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10 Movies That Traumatized Kids in the ’80s

Classic movies that will haunt you for life

Vicky McDonald

Published on: October 06, 2022


Some movies can haunt you for life, and we’re not just talking about horror movies. We recently asked our readers about the most traumatizing movies from their childhood, and some of the answers were kind of surprising. It turns out that a lot of family movies from the old days may not have been entirely suitable for kids. These sweet classics were just a little too blunt or unintentionally creepy for little eyes and ears.  

Some of the other movies mentioned are classic horror movies that kids saw accidentally, thanks to older siblings or a trying-to-be-cool dad. Many of these movies featured kids or seemed innocent enough (we didn’t have Common Sense Media in those days) but turned out to be extremely sinister and left people scarred for life. 

If you are looking for a movie that will leave a lasting impression (not necessarily a good one), here are some interesting ones to watch out for. 

Creepy classics 

 “The Wizard of Oz” was mentioned more than any other movie and is clearly not suitable for impressionable kids. There have been numerous remakes of this classic story, but we’re guessing that the 1939 version is the creepiest of all. Maybe read the book instead.

Dumbo” is another classic tale that makes people shiver all over. The original version featuring a sweet elephant with oversized ears and a cruel circus is the stuff of nightmares. 

 “My Girl” is rated PG but get ready for floods of tears if you watch this one as a kid. I’m tearing up just thinking about it.

The NeverEnding Story” was a disturbing movie for many millennials. Rumor has it that there’s a remake coming in 2024. It’s never-ending!

Watership Down” might appear to be a sweet-looking animated film about a warren of fluffy rabbits but don’t let appearances fool you! It’s brutal. It gets a PG rating, but we think this one is best for older kids. 

Scary movies featuring kids

Gremlins” was super popular in the ’80s, and a lot of younger kids watched it. Gizmo was kind of cute, but the rest of those gremlins were ghastly. For a PG-rated movie, there is a horrendous amount of death and destruction in this one. 

Poltergeist” is probably the most frightening movie from the ’80s, yet it was rated PG. It made me very wary of television sets for a long time.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” was banned in several countries but not in the U.S. This movie is rated R, but it looks like lots of kids from the ’80s saw it and are still dealing with the trauma.  

Dolls were perfectly normal play things until Chucky from “Child’s Play” came along and ruined everything. There are several newer versions, but the original one is still the scariest.

The Exorcist” is a classic horror film featuring demonic figures, Ouija boards and a horrifying exorcism. The fact that this all happens to a 12-year-old girl is what makes it extra scary. 

More spooky fun: 

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