• News/Talk
  • Music
  • Entertainment

Scaring the Kids

John Moe

Bigfoot's Nocturnal Visit from "Mysterious Monsters"
Willy Wonka's Psychedelic Boat Ride

What's the scariest movie moment you recall from childhood? For many of us, it might not even be a film that was supposed to be terrifying. Instead, it was a weird little moment of fright in a movie that was otherwise fairly innocent. Perhaps Gene Wilder's psychedelic boat ride in "Willy Wonka"? The Child Catcher in "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang"? Or the ultimate in childhood terror: The flying monkeys in "The Wizard of Oz"? We talk to former monkey Danny Windsor and try to get some enlightenment and closure on our cinematic trauma.

The Child Catcher from "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang"


I'm scared right now. I have YouTube pulled up and I'm watching the most frightening movie moment I've ever witnessed. It's from a documentary from 1976 called "Mysterious Monsters." In this scene, a woman is at home at night watching TV. She hears sounds outside and suddenly a Bigfoot walks by her window. We see him but she doesn't. Then he smashes his arm through her window -- I guess Bigfoot wants to steal her lamp? Or something? She screams and her husband comes running. He grabs his gun and opens the front door and THERE'S BIGFOOT! And that moment, Bigfoot standing right there in the doorway, I've carried it with me for well over 30 years.

I was seven when I saw this the first time. I know it's completely cheesy: the acting is terrible, I could have made the costume. Bigfoot doesn't even look ferocious; he just looks stupid and confused.

But after I saw it, I believed Bigfoot would climb in my window. I lived in the Pacific Northwest, Bigfoot's native land. Never mind that he may not exist and if he did why would he go to the suburbs and climb up to the second floor of the house and bust out a window? I had no room for logic, only terror. I lost a lot of sleep.

I have to turn this off. I am honestly still scared.

Now, I didn't originally watch this movie to get scared. I just thought it was about mysterious creatures. The Loch Ness monster was in it too, and so was the Abominable Snowman. It sounded cool. But it screwed me up.

I've been talking to a lot of people this week about their own traumatic childhood movie memories. Everyone has one and it's often the non-horror movies that end up being the most terrifying. It's stuff from kids movies, little horrifying bits that are meant to scare you a bit but scar you instead.

Like the Child Catcher from "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang."

Gene Wilder getting creepy on a boat in "Willy Wonka."

And then there's the king of traumatizing childhood movie moments: the flying monkeys from "The Wizard of Oz."

Whenever the subject of scary childhood movie moments comes up, flying monkeys dominate the conversation. Grown adults recount how they are still afraid of those expressionless simians who swoop in and grab Dorothy and friends and carry them to the witch's castle.

I tried to figure out why these monkeys had such lasting power. I thought Danny Windsor might have some ideas. He's 83 now, but when he was 13, he was hired for two days of filming as a flying monkey. "We were just told to act around and mingle with each other," he now recalls.

He got paid 38 bucks and moved on. But whenever someone finds out he was a monkey, they need to tell him how scared they were, "It's amazing. I never thought it was that scary of a scene. I was never frightened by them, but that's the first thing you always hear: 'Man, you guys scared the heck out of us.' And I never thought of the monkeys as all being that scary. Isn't that funny?"

It's worth noting that Danny didn't see "The Wizard of Oz" until two years ago when he was 81. I heard from probably two dozen adults who cited Danny and his crew as The Scariest Thing Ever. These folks saw the movie as young kids, and while they can laugh about it now, they're still not over it. But you know who never came up? The Wicked Witch. With the green skin and the cackling and the "How 'bout a little fire, Scarecrow?"

I think I know why. The witch was scary in a way we understood. We know witches and she behaved the way we think a witch would behave.

Monkeys are different. They're unpredictable. They're like strong stupid people with no morality. In the movie, they've been enlisted in a paramilitary operation. They can fly. They're weaponized. And then they grab our friends and take them away; they reach into the Scarecrow's body and rip out his straw.

We are children witnessing nihilism, chaos.

And after all that "We're off to see the Wizard" business, that's what freaks your chili.

We all carry around our terrifying movie memories, mostly acquired between five and ten years old. I want to hear about your scary childhood movie moment. Read what other people have to say and maybe find some solidarity. Let's commiserate, maybe even laugh about it. But here's the thing: We'll still be frightened. Here's the ending to my scary story: We will all be frightened for the rest of our lives. The scary monkeys will never go away. Happy Halloween.


  • Comment | Refresh


    From St Paul, MN, 01/05/2012


    By Jayne Jayne

    From WiTrAeFooMgXZQMlUJ, UT, 12/19/2011

    How neat! Is it ralely this simple? You make it look easy.

    By Jackie Davis

    From Kenesaw, NE, 11/08/2008

    By the way, we always referred to the flying monkeys as "winkies" (winged monkeys)

    By Jackie Davis

    From Kenesaw, NE, 11/07/2008

    The movie "The Time Machine": when Rod Taylor went forward in time, the year that was displayed on his machine when the nuclear war occurred was 1964. I was 9 or 10 when I saw the movie on television, and was scared to death when 1964 rolled around a year or so later. Every time I heard a sonic boom, which was frequent in the middle of Nebraska, I was sure that the end had come. And then came the movie "Fail Safe", the ultimate terror for a child who of the Cold War era.

    By Kristen Woodward

    From Seattle, WA, 11/07/2008

    Growing up in the Midwest, where the sky would routinely turn green in the spring and summer I guess it is no surprise that the tornado scene in the Wizard of Oz never ceased to frighten and fascinate me.

    By Anne Woodward

    From Seattle, WA, 11/03/2008

    My mother took me to see Bambi when I was about five years old. This was my first cinematic experience and in a time when little kids weren't exposed to TV violence like they are today. I'm not even sure we had a television yet. The scene where the hunter's shots ring out and Bambi's mother is killed was just awful, even though it occurs off camera. Up to that point it was a beautiful film and then suddenly I and every other child in the theater was crying because Bambi's mother was dead. I can still remember what a dreadful feeling it was--like when you got separated from your mom in a store and thought you would never find her again. I haven't been able to watch it since. Disney didn't pull any punches in the old animated films.

    By Randi Spangler

    From Lemoyne, PA, 11/03/2008

    Pinocchio! I was in the car on 11-1-08 listening to your story & oral comments on movies that scared us as children. I was having trouble thinking of one because I loved horror movies from about the age of 9 (lost interest when they started getting less interesting and more gory). But when I heard the man's comments on Pinocchio, I had goosebumps & the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I was about 3-4 when my mother took me to see it. I don't remember much of the story at all. The stand-out moment was when he got swallowed by the whale. I cried inconsolably. But that listener put it into words that I could not. He said that that moment introduced him to the concept of despair. Perfect. He was right; "it was a story of abduction, drunkenness, debauchery." The horror of losing one's family and being able to trust no one just came crashing down on me as he was swallowed. I never saw it again. I am so glad I happened to be tuned in that day because for the 1st time in 55 years, I felt validated for hating that movie!

    By Heather Fry

    From Edgewood, KY, 11/03/2008

    SALEMS LOT. It was a movie about vampires. It was my first scary movie and I was about 9 or 10. My brother watched too. He was about 8. My mother let us watch it with her not realizing how scary it would be. The vampires were so real. What made it worse was the fact the fog in the movie that rolled up to windows looked exactly like the fog that rolled up to our old farmhouse. Once, the fog rolled in, the vampires would scratch trying to get in. Due to this, I didnt sleep well for weeks. My brother must have missed sleep too- he slept with a cross on his chest for months afterward.

    By Lori Stabler

    From Birmingham,, AL, 11/02/2008

    The Wizard of Oz was my annual horrific moment. Not the threatening monkeys, by the time they appeared I had been terrorized by the Wizard himself. And it took me a few years to remember that it was gonna get scary. Every year when it came on TV I started out thrilled and engrossed, then all of a sudden the Wizard appeared and had me peeking through my fingers.

    By julie walker

    From cannon beach, OR, 11/01/2008

    I still have nightmares about the Abominable Snowman from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer when I was a little kid...maybe 5 or so. When I grew up I remember watching "Duel" on TV and being terrified of this unknown horrible person in a huge truck hunting down this innocent. I'm 46 but when I catch these pieces on TV today, my heart still beats a little faster and I get a panicky feeling!

    By Kӓren Reim

    From Portland, OR, 11/01/2008

    By the light of day I was a fearless kid. When night crept in, however, that youthful courage disappeared. Eventually, I developed a bedtime ritual for keeping safe from those scary monsters of the movies which included sleeping with my closet light on, making sure the blinds were pulled (only after peeking out to make sure there were no vampires or ghosts hovering outside the window), and tucking the covers snugly around my body and all the way up to my nose. This way, I could still see because not knowing what was outside the covers was still more terrifying than having the control over whether or not I would open my eyes to face the evil that could at any moment enter into my bedroom. The movie, The Gremlins, and the comment, "Careful, Kӓren. There might be Gremlins swimming around in your waterbed," however harmless my mother intended it to be, led to this childhood neurosis that in some ways still haunt me (i.e. when I must enter our creepy old shed after dark). This moment first introduced me to the possibility that darkness somehow lacked the security of the daylight and changed my world, forever.

    By Doug M

    From Los Angeles, CA, 11/01/2008

    The original INVADERS FROM MARS. A backyard sandpit that sucks people up with weird voices singing, nice parents who turn zombie-like and cruel when the Martians insert something in their necks, authority figures controlled by a weird creature who's all head and tentacles, ray guns that melt stone walls, being trapped underground with towering mutants killing soldiers and a flying saucer that's about to explode...nightmare material for years.

    And DEAD OF NIGHT..."Just room for one inside, sir!" "I'm not frightened!!" "There's nothing wrong with my mirror, I look in it often" "Saturday show for the loonies!" "Oh, doctor...why did you have to break your glasses?"...man, that's *still* terrifying.

    By Dave Guttman

    From Rancho Palos Verdes, CA, 11/01/2008

    The Night on Bald Mountain scene from Fantasia was my scariest childhood movie memory. When Chernabog summons from their graves empowered restless souls: ghosts, witches, demons, skeletons, and other evil creatures from the graveyard. Then brings forth fire and brimstone. I was afrad for months that any random manhole cover would erupt with lava and these creatures

    By Allison Gill

    From San Diego, CA, 11/01/2008

    By FAR the most terrifying cinematic moment of my childhood was the Abominable Snow Monster from the Christmas classic, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.

    I couldn't have been more than 3, and I remember it as though it were yesterday. I was thoroughly enjoying the film until the Bumble came over the mountain after Yukon Cornelius and I screamed and ran from the room.

    The funny part is that, every year following the first time I saw that movie, I begged my mother to let me watch it-but she was hesitant because of my fear of the Snow Monster. It actually became routine that my father would let me know that the part featuring the monster was about to happen, and I would adjourn to another room until my parents came back to get me when his cameo had finished. I would watch and enjoy the rest of the movie, especially the part at the end where the SnoW Monster redeems himself by putting the star atop the giant Christmas tree as the "Humble Bumble".

    You see, once the dental prodigy misfit elf pulled the monster's teeth out, I was no longer afraid of him.

    By Ruth Bulwinkle

    From Portland, OR, 11/01/2008

    My twin brother and I were first terrified by the Abominable Snowman from Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer. Then, later, there was the Child Catcher, and I'm still terrified just thinking about him.

    By Pam Meade

    From Monroe, MI, 11/01/2008

    My earliest “scary scene” memory was from something that wasn’t even meant to be scary. It was a comedy sketch from The Steve Allen Show back in the 1950s. Steve Allen was dressed up as Frankenstein and Jayne Meadows as the Bride of Frankenstein. Never mind that it was supposed to be funny, or so my parents said. I was terrified of the the characters, especially the bride of Frankenstein. I must have been about three years old at the time, and I remember burying my head in my father’s lap so I wouldn’t have to look at the TV. Jayne Meadows' gestures, voice, makeup – everything in her portrayal scared me to death. My parents talked about this for years afterwards, marveling that a comedy sketch would strike terror in the heart of a child. But I was only three, and parody was beyond my comprehension. Monsters, however, I understood, and the Bride of Frankenstein was a horrible monster, whose image and voice haunted me for a long time.

    By Renee Halm

    From Las Vegas, NV, 11/01/2008

    When I was 4 or 5 the movie "The Terror" with Jack Nicholson showed on television, and at the very end of the movie there's a scene where a woman kind of melts in the rain. I ran terrified to my grandmother, who had left the living room to begin preparing dinner, and she told me that the thing that I was so afraid of was just a portrait, sort of like the Mona Lisa. I know she thought this was reassuring, but what it really did was cause me to be frightened by the print of the Mona Lisa hanging in my grandparents' dining room! This intense feeling of creepiness when I was around that print lasted until I was an adult. A few years ago I found a copy of "The Terror" in the $1 bin at Walmart and bought it, but never got up the nerve to watch it to see what really DOES happen at the end that scared me so badly!

    Oh, and I can't let this topic go by without at least mentioning two particular episodes of Night Gallery..... "The Doll" and "Certain Shadows on the Wall." I haven't seen either one in years, but the memories of them still creep me out.

    By Anwar Sheikh

    From Chicago, IL, 11/01/2008

    That Stepford Wives movie scared the heck out of me. When they brainwashed the women so to be subservant baby sitting, prostitutes who have the men's favorite dish ready for them when they get home seemed so terrifyingly surreal yet an integral reality at the same time. It made me a Feminist by the age of 8..... I am just now at 42 questioning my first assumptions. Now it terrifies me that I was so brainwashed for 30 something years!

    By Terrell Brown

    From Greensboro, NC, 11/01/2008

    The scariest movie moment from my childhood was from Twilight Zone the movie. The fourth segment: Nightmare at 20000 ft, John Lithgow (an excellent actor by the way) opens the screen for his window and the gremlin's slimey, ugly face is right there. That, mixed with the menacing music and John Lithgow's insane response to the gremlin caused me to run from one side of my house to the other.

    By Rebecca Meyers

    From Davis, CA, 11/01/2008

    The most horrifying movie for me is Old Yeller, without a doubt. I saw it as a child and will never forget the shock and horror of, you know, what happens. I sobbed in the theater, unable to be consoled. It is no doubt what drove me through 4 years of professional school to become a veterinarian, where after 20 years in practice I am still trying to save every animal I possibly can, since there was nothing I could do for poor Old Yeller. I of course have never seen one second of it since - my poor heart couldn't take it - and my children will never be subjected to it. I surround myself with dogs and cats constantly. I suppose this is my continuing therapy. It works well, so I have a wonderfully happy life, as long as I don't think about, you know...

    By Jina Jansson

    From Seattle, WA, 11/01/2008

    Still can't watch Time Bandits. Saw that movie when I was a kid and it scared me for, well, decades. My memories of the movie are probably a bit mixed because I have not seen it for so long. This movie gave me nightmares by introducing me to the concept that even people you trust (your parents) could actually be evil demons in disguise. This poor boy goes through all these terrible adventures, manages to get home intact only to discover that the parents he has longed to return to are evil as well. Maybe the tension just went on too long for my young mind, but that scared me indefinitely.

    By Jina Jansson

    From Seattle, WA, 11/01/2008

    Still can't watch Time Bandits. Saw that movie when I was a kid and it scared me for, well, decades. My memories of the movie are probably a bit mixed because I have not seen it for so long. This movie gave me nightmares by introducing me to the concept that even people you trust (your parents) could actually be evil demons in disguise. This poor boy goes through all these terrible adventures, manages to get home intact only to discover that the parents he has longed to return to are evil as well. Maybe the tension just went on too long for my young mind, but that scared me indefinitely.

    By Bob Grant

    From Thomaston, ME, 11/01/2008

    My scariest TV movie moment came, in 1955, at the age of about 6, when Claude Rains unwrapped his head for the first time in the original Invisible Man. It took me completely by surprise, as the concept of being invisible was not known to me. I dreamt about this moment for many weeks, waking up screaming, much to my mom's dismay. I saw the movie again about 20 years ago and it still sent a chill up my back.....scary stuff for a 6 year old.

    By Lydia Butler

    From WA, 11/01/2008

    By far, the most feared seen from my childhood was the screaming Banshee from "Darby O'Gill and the Little People." I finally rented the movie as an adult, and that banshee still beats out the giant rat-dogs from "Willow", although they're a close second.

    By Jennifer Graham

    From Henderson, NV, 11/01/2008

    Here are the scariest movies from a baby boomer: The Tingler, The Body Snatchers (aaahh!), The Mummy, The Fly, Dracula, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Twilight Zone that had the guy become a slug or snake or something that left a trail...which reminds me: "SSSSS" where a guy becomes a snake,(ugh, it was hideous!). I never felt comfortable at night!

    By Robert (Bob) Summers

    From Grosse Ile, MI, 11/01/2008

    The first thing that came to mind was "Old Yeller" back in the fifties. I was probably 7 or 8 and the scene when Kevin Corcoran (?) went into the shed after Old Yeler got rabies scared the bejeezes out of me. I had no idea what rabies was but I did know that this friendly, faithful dog suddenly turned into a killer. I was afraid of animals, especially dogs, for years.

    By Kat Byrne

    From WA, 11/01/2008

    I had a brother 6 years older and so I was exposed to a lot of media I probably wouldn't have seen otherwise. Two scenes stick out in my memory as being particularly terrifying.

    1. The "haz-mat" guys in ET. I still can't watch that movie because the scene with the "guys in space suits", as I imagined they were, were so scary to me at age 6. I remember distinctly that my best friend and I ended up sitting in the same chair at the movie theater, hugging and hiding our faces.

    2. In The Empire Strikes Back, the Han Solo getting frozen in carbonite scene still makes me look away. The look of agony on his face, and the hands frozen into claws... I turn back into my young self watching it. *shudder*

    By Jodie Willis

    From Port Royal, SC, 11/01/2008

    I still remember being afraid of the talking trees in Babes in Toyland.

    By Tim O'Neill

    From Rochester, MN, 11/01/2008

    My wife is freaked out to this day by Oompaloompas but my favorite childhood scare was a shock scene from Star Wars. It did not traumatize me nor did it ruin the film but it definitely freaked me out. I was six-years-old when the film was released. The family packed into the station wagon and went to the drive in. For this scare, the set up was everything. I remember being totally engulfed by the story and teh special effects. There is an early scene in which Luke Skywalker looks through his monocular at some bantha and sand people in a valley below him. We watch this scene, with Luke, from the relative safety of distance; we view it through his own scope. Out of nowhere, a sand person leaps up into the view. Luke falls backward and the monster stands threateningly over him howling and shaking his rifle over his head. I jumped out of my skin. My father had fallen asleep before the opening credits. I practically soiled my pants. Of course, when the movie was over, I wanted to see it again right away.

    By Heather Whittier

    From OH, 11/01/2008

    The most terrifying film of my childhood was Poltergeist. I was seven. It was rated PG at the time, and my parents let me watch it. For the next month I slept with the lights on convinced that our TV was going to eat me.

    By Kevin Vaughan

    From Wilsonville, OR, 10/31/2008

    Until I heard your podcast I thought that I was the only one in the world affected by that scene in "Mysterious Monsters." As a kid, I could watch most any scary movie without any problems. But that movie really got to me. I think it's because it was supposed to be a true documentary. It was a long time before I could sit anywhere with my back to a window.

    By Jim Barfuss

    From Trenton, MI, 10/30/2008

    Those flying monkeys STILL creep me out(I'm in my fifties), but the movie that gave me nightmares for months was "Day of the Triffids". Thoughts of those alien octopus/broccoli tentacles reaching through my bedroom window terrorized me for years. My kind and loving brother gave me the video for Christmas a few years back (maybe hoping for a relapse). I got up the courage to watch it. It was pretty hokey.
    The creepiest movie I have ever seen was Werner Herzog's "Heart of Glass". To help accentuate an isolated mountain town's sense of loss when their centuries old claim to fame suddenly evaporated (the only person who knew the formula for their famous colored glassware died), Herzog had the actors hypnotized before filming. The effect was profoundly disturbing. As you watch, you can't help but get the feeling, "They're not just acting. There's something WRONG with those people. Now, THAT was creepy to the point of giving me actual shudders. For days.

    By David Coward

    From Eagan, MN, 10/30/2008

    I saw Disney's PINOCCHIO when I was six years old and the scenes where the "bad" boys started turning into donkeys scared the daylights out of me. That they'd be captured and taken away for life to a life of slavery and whippings by those cruel captors haunted me for years to come. I've never watched it since (and it's been over forty years ago now).
    The other film scene that was genuinely creepy was from William Wyler's 1959 film BEN HUR. It's the scene where the the jailor leads Ben Hur's sworn enemy Mesalah down deep into the dungeon to find his missing mother and sister. They are told ominously that they're on "the lower level." The jailor is seen (from the inside) crawling halfway into the dark & dank cell, and as he thrusts the torch in to see, he recoils in horror as the music strikes a loud dischord, and he emerges, stricken, and stammers, "Lepers!" Even after the tropical disease of leprosy was explained to me by my scientist father, I still lived in mortal fear of this condition--all because of implied horror of it in that one scene. I actually really like this film now, but that scene remains truly creepy. Strange how even as adults, forty some years later, we somehow remain affected!

    By Joni Schichtel

    From Kentwood, MI, 10/29/2008

    I was amused to see the child catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as this was one of the scariest things I'd ever seen and he still creeps me out, even though I'm now 48 years old! When a Stranger Calls with Carol Kane did me in as a teenager. Although, it wasn't a movie, many episodes of The Twilight Zone scared the bejeebies out of me, specifically the one where the Ventriloquist has an evil doll and it tricks the guy into smashing the "good" doll into smithereens while the evil one survives... I can't look at one of those dolls to this day without wondering if there's something evil lurking beneath that CREEPY smile!

    By Marty Gordon

    From Seattle, WA, 10/28/2008

    The movie that did me in as a kid was "20,000,000 Miles to Earth." At that time there was a daily movie on channel 5 called "The Big Show." Occasionally they would show monster movies. I was probably only 4 years old and I was at my Aunt Betty Lou's house for the afternoon. One of her older sons must have been watching the show. In the movie, a creature from Venus grows to huge proportions because of our atmosphere and reeks havoc on Rome, Italy. During the ensuing battle, he battles an elephant at the zoo and climbs to the top of the coliseum (ala King Kong). After seeing that I was convinced that there were giant monsters roaming the countryside wanting to step on me or gobble me up. The whole thing was reinforced in a Dodge commercial where the Dodge Boys fought a similar monster, defeated it, loaded it on the truck and drove off.
    The stuff of nightmares.

    By Teresa Handleman

    From Las Vegas, NV, 10/28/2008

    Finally, someone else who will admit to being afraid of Bigfoot as a kid! My husband makes so much fun of me because I'm still creeped out by the grainy amateur footage of Bigfoot tromping through the forest (which has since been debunked as fake)-- ever since watching it on an episode of "In Search Of..." narrated by Leonard Nimoy. It instantly transports me back to when I was 6 years old! It scared me so much that I wouldn't fall asleep for weeks unless my Mom checked outside my bedroom window to "look for Bigfoot" and reassure me that he wasn't outside waiting to get me. I'm so glad that I never saw the "Mysterious Monsters" show when I was a kid -- I never would have slept again!

    By Pete Lane

    From St Paul, MN, 10/28/2008

    Oh man! I couldn't believe it when I heard you mentioning Mysterious Monsters on the show. I lived in deep woods of Duluth MN growing up, and watching bigfoot documentaries like this one shattered my opinions of reality in the 1970's. Hearing you recall your experience was like stepping into my own time machine! Thank you for bringing back some favorite memories curled up in a sleeping bag late nights. Quite honestly, when you grow up in the woods and you see something like this... you never walk around outside without half expecting to see a sasquatch walk right up to you. In fact, I'm still fondly look into the woods every time I go back home wishing he'd come out to say hello.

    By Linda Watts

    From Del Mar, CA, 10/27/2008

    The movie may have been called "The Story of Ruth" from the Old Testament. A very young girl, about my age at the time, was led to an alter. The high priest held a knife high above her. It didn't matter that the scene changed just as he brought down the knife to pierce her heart.

    By Orin Brecht

    From Brooklyn, NY, 10/27/2008

    It wasn't any particular scene from a movie. It was musical theme to that late 80s show Unsolved Mysteries. I loved the show but I could never take Robert Stack's deep, dry voice describing the upcoming stories. And then they would crank the musical theme and show police artist sketches of criminals. Those sketches where terrifying. I pictured the subjects of those sketches to look exactly like the drawing. Pale and almost deformed. I would cover my ears and wait in the other room until the intro to the show was over. The actual shows never bothered me. Just the beginning.

    By Cate Nelson

    From VA, 10/27/2008

    From "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure": the part where "Large Marge" shows what she looked like after the truck wreck...it ALWAYS scared the bejesus out of me. I had bad dreams for a long time.
    I still have a hard time watching that part, the rare times I catch that goofy flick.

    By Kara. Harris

    From Orting, WA, 10/27/2008

    For me... "The Howling." It waas one of theose first nights I was allowed to stay up on my own to watch endless hours television. There is was, late night, chanel eleven. Debotchery leading to an insufferable fate for all involved. The costumes were "so realistic."

    Fast forward a few years and I was backpacking with several other high schoolers at summer camp high in the Rockies. It was the forth of July and a full moon. We are camping just below a sadle in the subalpine forest, and there I am in my sleeping bag with the most urget need to pee. But what is one to do when a werewolf is waiting just behind that tree? "Oh man...I have to wait for morning...I'm gonna wet my sleeping bag...okay really quick." The shadows from the trees were very eerie, "what were those noises?" Have you ever gotten an adrenaline rush from urinating?

    Okay so in retrospect the werewolves were really cheesy but they did the job for this kid!

    By Chester Artman

    From Portland, OR, 10/26/2008

    Bigfoot really scared me as a kid too but it wasn’t the movie you mentioned. It was The Bionic Man. They must have been hard up for material because there was a storyline where Steve Austin had to fight Bigfoot. Not only was Bigfoot huge and strong and fearsome – he was BIONIC too! If the bionic man couldn’t defeat him what was I going to do? At the time I was 6 and we lived in the woods on the Oregon coast (Bigfoot’s home turf). I was sure I was a gonner.

    By Alfredo Borunda

    From Chula Vista, CA, 10/26/2008

    When I was 12 I watched a TV miniseries based on Stephen King's "Sslem's Lot". There were a couple of scenes where a young vampire child came at night to attack first his brother and then his friend. The sight of this pale kid with long fangs was burned in my memory. For about a week I could not sleep at all and for several years I could not peer outside a window after dark...

    I recently watched the show again and I am surprised at how cheese the make up was, but back in my childhood it was truly horrifying.

    By Betsy Spitzer

    From Minneapolis, MN, 10/26/2008

    There were many things that scared me silly. "Talking Tina" from the Twilight Zone, The Blob, but without a doubt the one that flipped me out was a movie about Dracula returning from the dead. His assistant put Dracula's ashes in a human outlined pit and strung up a helpless guy by his feet and whipped the guy until the blood started to flow into the pit and resurrected Dracula. I couldn't sleep for weeks, had garlic strewn around my room and wore a thick bath towel around my neck, adorned with the largest cross necklace I could find. Part of what was so scary about the film is that it had a beautiful, fairy tale like quality to it. I was about 8 years old and was just watching the Saturday afternoon movie on t.v. Who puts such scary stuff on Saturday morning?

    By Celestia Loeffler

    From Albuquerque, NM, 10/26/2008

    Hi John,

    Listening to your story today, I found myself yelling at the radio and gesticulating wildly, because it was, in fact, the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz who caused irreversible damage to my psyche. I watched the film with my parents when I was two, and enjoyed it wholeheartedly until the moment that freakishly green woman with long pointy fingers and cackly voice arrived in Munchkinland.

    I cried and had to bury my face in a pillow whenever she re-appeared, especially at the end of the movie as she melted into the floor crying, "I'm melting! I'm melting!!!" (I knew she wasn't really gone.)

    As a result of watching that movie, my childhood was riddled with nightmares that the green woman was hiding at the foot of my bed tickling my feet (seems ridiculous to make this confession, as it sounds so silly now). She is probably the reason that I am still, as an adult, afraid of the dark.

    So, there you have it. The flying monkeys, creepy, yes. But nothing will ever compare to my first moments of true movie-bad-guy-induced terror caused by the Wicked Witch herself.

    By Robert Sharp

    From Pasadena, CA, 10/26/2008

    Four things come to mind:

    (1) THE OUTER LIMITS episode in which Donald Pleasance had a brain operation that gave him telekinetic powers, but the side effect was that when he became angry with someone, a cloud with snakes of lightning zapped the person to death. The scene where he has a confrontation with his wife, played by Priscilla Morrill was particularly scary.

    (2) In the John Wayne movie, "True Grit," there was a scene were the character played by actress Kim Darby fell into a canyon and had to fight off a rattlesnake.

    (3) The episode of DARK SHADOWS in 1967 when Maggie Evans tries to stake Barnabas Collins in his coffin. She has bad timing - doing this at sunset - and he wakes up before she can destroy him.

    (4) THE CBS EVENING NEWS WITH WALTER CRONKITE in November 1972. There was a most upsetting report of a fire in a high-rise building in New Orleans in which six women were trapped in a beauty salon and had to jump. Only one survived. The actual footage of them jumping and the horrible screams from the crowd below made me so frightened that I never wanted to go to New Orleans again!

    By Phyllis Stapler


    My sister and I were latchkey kids and would watch TV until my Mom got home from work. There were old movies on in the afternoon and I remember being glued to my chair watching Vincent Price's "The Tingler". There was a scene where a hand came up out of a bathtub filled with blood. I was horrified, but I still had to watch the whole thing. My sister also loved the soap opera "Dark Shadows" and would lock me out of the back of the house when it ended so I was alone. I could have gone outside, but I just sat there waiting for Mom to get home. I even rmember when Barnabas lost his Vampire teeth! It was so campy but I was still scared. There was also an episode of "The Twilight Zone" or maybe it was "The Outer Limits". There were zombies, but it was the tumbleweeds with a mind of their own that totally freaked me out.

    By Susie Schrotenboer

    From Aspen, CO, 10/26/2008

    The scariest movie for me was Mickey Mouse as "The Sourcerer's Apprentice" in "Fantasia". I was quite young the first time I saw the movie and the picture of all those brooms out of control and the rising water stayed in my head. I kept watching all the Mickey Mouse shows I could hoping to see it again. Not until "Fantasia" was rereleased in the 1970's did I find the source of my fear.

    By Megg Magee

    From Baltimore, MD, 10/26/2008

    It was a slumber party at my best friend's home when I was in the first grade. Her parents rented a 1920's silent movie: "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari", a silent movie...I believe the "doctor" was a hypnotist who kept a ghoul (or corpse??) in his cabinet that would wake and murder people. Why this movie was chosen I'll never know, but I slept with lights on for well over a year--much to the chagrin of my parents--who nightly had to check MY closet for murders.

    By Kimbre Lancaster

    From Moscow, ID, 10/26/2008

    I cant tell you how embarrassed I felt for so long about my intense fear of a monster from a silly kids movie. From the very first time I saw it, I have been extremely afraid of the monster from the movie Earnest Scared Stupid. Its slimy, greasy, growling image always seemed to lurk outside my opaque shower door and I used to stand in the water for what seemed like hours trying to get up the courage to open the door...only to see every time that it was just a dark towel hanging on the wall on the other side. Even to this day, I see that movie and find a reason to go to the other room when the monster is going to be on the screen. : )

    By Kelley Coalier

    From St. Louis, MO, 10/26/2008

    I am traumitized by E.T. I am in my 30's and still have not seen the end of it. My family tried 3 times to make me watch it in the theater and the men in the white suits come over the hill and I lost it every time. Hysteria ensued. Every time. It is so bad that when the previews for the 25th anniversary remastered edition came out, I was sitting in a theater and saw the men in the white suits come over the hill and started crying. E.T. freaks me out.

    By Danielle G

    From Princeton, NJ, 10/26/2008

    Scariest childhood movie moment? The one that definitely leaps out is the end of _Planet of the Apes_, when Charlton Heston's group sees the burned hulk of the Statue of Liberty. I'd been to the Statue of Liberty around that time (although not inside), and I'd always lived in or near New York City - seeing that was seeing something real, so it made it all the more scary. (It probably didn't help that I saw it on tv, right before I went to bed.)

    To this day, I don't get scared by monsters, ghosts, aliens, or things like that - it's the horror stories that really could happen that get to me.

    By David Barton

    From Greenville, TX, 10/26/2008

    It was the flying monkeys that did it for me. I was 4 or 5 years old and it was the first movie that I had ever seen. I was terrified by those monkeys and have never recovered. I remember that I was still screaming and crying when I got home afterwards. Consequently I've never seen a horror flick, Alfred Hitchcock is our-of-bounds, and even mildly scary movies inspire great tension, shutting of eyes, or leaving the room. An up side to this experience is that I have not wasted a lot of money going or renting movies that are calculated to scare the holy **** out of me.

    By Tim Hoss

    From Raleigh, NC, 10/26/2008

    When I was growing up, my mom and dad would read to my brother and I, and then go and watch Rod Serling's Night Gallery. I would sneak out of my room and hide behind a bookshelf and watch. Never made it past the first segment, before I ran to bed. Some of thoughts imagine still haunt my dreams to this day. Still love a good spook flick, but nothing has left a lasting image like Night Gallery.

    By Andrea Dickson

    From Seattle, WA, 10/26/2008

    Anna - my sister and I both had those E.T. dolls - I really liked E.T., but I was terrified when he turned all white and the government agents were keeping him on ice. I stood up in the middle of the theater and shouted "YOU TOLD ME THAT HE WASN'T GOING TO DIE", then stormed out when my parents laughed at me. I had a habit of getting upset at the death of movie characters, which is why my father had calmed my incessant whining when Bambie's mother is shot by assuring me that she had merely been "kidnapped".

    By Fran Garber

    From Hudson, OH, 10/25/2008

    I agree with many of the writers on your chosen movies...I was pleasantly surprised to see the comment on "The Brain That Wouldn't Die". That was one of my favorites, and I still imitate the talking head to this day. A movie that creeped me out was "The Day of the Triffids". These pods landed on earth from outer space and became flowers that expelled some type of poison gas. Or at least that is what I remember about it. The people in the way of this gas died. I guess aliens were going to take over Earth. I saw this on t.v. one Saturday afternoon back in the mid 60's. It would replay a few times in the late 60's. A film I saw at the moies that makes my list was "Jack the Giant Killer", also from the 1960's. There was sorcery and a horrible dragon, and other weird creatures. Jack was kind of cute, though. But I get the willies even now while I write this.

    By Gray Ponti

    From CA, 10/25/2008

    For me, the second scariest scene in a movie (the first being the flying monkeys of TWOO of which much has already been said) was in a movie I watched as a 15 year old on late night TV. The movie was "The Brain That Wouldn't Die." It's the classic story of a mad scientist trying to improve on nature (God). Near the end of the movie, the creature that is described by the mad doctor's assistant as "the sum total of his mistakes" busts out of the room within which it has been locked behind and attacks its creator, the mad doctor. I could barely watch as "it" ripped off the doctor's arm. The worst part was seeing the doctor flail around the room and---this was the scene that really FREAKED ME OUT---smear his blood on the wall. I was reduced to a squealing 7-year-old in front of my older sister. "Ewww! I can't look!!" Here is a clip of the trailer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYebuwQ8RPw&feature=related. At the very end, you see the "sum-total-of-his-mistakes" clawing at the doctor's arm (actually I'm not sure if the victim is the crazy doctor or his assistant). Years later I noticed "The Brain That Wouldn't Die" listed in the late night schedule of the TV Guide. I couldn't get myself to view it again. But even more years later, I dared to watch it once again. It was still scary, but this time I didn't have to hide my eyes to avoid whatever awful thing I thought would happen to me the first time (heart attack?, irreversible psychological trauma?). I even watched it a third time some time later, and that time I was immune to the horror. I'd like to be able to write that it was a bittersweet moment, but it wasn't.

    By Anna Ing

    From Omaha, NE, 10/25/2008

    I still refuse to watch ET. He was the creepiest looking thing my 4 year old eyes had ever seen. To make matters worse, my older sister owned an ET doll that was equally terrifying - leathery brown skin, lifeless eyes and a blood-red heart painted on his chest. Thanks to the scene where he hides in the stuffed animals, I was convinced that my sister's doll was alive and just really good at holding perfectly still.

    My sister, on the other hand, banned A Christmas Story from our household when I was about a year old and I still have never seen it. From my understanding, she had absolutely no idea that a tongue could be stuck to a frozen pole, and she was traumatized by this shocking revelation. TBS is dead to our household on Christmas Day.

    By Leanna T

    From Shakopee, MN, 10/25/2008

    In Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, there is a scene where Ceti eels are put into the ears of 2 crew members. The eels look like bugs and burrow into the brain and make the victim crazy. I don't remember how old I was when I saw this with my dad, but I wasn't old enough yet to understand the difference between fact and fiction. I thought these bugs were a real danger and had many nightmares.

    I'll also share a scary movie moment on behalf of my brother. We were on vacation in Estes Park, CO. I was in junior high, so my brother would have been about 9. While my parents went out for dinner, my brother and I watched cable in the cabin. The Shining started just as they were leaving. The coincidence of seeing a movie about a haunted hotel in Colorado while we were staying at cabin in Colorado was too much for my brother. He had nightmares that night and I believe the movie still creeps him out.

    By Melissa Puius

    From North Attleboro, MA, 10/25/2008

    It was E.T. for me! Someone mentioned that she hid under her green blanket for most of the movie - for me it was behind my stuffed Papa Smurf doll. I was especially terrified when they had him in a sort of isolation chamber... Years later, I was babysitting and the parents rented E.T. for me to watch with their son. I had to borrow a stuffed animal.

    By Mike E

    From Grandville, MI, 10/25/2008

    I agree with Ted from Plainfield, IL. I was always afraid of the Abominable Snowman in Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer. The eyes and the teeth still can give me shivers. When you hear the thing roaring in the background and you know what's coming... Wow. When you're five, that's terror.

    By Karen Smithe

    From AZ, 10/25/2008

    "Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte" when I was 10 yrs. old. My big sister took me to this movie as a 'birthday present'. I had to sleep with both arms tucked in by my side for many months later. Although my older sister was pretty scary all by herself, looking back, I believe that she meant well at the time and didn't realize I would be so traumatized. I was 13 years younger than she, and I recall suffering through portions of that film, which I thought would never end. Chop! Chop!

    By Karen Britton

    From Cottage Grove,, MN, 10/25/2008

    Definitely, Hitchock's "The Birds" when the blackbirds gather on the monkey bars and attack the kids leaving the school or attack from the attic. My brothers were babysitting me after we watched the movie and wouldn't let me leave my bedroom even though it had the attic door in the ceiling. I had to make sure my face and whole body was covered and didn't sleep all night. A flock of birds still makes me think of that movie.The William Shatner Twighlight Zone always comes to mind for me on my freguent night flights. I close the window shade or I can't sleep because I am peeking out the window expecting that swirling body coming toward the window. The Night Gallery weekly series had one where a painting along a staircase kept changing and finally showed the main character being murdered and of course, it happend.

    By Alyssa Young

    From Pittsboro, NC, 10/25/2008

    I had seen part of a Buffy the vampire slayer the tv show when I was about 7.
    The scene had a girl hear a noise in the school bathroom. As every stupid horror woman does she went to investigate.
    So she went into the bathroom and a doll that looked like a Raggedy Ann came out of a stall and...you can get the jest...
    So I only saw that clip but afterwards for about three years if I was in the bathroom by myself I'd pull my feet up so I guess the doll wouldn't get me...

    By Matt Franks

    From Davis, CA, 10/25/2008

    I'm sorry, but the all time scariest moment in a so-called children's movie is "Large Marge" from Pee Wee's Big Adventure. As an eight year old I had nightmares for years about this scene: Pee Wee gets picked up by a trucker, who turns out to be a ghost, but before he gets out she turns to him (and to the audience) and her face turns into that of a horrifying monster, bulgy eyes, snake-like tongue, and all. I'm definitely sparing my children from that image...

    By Tim Baird

    From Howell, MI, 10/25/2008

    I think it is the same bigfoot movie. I remember it being about several different creature sightings. One was a remote cabin in Oregon where Bigfoot smashed in. Afterwards, I was being terrified that Bigfoot would come and get me.

    The logic of this, of course, had some drawbacks. I grew up in inner city Detroit. Looking back on it now, the thought of Bigfoot coming down from the mountains, catching a quick flight from Portland's airport to Detroit, and then catching a cab to my house probably wasn't the most logical. I don't think there ever was a Bigfoot sighting in Detroit.

    By Kevin McLaughlin

    From SC, 10/25/2008

    At some point in the late 1960s I saw the movie 'Invaders From Mars' on television. In this 1953 gem, innocent unsuspecting people are sucked below the surface of the Earth, by Martians. Now the ground through which these people disappeared looked remarkably like the ground I walked on - making this film fairly terrifying for an 8 year old. I can still see the images of the Martians lurching through the tunnels below the ground, chasing their victims. This film also included a scary 'operating room', and the now-infamous brain implants. Still a little scary, even today...

    By Sarah Forth

    From Los Angeles, CA, 10/25/2008

    The Blob terrified me when I saw it at a Saturday matinee when I was eight. I left the movie theater expecting to see a monstrous glob of devouring protoplasm every time I turned a corner-in the house or out. Nighttime was the worst. I never, ever wanted to see another horror movie in my life. Which is why Psycho REALLY unnerved me when I saw it with my older sister when I was twelve. A Hitchcock film was supposed to be about mystery, not horror, so when the nosey Janet Leigh reveals the truth about the elderly Mrs. Bates . . . well, it didn't so much scare me out of my wits as torch them, then stomp on the ashes. When my parents finally got around to seeing the movie, they were mortified that they had let me go. Or maybe they were merely embarrassed that our pastor had seen my sister and I leaving the theater.

    By Andrea Dickson

    From Seattle, WA, 10/25/2008

    Hi, John. Listening to the show today reminded me that I have a scary image from childhood that still gives me the creeps, but which is puzzling to many people that I know.

    When I was around 4 years old, I was sitting in the living room. The TV was on, but I doubt that I was watching, because it was too late in the day for kid's shows. I was probably drawing or something, and my mother was puttering around the house, doing chores. At one point, I happened to look up at the TV, only to see the horrible visage of a man removing the top of a pretty woman's face to reveal a mess of wires and lights and what was probably the 1981 version of a motherboard. It was an episode of The Bionic Woman, and nothing had ever terrified me so completely. I became convinced that behind every face was a robotic skeleton and couldn't sleep alone for months.

    A couple of years later, when I was in first grade, our class was inexplicably shown a brief show named "The Electric Grandmother", which I now know was written by Ray Bradbury and hence fraught with creepiness. I don't think my teacher felt the same way about it. It's about a single dad (if I recall) who hires an elderly woman to help take care of his children. It turns out that she is a robot. In one scene, she has retreated to the basement, where she plugs herself in and knits while recharging, slowly rocking back and forth in a rocking chair, which squeaks ever so slightly. One of the children sneaks down to the basement, up behind her, and unplugs her. She ceases rocking and her eyes open. I freaked out and refused to finish watching the movie.

    It was, in my mind, the most horrible idea ever. That a flesh a blood human could actually be a machine underneath, without emotion or reason, made my skin crawl. I forced my sister, who was a mere 3 years old at the time, to sleep in the same room as me; I was so sure that the electric grandmother was rocking in my closet.

    By Claudette Sutherland

    From los angeles, CA, 10/25/2008

    When Fantasia was re-released, I took my son who was six to see it. I was fine till the music for Night on Bald Mountain began and then both of us had to be dragged out from under the seats. I HAD FORGOTTEN! I reverted to six.

    By Regan Martin

    From San Francisco, CA, 10/25/2008

    I can't believe that I am the only one yet to cite the face melting scene at the end of "Raiders of the lost ark". I was 4 or 5 the first time I saw it, and had to flee the room whenever it came on TV after that. I was 12 or so before I could sit through the whole thing. It was a sleepover at a friends house and I didn't want to get beat up for not watching; yay, adolescence! Still get creeped out around church altars to this day.

    By Julie Spataru


    A scene from Disney's Fantasia scared me silly. It featured the song "Night on Bald Mountain", where this huge, evil, menacing mountain demon summoned little ghosts and ghouls from the grave and controlled them at his will. Visually horrifying for me as a 5 year old. Loved everything else about Fantasia though, so I watched it repeatedly, screaming for my mom to come into the room when that scene came on so I didn't have to go through it alone.

    By Amy Eathorne

    From Burlington, WA, 10/25/2008

    I was 2 years old when my Mom and I went to the movies and saw E.T. I remember being terrified by E.T. screaming when his spaceship takes off without him. Also the scene where he's laying in a ditch, all gray and pasty. I remember sitting there with my green fuzzy blanket over my head for much of the movie. I had nightmares for a long time afterward of his long glowing finger creeping up outside my bedroom window, coming to get me. To this day, that movie still scares me.

    By Donna Nichols

    From Aiken, SC, 10/25/2008

    I feel SO avenged! My children have always made fun of me because I was terrified by the flying monkeys (and one of my children was terrified by the Martians in "Mars Attacks", so go figure). It is comforting to know that I was not the only one disturbed by the monkeys, and I don't like monkeys, in general, today.

    Other scary movies:

    DUEL - was an ABC movie of the week in 1970 maybe? story of a possessed tractor-trailer that chases a guy in a car. To this day, if I cannot see the driver in a semi that is behind me, I worry.

    TWILIGHT ZONE (Shatner episode on the airplane, mentioned earlier). I fly quite often, and if it is dark, and I am seated over a wing, and want to look out at the sky, it only takes a few seconds for the sight of the deranged alien to pop into my head. I lower the window shade.

    When I was listening to the story this afternoon, I was returning home from having my car serviced. Nice day - windows down. When John Moe began describing the child catcher, I am sitting at a red light and said too loudly "Monkeys! flying monkeys!" The creepy old man in the farm truck next to me looked over and stared. Luckily, the light changed....

    By Ame Stanko

    From San Diego, CA, 10/25/2008

    It was Jaws! For some ungodly reason my dad took me to see it when I was 9 and it traumatized me for life! I can still barely swim. Daaa dum, daa dum, Da Dum, DA DUM DA DUM!

    By Andrea Johnson

    From San Diego, CA, 10/25/2008

    My top three are:
    Watership Down (animated, 1978), several parts but especially when Capt. Holly was recalling how they gassed all the rabbits and they couldn't get out of the burrows and got all crushed and dead.
    "Dot and the Kangaroo" (animated, 1977), the part when the bunyip cave painting starts flying around chasing the cave painting people.
    And the Dark Crystal (1982), when they suck the podling's essence, and also when the Skeksis throw out the Chamberlain. very disturbing to my tiny mind!

    By Lisa Siegel

    From Los Angeles, CA, 10/25/2008

    My "forever scary" movie was definitely designed to be a horror film. I was very young and loved to go to the horror show in the late 50's, as all kids do. Vincent Price starred in "Diary of a Madman." A mysterious and eery green light would surrounded his eyes and he'd be overcome with the need to kill something. He started by killing a parakeet in a cage, then progressed to killing people. He terrified me and gave me nightmares for years. He embodied evil in that role and it still gives me the willies to recall it.

    By Andrew Marikis

    From chicago, IL, 10/25/2008

    As an eldest sibling and the only boy in my family, the oneness was on me to be brave the brave strong one as an example for my younger sisters. Unfortunately, when it came to one movie in particular, I was a huge wuss: E.T. Specifically, the moment when the young pigtailed girl meets the extraterrestrial for the first time and E.T.'s neck grows about a foot and they both scream. I hated that and wouldn't watch it. My littlest sister would, though much to my and my father's shame. Also, in Pee-Wee's Big Movie when the truck driver's face claymates into that of an alien-I hated that. And that also scared me alot.

    By Ellen VanderMyde

    From Kalamazoo, MI, 10/25/2008

    My list:
    1. Willy Wonka's hysteria in the boat scene from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
    2. The scene from the Lion King when Simba is lead down into the valley by Scar. As a kid I had to leave the room every time I watched the film because of the moment when Simba couldn't see his father anymore, when the heard engulfs his face and the dust rises.
    3. My parents started a movie before putting me to bed in which I young boy is shown walking down a set of railroad tracks. A part of his clothing gets stuck and as you watch him struggle you hear a trains whistle blowing. I barely remember seeing it but, I know it has stuck with me; the way the boys death is presented in such an allusive manor. I still become anxious whenever I walk next to or have to cross a railroad.

    My mum's list:
    1. Bambi. The wild fire scene.
    2. The monkeys from the Wizard of Oz.
    3. The Snake in the jungle book. She says it upset and terrified her to the extent it did because she could see he wasn't to be trusted and she didn't understand why he was allowed to have the power he had. He was deceitful and that scared her.

    I'm thinking that perhaps the movies that scare kids the most aren't necessarily horror movies because, for young minds the basic human principles and our make up, things like greed and insanity and the possibility of mistakes (like in the movie with the boy on the railroad) are all new. My Mom hadn't yet been introduced to the idea of a deceitful snake existing and having power being okay, being realistic or whatever. Perhaps they stick with you because they are truly the most terrifying of all things that can be feared.

    By Bob B

    From Las Vegas, NV, 10/25/2008

    The movie that scared me silly as a child wasn't specifically a horror movie - it was a classic science fiction film from the 50s called "Forbidden Planet." The combination of the weird (theremin) music and the monster that you couldn't see until it picked spaceship crewmen up to dismember them terrified me.

    If one views the film today, the terrifying thing is seeing Leslie Nielsen with brown hair!

    By Bryon Gunsch

    From Minneapolis, ND, 10/25/2008

    I was four when Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day came out, and Winnie's dream sequence of heffalumps and woozles haunted me for many months. Shape-shifting creatures splitting like cancer cells and gleefully drinking honey until they explode was more than my imagination could handle. And Thurl Ravenscroft's voice made it all the more terrifying.

    I watched it recently with my 4-year-old daughter, and it didn't bother her at all. Kids today are so jaded.


    By Debra Ann Marositz

    From Seattle, WA, 10/25/2008

    Does anyone remember "Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark"? My boyfriend and I both agreed this was one of the scariest films we ever saw. To this day I can still hear the screams of the little monsters when the lights go on. It took a long time to relax when I was in the shower after that movie. My boyfriend said he had a furnace like the one in the movie in Michigan where he grew up, needless to say, a trip into the basement would be the last thing he ever wanted to do...for a long time.

    By Pam Gerlich

    From Brier, WA, 10/25/2008

    My scariest moment wasn't a movie, but the sci-fi TV show Twilight Zone. It was a hot summer night and my sister and I were watching upstairs with the fan going. The episode featured William Shatner pre-Star Trek and he was playing a young man on a night flight. He thought there was something on the plane's wing but everyone brushed him off as neurotic. Until - he opens the window blind and there is the GREMLIN with its face pressed against the glass! My sister and I screamed so long and loud that my parents thought the fan had fallen on us - I'm still nervous about looking out airplane windows at night.

    By Adele Coleman

    From Columbia, MO, 10/25/2008

    For me, the scariest shows were Twilight Zone. Especially the voice of Rod Serling at the end of the show - that would leave me scared the rest of the night. Several of these shows left lasting memories - a very nearsighted man who is the last survivor on earth and is somehow coping, but then his glasses are broken, a nanny who is hit by a car in the middle of the street, "friendly" space aliens who turn out to have less friendly motives when their book "To Serve Man" is discovered to be a cookbook. I am tempted now to rent DVDs of these shows, but am afraid I would still be too scared!

    By Adele Coleman

    From Columbia, MO, 10/25/2008

    For me, the scariest shows were Twilight Zone. Especially the voice of Rod Serling at the end of the show - that would leave me scared the rest of the night. Several of these shows left lasting memories - a very nearsighted man who is the last survivor on earth and is somehow coping, but then his glasses are broken, a nanny who is hit by a car in the middle of the street, "friendly" space aliens who turn out to have less friendly motives when their book "To Serve Man" is discovered to be a cookbook. I am tempted now to rent DVDs of these shows, but am afraid I would still be too scared!

    By Rachel Husta

    From Mays Landing, NJ, 10/25/2008

    My parents took me to see E.T. when I was in first grade. I was convinced he was in my closet for weeks to come and had to sleep in my parent's room for a long time. I hated everything about E.T. and to this day do not find him cute or enduring but rather creepy and frightening.

    By Stephen Mlinarcik

    From Medina, OH, 10/25/2008

    I was 10 years old, an age in my life where being viewed as a "tough kid" was at the top of my priorities. So when my dad warned me that Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo" got somewhat scary, I moved his cautionary statement to the back of my mind. I did fine with the film up until the dream sequence. Jimmy Stewart's floating head, the background color's consistent change, the woman from the painting appearing in reality, the camera-dive into the open grave, it left me trying to clutch myself to keep from shaking while hiding my eyes. I sat on edge the rest of the picture, and had numerous nightmares about Kim Novak falling off a bell tower. Now, 10 years later, I'm going to school for filmmaking, and "Vertigo" has been used as an example for different classes. I went back and watched the film again, and this time around I appreciated the sequence more than I was frightened by it. And what scared me so much about it now seems so nominal. I think as a child I missed the psychological aspect of the story, so to have heads start to float unnerved me more than I thought possible.

    By Kari Ely

    From St. Louis, MO, 10/25/2008

    Without question the most terrifying image was Lon Chaney Jr. transforming into the Wolfman. The number one reason: It is just too close to real life - Hairy men starting out nice and then flipping out beyond their control. To this day I have a preference for smooth limbed and beardless men. Strangely enough I love a full moon and completely understand the pull the lunar tides have on me. There's nothing like putting my feet in the earth and howling at a full moon. Of course I always look to see who's lurking in the dark.

    By Amie Hirsch

    From Seattle, WA, 10/25/2008

    John, I remember all of those! The monkies never bothered me as much as Gene Wilder did-and does.
    Funny I wouldn't have remembered if you hadn't reminded me. As a child I watched a lot of Elvira afternoon B horror flicks (growing up in Anaheim, Calif) and later reading a lot of scarey stuff, like "Mysteries of the Unexplained" and "The Amityville Horror." The "top of my head" scary movie moment I've long remembered (but not the name of the movie,of course) was from a film about a nuclear bomb being dropped on a town somewhere in America. The disturbing scene I remember was of a little boy watching Kermit the Frog on TV, then the TV screen suddenly goes to snow. Like a lot of kids, I'm sure I felt on some level like the happy images on TV had some sort of protective power against bad things happening. That scene probably made a lot of kids feel like nothing was safe, horrible things can happen in an instant. I guess we all figure that out eventually.
    By the way, I don't ever watch horror/scary movies anymore. One reaches a certain age where it suffices to try to deal with the real horrors of the world, rather than be entertained by imaginary tales.

    By Cindy Wilkins

    From Kent, WA, 10/25/2008

    I don't know how many times I saw the Wizard of Oz as a kid, but I never made it as far as the 'monkey scene.' In fact I didn't even 'know' about the monkeys until I was about 30. It took that long for me to actually watch the whole movie!!

    By paul takushi

    From davis, CA, 10/25/2008

    JAWS: the scene where Dreyfus is underwater inspecting a hole in the side of a boat and out pops a severed head. I saw the movie again a week later and when that scene came on I purposely turned away in order to watch the audience's reaction. A woman on the other side of the theater barfed on the back of the head of another woman sitting in front of her.

    ALIEN: the scene where the crew is sharing a meal together and one of them, the one who earlier had an alien plastered to his face, starts to spaz out. (I kept waiting for Pepto Bismol to spoof it in a commercial.) I don't think I've heard the phrase "Oh my god" as many times in my life as I did during that scene.

    By John Metzker

    From Reno, NV, 10/25/2008

    OMG, how could nobody have mentioned "The Thing?" I think I later found out the Thing was James Arness, some alien creature released from the night Arctic ice to prey on the occupants of the outpost. Still gives me a chill (so to speak).

    Also terrifying: "The Beast with Five Fingers," probably released in the late 1940's. The "Beast" was the severed hand of some dead criminal type and scurried around the house (at night, of course) strangling people. No wonder kids are scared of the dark.

    And oh, yes...How do you feel about taking a shower, alone in the house, in a bath with a shower curtain--if you've seen the original "Psycho?" I hear the shrieking music, as I write this.

    Thanks for the invite to participate.

    By Jeanne Boni

    From Bellingham, WA, 10/25/2008

    After seeing Disney's Sleeping Beauty" at the age of 6 or 7 (at the drive-in, in my pj's) I never slept with my closet door open again. The vivid scene of the wicked Queen conjuring the poison apple was the beginning of many a sleepless night worrying what was under my bed when the lights went out.(Flying monkeys no doubt...)

    By Mara Steinkamp

    From Ann Arbor, MI, 10/25/2008

    I too was scared by ET. When I was six, my grandparents took my older sister and I to watch "ET" in the movie theaters. I was so scared by the alien spaceship landing that I scooted under the seat and refused to watch any more. My grandmother had to take me home early!

    By John Vanderford

    From Birmingham,MI, MI, 10/25/2008

    It must have been a re-release or a second feature, and most certainly at a drive-in in the 1960's, that my nightmares began. After seeing "The Blob" as a 4 or 5 year old, I had many nights of being chased in my dreams by that orange-red amoebic monster. No matter how far or fast I fled, the slow moving ooze always kept up with the chase. It was always a close call, but I was never caught by "The Blob" in my nightmares, but I woke exhausted, relieved and uneaten. I still have very vivid memories 40 years later, and maybe a little resentment that my parents subjected me to that nightmare film.

    By T. Dan

    From Seattle, WA, 10/25/2008

    When I was 3 years old my mother allowed my 10 year old sister and I to attend a movie matinee by ourselves. The feature film was the very age appropriate Snow White and The Three Stooges. Mom didn't know that the double feature was "The Blob". I started sobbing hysterically when the Blob consumed it's first victim and ended up hiding under my theater seat for the duration of the movie. Mother felt like the worst parent in the world.

    By Cathy Severns

    From Durham, NC, 10/25/2008

    Oh the Mummie's Curse!! I saw it t age nine and thought that the movie made me feel TERRIBLE. When I awoke the next morning I had Mumps and for years thought it was caused by the movie!!

    By Hannah Roscoe-Metzger

    From Wooster, OH, 10/25/2008

    This is really my little brother's story: His scariest childhood memory is of Cruella DeVille. He was convinced that she lived in the toilet. He took particular glee in flushing the toilet after urinating - as though that would vanquish Ms. DeVille. On the first day in our new home we moved from Apopka Florida to Tallahassee, Keith came out of the bathroom - his eyes wide open - "She moved with us". Apparently Cruella was to follow him his entire life!

    By Arden Miller

    From PA, 10/25/2008

    We did not own a television set until I was 10 years old. We lived in the suburbs of Charlottesville VA. My older sister and younger brother and I shared a bedroom. My sister slept in the upper bunk of a set of bunk beds. I had the lower bunk, usually a secure cave of a place to sleep.

    That changed the night we watched Little Girl Lost on the Twilight Zone. In the story the parents awaken to the sound of their daughter crying. They go to comfort her. They can hear her distinctly but can not find her because she rolled through the wall of her bedroom into the 4th dimension.

    Even though her father was able to resue her, I still have trouble falling asleep if I am next to the wall.

    By Mark Stitham

    From Kailua, HI, 10/25/2008

    1959 Hammer Films re-makes The Mummy. I was 9 years old and my "bad" cousin Tommy age 15 was visiting and talked me into going to this. I was leary so called home from the manager's office. "Is it okay to go, Grammie?"
    "I guess so, dear."
    When the priest is discovered trying to raise the princess from the dead, they catch him and use tongs to pull out his tongue and then cut it off. Still have trouble opening up for the dentist.

    By Hollis Chatelain

    From Hillsborough, NC, 10/25/2008

    As a child I was easily traumatized by movies. I still cannot watch violence or terror as an adult. Two movies (besides the flying monkeys, of course) stand out as the scariest. The first was actually a show called "The Outer Limits". There was one episode with huge ants that killed everyone. The second was a film we saw in school called "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge". It was about a man who deserted during the civil war and was hung. I had nightmares about both of these for years!!!

    By John Greer

    From Olympia, WA, 10/25/2008

    When I was a kid, my parents used to get rid of me with $0.35 every weekend, sending me to a double feature and popcorn at the local theater. I saw so many movies that many I didn't remember consciously at all. That's how I ended up scared and vulnerable every time I washed my hair for years, without really knowing why. I was the quickest shampooer in town, and wished desperately that I could keep my eyes open while I washed my hair. It wasn't until I saw "Psycho" in my 20's on some old movie channel that I realized what had been done to me.
    Yes, I'm a guy, not a pretty young blond of questionable ethics. Apparently my subconscious figured that wasn't a distinction that would matter to Norman's mom.

    By Logan Holloway

    From Garner, NC, 10/25/2008

    When I was probably seven years old i watched Stanley Kubrick's version of The Shining. Though the two children scared me terribly, what stook me over the years was the scene when Jack goes into the room where Danny saw the women and after he sees the young naked women he pulls back the curtain from the tub and there is the old women rotten and water logged. I still think of this whenever I see a shower curtain and it terrified me for years.

    By Ann Nonymous


    The monkeys!~ Definetly the monkeys. flying across the screen like a swarm of nasty insects with their distorted faces. All at the will of that green-skinned b*tch! it took me into my 20's. easily before i was able to look at it again.

    By Lesley Williams

    From Evanston, IL, 10/25/2008

    You're not going to believe this, but my scariest childhood media moment came from: The Flintstones. There was an episode based on "Alfred Hitchcock (probably called "HItchrock") Presents", involving a murderous little bird-fish that apparently had chopped a woman to death. Since it was a kiddie cartoon, there was of course no body but the chilling voice of the Hitchcock character implying what had happened, and the grinning sharp-toothed fish gave me nightmares for months.

    By Peggy Sue McRae

    From Friday Harbor, WA, 10/25/2008

    I got scared as a little kid when Pinocchio went off with the bad boys, the boys that were already growing donkey ears. I'm 56 now and I saw it again a few years ago. It still made me queasy.

    By ted stockwell

    From Plainfield, IL, 10/25/2008

    The Abominable Snowman in Rudolf The Red-Nosed Reindeer.

    The scene where Rudolf and Hermey the dentist are going to sleep in the cottage on the island of misfit toys and you can here the Abominable Snowman roaring in the background used to scare the $hit out of me.

    By M. Labar

    From Wilmette, IL, 10/25/2008

    Growing up in New York in the early 50s, we had something on TV called "Shock Theatre." Pretty campy & stupid now, the movies back then were state-of-the-art horror. My brother was babysitting me one night & tuned in to "Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman" - Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney - the works. I was about 4 years old. He MADE me watch it -- laughed hysterically when I would try to run out of the room & hide. My parents picked us up (we had been at the home of friends down the street from ours). On the block-long walk home, my father remarked on the "lovely full moon out tonight." THAT DID IT!! I cannot to this day gaze at a full moon and not have a shiver go up my spine - no matter how beautiful it seems... there is always something sinister lurking up there!!!

    By Kelley Loftus

    From New York, NY, 10/25/2008

    The Killer Shrews! Weird science experiment on an island goes wrong and POOF! Giant shrews whose teeth are POISONOUS. They can tear through walls! EEK - the walls are melting in the rain!Then the cast have to get off the island and they walk under barrels to get to the boats. Never mind that the shrews were German Sheperd dogs with shag carpets strapped to their backs! ARRRG!!!

    By Dave Ehret

    From Sacramento, CA, 10/25/2008

    I was scared to death by the death coach flying out of the sky in Darby O'Gill and the Little People in 1959. I was 10 years old and we were at our cabin at Lake Tahoe. After the movie, we slept on the porch . . it was a beautiful moonlit night, but all I could see was that awful coach coming for me!

    By Erik West

    From Bath, ME, 10/25/2008

    I have three distinct movie scars. The oldest is from the pod people. These little white blob things chased people around and ate them. Or something like that. It still give me the shivers now, and I'm 40 years old. The second is the exorcist. I was 9. It was a bad call by my baby sitter (my 13 year old brother)to include me in that one. And the most influential, which still sends me leaping from even a hotel swimming pool if I let my imagination go, is Jaws. It is a concious effort every time I go into the ocean, a lake or even a swimming pool, to not let myself think about that movie. Now, I do believe James Bond's use of sharks in swimming pools added that particular body of water to my fear list but its origin is still clearly Jaws.

    And the really weird part is how incredibly determined I was to see those movies when I did. There was no stopping me then. Today, I'm just not interested. Ever.

    By Jill Dahlstrom

    From Seattle, WA, 10/25/2008

    For me, the scariest childhood movie moment was in the film Poltergeist. It was the white closet door in the little girl's bedroom that turned into a portal to purgatory. And the tree outside the little boy's bedroom that came alive and reached in and grabbed the boy from his bed. I had a white closet door in my room, and a big tree just outside the window. And I was about 7 years old when I saw that movie. That door had to be closed every night before I went to sleep.

    By Carrie S.


    The Dark Crystal. I ran from the movie theater after the first 5 minutes and I truly don't even remember why. Only the feeling of utter terror has remained.


    From LAS VEGAS, NV, 10/25/2008

    I was old enough to appreciate Wizard of Oz and I thought the monkeys were "hokey". What did scare me as a child was the wolf in "Peter and the Wolf"- the orchestral version by Prokofiev. Even though I loved the music the vision I had of the wolf was scary. I had nightmares about wolves for what seemed like years.

    By Emily C

    From NV, 10/25/2008

    As a six year old, I often spent the night at the home of my back neighbor and best friend. On one such evening, we unsuspectingly watched Pee Wee Herman's big adventure. That scene, where he is in the cab of the semi truck and his eyeballs pop out in surprise?!?! To this day, that is still the worst and most permanent scare I have ever received

    By Cris Doby

    From grand blanc, MI, 10/25/2008

    The Blob - I plotted alternate escape routes from every room in my house...except the bathroom. I could not take a bath with the door closed as I was terrified that the Blob would ooze in under the door. I couldn't tell my parents because I knew it was irrational. But still, I was scared. And then we went on a family vacation and I couldn't figure an escape route from the motel room if the Blob came under the door. I was so afraid to go to sleep that my parents took me to the emergency room. I finally told the doctor and then my parents what the problem was. And the problem went away--mostly.

    By Craig Deller

    From St Charles, IL, 10/25/2008

    My most terifing moment was the "Time Machine" (the original in the 60's) When the worlocks came on my Mom had to take me out and we window shopped until my father and sister came out.

    By Ann Miller

    From Skokie, IL, 10/25/2008

    There was a Star Trek episode, very early on, in which disembodied heads appeared around one of the characters. Even after my older brothers and sisters, each and every one, explained that it was a big black curtain with stools behind and holes cut for the actors' heads, I dreamed of heads for months. And yes, even still do, sometimes!

    By stevie taylor

    From carmichael, CA, 10/25/2008

    "Old Yeller" traumatized me to my core, but for scary, humans changing into werewolves kept me awake. Even at fifteen, at our summer cabin, I would be terrified at any full moon to think that I might turn into one of the dreaded hairy creatures. What would Freud say?

    By stevie taylor

    From carmichael, CA, 10/25/2008

    "Old Yeller" traumatized me to my core, but for scary, humans changing into werewolves kept me awake. Even at fifteen, at our summer cabin, I would be terrified at any full moon to think that I might turn into one of the dreaded hairy creatures. What would Freud say?

    By Hanoch McCarty

    From Galt, CA, 10/25/2008

    When I was a little boy I was taken to see an Abbot and Costello comedy movie titled "Zombies on Broadway." I 'knew' there were zombies....but all the other movies always had them so very far away that it was ok to be frightened by them during the movie and then forget them afterward. However, in this movie, the zombies follow Abbot and Costello back home to New York and peer through venetian blinds and see them wherever they go. That image stayed with my young self as a nightmare fear for years afterward. I recently was able to rent the movie and defuse the memory by laughing my way through it.

    By G Morgan


    The Flying Monkeys used to make me cover my eyes, of course (OF COURSE!?!?!), but what truly scared the un-holy be-jeezus out of me as a child was Lon Chaney Jr turning from mild-mannered Mr. Larry Talbot into the Wolfman. I just dove under the pillows, blankets or behind the couch and just shivered. How AWFUL for that poor man!
    Then my sister had moved to Colorado. We visited her and guess who I thought her neighbor was? Lon Chaney Jr., himself! And I may have been right, altho' my other sister said he wasn't, but...
    Whoever he was, he and his wife were the nicest folks to me, altho' I was so scared of him I couldn't speak. They gave me candy and cookies and he patted me on the head, trying to make friends. My sister called me a dolt for being so rude, but that particular 'monster' really got to me. And it's still hard to watch 50 years later.

    By Lisa Jackley

    From Independence, MN, 10/25/2008

    I vividly remember having to leave the room every time the wicked witch rode her bicycle past the window. It's one of my strongest and earliest memories of childhood. The movie "Wait until Dark" with Audrey Hepburn is one that kept me scared for the longest period of time during the actual movie. When I asked my boyfriend after today's show if he had been frightened by the monkeys, he couldn't remember them!

    By Dennis McCarten

    From Narragansett, RI, 10/25/2008

    I have to agree that the Flying Monkeys are the first things that come to mind when I'm asked about scary movie moments of my childhood. But I now know that I have suppressed a more terrifying movie experience. This realization surfaced recently when I sat down to enjoy Disney's "Pinnochio" with my three year old grand daughter. I relived the entire experience of watching this movie for the first time when I was 8 or 9 years old. The whole movie is dark (abduction, drunkenness, debauchery) but when Pinnochio is swallowed by the whale, I realize that this movie introduced me to the concept of despair. It was and is an awful experience.

    By Nancy Whiting

    From Columbia, PA, 10/25/2008

    When I was in 2nd grade (Maybe 1967?), the school district showed us a film warning us of the dangers of accepting candy or rides from strangers. All I remembered visually, strongly, was the end, where the ending image was a bloody child's canvas shoe floating out of a big drain-pipe in bloodied water to tinkley-music-box nursery-rhyme music. I mean to tell you, it scared the ever-lovin' daylights out of me as a kid--I slept in the guest room, next to may parents' bedroom for MONTHS after that. We were shown it because there was a local child molestation case--a young girl abducted and killed, in our area. I guess they WANTED to seriously scare us. In one sense, though, it backfired a little. There was a local guy who'd been to and come back from 'Nam. He became accustomed there to freely handing out chocolate to children, and about the time he came home, all the kids in the school district had been shown the film. He came out on his porch to hand out candy bars to the kids passing his house--and they all ran screaming to their parents and a huge neighborhood fuss kicked up--all a tempest in a teapot, because the guy really was just a nice guy, back from the war. I remember that sequence in the film, though, as the single scariest film moment I ever remember. I hunted around on the internet, and here's a link to the film...http://www.archive.org/details/CHILD (Or go to wwwlarchive.org and search for "Child Molester." The film made in 1964 is the one I remember).

    By Amy G

    From MA, 10/25/2008

    I remember when I was 8 or 9 years old watching a movie on HBO called "Fortress" with my parents and my brother and sister and being terrified. In the film students in some one-room schoolhouse in the outback are kidnapped by guys wearing masks, and near the end they have to swim uderwater through a cave to escape... This movie is why I still get freaked out by masks and the thought of being trapped and drowning!

    By Rockie Carlson

    From Ely, MN, 10/25/2008

    Invasion of the Body Snatchers. For years afterwards my sister and I were always careful to make lots of noise as we approached the house so our parents would have time to resume their human form.

    By Leslie Gries

    From Omaha, NE, 10/25/2008

    It was "Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte" that scared the bejeezus out of me when I was about 10. I and 2 friends sat down determined to watch it while our folks placed bets on how long we'd last. Final outcome: the 9 yr. old lasted 4 minutes, I made it 5 minutes and the 13 yr. old lasted about 10. To this day I barely make it through the opening.

    By Valerie Carlson

    From Ely, MN, 10/25/2008

    I first saw the Wizard of Oz when I was only 3 or 4, and I have to say that at the time the wicked witch scare the bejeezes out of me. But it wasn't until several years later, when I first experienced a flock of Canadian geese flying over, that I realized what had taumatized me about that movie. I screamed "Flying monkeys!" and dove for the bushes. But the the movie that had the biggest impact on my tender young psyche has to be one I don't even remember seeing. I think it was War of the Worlds. But for years afterword the sight of the streetlight, long and slender bodies with globular heads peering out of the dusk, filled me with dread.

    By Aleah Vinick

    From Saint Paul, MN, 10/25/2008

    I LOVED Superman when I was 5 or 6. I still have the entry I made in my journal a week before my parents took me to see Superman 3. I planned what I was going to wear, and drew a picture of Superman. The scene in that movie when the woman turns into a bad robot caused endless nightmares for me. I especially remember when her hand (clenched in a terrified fist) becomes covered with circuits and metal. I didn't want to tell my parents because I was afraid they wouldn't take me to see Superman 4. When I looked up this scene on youtube, I found I wasn't the only one. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ETLqKu7SRo

    By Martha Dunn

    From Mpls, MN, 10/25/2008

    Jungle tv shows from the 50's planted a nightmare dream in my brain that is still there. Quicksand. The shows weren't so scary,Tarzan,Sheena Queen of the Jungle and Ramar of the Jungle, but I still have quicksand dreams where I keep going down and down into the quicksand until I wake up. The shows would have the bad guy running through the jungle into quicksand and slowly being sucked in until only his hat was left. The good guys were always rescued.Quicksand is horrible because it is real.

    By Darcey Schoeninger

    From Centreville, MD, 10/25/2008

    I was maybe 7 or 8 when I first saw "The Bad Seed". The idea that a young person could be so diabolical - so selfish and evil really shook me up. Up until that day, I assumed that monsters looked like Frankenstein or the Wolfman. It was a shock to suddenly begin to think about the idea that not only could you be human and be a monster, you could be cute, blond and young. After a host of horrifying deeds committed by our 'little monster' you get to the end of the film where the she in her greed goes to fetch the charm, necklace whatever it was she had stolen. It's pouring rain, she races to the pier where the treasure is hidden and bam! she gets hit by lightening. This was another thing I didn't know back then. That movie makers could kill kids off. (I mean who had ever seen that happen in the 60's? In fact it really doesn't happen all that often still). For me, this movie covered everything - the criminal mind, murder, and karma. To my young mind it was very scary indeed.

    By Jay Batzner

    From Orlando, FL, 10/25/2008

    When I was young, I remember seeing a brief glimpse of the trailer to An American Werewolf in London. What I remember is this ghastly bluish-white face with bulging yellow eyes and huge teeth, sitting up in a bed and snarling at the camera. That small image still disturbs me! I saw that moment again yesterday on AMC when they were advertising their Halloween films. It gave me the jibblies all over again.

    As far as movies go (instead of moments), I'm sticking with Poltergeist. The clown, the face that emerges from the closet door, the graves coming up in the pool, everything about that movie gets under my skin.

    By Ali Dryer

    From Baltimore, MD, 10/25/2008

    I guess I was around 8 or 9 and my dad was watching 2001-A Space Odyssey on public television and there was a simulcast on the radio so he was listening to it on his headphones also. What he didn't realize is that he hadn't turned the speakers off. So there I was in bed, it was dark, and I awoke to the house vibrating a little because the sound was up so loud and all I knew is that a man wanted very badly to be let inside but an intense and calm-voiced man couldn't do that right then. I was terrified -- it took me a long time to summon the courage to go downstairs and ask Dad to please turn it down. Yikes.

    By Mark Stephenson

    From NC, 10/25/2008

    Yes, absolutely, it was the winged monkeys that for me was the scariest thing in movies. As I listened to your show, I thought of that before they came up in the story. Still, today at the age of forty-six, I get the willies when they appear, flying far beyond the window of the witch's castle, and when you see them flying into the woods. It was not so much the monkeys you see with the witch in her castle, but them flying and the vocal sounds they made. I can remember running to my mother each time, but not being able to remove my eyes from the TV (a B&W TV at that!). Great stuff.

    By Mark Stephenson

    From NC, 10/25/2008

    Yes, absolutely, it was the winged monkeys that for me was the scariest thing in movies. As I listened to your show, I thought of that before they came up in the story. Still, today at the age of forty-six, I get the willies when they appear, flying far beyond the window of the witch's castle, and when you see them flying into the woods. It was not so much the monkeys you see with the witch in her castle, but them flying and the vocal sounds they made. I can remember running to my mother each time, but not being able to remove my eyes from the TV (a B&W TV at that!). Great stuff.

    By Matt Turner

    From Cincinnati, OH, 10/25/2008

    Somehow when I was about 5 or 6 I found myself watching "A nightmare on Elm street" on VHS. I've no idea where my parents were. I think I watched the whole thing. I remember the part where a girl was being pursued down a dark alley by Freedie. You could only see his sillouete, and his arms kept growing longer. Even the outling of his razor claws were visible. That screwed me up for years. I'm ok now I think although I'll never know how much more stable I would be now had I not seen that. Parents put up your horror flicks!

    By Nancy BIrth

    From Minneapolis, MN, 10/25/2008

    At a drive in movie when I was 5 or 6 there was a short between the kids movie and Goldfinger that showed the terrible effects of taking LSD. The scariest part was a person thinking they were a tree, lying on the ground and shoving dirt in their mouth. Somehow I got LSD mixed up with STP in my mind and it was a long time before I could pull into a gas station and not be really nervous about those STP cans all stacked up.

    By Bob Lienemann

    From Ord, NE, 10/25/2008

    It's funny that most people think the monkeys from "The Wizard of Oz" are scarier than the Wicked Witch of the West because she scared the snot out of me when I was a child. I remember watching the movie regularly, and every time the Wicked Witch would come on screen, I would hide behind the sofa and peek over the top until she was gone. It doesn't bother me anymore, but the hiding behind the sofa is permanently imprinted in my brain.

    By Charlotte Aikens

    From Martinsburg, WV, 10/25/2008

    One scene that I remember vividly is "the eyes" from "Village of the Damned". Those glowing eyes in a black and white movie was just scarey. Now let me tell about my daughter. She was terrified by the music from the movie "Children of the Corn". She ran upstairs, closed the bedroom door and cried. She had wanted to watch the movie, against my advice. She was 10 maybe. Then she got angry with her sister because she was not scared. We still laugh about that and she still thinks the music is scarey.

    By Jean Collins

    From Milwaukee, WI, 10/25/2008

    There are two sci-fi movies that vie in my memory as the ones that scared the bejeepers out of me: "It Came From Outer Space" (1953), and "The Blob" (1958, featuring a young Steve McQueen). But I decided "The Blob" was the winner. I was 14 years old, but I remember several sleepless nights as my imagination kept returning to the horror of the first scene of a man poking with a stick at the "meteor" from outer space, retrieving a shapeless mass of material, watching fascinated as it slowly flowed down the stick toward his arm, and then shrieking helplessly as it engulfed and devoured him, growing larger in proportion to the size of its meal. Yikes! Many, many years later I watched it again to see if it would retain any of that effect on me. Nope.

    By Paul Wilken

    From Duluth, MN, 10/25/2008

    JAWS. I was 5 or 6 when this came to the theater in my town. My sister, cousins and myself were dropped off at the theater to see Disney's The Jungle Book, which I found boring so I and my cousin Mike snuck into Jaws just in time to see the swimming girl attacked in the dark by the shark. Thirty some years later, when I am in water deep enough that I must swim, I still imagine a shark circling.

    By Miriam DesHarnais

    From Baltimore, MD, 10/25/2008

    The scene in 9 to 5 where the ladies have to put a bound and gagged Dabney Coleman in a car trunk. I knew he was a jerk and I think by that point it's clear he's not dead or injured, but I was worried that the women would "get in trouble" and have to go to jail.

    By Bob Hawg

    From Arapahoe, NE, 10/25/2008

    I saw Hitchcock's The Birds at my parent's pizza place on TV when I was 4 or 5. I've never been able to bring myself to watch it even as an adult, and still get nervous when more than a half a dozen birds gather near me. I look to see how far I have to run to shelter! The flying monkeys still freak me out too!

    By Katie Parke-Reimer

    From Saint Paul, MN, 10/25/2008

    JAWS. I saw it on TV probably when I was 9. I was so traumatized my parents tried to help me be more rational by having me watch lots of National Geographic type shows about sharks, but unfortunately they were sometimes filmed in pools (I supposed a more controlled setting for researchers) so I became petrified of sharks in pools! Almost 30 years later I was able to spend enough time in pools to stop panicking mid-pool thinking I had caught a glimpse. I don't think I will ever be able to swim in the ocean.

    By Cece Graham

    From Lancaster, PA, 10/25/2008

    Birds. Seagulls, crows, starlings, even doves. My parents reluctantly let me stay up and watch the movie "every kid in my class" was going to watch-Hitchcock's "The Birds." Reportedly, the next morning, I was found at my bedroom window, screaming into the adjacent white pine "go away! go away!" at an innocent mourning dove.
    I've grown beyond it, mostly. I have feeders for wild birds and enjoy watching them. But when I was recently confronted with a large uncaged parrot perched on a friend's shoulder, it took all my self control to stay in the room calmly-every fiber of my being wanted to flee.

    By Jennifer S.

    From Georgetown, OH, 10/25/2008

    I have no idea what the name of the movie is, but when I was about five or six years old, I came across my teenage aunt and uncles watching a horror movie on late night TV. In one memorable scene, a cheerleader-type is brushing her teeth and when she slides the mirror back, a drill emerges and, well, it was rather gross. :)

    I didn't want to brush my teeth for weeks afterwards, though!

    By Carol DeJong

    From Sibley, IA, 10/25/2008

    You're right about the monkeys except once we watched it without sound effects because the folks were entertaining in the next room... it made the scene in the witches castle rather funny! However ever time we drive north thru Mankato, especially at night, I am reminded of the monsters from "The Fog" (or was it "The Creature from the Black Lagoon") and the hair stands up on my arms. I am also still haunted by spiders after seeing "The Fly" as a child. Ugh!!!

    By Patricia Ullrich

    From Lincoln, NE, 10/25/2008

    The Birds was the scariest movie I'd ever seen. I didn't see it first run and I saw it AFTER the Wizard of Oz. The Birds was terrible in two aspects. Huge groups of nasty birds and my first crush on a movie star (Rod Taylor). I never got over my crush and I still ALWAYS walk a little more prepared past any place where birds congregate. The scene in the upstairs bedroom will stay with me forever. The dark skies as they walk out the door at the end. NOT KNOWING HOW IT ENDED........

    By Aaron Olson

    From St. Paul, MN, 10/25/2008

    For me, Ghostbusters was a movie that bothered me for quite a long time. It came out when I was six and I was so excited to see it. Reluctantly I was allowed to watch it and that ghost librarian scared the heck out of me. For quite a while afterward, when I'd go up stairs to my room at night sometimes my step-father (not an evil step-father a la evil step-mothers of fairytale lore by any means) would go OOooooOOOoOO from the first floor which would inevitably send me screaming back down the stairs.

    By Philip Novak

    From Minneapolis, 10/25/2008

    ET. It freaked me out after seeing it in the theater as a kid. He could fly. That's what did it.

    By Judi Stoker

    From Cincinnati, OH, 10/25/2008

    Phantom of the Opera, a la Lon Chaney. When I was about 8 years old, I stayed up late one night with my mother (who loved horror) and my 16 year old brother to watch the silent version of Phantom of the Opera on late night television (this was 1970). At the moment Christine rips the Phantom's mask off, I tried to cover my eyes. My brother grabbed my hands, pulled them away while my mother said, "Look, Judi, it's not scary." Well, it was. It really was. I have since watched that movie, and while my adult self can appreciate the fact that Lon Chaney donned his makeup himself; my child self will never forgive my brother or my mother for forcing that horrific image to be forever etched in my mind.

  • Post a Comment: Please be civil, brief and relevant.

    Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments. All comments are moderated. Weekend America reserves the right to edit any comments on this site and to read them on the air if they are extra-interesting. Please read the Comment Guidelines before posting.

      Form is no longer active


    You must be 13 or over to submit information to American Public Media. The information entered into this form will not be used to send unsolicited email and will not be sold to a third party. For more information see Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Download Weekend America

Weekend Weather

From the January 31 broadcast

Support American Public Media with your Amazon.com purchases
Search Amazon.com:
 ©2015 American Public Media