It was probably the single most terrifying moment of my childhood.
Not as frightening, in overall terms, as sitting in the principal’s office, thinking about what my Dad might do after I got caught (in Grade 3 at Duncan’s Drinkwater Elementary School) trying to shoot the water fountain all the way to the artwork across the hall.
But for one short, standout period of sheer terror, this remains the one.
I had convinced my Dad to take me to see Jaws at the theatre. I have no idea why, at such a young age, I felt compelled to see that summer’s blockbuster. But off we went.
For the most part, I was fine. Except for one scene. Richard Dreyfuss’s character (Matt Hooper… I looked it up) and the chief went looking for some guy’s sunken boat. While Hooper is diving underwater, a head pops out of the hull of the boat.
It absolutely scared the (insert your own word here) out of me. I grabbed on to Dad (who didn’t even flinch) and held on as tightly as I could.
I’ve never forgotten that moment. I later watched, paused and analyzed the scene over and over during the halcyon days of the VCR. Every time, it brought back that feeling. Just now, as I looked up the scene on YouTube, I could feel the impending dread as the scene started.
And it’s odd, since movies have never scared me much. With the exception of Jaws, and for some odd reason, being creeped out a little by Christine, for the most part there was no fear factor.
I watched all the slasher movies in the ‘80s and thought they were more funny than scary. “Gee, I bet the girl will either fall down, tear her shirt, or both, while running from the killer, who moves so slowly my great-great grandmother could get away.”
Any ‘cerebral’ horror flicks, I was too busy trying to figure out what happened to be scared enough.
The Exorcist I never watched until I was well into my 30s, and it barely moved the needle.
But Jaws got me good.
So that got me to thinkin’.
I wonder what scares other folks? My colleagues gave some great feedback.
The Exorcist popped up a few times (no one’s head spun around). Silence of the Lambs, The Shining, Psycho, The Evil Dead, Carrie and many others sparked old fears.
So I thought I’d take it to you, the people. We posted a video, asking you to tell us what movies scared you the most.
Here’s a small sampling of the responses (see www.facebook.com/vifreedaily/ for more) :
“Original It – I hate clowns.”
– Corrie Lenius
“Black Christmas… saw it at the drive -in… had all the windows up and doors locked… freaked out… haha.”
– LJ Bowes
“The Exorcist…still bothers me.”
– Eleanor Billings Knudson
“No doubt The Exorcist and will never watch scary movies again.”
– Linda Lagot
“It!!!! Jumped so many times.”
– Amanda Johnston
”Saw, definitely the scariest…”
– Nicole Monette
“I love horror movies so technically they don’t scare me but I would say Amityville Horror cuz if I see old houses like that it creeps me out a bit, lol. But I love scary things.”
– Cheyenne Joulie
”The Birds – especially because I was quite young at the time.”
– Elsa Thompson
“Old one – Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds – never can look at a bunch of birds anywhere without recalling that movie.”
– Sandi Malcolm
”Old Yeller. Frightened me half to death when I was a kid. Made me cry too.”
– Kari Watkins
“The Thing, around the mid-fifties.”
– Annie Watters
“Oh noooo. I avoid scary movies because they scare me! Hahaha. Especially the real situation ones.”
– Gyneil Atchison
“Carrie. (Then decided to watch a different genre!)”
“Pet Cemetery 2. That movie still gives me nightmares.”
– Tracey A Cook
“Not a fan of scary movies but I would have to say Signs.
– Kathy Griswold
“I typically avoid horror movies but I went to It and it was definitely frightening.”
– Chris Corson
“Quite honestly, Jaws. It still comes to mind near the water.”
– Margaret MacIntosh
“The old original of The Haunting.”
– Rick Reid
“The Creature From the Black Lagoon. Terrifying!”
– Christine Williams
“Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” Couldn’t sleep for weeks after watching. ‘Cause in movie if you fell asleep they got you. Old movie. Was incredibly scary.”
– Brenda Buchholtz Weekes
In 1973 when I was five years old, my big brother took me to see Jaws at a little theatre in Nipigon, Ontario. Terrifying! And now I live on Vancouver Island. But do I swim? Nope.”
“Psycho!! Still bothers me!”
– Darlene Mccutchon
“The Exorcist!! Saw it at the drive-in in the early ’70s. Scary stuff!!”
– Cindy Radigan
“I played a ouija board after watching The Exorcist and had to sleep on the couch for days. I was 14.”
– Monika Blats
“Scariest movie I watched when i was a kid was People Under the Stairs – scared me so bad! I had to ride my bike home from my friend’s in the dark. I was terrified.”
– Jennifer Robin
“It. I won’t watch scary movies anymore but when I did this was the one that did it for me and I have watched it as an adult and now think ‘what the hell it’s not bad at all’. Either way, clowns suck.”
– Sarah Rutledge
“Watched Scream with a bunch of high school friends 20 years ago. I am not good with scary movies.”
– Donna Lowe
“The original The Exorcist… has never left me. For my Mom it was the original Psycho.”
– Leanne Phillips
So what movie scares you?
VIFD managing editor Philip Wolf can be reached at email@example.com