5 films that traumatised me as a child

One of the main reasons we had kids was so I could educate them in the greatest films ever made. Ok, that’s not true, but I have given a lot of thought to the films that I loved growing up so that I could share them with the little ones when the time is right.

You know the ones: Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Back To The Future, The Karate Kid, The Goonies, Short Circuit etc. As they grow up I’ll move them onto Lethal Weapon, Die Hard, Commando, Terminator 2. Think of it as a Three Time Daddy Film Curriculum.

Part of this curriculum will come with a SEVERE HEALTH WARNING.

Yes, there are films that I have watched as a youngster that have haunted me since – either because of a particular scene or because it is generally horrific from start to finish.

Here are five films that traumatised me as a child and I probably won’t be rushing to let my kids watch them.

(There will also be spoilers.)

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

Yes, I know what you’re thinking: It’s a masterpiece! It’s a classic! It’s a kids film! True on all three counts. It’s also a horrendous emotional train wreck of a film. If you can watch it and not sob then your heart must be a few sizes too small.

Some of my earliest film memories centre around ET. Like most young boys, I wanted to be Elliot and have my own alien best friend and a flying bike. Traumatic scenes include the one where they find ET all pale and shrivelled in the river, when the house is invaded by men in astronaut suits and, of course, the farewell.

To top it off, I have troubled memories as a 4 year old when my mum gave away my favourite ET t-shirt. Even though it no longer fit me. But that’s another story.

Watership Down (1978)

This film is brutal. Bunnies. Dying bunnies. Suffocating bunnies. Militant bunnies. Ghost bunnies. An impending sense of dread, horror and blood, the… er..  seagull, THAT song.

And when it was released it was classified as a U film which apparently is suitable for audiences aged four and over. Unbelievable.

Ghostbusters (1984)

Firstly, it isn’t the whole film that traumatised me. It is just one scene. One scene I watched when I was about 6 years old. One scene that scared me so much I couldn’t watch it again. If Ghostbusters ever came on, I would shut my eyes and cover my ears to avoid it.

The librarian scene.

The fear of this librarian managed to stay with me into adulthood. I remember being in a nightclub while at University and it played Ghostbusters on one of the projector screens (I don’t know if that is still a thing nightclubs do). When I knew the offending scene was coming I turned away and made sure I didn’t see it. Yes, even after I few drinks, I still couldn’t watch it.

I’m happy to say I have watched this scene since I was six. I made myself. I couldn’t let my kids grow up to think their dad was scared of a librarian so I sat and made myself watch it. I found it quite lame, but I’m in no rush to watch it again.

Despite my efforts, the kids still know all about this story and now think I’m scared of ALL librarians.

Poltergeist (1982)

I blame my parents. Seriously. I was probably about 8 and they let me watch this… and they were THERE AT THE TIME! I remember sitting next to my dad on the sofa and we agreed he would cover my eyes with his hand whenever something scary happened. This went well until I realised I could still see through his fingers and caught a glimpse of this lovely scene.

I’ve not been able to watch any of the film since (I’ve not even watched this clip so I hope it’s the right one) and I couldn’t sleep in a room with a TV. Even today I think of this film if I see the fuzzy static on a TV which, thankfully due to the digitial age, happens less and less.

Transformers: The Movie (1986)

I cried. I cried. And I cried some more. My favourite Transformer, my hero, had died. I remember sitting in the cinema, just 7 years old, and I was destroyed. Even today I think about this scene more than I probably should do.

These are five films that traumatised me as a child and although I won’t be encouraging  my children watch them any time soon, I suspect they won’t be affected in the same way.

Being 9 years old, NJ has watched more films than his siblings and so far he hasn’t complained about any in particular. He’s seen all the Star Wars films and all the Harry Potter ones several times and even in their darkest moments he might say he feels a little scared, but he always keeps watching and doesn’t end up in tears or upset.

I know a lot has changed culturally over the last 30 years. I know that perhaps my kids are more desensitised, that perhaps films don’t draw on the same heartstrings as they used to. While the 5-year-old me would watch ET and wish with all his might that it was real, I don’t get the impression my kids feel the same way about movies. They enjoy them for what they are: entertainment and spectacle.

But back to the films that traumatised me. Are there any that I have missed? What films would make your list?

8 thoughts on “5 films that traumatised me as a child

  1. Watership down. What were they thinking??? I was about 7 and I cried and cried. As an aside, I saw Bill Murray on Saturday night. He gave me a rose (or threw it in my direction and I caught it). #Dreamteam

  2. I absolutely love this post! I can totally relate to this because I had a really traumatic experience when I was about 6 years old. My brother was obsessed with Michael Jackson and he had Thriller on video (wasn’t there a longer one than the actual music video?) Anyway this got played a lot in our house and to say I was terrified is an understatement. I still can’t look at it today without totally freezing from head to toe. Complete anxiety! And I never want something like this to happen to my daughters because as you know the impact is lifelong. I sometimes think I need a therapy session with the Speakmans to get over this! (if you’ve ever watched This Morning you’ll know what I ‘m talking about!) #dreamteam

  3. I have never seen Watership Down based on the fact that everyone I know was traumatized by this as a child. My parents did let us watch Jaws though (I think I was about 11), but I have never gotten over that and only saw one bone floating through the water and I was beyond terrified. My younger sister was fine. I am still unable to watch anything remotely scary. Thanks for being on the #DreamTeam this week

  4. Okay, I love the idea of sharing movies that traumatized you as a child. I agree that Watership Down is pretty scary, I first saw it as an adult and some scenes shocked me. I could not imagine letting a 4 year old watch it.

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