Friday the 13th: Movies that Gave You Childhood Nightmares!

In honor of today being Friday the 13th, let’s revisit some of the films the Twitterverse most feared as kids!


After @JLoSH (of, a webseries worth watching) told our heroine on twitter that “Child’s Play gave me mucho nightmares as a child,” the Action Flick Chick then asked everyone about that.

@actionchick: A topic to sleep on: What movie gave you childhood nightmares?

Recurring theme #3 – scary clowns: Peewee’s Big Adventure, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Poltergeist, and Stephen King’s It! This led to lengthy discussion of why clowns are scary and then veered into clowns vs. mimes. Clowns won in three rounds.

@FyodorFish: Clowns, definitely clowns. Mimes? Mimes are total pushovers. You can hit them upside t/head and they won’t say a word.
@Ciaytee: Pfft. Who’s afraid to side kick a mime in the face? I mean, c’mon. He’ll only pretend to fight back.

Recurring theme #2 – various evil dolls: Child’s Play, Child’s Play 2, Magic, Puppet Master, Trilogy of Terror, and Night Gallery episode “The Doll.”

Recurring theme #1 – so-called kids’ movies. Argue among yourselves as to which ones count.

Single mentions: Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein, The Amityville Horror, Bedknobs & Broomsticks, The Birds, Candyman, Carrie, Child’s Play 2, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, A Company of Wolves, Critters, Cujo, The Day After, The Dentist, FernGully, Friday the 13th, The Gate, Ghostbusters, Halloween, Hocus Pocus, Krull, The Legacy, Little Monsters, Logan’s Run, Mary Poppins, Moonwalker, Pearl Harbor, Pinocchio, Puppet Master, Return of the Jedi, Phantasm, Poltergeist II, Robocop, Psycho, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, ‘Salem’s Lot, Star Wars, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Star Wars, Time Bandits, Scamper the Penguin, Rock-a-Doodle, Scream, Tales from the Hood, The Watcher in the Woods, What Dreams May Come, Westworld, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, The Wiz, The Wizard of Oz.

@greyeyegoddess: Logan’s Run, which was a mistake because we were supposed to see Star Wars
@rohzana2: the second child’s play. In the basement cuz our stairs were like that *shudders*
@pyrosis: ‘The Legacy’ (1978). I was 7 at the time. Made me afraid of fire and white cats.
@comosa: @actionchick Salem’s Lot freaked me, couldn’t sleep for weeks after the scene where the young vampire kind of taps/scratches on the window.
@KermitMash: @actionchick A Company of Wolves. Sneakily watched as a nipper. Couldn’t eat apples for a while & have a fear of mono-brows…..
@wyldride: @actionchick I did once have a nightmare related to the burnt corpses in Star Wars. Somebody didn’t care for Beru and Owen.
@anotheraza: @actionchick Pinocchio. It was the donkeys that did it.

Double mentions: Alien, Aliens, Children of the Corn, The Dark Crystal, Jaws, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Labyrinth, The Neverending Story, Night of the Living Dead, Peewee’s Big Adventure, The Shining, Toy Story.

@ashmeaboutit: weird as it is, Toy Story. i used to have nightmares my toys would come alive and try to kill me.
@jade_kadir: @actionchick Oddly enough, The Neverending Story. The giant wolf thing scared the crap out of me as a little kid.
@droidguy1119: @actionchick The clown Pee-Wee locks his bike to in PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE
@digitaldoily: @actionchick Labyrinth, mostly because I always wanted to send my younger siblings away and it was like hypothetical remorse.
@adamjmonetta: @actionchick The Dark Crystal freaked me out as a kid. Like a Muppet nightmare on a bad acid trip. Still won’t watch it.
@livthedream: @actionchick Dark Crystal Still scares me and im 26 Ex Uk Armed Forces…

Triple mentions: Arachnophobia, Child’s Play, E. T., A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Omen.

@pipboy2010: @actionchick Arachnophobia – to this day I’m still afraid of spiders falling out of my cereal box.
@kevinsgrimm: @actionchick U couldn’t pay me to watch Arachnophobia! Ewwwwwwwwwww!!!!!

Four specific movies received many more mentions than any others.

3rd Place (tie): A pair of Stephen King flicks – It and Pet Sematary.

@ashmeaboutit: @actionchick oh oh, IT and Pet Cemetery scarred me for life also.
@jamieharrington: @actionchick IT! I could hear it through the walls when my parents watched it in the living room. BLECH
@Fadercreep: @actionchick Stephen King’s IT. For weeks.
@anglhededhpster: @actionchick Pet Sematary always gave me nightmares. I just knew the minute i looked at the foot of my bed i’d see the runner dude… woke up to a very loud thunderclap to see my trenchcoat hanging in the closet scared the bejesus outta me….

Tim Curry as scary clown Pennywise in IT!

Tim Curry as scary clown Pennywise in IT!

2nd Place: The Exorcist

@tenindenmark: @actionchick The Exorcist when it came out freaked me out – but I must admit, Pet Cemetary FREAKED me out.
@tinlizzy85: @actionchick the exorcist it still creeps me out

1st Place (named twice as often as 2nd): Poltergeist

@russellmania89: @actionchick Yeah…Poltergeist was a scary one…still freaks me out when I wake and there’s just static on the tv….They’re Back!
@DBMartin: @actionchick Poltergeist gave me daymares lol CAROL ANN!! CAROL ANN!!!
@Shadowbat: @actionchick When I was a kid I watched Poltergeist on TV. The “they’re hear* scene concided with the loud sound of glass smashing. After searching there was nothing broken in my house.
@listerart: @actionchick SEE? Thx to Poltergeist, phobias of A) clowns B) big scary trees C) eating maggot covered chicken – makes you rip yer face off!

Man Overboard director Oliver Robins in younger days with another scary clown.

Man Overboard director Oliver Robins in younger days with another scary clown.

Other remarks:

@ShebaJo: @actionchick I have always loved scary movies… never had nightmares from them
@garthranzz: @actionchick Never had a nightmare childhood or otherwise but like many Jaws made me afraid of the water. Never learned 2 swim because of it
@Nenad: @actionchick I remember a movie that gave me nightmares, but I do not know the name… It was a Serbian horror movie.
@barrywebber: @actionchick don’t know the name (it was in the 70’s) but it involved a big lava pit and some evil tribe pushing good ones into it. *shiver*
@tinlizzy85: @actionchick actually any movie about demonic possesion creeps me out
@aboynamedart: @actionchick what are romantic comedies, if not the stuff of nightmares?

@actionchick: What movie has invaded your dreams in a good way?

@aboynamedart: @actionchick over/under on Skinemax After Dark joke responses: 30.
@cyberbiota: @actionchick Aliens, believe it or not.
@GeekintheCity: @actionchick Dawn of the Dead. Except in my dreams, it is a sequel where I’m blasting zombies. Dang, what is wrong with me?! 🙂
@russellmania89: @actionchick Good question…haven’t dreamed about a movie in awhile…I know I am dreaming of the opening weekend of Kick Ass.
@VDeshV: @actionchick Boondock Saints and Gossip lol…
@NickRocketLlama: Every zombie movie I watch.
@eyeshine99: @actionchick Boondock, I’d tell ya about it but not sure it’s suitable for small children.

@actionchick: Got so many more answers on which movies caused childhood nightmares than which invade dreams in good way.

@MovieMoxie: @actionchick Interesting, I don’t think I’ve had films invade either nightmares or dreams, although some used to keep me up (always aliens)
@Stugots_Puppet: @actionchick modern problems invades my dreams in a good way, same for wild things.
@russellmania89: @actionchick So many beeped me up as a kid…The Omen, Exorcist, Poltergeist…The Star Wars Trilogy were the only positive movies
@thruthelense: @actionchick Good way – It’s sort of a 3-way tie. Boondock Saints, Serenity and Star Trek. (Yes, clearly I’m not a girly-girl.)
@wyldride: @actionchick Jawbreaker. Now, all my dreams include a power walk scene to the sound of Imperial Teen’s “Yoohoo”. 😉

@actionchick: And which movie scared you most recently?

Movies mentioned: The Blair Witch Project, Carrie, Copycat, Dawn of the Dead, Dog Soldiers, Drag Me to Hell, Elephant, Eraserhead, The Exorcist, From Paris with Love, The Fourth Kind, Ginger Snaps, The Grudge, The Hitcher, Hostel, Idiocracy, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Let the Right One In, Mike’s Audition, The Mist, Night of the Creeps, The Omen, The Orphan, The Others, The Poughkeepsie Tapes, Pandorum, Paranormal Activity, Poltergeist, Rob Zombie’s Halloween, Rose Red, Seed, The Stepfather, The Strangers, Surveillance, Them, The Unborn, The Uninvited, Them!, Twilight. (We’ve left out the obvious joke answers or those that referred more to disgust than fear, like one report of horror over seeing Kathy Bates naked.)

@shepie: dawn of the dead. Waking up 2 have sum random kid in the room freaked me out. esp when the hood is eerily similar 2 my own.
@Trihaly: Twillight!!! Sparkling stalking vampires that brain wash you into believing you’re in love with them? Scary O.o
@kallisti_x: Idiocracy scared me more than any movie I’ve ever seen in my life.
@ThomasSpurlin: I just recently watched THEM!, a ’50s creature feature about mutated ants. It’s actually was VERY unnerving and tense.

Overwhelmingly the most frequently mentioned film was Paranormal Activity.

@thisguyoverhere: sometimes late at night I still am effected from seeing Paranormal Activity last summer.

And yet…

@NephilimFields: People were actually scared by Paranormal Activity?! REALLY?!

“Scary” is subjective. In the immortal words of Cassandra Petersen, a.k.a. Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, “Unpleasant dreams…”

This is the Action Flick Chick, and you’ve just been kicked in the ass!

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