What Non-Horror Movies Traumatized You As a Child?
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If you frequent movie theaters (or used to, sigh), you’ve no doubt encountered them: The irresponsible parents who decided to take their far-too-young kids to a decidedly grownup movie instead of paying for a babysitter.
My favorite example of this is the time I sat next to a pair of 5-year-olds during their opening night viewing of The Cell, a 2000 serial killer thriller in which Vincent D’onofrio has hooks surgically implanted into his own back so he can masturbate while dangling over the bodies of his victims. Hopefully they eventually got over it.
I can smugly say this is never OK—and is why I have seen only a handful of movies in theaters each year in the decade since I became a parent—while at the same time recognizing that you never know what’s actually going to traumatize a kid. For example, the time we had to shut off Jim Henson’s Labyrinth—ostensibly a film for children—not because the goblins were freaking my child out, nor because of the funny feelings elicited by David Bowie’s tight pants, but because Jennifer Connelly’s character wouldn’t pick up her crying baby brother. Kids are weird, is my point.
As a child of the ‘80s—a very different era in parenting—I watched a lot of movies at way too young an age (for example, I saw RoboCop 2, in which a foul-mouthed child draped in prostitutes runs a drug empire and is later brutally gunned down by a robot, in the theater with my mom and dad). But obviously I shouldn’t have been exposed those movies.
What’s more interesting to me are the scenes that have stuck with me—in a traumatic injury way—despite the fact that the movies they are a part of were either intended for children, or seem otherwise benign. The chief offender, for me and, I’m sure, many others, is the noble steed Artax’s slow surrender to the Swamps of Sadness in 1984's The NeverEnding Story. The moment is still powerful as an adult. As a kid, it wrecked me.
So I’m asking you: What movies or TV shows traumatized you as a child? Gave you nightmares, kept you awake, served as the lynchpin to an enlightening therapy session several decades later? Share in the comments, and I’ll collect the most upsetting replies in a followup post later this week.
Edited because I forgot which guy named Vince played the killer in The Cell.