Best Movies of All Time + Psycho

Ten Films That Traumatized Me

Anyone who's ever watched a scary movie has sat through a film that thoroughly scared them. That's the basis of the horror genre: to shock and to terrify. However, there's a fine line between being scared and being traumatized. A scare may only last for a moment or for the a film's duration, but trauma can last days, weeks, months or years. Some films have the ability to traumatize an individual, and depending on that individual's willpower, the trauma may even last a lifetime. So for this second day of my "6 Days of Halloween," I've created a list of ten films that have traumatized me in my lifetime. As you'll see, not all of them are necessarily horror films, but the fabric of each type of trauma was terrifying enough to make each movie stick with me for an extended period of time. So without any further delay, here's the ten films that have most traumatized me in my lifetime. I hope you enjoy!

10. Independence Day

Independence Day freaked me out in a couple of ways. It was the first movie I ever remember seeing that gave me the very real sensation that an alien invasion might actually be possible. As an eight-year-old child, I remember walking out of the theater as the sun was setting and thinking that the orange glow was a firestorm heading towards me. I went on to have a nightmare that night about one of the aliens hiding inside a closet in my house. I was never able to open that closet again without seeing that image.


9. Close Encounters of the Third Kind

To be honest, there was only one scene in Close Encounters that ever truly got to me. I first saw this film when I was a child, and the scene where Barry runs off with the aliens scared the hell outta me. Just before he leaves, everything inside the house starts to shake and rattle and roll, and electrical things come to life. For a youngster, this was quite the terrifying experience, and it's stuck with me ever since.

8. Old Yeller

Anyone who has seen this film will know exactly why it made this list. Growing up, my family always had golden retrievers, so seeing a film with a Labrador /Mastiff was definitely appealing not only to me but to my entire household. Little did I know what tragedy awaited me at film's end, and I have yet to recover from the emotional scarring. A lot of folks will cite the mother's death in Bambi as one of their most traumatic film moments, but Old Yeller has always gotten to me.

7. Jurassic Park

Like Independence Day, Jurassic Park was a film from my childhood that found a way to enter the realm of my dreams. The night after seeing the film, five-year-old me had one of the most vivid nightmares of my entire life: it was so realistic that I still remember it as though it occurred yesterday. What started as a seemingly beautiful dream quickly turned terrifying as as velociraptor proceeded to chase me through the jungle, and only my sudden awakening spared me an awful fate. Needless to say, dinosaurs scared me for quite a while after that one.

6. Child's Play

I actually didn't see this film in its entirety until last Halloween, but the character Chucky has haunted me for years. While channel surfing one childhood days, I stumbled across a movie I had never seen. I watched for a few minutes until I saw a red-headed doll awaken and proceed to stab a woman to death. From that moment on, any mention of the doll caused me to cringe in horror. Now that I've seen the film itself, the trauma has subsided slightly, but there's still something about Chucky that gets to me.

5. The Birds

Ah, the brilliance of Alfred Hitchcock. While not necessarily one of his best films, The Birds still managed to seep its way into my subconscious. Having seen bits and pieces of the film during my childhood, I slowly grew a bit of fear toward it. The schoolhouse scene was one of the scariest things I had ever seen, and to torture me, my father used to tap against the walls of my room to simulate the pecking noises the birds had made in the film. Once I was able to see the film in its entirety, however, I was able to shake the terror that had haunted me for the better part of my childhood and adolescent life.

4. Happiness

I know what you're thinking: how could a comedy possibly traumatize an individual? My answer would be, "Surely you've never seen a Todd Solondz film." Happiness is by far one of the most sexualized and disgusting films I've ever seen, and it's easily one of my favorites. The biting sarcasm and tongue-in-cheek attitude creates a terrific atmosphere. The reason it traumatized me, however, was the result of one particular scene. Baker (pictured above) portrays a child molester, and in one scene, we see his attempt to take his son's best friend. After a series of events, I found myself cheering for Baker's character, hoping he would succeed in his endeavor to rape the boy. Once you start cheering for a child molester, you're never really the same. I still feel horribly about it.

3. A Clockwork Orange

Stanley Kubrick sure knew how to make 'em, and A Clockwork Orange was no exception. Like Happiness, however, this film only needed one scene to push me over the edge. It's a semi-graphic rape scene that occurs near the start of the film, almost setting the tone for the unsettling nature of what the audience is about to witness. The scene's memorability is heightened by the fact that one of the rapists sings "Singin' in the Rain" whilst committing the atrocious act. Since seeing this film, I haven't been able to listen to the original Gene Kelly version without my mind being whisked to this rape scene. Thanks, Kubrick.

2. Halloween

The slasher film to start all slasher films, Halloween was groundbreaking in what it did and what it meant for the horror genre. It essentially created an invincible beast who terrorized over and over, and the image of Michael Myers has always stuck in my mind. I think it's the fact that he never utters a word that really gets to me. While killers like Freddy Krueger often talk themselves to death, Michael stays silent throughout his reign on-screen, and that white William Shatner mask only adds to the creepiness. This is the boogeyman incarnate, and he'll always get to me.

1. Psycho

Oh, the trauma to end all trauma. I first saw the shower scene from Psycho as a four-year-old at Universal Studios Hollywood. In one of their special effects stages, they chose to talk about cinematography, and who better to use than Hitchcock himself. And so, they showed the 45-second clip of a mysterious intruder brutally slicing Marion Crane as she attempts to take a shower. The high-pitched screeching of Bernard Herrmann's score, combined with the high-pitched screams from Janet Leigh, make this scene one of the most memorable and instantly recognizable to hit the silver screen. It scared me so much that it took me years to want to take a shower, and to this day, I have issues with shower curtains.

Birds, Childs Play, Clockwork Orange, Close Encounters, Halloween, Happiness, Independence Day, Jurassic Park, life, Old Yeller, and more:

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