I recently got back from seeing IT the other night, and holy shit was it fantastic. Not only did it exceed my expectations, but it really gave me a lot to think about it terms of 1) why this movie/book is so terrifying and 2) why this movie/book is so successful. I love everything about the story from the concept of fear being individualized, to the family dynamics it explores, to Pennywise the Dancing Clown luring Georgie down the sewer.
But this post isn't about why I loved It.
This post is about the movies that ruined my childhood.
Now let me be frank--I was way too young to be watching any of these movies, but you folks know me, and some of you even know my family, so none of this should really surprise you. We bleed monsters and madmen here in the Wytovich clan. Having said that, the fear that this movies instilled in me at a young age not only shaped my phobias growing up, but they also fascinated me, hence one of the many reasons I grew up to write horror. So before I start the list, I want to thank the writers and directors of these films because without them, I would be entirely too normal and life would be very boring.
I can still vividly remember watching this in the basement with my mom. She was ironing and I was curled up on the couch, my eyes glued to the screen as Danny Glick came to Mark Petrie's window and asked to be let in. Growing up, I had a love/hate relationship with vampires because while I was completely enamored by them, they also scared the shit out of me. I had two windows in my bedroom growing up, and this movie made me check that they were locked each night...and sleep with the covers around my neck.
2. Pet Sematary by Stephen King; Mary Lambert (1989)
This was the first book that I read by King, and I remember reading this one in my bedroom and staring out the window at our shed. We had our own little pet sematary back there, complete with my goldfish (Cory, Shawn, and Topanga) and most recently at the time, my rabbit, Fluffy. Now Fluffy was my first pet, and she died a truly horrific death, one that I still see in my nightmares on occasion, and god dammit if after reading that book and watching that movie if I didn't think she was going to come back like Church did and eat me alive. To this day, I still don't like going near the shed at my parent's house, and we rarely, if ever, bring up Fluffy anymore.
3. Arachnophobia by Dan Jakoby, Al Williams, Wesley Strick; Frank Marhsall (1990)
I have yet to watch this movie in its entirety and I probably never will. If anything is responsible for my crippling fear of spiders, then this move is what's to blame. And yeah, yeah, I know. B-Horror at it's finest and all that jazz, but I will never forgive my dad for calling me downstairs to see that spider attack the girl in the shower. Literally, every day when I wash my hair, I think of this scene. Little did I know that in a few short years, I'd be reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and dealing with a whole different mess of problems...
4. Tremors by S. S. Wilson, Brent Maddock; Ron Underwood (1990)
This one actually makes me laugh a lot when I think about it, because I can remember being in my Jasmine pajamas and jumping on the couch with my dad while I played 'sandworm attack' in the living room. I was terrified to walk on the floor after watching this, so my dad pushed the couches together and set up chairs so I could still play. When it was time for bed, I merely crawled across the couches and chairs until I got to the steps and went to my room. The fear didn't last long, but man do I remember being sure I was going to be sucked into the floor that night.
5. It by Stephen King; Tommy Lee Wallace (1990)
There are countless reasons why this movie scarred me as a kid, and as a result, I wasn't able to watch the entire movie until I was in my early twenties. I remember coming downstairs and asking my dad what he was watching, and before I knew it, a fucking clown was climbing out of a shower drain and trying to eat Eddie. Jesus. As if I already wasn't afraid of getting attacked by a mutant South American Spider, now I had to worry about Pennywise the Dancing Clown trying to lure me in a sewer, which ironically, I still can't walk over today without having a mini panic attack. Also, if you're keeping track, Stephen King has a solid 3/5 here and therefore wins the title of responsibility for my childhood nightmares.