Censorship was not really, you know, a thing, in my house as a kid. I grew up with older siblings, the oldest being ten years older than me, and often when I was in their care, the television and movie choices were probably not even appropriate for their ages, and much less for mine. In some ways this was beautiful--for example, I could recite most of Eddie Murphy's Raw and Delirious when I was five years old, and man, that shit was funny.
But I also saw a lot of scary movies. Perhaps that's how I developed a taste for them. I remember watching Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street when I was really young. They actually didn't scare me nearly as much as Disney's Mr. Boogedy did every year when CBC aired it right before Hallowe'en. Some of the things I witnessed, though, stuck with me. And that's a key performance indicator for scary movies--if you can't help reflecting on it for pretty much the rest of your life, then it wasn't scary enough. Allow me to tell you about a few that stuck most stickingly with me.
It was only through my siblings' egregious lack of good judgement that I came to see Doppelganger when it first came out and I was eleven. I don't think the sexed-up-ness of it traumatized me because I honestly didn't remember that until I watched it again many years later. So, phew for small mercies.
The shower scene in which Drew Barrymore rubs her breasts a little more than any girl ever really ought to, though, stuck with me for another reason. Blood starts coming out of the shower head while she has her eyes closed. I started showering shortly after seeing that movie (as opposed to taking baths--I wasn't just the stinky kid before that) and I have literally NEVER closed my eyes in the shower. I used to not even turn around and face away from the shower head to rinse my hair. I've never stepped into the shower without thinking about that movie. This is definitely the movie scene that has most impacted my daily life.
I'm not going to post a clip because I couldn't find one that wasn't bookended by sex scenes, but I'm sure you can youtube it yourself.
It wasn't the clown thing that stuck with me. I mean, yes, I think clowns are creepy and scary, but who doesn't? I'm sure I already thought that anyway by the time I saw this movie when I was eight. It was the manhole. This manhole:
I'm really sorry the screenshot for that is his face. Anyway, I can't even watch that clip--I didn't before I posted it, so sorry if it's actually a cleverly disguised Rick Roll. I also can't walk past a sewer grate or manhole without thinking about this scene. I'm a full grown adult now, and I am terrified every time I walk down the street. My heart is pounding right now just thinking about it. I have to move on.
The Silence of the Lambs, 1991
I actually didn't see this movie until I bought it myself when I was in high school. By that point, I had developed a theory that if ever I was under seige in my own home, I would turn off all the lights. My logic was that I knew my way around my house better than the serial killer knew his way around my house. So I had instructed myself to fight my instincts--I'm terribly afraid of the dark on a good day--and do the sensible thing so I could survive.
And then The Silence of the Lambs came along with it's stupid night vision scene. This is definitely one of the most terrifying scenes of all time, in my humble estimation, and my fear of the dark increased roughly a hundred fold after I saw it:
This would probably affect my life more if I EVER allowed myself to be in the dark, but I don't. Whenever the power goes out or something, though, all I can think about is stupid Clarice breathing so goddamn loudly because, c'mon woman, do you not know how to be quiet when a killer is looking for you? It stuck with me, for sure, but it doesn't terrify me as much as the others because I think I'm smarter than her. Right, guys? That would never happen to me? Good, thanks.
Okay, that's it for today. These aren't necessarily what I consider the scariest overall movies, but these particular scenes are ones that stuck with me. Silence of the Lambs is actually one of my favourite movies still for reasons other than its scariness--I don't even find the overall movie that terrifying. I wouldn't watch Doppelganger again because it's stupid, and I would only watch It if I had lots of people with me because it's very frightening.