Movies are one of the most potent forms of storytelling. They add visual anchors to our favorite books, affirm the values of our culture and society, and give us glimpses of the fears and anxieties that haunt the most private corners of our hearts.
A recent thread started by Redditor OutOfTheBleu on AskReddit posed the intriguing question, "What movie traumatized you as a child?" The answers were surprising because so many of these movies seem, at least on the surface, to be relatively innocent "kids' movies."
Without further ado, we'll leave you to the movies that have taken us to some pretty dark places.
One Redditor did a great job of explaining the uneasiness that clowns can evoke:
"A clown is always supposed to represent an extreme emotion to match the features. A clown with painted on tears, a clown with a permanent smile fixated on them, a clown that appears in constant shock. But this is broken the minute a clown actually displays a real feeling. Emotions come across as clunky, and run counter intuitive to what the clown seems like it should be. Hearing a gruff, fully grown voice speaking in anger from a clown's childish smiling face can also break that illusion of one emotion, and that sense that the clown is only what he appears to be. It makes a child question whether the clown is truly all that they seem.
And then the child sees movies that take one of the smiling clowns, with a permanent smile and jolly suit, and you place him walking down an empty street, with a knife in hand, keeping that unnatural, uncanny smile. Or hiding in the sewer, waiting to devour helpless children. And then when one of those clowns attack a person, keeping that same unwavering smile, and it becomes chilling to realize that you can't see what a clown is thinking or feeling by the face. And a child starts to feel fear of what a clown truly is, hiding behind the painted face."
"HE GOT SUCKED IN BY A BOARD GAME.
Who the hell does that to kids?"
3. "The Brave Little Toaster"
"It's supposed to be about a brave little toaster, but it's really about the existential crisis faced by a doomed and enslaved race of senntient appliances."
4. "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure"
"That's one of those scenes that I get chills the second the truck pulls up because I know it's coming. It is funny watching it now, but as a kid, that was nightmare fuel."
"Dumbo, like so many other early Disney movies, played on one of the most primal childhood fears: that of being abandoned by or permanently separated from one's parents. This was an early childhood fear for me and after Dumbo. Coupled with my then-4- or 5-year-old feeling of otherness and not-belonging, and the accompanying identification with the orphaned elephant, that fear crystallized into a potent and lasting anxiety that has, quite frankly, colored not only my worldview, but my relationships. It also led to a lifelong, nearly pathological hatred of circuses and animal abusers. We won't even get into the pink elephant scene."
— K.S. Anthony
6. "The Sixth Sense"
"I was freaked by that scene with the dead girl under the bed who was vomiting because her mom poisoned her. Horrifying."
7. "The Shining"
"Should not have watched that as a 9 year old."
8. "The Land Before Time"
Obviously influenced by the mind-searing trauma of Dumbo.
9. "The Dark Crystal."
"The part that got to me was where the Skeksies (?) would strap those little guys into a chair and drain their essence with the crystal."
Which of these do you remember? What movies traumatized you as a kid and why? Let us know in the comments below.