Top 10 Scary Movies That Frightened (Way Too Young to Watch) Gen X Kids

Do you remember what your first scary movie was? Mine was Cujo, and I was far too young to watch it. A conversation in an online Gen X group discusses the first horror films they watched when they were way too young to watch them. Here are their top ten.

1. Poltergeist (1982)

Poltergeist 1982
Image Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

“They’re heeeerrrrrrrre!” Yup. That phrase right there was the stuff that fueled Gen X’s nightmares. And that clown? And the Closet? TV? THE POOL? Forget it. Poltergeist made way too many real-life things scary! Knowing the bones in the pool were actual human remains to save a few bucks makes it even creepier to think about today.

2. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

A Nightmare on Elm Street 1984
Image Credit: New Line Cinema.

A Nightmare on Elm Street introduced the world to a horrifying Freddy Kreuger (Robert Englund), who kills you in your dreams, and you die in real life. While numerous Gen X kids admit to watching the film far too young, one forum member argues she watched it in college and was “still too young!” The tongue through the phone thing? YUCK!

3. Gremlins (1984)

Image Credit: Warner Bros.

If you put on Gremlins thinking you’re going to watch a happy Christmas movie with cute little Gizmos, think again. Not only did Gremlins have creepy monsters, but the story about how her dad wanted to surprise them as Santa coming down the chimney was horrifying. Also, the lady on the staircase lift thing? Terrified!

4. Trilogy of Terror (1975)

Trilogy of Terror 1975
Image Credit: ABC Circle Films.

Do you remember the 1975 made-for-television anthology horror film Trilogy of Terror? I don’t. But several others in the conversation do. “Trilogy of Terror with that little voodoo doll man chasing Karen Black around with the big knife. I had nightmares from that. That, for me, was the classic scary movie on TV.”

5. Burnt Offerings (1976)

Burnt Offerings 1976
Image Credit: United Artists.

Speaking of Karen Black, throw in Bette Davis and get another nightmare-inducing film, Burnt Offerings. It frightened numerous forum members. One elaborates: “Burnt Offerings was the first horror movie that scared the heck out of me as a kid. The creepy smiling chauffeur haunted my dreams.” 

6. Halloween (1978)

Halloween 1978 Jaime Lee Curtis
Image Credit: Compass International Pictures.

Nothing says “Thanks, Mom, for a lifetime of nightmares,” like putting the film Halloween on for your eight-year-old self. Good grief! But that is the story for many Gen Xers in the thread. Halloween has to have one of the top three creepiest film themes of all time. 

7. Jaws (1975)

Jaws Mayor Vaughn
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Speaking of the top three scary movie themes, Jaws permanently traumatized a generation of kids from entering the ocean. That opening scene with her horrifying screams is haunting. I remember kids would put their praying hands together to make a shark fin on top of their head while taunting you with the Jaws theme and chasing after you in the lake. 

8. Children of the Corn (1984)

Children of the Corn 1984
Image Credit: New World Pictures.

To this day, Gen Xers admit they won’t go anywhere near a cornfield thanks to Children of the Corn. Malachai and Isaac are, to this day, two of the creepiest kids in horror movie history. 

9. The Amityville Horror (1979)

The Amityville Horror 1979 Josh Brolin
Image Credit: Twentieth Century Fox.

The Amityville Horror documented the paranormal experiences of the Lutz family after moving into the Amityville, New York home, where convicted killer Ronald DeFeo Jr. committed the mass murder of his family in 1974. “The ghost telling them to get out haunted my imagination for weeks.”

10. Dressed to Kill (1980)

Dressed to Kill 1980 Nancy Allen
Image Credit: Cinema 77 Film Group.

Dressed to Kill scared the bejesus out of several commenters. One moviegoer notes: “Dressed to Kill is such a sleazy, thrilling noir. I absolutely love it. The design and cinematography are incredible, and NOBODY can do Angie Dickinson better than Angie Dickinson. DePalma is at his best.” — The film contains several direct references to Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 film Psycho.

I’ve never seen this one, but I love Nancy Allen in Carrie. So, I will definitely have to check it out.

10 Freaky Halloween Movies Guaranteed to Make Your Heart Palpitate

Talk To Me 2022 Sophie Wilde
Image Credit: A24.

It’s that time of year again, and all the streaming services have their Halloween sections ready for your viewing. I love a good scare, so I compiled this quick list of spine-tingling favorites to set your mood for October. Have you seen them?

22 Films Guaranteed to Make the Hair on the Back of Your Neck Stand Up

Prom Night 1980
Image Credit: AVCO Embassy Pictures.

It’s that time of year again. Fall decorations are coming out. Pumpkin spice is taking over, and scary movies are begging your attention. As a connoisseur of horror films, these are the ones that have stood out over the decades as having major creepy vibes and hair-raising experiences. Have you seen them?

25 Classic Movies People Admit Scared the Bejesus Out of Them as Kids

films that traumatized 80s children
Image Credit: Willy Wonka – Warner Bros. Return to Oz – Walt Disney Pictures. The Temple of Doom – Lucasfilm Ltd.

Was there a film(s) that completely traumatized you as a child? I’ll go first, Cujo. I have no idea what my mother was thinking, allowing that film to play in the background of her chores, but I watched it and had nightmares for months. After someone polled an entertainment forum for other traumatic experiences, here is what scared the youth. 

12 Black and White Scary Movies That Scarred Boomers for Life

House on Haunted Hill 1959
Image Credit: Allied Artists.

A generation of Baby Boomers underwent a cinematic voyage into black-and-white horror that would forever change their lives. These flicks’ creepy stories and unsettling images gripped spectators with suspense and psychological terror.

Let’s take a look at some black-and-white terrifying movies that profoundly scared Baby Boomers and gave them cinematic memories that still give them shivers.

15 Scary Movies From the 70s That Will Still Send Chills Down Your Spine

Salem's Lot best TV miniseries 1979
Image Credit: Warner Bro. Television.

Horror filmmaking flourished in the 1970s, producing films that have haunted decades, from alien terrors to ghostly hauntings, slasher horrors, and psychological thrills; this decade delivered a wealth of cinematic scares that still startle moviegoers. Let’s explore some scary movies from the 1970s that still bring spine-tingling tension and bone-chilling dread.


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Elizabeth Ervin is the owner of Sober Healing. She is a freelance writer passionate about opioid recovery and has celebrated breaking free since 09-27-2013. She advocates for mental health awareness and encourages others to embrace healing, recovery, and Jesus.