11 Movies That Were Super Scary As A Kid, From 'Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure' To 'The Witches'

As much as I love to pretend I'm a grown up, there's a part of me that insists on decorating my apartment with spooky spider webs and pumpkin streamers every year. At heart, I'm really just a kid with a love for the macabre. However, there are certain films that left me with such deep psychological scars as a child that I still have to fast forward to this day. And likewise, I'm sure you have plenty of movies that scared you a child... and still make you wary today.

Here is a fun idea! Why don't we just pour salt into those deep psychological scars? Or rather, get over our fears. How about we revisit some classic children's films that seriously freaked us out as a child, and mull over the idea of, well, were they really scary in the first place? Or, rather, were we just too young to comprehend what was going on, and the films are really, so to speak, child's play?

There's no earthly way of knowing which direction we'll be going exactly. But I would strap up your seat belts as we take a tour through the childhood movies that gave you the serious heebie-jeebies.

1. The Witches

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Before her stint as Morticia Addams, the Queen of Creep Anjelica Huston played a Grand High Witch decaying under her glam facade. It was unanimously agreed (between my friend Leah and I five seconds ago) that the unmasking scene in The Witches is way too American Horror Story for a children's movie, and incidentally all Roald Dahl film adaptations have at least some moment of terror like that. Stay tuned for more.

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2. Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure

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For the most part, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure is a bizarre but fun-filled romp with a rosy-cheeked man child... but never forget Tim Burton directed it. And of the Burton films listed here, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure has the biggest jump scare of all, that horrifying face in the bus scene that no child is mentally prepared for. For the record, the gif of that is readily available, but I spare you all the sight.

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3. Gremlins

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Awww, it's so cute! So fluffy! Just... don't feed them after midnight. I'm just saying, the worst that happens when I give my dog late-time snack is that maybe she'll poop on the rug. At no point have I seen her transform into near-reptilian Furbies designed by Satan.

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4. E.T.

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You're likely to see E.T. several times in your life, because it's a great film. The second time around is usually when you've developed an Elliot connection to the film and start bawling when it looks like E.T. isn't going to make it and don't stop until the movie is over. But the first time around you handle it like Gertie, that is, screams of terror at the bug-eyed extraterrestrial. Not appropriate for five-year-olds, guys. Give it another few years.

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5. Mars Attacks

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Speaking of aliens... The faces are creepy enough, but their movements are way too much. Granted, I think I could tune into this movie again today, but I'm in no rush.

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6. Who Framed Rodger Rabbit

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The entire tone of the film reads like a dark, dark noir that just happens to feature cartoon characters. But it's that final act where Doom ends up being the scariest cartoon ever that I cannot, and will not, watch, to this day.

That said, I apologize for the eye daggers.

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7. Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory

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Ah, back to Dahl adaptations. Willy Wonka remains one of my all-time favorite movies, but the acid trip that is the boat scene is feels more at home in a David Lynch flick than a children's film. A chicken gets it's head cut off, people. There's basically a snuff-film in a G-rated movie. Not only that, but the boat scene inspired a Marilyn Manson music video (with the song opening Portrait of an American Family)... and it still isn't as scary as the original.

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8. Labyrinth

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According to multitudes of other listicles, Labyrinth totally freaked kids out once upon a time. I can't personally make this claim because I saw the movie as an adult. To me, it's just 2 hours of the low point of David Bowie's bulge's career. But yeah, I can get how all the Muppets-with-Leprosy could frighten a child.

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9. The Wizard Of Oz

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Hm. I also kept a stiff upper lip for this one, because I was raise in a house with plenty of Wizard of Oz memorabilia (we have a mural in our kitchen, it's weird). I've heard arguments about the Wicked Witch of the West being too much to handle, though.

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10. Beetlejuice

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OK, obviously Beetlejuice is one of my all-time favorites and too comedic to be truly scary to a grown-ass woman such as myself. As a little Mary Grace, though, some of those visuals were too much. Even now I'm really not keen on seeing the stretched out faces of the Maitlands when I'm casually scrolling through "Beetlejuice costume ideas" (which is often).

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11. Matilda

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One more Dahl for the road, and I will summarize as such: Trunchbull is a way too much of a sadist and should not be allowed in cinema.

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Images: Warner Bros. (1); Giphy (11)