. Good grief.
3. Krull (1983)
Ditto as for Beastmaster above really, but this was a close call between the scene above and the Old Man With The Eyes Of Death Melting In The Swampy Place one…
4. One of those safety videos from the 1970s in which a child’s feet are cut off (1979)
Those of you under the age of about 25 might be horrified at the sort of stuff we were made to watch in school in the 1980s. We were all bundled into the sports hall or a generously sized classroom and a telly that was as deep as it was wide was trundled in on a rickety old stand on wheels. Then the teacher would spend about 8 minutes trying to figure out how to use a VCR, until a particularly brave/cocky kid would step up and help. And then the lights were dimmed, PLAY was pressed, and we all got to watch one of either a kid getting killed/maimed on a railway line, another kid getting burned to death trying to retrieve a frisbee from a power station, and/or another reckless child who thought it’d be fun to hide inside a bonfire. You can imagine how that worked out. I never even touched a sparkler again. (If you’re into this sort of thing, there’s a nice little compilation here.)
5. Clash of the Titans (1981)
Another classic tale, brought wonderfully to life (no doubt) by Ray Harryhausen, but another one that scared the crap out of me as a ween. Decapitated medusa blood that transforms into giant deadly scorpions? Sure, yes please.
6. Return to Oz (1985)
There are so many troublesome scenes in this very 1980s Wizard of Oz sequel, but why not a Princess who can take off her actual head and swap it for another in her walk-in wardrobe of decapitated human heads? Why not indeed.
7. Young Sherlock Holmes (1985)
What initially looks to be a lighthearted foray into the backstory of Holmes’ and Watson’s enduring friendship, as well as the explanation for Holmes’ general all-round fucked-up-ness and his celibacy, ends up being a horrifying journey into our deepest fears and mummified young ladies being burned alive by boiling oil. In scenes rather too reminiscent of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom my early childhood fear of mummified things was cranked all the way up to 11. No thank you.
8. That story about the girl (Jenny!!) with the green ribbon round her neck (1984)
Published in In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories, as part of series called I Can Read!, this story is entirely unsuitable for anyone who is just learning to read. It possibly teaches a good lesson about trust in relationships though?
9. The Neverending Story (1984)
I’m featuring this one for emotional pain. The worst emotional pain I felt before the age of ten. And I had a colourful upbringing, let me tell you. (Y’all might like to know that the book is a whole lot more messed up than the film, too….)
10. Ghostwatch (1992)
I vividly, VIVIDLY, recall watching this when it aired on 31 October 1992 when I was 11 years and 3 months old. I -at the time- was in my Dad’s house with my brother, who was three years older than me and decidedly uninterested in my emotional distress as I thought the BBC was under attack from the ghost of a cross-dressing pedophile who died and was eaten by his own cats. Kids are not supposed to watch telly after 9pm (or at least that’s how it was back then) but my Dad was entirely fucking terrible at parenting and basically let me do whatever the heck I wanted to through sheer disinterest much of the time. The video above does a good job of describing how Stephen Volk and his team took advantage of a lot of very clever tricks that were way before their time, causing me and many others to absolutely crap their pants up and down the British Isles. It was marvellously inspired by The War of the Worlds and The Enfield Haunting, and that’s what caught my eye as I had plenty of Britain’s Greatest Ghosts type books when I was a kid. The BBC banned Ghostwatch from being aired or released for a decade, until it was released in 2002.
I also want to give an honourable mention to the first 15 minutes of every single episode of Casualty ever in the 1980s/90s. I tried to find a YouTube video of that one where the girl in the shellsuit sets on fire and her shellsuit is melted into her skin. You guyz, I never wore my shellsuit ever again. I’m no chump.
So how about you, my blog friends? What frightened you as a kid? And how do you feel about it now? Let me know! And Happy Halloweeeeeeen!
Header image is from Pixabay. Thanks Pixabay!