Halloween is on the way again, and Hollywood is prepared for the occasion. With new horror movies like Smile, Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, and Hellraiser on the way, films are releasing regularly in the lead-up to October 31st, and horror fans couldn’t be happier.
Yet there are some fans who don’t want to wait for them to release. Instead, they’re rewatching old movies that many haven’t seen since they were kids. While it’s always strange to rewatch movies long forgotten, it’s even more surprising that some of those old movies can terrify adults even more than they scared children.
Batman Returns (1992)
Tim Burton’s take on the Dark Knight might be easy for a child to shrug off, but adults find it horrifying. “For some reason, all the creepiness of it went over my head when I was a kid,” says Reddit user MovieBuff90. “This movie is nightmare fuel and for some reason disturbs me more as an adult than it did as a kid.”
Between evil clowns to cat-based resurrection, Batman Returns is as absurd as it is terrifying. To make matters worse, Batman is a hero as dark as his villains. For kids who don’t know Batman well, that can be acceptable. For fans who already know what the caped crusader is capable of, a dark Batman is more terrifying than even the Penguin’s antics.
While it’s far from a horror movie, Willow isn’t immune to unintentionally terrifying many grown adults. “When the nurse gets eaten by dogs,” says Reddit user Parking_Mall_1384. “That’s stayed with me… still unsettles me when I watch it now as an adult.”
Watching a spell turn a monster to goo while creatures hatch out of it like an egg was even worse. Though the movie certainly didn’t intend to terrify its audiences, it had many scenes that certainly didn’t shy from it. It’s something that makes the fantasy the classic that it is.
The Exorcist (1973)
A horror movie that still holds up today, The Exorcist continues to terrify audiences everywhere. Though it certainly scared kids, it’s even worse for adults. “Saw it for the first time at 19,” says Parking_Mall_1384 on Reddit. “Now that I’m in my 40s, it scares the holy begeebees out of me!”
While the subliminal messaging may not affect children as strongly, it has a fierce effect on adults. The fact that the film relates to messages of an innocent girl losing control over her own mind and body is inherently a concept that will scare kids more than adults. It’s just a little too existential to really strike kids.
It’s easy to assume that a movie where characters fight for the environment wouldn’t be scary. After all, most films in that genre tend to be made for kids or else serve as motivational pieces. Yet Silkwood is the story of a woman who is outright murdered for trying to serve as a whistleblower against a nuclear facility.
It’s easy to overlook the issues as a child. “When I was a kid that movie just seemed like ‘some bad guys are being mean to that lady,'” says Redditor NoHandBananaNo. Yet when viewers are a little older, it’s a lot harder to overlook that Karen Silkwood was trying to save the world from incredibly poor and damaging behaviors. Now that the environment and climate is more commonly discussed, it’s even scarier.
While Poltergeist certainly traumatized viewers as children, it’s even worse as an adult. “Poltergeist is a great entry-level horror movie for kids to early teens but man, it is so much more intense when you have more of a grasp on the concepts tackled here,” says Reddit user Weirdguy149.
Watching Robbie get sent off by himself and watching the kids roaming the streets without supervision is shocking to a modern audience and adds a new layer of terror as viewers start to worry about the boy and the family’s parenting style. It may not be striking to kids, but it’s horrifying to adults. The idea that any house built over a cemetery is haunted was also horrifying and continues to be today.
A gory film centering around a conspiracy to torture tourists, Hostel is an entirely different experience for adults and kids. “I found it gross more than anything else,” says Reddit user Flat_Fox_7318. Yet after a few years, the movie is terrifying. “The baseline idea of going to a foreign country and essentially getting “disappeared” is horrifying to me.
While the gore and torture might torment younger viewers, adults rewatching the film could easily be more terrified by the very concept of the movie. Anyone considering traveling to Eastern Europe could find themselves having nightmares after watching Hostel. The idea of a major conspiracy is always scary, but in this case, it’s downright horrifying.
The Brave Little Toaster (1987)
An underrated animated 80s film, The Brave Little Toaster is a cult classic, but fans watching as adults have found it somewhat scary. “That movie is about crippling existential dread but has just enough bright colors and innocent dialogue to be passed off as a kids movie,” says Reddit user mrblonde624.
The tortured appliance song was bad enough, but the amount of brutality and the dark themes in The Brave Little Toaster make it seem less like a kid’s show and more like a horror movie. The movie tends to explore existential problems as well, as the appliances struggle to understand why their master would abandon them, while others accept that they’re useless and intended for scrap.
The Silence Of The Lambs (1991)
While The Silence of the Lambs is a movie about a cannibal, it’s much more of a psychological horror, which can bore kids. Yet, by the time they grow a little older, the themes start to click. “I remember seeing some of it with my mom one night and thinking it was pretty boring,” says Reddit user Flat_Fox_7318. “I looped back around to it when I was in college and realized it’s about as brilliantly terrifying as its reputation suggests.”
As one of the most disturbing psychological thrillers of all time, fans are left on the edge of their seat trying to figure out if Hannibal would get his way. Kids may find the slow pace distracting, but adults are left in suspense throughout the entire movie.
The Fly (1986)
There are few things scarier than a movie about a man who slowly morphs into a fly. So when The Fly came out, kids were certainly scared, but the effect was worse for adults. While it’s a body horror film that can haunt nightmares, there were deeper themes that struck harder.
“As a kid I thought it was creepy because of the body horror,” says Redditor modogrinder1. “As an adult, the idea of your body and mind rapidly decaying and permanently changing into something unrecognizable is a lot more terrifying.” Much like The Exorcist, kids aren’t entirely able to comprehend the horror of a slow corruption, but an adult with a much less malleable personality can find it as heartwrenching as it is scary.
The Dark Knight (2008)
While it’s far from a horror movie, The Dark Knight offers one of the scariest villains in a comic book movie in the Joker. “Rewatching a few months ago, when his goon gets shocked by Batman’s suit and he mocks him and then spits in the guy’s face I felt like he came across as more evil than he ever had,” says Reddit user Particular-Fly-3643.
The Joker tends to be scarier for any adult who can understand the choices that he forces Batman to make. The fact that he fights for chaos without much purpose is also much more terrifying for adults who are a little more mature than equally chaotic kids.
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