When I was a child, I was scared of nearly everything to do with horror movies. Weirdly, I had no trouble with TV shows like Buffy or The X-Files (two shows which are all-time favourites), but horror on the silver screen was a fast-track to trauma. Today we’re going to have a little fun as I revisit the cinematic terror of my childhood, and why I am never forgiving Steven Spielberg for Jaws.
I fucking hate sharks, and it’s because of one movie: Jaws I watched it in the afternoon with my mum and my brother as a single-digit kid – I was freaked at the first scene when the woman gets eaten for being naked (as was my understanding at the time, though in retrospect I think my mum was just making a joke) but I quit at one of the most iconic scenes in movie history: when the shark eats the little boy. It was the blood that did it, the merging of the boy’s body with the grey of the shark and the gore shooting out of him. I screamed the place down, had to leave the room, then bravely came back into the living room to watch the end of the movie. Except I spent the rest of the runtime with a magazine dedicated to Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace between my eyes and the television. People say George Lucas ruined their childhood – well, he did me a solid when his pal Steven scared the shit out of me.
Robocop is a science-fiction action movie that has some of the most horrible body horror that you will ever see. Again, I was a child, and my brother (who had a stronger stomach than I did) used his powers of persuasion so we could get to watch Robocop. We knew him as a cartoon (a lot of nineties kid show were neutered versions of recent genre films) so we really had no idea what we were in for. My terror was twofold: the scene in which Alex Murphy is brutally all-but murdered, his hand exploding from a shotgun blast, is still vivid, and the toxic explosion of henchman Emil in the end fight. Unlike Jaws, I made it to the end of the movie but I was irreparably changed.
It took my brother and I years to finally watch Scream as real grown-ups due to failed attempt when we were ten or eleven. It was the perfectly crafted first scene that did us. We were completely taken in by the casting of Drew Barrymore (who we had seen leading fun movies like Charlie’s Angels and Ever After) and to watch her die in such a horrible fashion was unpleasant to say the least. Interestingly, when we finally watched it a few years later, I realised that I remembered Barrymore’s death as much worse than it actually was. Instead of just hanging in the tree stabbed to death, I remembered clearly that she had her arms and legs cut off. What the fuck does that say about me? Probably that I should never have seen Robocop so young.
That’s my movie trauma, what movies, horror or otherwise, scared you when you were younger? Let us know in the comments below!
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By Kevin Boyle
Header Image: Paste Magazine