13 Movies That Traumatized Us

Reading Time: 6 minutes
Get ready...  Image: Dakster Sullivan
Get ready… Image: Dakster Sullivan

In celebration of Friday the 13th, we have put together a collection of the movies and television shows that scared the LEGO bricks out of us and continue to scar our very existence. This post is not for the faint of heart, but if you are looking for something to creep you out, give you nightmares, or otherwise just horrifically entertain you, read on.

1. Buried Alive

Rating: PG

Synopsis:
Buried Alive is about a man who is buried alive after his wife and her doctor lover give him an overdose of medication that was meant to kill him. He digs his way out of the cheap casket they buried him in and takes his revenge.

Why did it traumatize you?
I was only around five years old when I saw this at my grandmother’s house. The idea that you could be buried alive terrified me. It’s traumatized me to the point I’m afraid of small spaces, being locked in anything other than a car. When I’m on the Haunted Mansion attraction at Walt Disney World, I have to turn my head away from the burial scene where the guy is screaming for someone to let him out of his coffin. (GeekMom Dakster Sullivan)

2. Any movie on Lifetime with a male villain

Synopsis:
In the early ’90s, you could be sure that if it was on Lifetime, the male was the overpowering villain and the woman the defenseless victim. The worst of the movies were the ones based on true stories.

Why did it traumatize you?
I was only around five or six years old when my grandmother exposed me to these horrors of the adult world and I wandered through childhood fearful of every male that crossed my path. (GeekMom Dakster Sullivan)

3. Creepshow 

Rating: R

Synopsis:
The first vignette of 1982 horror anthology Creepshow is a tale in which harried daughter Bedelia murders the abusive patriarch of the Grantham family. Seven years later, he returns with a thirst for vengeance and a hunger for the Father’s Day cake he was initially denied.

Why did it traumatize you?
Horror media (books, television shows, movies, and the like) has always sort of been a thing in my family. At age 9, one or more of the adults in my life judged me mature enough to watch this George Romero-directed, Stephen King-penned collaboration. Clearly, I was not, and the face of my childhood boogieman was the emaciated, maggoty maw of the resurrected Nathan Grantham. To this day, the very thought of the grisly reanimated dead still makes me shudder. (GeekDad Z.)

4. The Exorcist

Rating: R

Synopsis: 
In The Exorcista young girl is possessed by a demon. A priest is called in to help.

Why did it traumatize you?
The visuals of the girl when possessed completely scared me. The effects and voice changes were horrific to me. To this day, nearly 40 years later, I cannot watch it. (GeekDad Sean Hallenbeck)

5. It (Original)

Rating: TV-14

Synopsis: 
In It, a demon spider that masquerades as a clown kills children in a small New England town.

Why did it traumatize you?

I was an older child when I saw this and it terrified me. I was already afraid of spiders and clowns, so I have no idea why I watched it. Had they just added some fire, they’d have hit the Sam’s Worst Nightmares hat-trick. (GeekMom Samantha Fisher)

6. Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Rating: PG

Synopsis:
In Invasion of the Body Snatchers, aliens invade and gradually replace all humans with clones devoid of emotion.

Why did it traumatize you?
I was six. It was creepy. I don’t even remember anything about the story, just that I watched it with my 9-year-old sister and 4-year-old brother (our parents clearly didn’t know what we were up to at the time) and we all freaked. (GeekMom Nivi Engineer)

7. Strait-Jacket

Rating: Predates rating system by about 5 years

Synopsis:
A modern-day riff on Lizzie Borden. Strait-Jacket sees Lucy Harbin (Joan Crawford) hack up her cheating husband and his mistress with an ax, and 20 years later, she’s out of the nuthouse, living with her brother and his family, who adopted Lucy’s daughter when she went away. But then ax murders start happening; is Lucy going crazy, or is somebody trying to frame her?

Why did this traumatize you?
I was about 13, my mom was watching this on the late show, and for God-knows-what-reason let me stay up to watch it with her. The scene where the murderess jumps out of the shower swinging her ax at a victim was a great jump-scare, but then when the movie ended, I really didn’t want to go into the bathroom. Please leave your shower curtain open so I can see in there when I use your bathroom, okay? (GeekDad Jim MacQuarrie)

8. Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Rating: R

Synopsis:
Bram Stoker’s Dracula features a scary Gary Oldman as Dracula, who is convinced that the spirit of his beloved wife inhabits the body of Mina Murray, so he arrives in England in order to seduce her.

Why did this traumatize you?
I am astounded because this was an R-rated movie and my father took me to see it when I was 10 or 12 years old. He would cover my eyes during the sexiest/goriest parts, so thank you very much, dad, for confusing me forever. (GeekMom Mariana Ruiz)

9. Night Gallery – Season 2, Episode 21 “The Caterpillar”

Night Gallery Image Credit: NightGallery.net Universal
Night Gallery Image Credit: NightGallery.net Universal

Rating: G

Synopsis:
In the Night Gallery episode “The Caterpillar,” the bad guy arranges to have an earwig put into the good guy’s ear to kill him, but the hired goon screws up and puts it in the bad guy’s ear; it eats its way through his brain without killing him, nearly driving him mad. But, ooh, twist, it laid eggs inside his head! AAAUUUGGGHH!!!

Why did it traumatize you?
It actually traumatized my kids, even though it was, like, 30 years old the time. Why? “It laid eggs inside his head! AAAUUUGGGHH!!!” Even now, I just have to come up behind them and make munching noises and they scream and run away. (GeekDad Jim MacQuarrie)

10. Poltergeist

Rating: PG (AA in Canada)

Synopsis:
In Poltergeist, a nuclear family moves into a newly built suburb. Vengeful ghosts scare the family into leaving, but not before kidnapping their daughter.

Why did this movie traumatize you?
This movie is likely the source of 95% of all cases of coulrophobia in anyone over the age of 40. Creepy clown? Things that go bump in the night? A monster under the bed? This scene checked off all the boxes. Thanks, Spielberg. (GeekDad Randy Slavey)

My brother wanted to watch Poltergeist at his birthday party, so my parents responsibly called the other parents and confirmed it would be okay for them to watch. I sneaked down to watch it with them, but, at 8 years old, it was a bit too much. Well into my teens, I slept with my closet door open. iHorror has a good article on what it calls the “Closetsploitation” trend that followed and made it more difficult for me to get over my fear. (GeekDad Stephen R Clark)

11. The Silence of the Lambs

Rating: R

Synopsis:
In The Silence of the Lambs, Clarice Starling is an FBI agent in training who is selected by a mentor to work with imprisoned serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter to help nab another serial killer.

What did it traumatize you?
I was a junior in high school (age 16) when I saw The Silence of the Lambs the first time. I went with a bunch of friends to see it in the theater, and my parents expressed some apprehension about my going, but didn’t stop me. Since Dr. Lecter was essentially walking free at the end, I guess it was in my subconscious that maybe I’d be his next victim? I don’t know, but I had trouble getting to sleep that night. My mother said “I told you so!” and I had to admit she was right (this time!). (GeekMom Patricia Vollmer)

12. Tremors

Rating: PG 13

Synopsis:
In Tremors, Kevin Bacon must fight some very scary worms that are blind; they attack you from underneath when you make a noise.

What did it traumatize you?
We went to watch it with my siblings and there are lots of scenes where kids are jumping about and making noises… only to be hunted down as prey. (GeekMom Mariana Ruiz)

13. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Rating: PG

Synopsis:
In E.T the Extra-Terrestrial, a kind alien finds himself stranded on Earth and befriends a young boy named Elliott.

What did it traumatize you?
I watched it while I was staying with a family friend when I was in 7th grade and my mom was having back surgery. Because I didn’t really understand what was going on with my mom–because it was the ’80s and people didn’t talk about things–I freaked out when E.T. left at the end of the movie. I’ve never been able to watch it since because I always associate it with all the times that we had to be careful around my mom. (GeekMom Karen Walsh)

Have you seen a movie that left you traumatized? Leave us a note in the comments!