Your First Scary Movie or Book

The weather is very October here, and I’m thinking about the approach of my favorite holiday. What’s the first movie, book, or story that scared the hell out of you?

I’m not sure that mine are my real firsts, but here are the ones that stuck with me.

A story whose author and title I’ve since forgotten, but it sure had a Ray Bradbury feel to it, which I read in elementary school. It described a boy trying to go from one end of the block to the other on a dark night. There were trees, one in particular, with sinister intent. I could smell the October on the story, and just imagining the cool night air gave me goosebumps.

Much later, Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot scared the hell out of me, and not just for the obvious reasons. As I read his descriptions of the boy’s room, I began to realize it could just as easily have been mine with all the models of Universal horror monsters. When the kid’s vampire friend rapped on the window, that was all I wanted to read until daylight.

SometimeĀ in my tweens or early teens, my parents forbade me to watch Night of the Living Dead on the late show. I disobeyed and crept up to the TV room to watch it with the sound turned down low. From “They’re coming to get you Barbara!” to the end of the movie, when I’d fallen asleep or passed out from terror, I remained crammed under the couch to watch with my back against the wall.

Which ones got to you at an impressionable age?


2 thoughts on “Your First Scary Movie or Book

  1. The first thing that I really remember scaring the hell out of me was when I was 5 or so. My mother and her friend were going to watch THE HAUNTING on TV, and I was told that it was “too scary” and “not for little boys” — and it was nearly bedtime anyway, so I was told to go to my room and read or play with my toys.

    Of course, I snuck out, and laid down at the top of the stairs, so I could peak through the bannister into the living room.

    The scene which was on was the one in which Dr. Markway relates the history of the house, and he talks about how Abigail Crain had lived in the house her entire life, never leaving the nursery — which was accompanied by a shot of a little girl in a bed, which then dissolves to a shot of an old lady in the same bed.

    To my 5-year-old mind, what I saw was HOLY SHIT THEY JUST TURNED A LITTLE KID INTO AN OLD LADY!!! Terrified, I ran like a bat out of hell to my bedroom.

    I had completely forgotten about that until about 20 years ago, I was watching THE HAUNTING on DVD, and that scene played — and I got cold sweats and damn-near a panic attack.

  2. The first thing I read that scared me was “The Tell-tale Heart” reading it at 5AM in a creepy basement. Lots of movies scared me as a kid, the first to terrify me was ET, when he jumps out of the grass I screamed in the theater.

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