Ten unforgettable films that have haunted us since childhood

From our friends & partners at One Room With A View, we share some of the scariest films to scar their writers’ childhoods.

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Watership Down // Courtesy of: Cinema International Corporation (CIC)

Who Framed Roger Rabbit? — Alex Goldstein

Little strikes fear into the hearts of a certain generation more than the words, “remember me, Eddie?”

Pinocchio & Goodnight, Mister Tom — Jack Cameron

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Pinocchio // Courtesy of: RKO Radio Pictures

Drop Dead Fred — Angela Moore

Watership Down — George Howarth

Watership Down was the first time I realised cartoons weren’t necessarily for children. While the visuals are downright horrific (particularly the final showdown which involves several rabbit casualties and the snarling, bloodied face of General Woundwort), it was more the eerie tone and “So It Goes” approach to death that unnerved me — I didn’t realise a cartoon could be so… hopeless? Combined with the warm, muted 70s animation style that I had previously known as comforting and safe, this proved to be one of the most unsettling watches of my childhood. But I’ll be damned if it wasn’t exhilarating.

The Phantom of the Opera — Anna McKibbin

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The Phantom of the Opera // Courtesy of: Warner Bros.

Matilda & The NeverEnding Story — Jess Goodman

When you think of names in horror, chances are the first that come to mind aren’t Roald Dahl or Danny DeVito. And yet, the latter’s directorial take on Matilda is one that haunts. There are belittling speeches from Harry Wormwood (DeVito). There’s a literal torture device known as The Chokey. But perhaps the movie’s most chilling scene occurs when villain-of-the-piece Miss Trunchbull (Pam Ferris) forces a student to eat cake. Doesn’t sound too bad on paper, right? Here is something that should be enjoyed, twisted and transformed until it’s both sinister and sickening.

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The NeverEnding Story // Courtesy of: Warner Bros.

The Brothers Grimm — Joni Blyth

Bringing the brothers Grimm back to their dark roots is a great pitch. It’s fresh, feisty, and offers ample opportunity for an auteur like Terry Gilliam to get freaky, visually speaking. To an adult, The Brothers Grimm is conceptually fantastic. To a child? Well I can’t speak for everyone, but I bounced about 30 minutes into this ‘family’ movie night. Those familiar with Brazil and 12 Monkeys might have expected this level of uncanny horror, but for me, horse-spiders swallowing kids whole was a wholly unwelcome surprise. We sanitised those weirdos for a reason, y’all — I’ll be playing Burnout in the next room when you’re done.

Lord of the Flies — Daniel Theophanus

Being stranded on a deserted island is stressful enough, but Piggy’s (Danuel Pipoly) misfortunes in the 1990 adaptation were particularly anxiety-inducing for me. I first watched it as a nine-year-old with severe myopia, sporting coke-bottle glasses, and found myself traumatised by the visualisation of unfolding horror. First his glasses broke, then they were stolen, leaving him vulnerable to the elements and the escalating savagery of fellow cadets. The prospect of being stranded a million miles from civilisation, with no parent or optician in sight, left in a state of semi-blindness, is something that still fills me with a sense of complete powerlessness.

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