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THE DARK CRYSTAL, Skeksis Emperor and the Chamberlain, 1982, (c)Universal Pictures

The biggest wimp of them all: My top 10 unintentionally terrifying films

Yes, it’s that time of year again: Halloween. I’ve never really been a big fan of Halloween as a holiday – except for the few years I lived in America. And even then, I really only liked having an excuse to dress up in Star Wars costumes (Princess Leia and Darth Vader!). These days, I turn all the lights off and hide from any possible Trick or Treaters (ugh, children). But I haven’t escaped the tradition of watching scary movies on the day.

This is the time of year when every website will give you their top scary films. Well, I’m going to buck that trend… sort of. Instead of the traditionally scary films, I’m going to give you a list of ten films that have scared the pants off me in the past – and some that still do. Most of these films were not intended to be scary at all, while others were meant to be slightly upsetting or disturbing, but not cause paralyzing fear in the viewers.

Mild spoilers to follow – but given that the most recent film on the list was from 1995 (at least the version I mention), you should be alright.


10) My Girl

I whole-heartedly admit to absolutely LOVING Macaulay Culkin as a kid. Come on, who didn’t? I only watched My Girl once, but once was enough. I was traumatized for life – and forever terrified of bees. Sure, I would never be so stupid as to kick a damn bees nest, but still.

9) Freaky Friday

I was not familiar with the Jodie Foster version of this film growing up. Instead, I knew this story from Shelley Long and Gaby Hoffman. Of course, now we have yet another version featuring Miss Lohan and the fabulous Jamie Lee Curtis. The thought of possibly switching bodies with my mother was truly terrifying. In the story, both mother and daughter pretend to everyone else that they are who they appear to be, in order to not seem crazy. Well, I gotta say, if it was me, I’d run with crazy over pretending to be in love with my own father. Freaky is right!

8) The Tempest

We were studying The Tempest in my final year of high school. I was trying to be good and get ahead with my ‘reading’ (aka watch a film of the play) before term started. I rented the 1979 version of The Tempest. The entire thing was terrifying. Caliban is pedophilic, predatory, and insane, while Ariel prances around in a gold thong (and nothing else). When term began, the very first thing my Literature teacher said was, ‘If you watch a film version of the play, whatever you do, don’t watch the 1970’s version.’ You know what, Mr Stewart?! TOO BLOODY LATE!

7) The Secret of Nimh

This Wil Wheaton fan has sat through many terrible films out of loyalty… but The Secret of Nimh holds a special place in my heart. I am both terrified of the scary rats and completely in love with the film. How does that work? Well, I block out the scary parts mostly, but I always watch it during the day, while holding a teddy. Yeah, I’m not ashamed. What’s it to you?!

6) Wrath of Khan

Without a doubt, one of the best Star Trek films ever. It is also one of the most terrifying – only a few minutes in. Poor, poor Chekov. Khan sends in a creature to crawl into his brain through his ear… Sometimes when I have weird itches in my ears, I wonder if maybe someone has set an earworm on me. But then I remember it was just a film (or at least, that’s what I’m supposed to remember… yeah, let’s go with that).

5) Tommy

I was at university when my then boyfriend made me watch Tommy. I was actually really looking forward to the experience, having been a long-time fan of decidedly average rock n roll movies (Stop Making Sense, Purple Rain, A Hard Day’s Night, etc). I was absolutely not prepared for Tina Turner and a giant metal sarcophagus full of… NEEDLES. Those who know me will already be aware of my crippling needle phobia. I’ve never been able to erase those images from my mind.

4) Junior

Pregnancy is terrifying at the best of times – but Arnold Schwarzenegger as a pregnant man definitely takes the cake. The entire premise of this film is disturbing. I’m still waiting for them to grow babies entirely separately from a mother’s womb – until then, any kind of pregnancy story belongs on the horror film list.

3) Jurassic Park

Eaten. Off. The. Toilet. Head. First… For years – and I really do mean years – I was terrified of pooping. Yep, I hated having to go number two. Not because I was a girly girl that thought it was gross, but because it meant I was on the toilet longer. If I was on the toilet longer, the T-Rex had more opportunity to come and eat me while I was helpless. Yup, I was an incredibly logical child.

2) Every Disney movie ever made


You name it, all Disney movies are scary. The bad guys in their films are fantastic – but as a kid, they can cause many sleepless nights. Ursula, Scar, Shere Khan, Maleficent, Jafar – to name a few. Then you have the incredibly distressing story lines, such as in Bambi and The Fox and the Hound. And if all that wasn’t enough, some of the good guys are terrifying as well! I had to leave the cinema when I first saw The Beauty and the Beast, as I thought the Beast was quite possibly the scariest monster I had ever seen.

1) The Dark Crystal

I am still unable to watch this film alone. This has always been a bit of a problem for me, given I also love this film. Even at university I would wait for my mother to come home from work before watching it. The skeksis cause me so much anxiety it is almost brown trousers time. One day at work, a colleague of mine started making an ‘mmm’ noise similar to Chamberlain. I could never look at her the same way. If you make it to the end of the film without shitting yourself, you get to endure the horrible soullessness of the podlings after the skeksis have stolen their life force. This really is the most terrifying film you will ever see.

About Megan Leigh

Writer and editor of Pop Verse. Co-host of Breaking the Glass Slipper. My special interests include publishing, creative writing, and geekery.

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