15 Things From My Childhood That Still Disturb Me Today

By: Heather Seebach

This is a list (in no particular order) dedicated to the childhood memories that emotionally scarred and still disturb/frighten/upset me to this day from movies, print, and television. This is a very personal list, so feel free to share your own experiences in the comments below! 

Tales from the Crypt, "Television Terror"

Of all the creepy Tales from the Crypt episodes, this is the one that always stuck with me. Morton Downey Jr. (no relation to Iron Man) stars as a tabloid television host who goes into a genuine haunted house to boost his ratings. Long before "found footage" became all the rage, the first-person POV shots in this episode scared the crap out of me. There's just something so unnerving about only being able to see what the cameraman sees through the lens (we horror viewers are so accustomed to omniscience). With the combined scares of ghosts and homicidal maniacs, this episode still frightens me today.

The librarian, Ghostbusters 
Despite the light-hearted nature of Ghostbusters, both films had moments that were quite unsettling to me (e.g., the Titanic ghosts; Dana being kidnapped in her sofa chair) but none scared me more than the ghost of the librarian. The old lady incarnation was bad enough (especially her shushing) but then it happened - that fucking face that scarred so many children of the 80s. "That was your plan, Ray? Get her?!"

The abduction scene, Fire in the Sky

I don't recall finding this movie particularly scary. In fact, I don't remember anything about it except this one infamous scene. Short of xenomorphs, aliens have never really frightened me. You know, the little gray men with big heads and oval eyes. Corny, right? Except for this film, which took aliens into a whole new, realistic territory. At the time I saw this movie, this abduction sequence was the most disturbingly graphic thing I'd ever seen in a film - and it's not gory at all! It's just so suffocating and horrifying to watch. Few torture porn films today can even touch the level of unease this scene gives me.

Unsolved Mysteries theme music

Yes, that's right - the theme music. I cannot even pinpoint a particular episode or story in my memory banks, but all it takes is the music to give me goosebumps. It probably sounds silly but this song is right up there with the Tubular Bells and the Psycho theme music for scaring the shit out of me. I would not enjoy listening to it alone in a dark room.

Toy Story - Sid's toys 

Who knew that somebody would ever incorporate a Freaks reference into a Disney film? Leave it to Pixar. This scene, where Sid's reject toys emerge from the shadows, is creepy as shit. It's hard to decide which is freakiest but I am leaning toward the one-eyed baby head on metal spider legs. *shudder*

Boy, Little Monsters

Here is another light-hearted romp that, like many 80s made-for-kids films, was alarmingly dark and scary. I remember being uncomfortable with the way Fred Savage let Maurice be slowly, painfully killed by not letting him back under the bed, or the scene where Snik ripped a child's head off. But none of these compared to Boy, the child villain with the stitched-on face and exposed brain. As if that horrifying face wasn't scary enough - then it comes off!

Dinosaurs Attack! Cards

Thanks to Jurassic Park, I was a total dinosaur nerd as a kid (still am). I had to have everything related to dinosaurs. So despite my (former) aversion to gore, I owned the entire set of Topps' Dinosaurs Attack! trading cards. Each was more brutally violent than the last but one card in particular stuck with me - this one:

It's not even bloody, but I never really recovered from the image of a dog screaming as it is killed. In front of a little girl, no less. What do I love more than dinosaurs? Dogs. *sigh* Even now, I hate myself for looking at this again. 

"The Dip" from Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

I think we all remember how scary Judge Doom was ("I talked just like THIIIIIIS!") but this scene in particular still upsets me. Here, Doom shows off his "Dip" (benzene + acetone + turpentine) by murdering an innocent little cartoon shoe. It sounds ridiculous to feel sorry for an object, let alone an animated one, but watching it scream and begs with its eyes as it is slowly burned alive - that is FUCKED up!

The Ren & Stimpy Show - "Ren's Toothache"

It was not uncommon for The Ren & Stimpy Show to make us feel a little nauseous, and there was no better example of this than the toothache episode. I dare you not to cringe while watching Ren pluck gum fibers out with a pair of pliers. 

Artwork from Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

I don't think there is a single horror film that scares me as much as these Stephen Gammell illustrations do. And these were children's books! I still can't look at these for too long.

Large Marge from Pee-Wee's Big Adventure

No list of disturbing childhood memories would be complete without Large Marge. Corny as it may seem now, we all shit ourselves a little when we first saw it. And we've loved it ever since. "That was the worst accident I ever seen..."

Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun" video

My fragile child brain just could not handle this deliberately unnerving music video. Prior to this, the most WTF-ness I was accustomed to was Peter Gabriel's Sledgehammer. But it did not prepare me for melting Barbies and stretching faces. The sky opening up and devouring everybody was the least of my worries.

Wheelers in Return to Oz 

Return to Oz was packed full of disturbing imagery but with their squeaky wheels and maniacal laughs, the Wheelers remain the most lasting creeps of this sequel. They don't look like they can do any harm, but all those cryptic "Beware the Wheelers" warnings lead us to believe there is something seriously twisted about these guys.

All Dogs Go to Heaven - Charlie's Nightmare

It's bad enough I had to watch my favorite breed of dog get MURDERED by the canine mafia, but then there is this dream sequence wherein Charlie Barkin in dragged kicking and screaming into Hell. There he is confronted by demonic gargoyles, skeleton ships in lava, and little gremlins pulling and biting on his skin. Let me reiterate once again, this was intended FOR CHILDREN. FYI, the following clip does not contain the original audio but the effect is still there.

Artax's death, The Neverending Story

Anyone who claims to have watched this scene with dry eyes is a freaking liar. I still cannot get through it without weeping. While animal deaths on-screen usually make me well up, that is not what wrecks me in this scene. It is the nature of Artax's demise, and the devastation it wreaks on Atreyu. If the horse had broken a leg and died, it would have been sad, but it isn't just that. It is the fact that he just GIVES UP and lets himself sink when the sadness overtakes him. There is just something about a creature as strong and loyal as a horse simply giving up and letting itself die of sadness that makes my heart hurt. Goddamn that swamp!

Well, now that I am officially an emotional, nostalgia-induced wreck, what are some moments from your childhood that still affect you - whether it be fear, heartache, or simply disgust? Do share in the comments below!

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