It's becoming increasing rare for horror movies to genuinely frighten or unsettle me, and I can't remember the last time a movie actually gave me nightmares. But, I have to admit, I haven't always been such an unflinching hard-core bad-ass.
In fact, I remember, as a youngster, several movies gave me terrible nightmares. I've seen some of these movies again as an adult and am amazed by how innocuous they are.
So just for your amusement I thought I'd share with you the top 5 movies (in no particularly order) that emotionally scarred me as a child. Enjoy...
I don't remember being overly frightened by Phobia whilst actually watching it (on TV), but I do remember it giving me some of my most vivid nightmares when I went to bed straight after it.
The story is pretty simple; a bunch of different people with different phobias are attending group therapy, when they suddenly start dying one by one in circumstances related to their phobia. It's possible I didn't even watch this movie all the way to the end but I distinctly remember being awoken, more than once, by a nightmare where I met the same fate as the claustrophobic character in the movie.
I haven't revisited Phobia since seeing on TV in the early 80's, but I'd be willing to bet that it would have no way near the impact today as it did 30 years ago.
Alien is probably the only movie that gave me nightmares as a kid that is actually still pretty effective today.
Again, it was the early 80's, when I watched Alien on TV immediately before going to bed. I don't remember the specifics of the nightmare(s) but I remember waking several times that night from "bad thoughts" sown from the seeds of having watched Alien.
I can watch Alien now, impervious to its scares, but I can at least see why it scared the begezus out of me as a kid.
Trilogy Of Terror (1975)
If you ask anyone, who saw this anthology movie in the 70's, what they remember of it, there's every chance they will recall the "Voodoo Doll" segment but nothing else. That's certainly the case for me. For all I knew the "Voodoo Doll" segment was the whole movie.
The thing about the "Voodoo Doll" segment that literally sent chills through my pre-pubescent body, sometime in the late 70’s, was its shocking conclusion. Few things have creeped me out as much as that finale.
I happened to catch Trilogy Of Terror again on TV sometime during the early 90's and... well... I can't think of a euphemism that adequately disguises how laughably bad it was and how much of a wuss I must have been as a kid. Again, I can't remember the other two segments (it seems that they just refuse to stick in my memory), but the "Voodoo Doll" segment again stood out, this time around, for its pure ridiculousness. It's just so weird to think that something so silly gave me nightmares as a kid.
The Last of Sheila (1973)
Of all the movies that gave me nightmares The Last Of Sheila is the one I really want to revisit the most.
I don't remember what it was about. I don't think I watched all of it. And I don't remember what happened in my nightmares. But, I do remember watching part of it on TV at my Grandmother's (probably in the late 70's) then going to bed and having multiple nightmares.
The IMDB score is surprisingly high so I’d really like to see it again. Unfortunately, no Australian distributor has released it on DVD. One day, maybe.
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
OK, I'm cheating a little here because A Nightmare On Elm Street didn't actually give me nightmares. Phobia, Alien, Trilogy Of Terror and The Last Of Sheila are the big 4. But "Top 4" sounds kind of lame so I've picked A Nightmare On Elm Street as filler for my "Top 5" nightmare inducing movies.
Whilst A Nightmare On Elm Street didn't give me nightmares I did nearly poop my shorts when watching it on VHS at home alone one day in the mid 80's. I figured watching it in daylight might make the experience less scary, but I soon realised that being alone in daylight is actually scarier than night time when you have company.
So, anyway... about half way through the movie, during one of the film's many quiet suspenseful scenes, the creaky concertina doors in the front hall of my parent's house blow open. Now, I've not had it medically diagnosed, but I'm pretty sure I had a mild stroke when this happened. It scared every fibre of excrement out of me. Now, you might well say, "but BIQ, the doors scared you not the movie". Not true. Those doors had a habit of blowing open and it had never bothered me previously. But when it happened at that time during that movie... it was a like a real live waking nightmare.