First Experiences With Horror Movies

The Waypointeers have mentioned their first horror movie a few times in podcasts and in a recent Hot Mic Mornings. I always automatically say the first horror movie I ever saw was Halloween but the more I think about I think the real answer is something else. I think that Halloween was the first horror movie I ever experianced.

I’ve always loved Halloween as a season or holiday so when I was young (I couldn’t have been older than 6 or 7 I think) and I found out my mum was watching a movie straight up called Halloween I really wanted to watch it but of course, she wouldn’t let me. So what I did was hide behind the couch and just listened to the movie with occasionally peaking my head around when I think my mum won’t see me or when something scary is happening. I don’t remember much but I’m pretty sure she knew I was there the whole time and might have said at some point that it was enough and I needed to go to bed.

The actual real answer to the “what was the first horror movie you watched” must have been a few years later. I remember it was the summer holidays and I was up really late at night. Maybe because it was too hot to sleep (which doesn’t happen often in Scotland but when it does its horrible and humid) or maybe it was just beacuse it was the holidays and I could do what the hell I wanted. Either way a horrible and facinating movie was on tv that was called the Texas Chainsaw Massacer. TCM really sticks in my head beacuse of how uncomfortable of a film it is to watch but also I love it beacuse of that. I could write a whole thing about what I like about that movie but I might save that for another thread.

What are your first horror movie stories?


someone described the concept of Ringu to me at cub camp when i was 9 or 10 - i was a fairly sheltered kid, horror-movie wise - and it frightened the life out of me for years without even having to watch it.

at that point, i was recording a lot of stuff on the family VCR (often without my parents realising!) and i remember the process to do that feeling a little arcane; you enter a series of numbers from the Radio Times into a blurry, blue-and-white interface, and trust that it would result in the show or movie you wanted being recorded. given that it regularly acted up and recorded the wrong channel, or cut into something else partway through, or just plain broke, the idea of a cursed videotape coming out of that machine felt very real to me. it kept me awake at night, and i avoided basically all horror movies for years just based on how scared i was by that idea.

when i finally watched The Ring at 14 or 15 (the american remake first, and then the original later) it was exactly as frightening as i’d imagined, but it also made me realise that actually, i love horror movies. my ability to get completely lost in them and become genuinely frightened is, i now realise, a strength, although it still took me a couple years to catch up and become a full-on horror aficionado.


I celebrated Friday the 13th every time it came around by staying up late (bargaining with my parents) with my little sister and binging F13 movies on USA’s Up All Night promotion. Watching censored horror movies on cable TV are some of my fondest memories of childhood. We were terrified, entertained, and cemented our love of trashy slasher movies.

And on a semi-related note, this fella curates the best list of horror movies from the last year every October, and fuels my ongoing love of the genre:

I can’t remember for certain what my first horror movie experience was, as I have memories of seeing bits and pieces of horror movies as a kid. But I think my first time watching one start to finish may have been the first Final Destination? I remember finding the idea of pretty much anything being able to kill you extremely scary, but also…kind of fascinating?

Also if anyone’s interested in further spooky film talk, there’s a nice horror movie discussion/recommendation thread here :grinning:

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Can I count Jurassic Park on here? There are a couple sequences in that film that, especially watching as a six year-old kid who identified immediately with Tim and Lex, are way more terrifying than anything I’ve seen in a horror movie since.

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As a kid I was fascinated with the ocean and wanted to be a marine biologist when I grew up, so one day one of my grandparents thought it’d be fun to sit down and watch the original Jaws film with me. It did not go over so well. That one jump scare that features the head of a decomposing corpse popping out of the water will forever be burned into my memory. We actually had to turn the movie off after that. It wasn’t until years later that I watched the whole thing for myself (and quite enjoyed it actually).

As it would turn out, I’m not studying to be marine biologist. Was it the fault of Jaws? Who can say.


I must have seen something in the genre earlier in life, but the memory that sticks out most was seeing The Ring. I had a friend who worked as a shift manager at a local theater, and he got a group of my friends in after normal hours.

We had the theater to ourselves. We stayed through the unbelievably creepy song the girl sings at the end of the credits. And then we sat there, all of us freaked out but trying not to show it, until my manager friend said, “…Sooooo, wanna watch Jackass: The Movie?” And we all instantly agreed. Except me. I had to get home before my parents got too upset.

So I drove home by myself, playing the happiest music I could think of, and slept with the lights on.

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The first memory of watching a horror movie was when I was in elementary school. My parents were living in Killeen, Texas at the time, and my father was watching a scary movie. He told me to watch the screen, and on the screen there was a little girl in front of a full length mirror in a dark room. The movie was silent, save for the noise off of the VHS tape. Then, after a moment, the mirror broke, making a very loud sound, and a scary monster came through the mirror. I was more anxious than I was scared because I am in the autism spectrum, and many people on the autism spectrum hate really loud noises, including me.

One of my earlier memories of watching a horror movie was seeing The Langoliers miniseries with my dad. I didn’t know what was going on, but I was nine or ten and it was creepy and I liked it. Haven’t seen it since then. I had seen the Goosebumps show, but until then, I hadn’t really seen a full horror film. After that, my dad and I would regularly watch whatever horror movie was airing during October, and I would check the TV Guide to find the ones he didn’t want me to see and watch them anyway.

I have several anecdotes about horror movies:

Like @Emily, I was enamored by the ocean as a 7- or 8-year-old child. Sharks especially fascinated me. Utter masters of their domain, and exceptionally fun to draw! As such, I heard about Jaws (probably saw its iconic, awesome poster art somewhere), and burned through the entire quadrilogy likely before the age of 10. I even started reading Peter Benchley’s books, though they were quickly confiscated by my parents, who both regretted letting me watch the movies, and skimmed the books to find they were extremely sexually graphic to boot. The books and the movies were thrilling and fun, but rest assured: I have never trusted open water since! I was on the city swim team, and even in competition swimming pools, I would feel the tingling, tickling tension of something approaching me from behind, driving me to swim faster, kick harder, flail a little. That feeling still sometimes happens to this day.

The second time I was deeply affected by a horror movie was, like others in this thread, when I saw a pre-release screening of Gore Verbinski’s adaptation of The Ring at around 16. I knew I was in for a fuck of a time when, maybe 10 minutes into the movie, the detectives discuss finding the young woman’s body in the closet, and cut to a brief shot of her huddled in the shadows, dead, a scream distorting her pallid face. I covered my eyes regularly through the rest of the movie - something I basically never did, and have never done since.

My girlfriend at the time and I went home, and I slept on her sofa for the night…facing the family television set. All night, I couldn’t decide if it would be better (safer?) for me to leave it off, or turn it on. I didn’t sleep that night. I didn’t sleep well for months. During that time, I regularly slept with the light on. Not just a nightlight; the whole fucking light. When the movie was set to release, I warned everyone I could: DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE! You WILL regret it! Alas, my warnings fell on deaf, foolhardy teenage ears. To this day, I still consider that movie a fantastic exercise in film making, though I’ll never choose to watch it again.

The last example is a funny one-off. A friend and I got stoned and wanted to watch a movie. I thought “whoa, you know, the Rube Golbergian death ballet of Final Destination 2 would probably be pretty cool to behold!” We put it on, and the opening car accident made us both feel deeply sick. Getting high and watching desperate people die violently was a bad idea, and one I would have to consciously steer clear of for a decade to follow, given all of the black metal gore-loving stoners I found myself hanging out with through friends. Every time a friend would turn on his 360, I’d get blasted by the viscera from a Cannibal Corpse album cover, and would have to steel myself until Halo booted.


I remember my sister locking me in a room with The Exorcist playing on the TV and I was too scared to turn it off, I was probably about 5 or 6 years old at the time. So that was technically my first horror movie. That experience also changed my whole perspective on horror movies and kind of forced me to have to adopt a no-sell mentality as a kid or else she would keep doing it (I LOVE horror movies now and still continues to be my favorite genre).

So besides that, the first horror movie I saw by choice was Alien. I watched not TOO much later (I was about 10-11) and was obsessed with sci-fi and didn’t even realize it was a horror movie. I only watched it because it was called Alien

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Predator was another one that I watched when I was way too young and it really messed me up for a bit (in retrospect it’s not a particularly scary film, just very violent which wasn’t something I had a lot of exposure to as a kid). Living out in the countryside, we get a lot of woodpeckers nesting the trees. It just so happens that the sound a woodpecker pecking for food is extremely similar to the noise the Predator emits, so you can imagine the horror of walking home from school and hearing that coming from the trees above.

Worse even, was that the Predator had the ability to cloak itself and become near invisible. I had some experience with night terrors as a child so planting the idea that some invisible monster could be sitting in the corner of my room watching me at night did not do me any favours.


Hiding behind my mother, wrapped tight in my blanket, watching The Others.

As far as I can remember, the first movie I ever saw in a theater was Jurassic Park. I was about 2 years old and my dad brought me with him to see it. It isn’t really a horror movie, not to adults, but to a 2 year old? it was fucking terrifying, and I LOVED it. I honestly credit that movie with a large part of shaping me into the person I am now. I became obsessed with dinosaurs and monsters, horror and scifi, and I probably wouldn’t be a cartoonist/art teacher now if I hadn’t started out by drawing dinosaurs eating people in crayon in an obsessive effort to recapture the ecstatic vision of primal terror seared into my brain by the dinosaurs of that movie.

The second most powerful horror movie experience I had as a kid also was not from an actual horror movie, but rather from a PBS program about Mummies that I assume was an episode of NOVA. There was a scene in the program that described the superstitions around mummy curses and how they were portrayed in horror movies, complete with clips of those movies. To my overactive kid imagination it was very much unclear where reality ended and fantasy began. There was one clip in particular from one of the Universal or Hammer mummy films where the mummy is looming over a sleeping woman about to attack her, and the spooky “this could be real, who knows?!” vibe of the show convinced me that mummies were definitely real and were definitely going to suck out my soul in my sleep. In a fit of paranoia I rearranged my bed so that only one side was exposed to the room, and slept with my back to the wall every night for literally years afterwards.

Similar exposure to UFO concepts via either X-Files or some TV documentary thing also caused me to have vivid hallucinatory waking dreams where I saw aliens watching me in my room and peering in my window when I was trying to fall asleep. In hindsight this may have been some kind of sleep paralysis, but I genuinely thought I was being regularly abducted by aliens for a number of years.

Anyway despite all of this I love horror to this day and I am even working on a sci-fantasy horror webcomic, so I’ve come a long way from scribbling dinos eating Dennis Nedry with my Crayolas on the living room floor.


The first horror movie I remember watching was The Exorcist. I was 5 or 6, my dad was watching it on Showtime or HBO or some other premium channel, and I kept wandering in and out of the room. Eventually I ended up pinned to the couch in fear and my dad didn’t have the good sense to turn it off. I was terrified of horror movies for the next 10 years and refused to be in the same room if one was on.

Then when I was about 16 I downloaded The Blair Witch Project to see if I was over it, loved every second of it, and started devouring horror movies at a rapid clip. I never looked back. Horror’s been my favorite genre in most mediums ever since. I drag the boyfriend along to every halfway decent horror movie (he used to worry they’d be too scary but he likes it now) and curling up on the couch with scary movie on a lazy afternoon is still one of my favorite pastimes.

Does The Monster Squad count?

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When I was 8 my mum asked if I wanted to watch a movie with her that night, and then, inexplicably and without warning, proceeded to show me 28 Days Later. She never put a lot of stock in age ratings but had generally great judgement with these things and let us watch a lot of great things with mature content in em as long as she knew what that content was going to be. This one case is like. The Most Mysterious Parental Decision of my Childhood

Anyways I didn’t sleep well for weeks and it kickstarted a weird lifelong fixation on zombies involving years of recurring zombie dreams, as well as a passion for horror so the end results = okay? I guess???

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I was a gigantic scaredy-cat as a child and refused to watch basically anything horror up into 3rd Grade or so. I had friends who were big into spooky stuff which was always a difficult thing to curb (“hey guys my mom wants me home” I say conveniently after the movie marathon starts mid-slumber-party). Some major examples of failed attempts at getting me into scary stuff was 1) watching my dad play Silent Hill 1 and crying and 2) sitting in the same room while my parents watched The Birds, which is still uncomfortable for current me.

However, my sister sat me down one day when I was like 9 or 10 and said that I should watch Creepshow, which she insisted was funny and not scary and was only spooky in the same way that Spongebob was nautical. Turns out, for the most part, she was pretty right, and after that point I was much more comfortable with horror in general. Unfortunately, I was also growing up when “torture porn” movies like Saw and Hostel were at their height, and I wanted fucking nothing to do with them. Still don’t, honestly.

Mars Attacks! for my 6th birthday in theaters. One of my parents thought since I liked space, I would enjoy it… Wrong. I haven’t recovered since. I tried watching 28 Days Later with some friends in high school. My sister said I she found a knife under my bed the next morning; I only remember the nightmares. Horror is my kryptonite.

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