Ask The Geeks: What Was the First Horror Movie You Saw As a Kid?

It’s October 1st, so you know what that means: autumn is in the air, pumpkin-flavored everything is inescapable, and, of course, Geekade’s annual 31 Days of Halloween makes its triumphant return! Over the course of the next month, we’ll bring you the finest in creepy content, from podcasts to articles to much, much more. To kick off the official unofficial start of the Halloween season, we’ve turned to some familiar voices from around the website to answer a series of spooktacular questions, ranging from mundane to a tad bit ludicrous in our new series, “Ask The Geeks.” In the first installment, we ask…

What was the first horror movie you remember seeing as a kid?

Kris Randazzo (Stone Age Gamer, This Week’s Episode, Waveback): I know I saw Gremlins at a relatively young age, but I can’t say I really remember seeing that. My friends were always into horror movies like Friday the 13th and whatnot, but horror frankly scared me, and I take no delight in being scared. I’m still not a fan of the genre, but I have come to appreciate it, thanks in no small part to Army of Darkness. I was at my friend Greg’s house for a birthday sleepover party. We were all having a good time until it was time to bust out the horror movie. They had rented Army of Darkness, so as everyone went down to the living room to watch it, I stayed up in Greg’s room to play video games. The volume was up pretty loud though, so I heard the whole thing. After about 10 minutes, I was laughing my ass off from the dialogue. I decided to poke my head out and see if maybe I could stomach the gore and to my delight, Army of Darkness was so freaking funny I didn’t even care about the blood and stuff. Granted, by horror movie standards AOD is incredibly tame, but still, it counts, and I freaking loved it. I’ll probably never be a real horror fan, but Army of Darkness opened my eyes to a genre I previously avoided like the plague. It’s still one of my favorite movies to this day.

Dean DeFalco (Vest Lord, General Administrator): It’s hard to say, I watched a lot of them on what used to be the Sci-Fi channel (now SyFy) during the weekends. If had to take a stab at it, it was probably Puppetmaster 3, which is not a great movie, let alone a horror movie. But it did make me not want to play with my toys for awhile afterwards, so mission accomplished.

Karen Randazzo (This Week’s Episode, The Think Tank): I’m not much for scary things, but the first movie that scared me as a kid was The Goonies. It was shown at the first sleepover I ever went to when I was 6. I was scared of Sloth and the Fratellis and hid in my sleeping bag the whole time. It took me until my mid-20s until I saw the movie properly, by which point its magic was sort of lost on me.

Amy Ebeling (Editor-In-Chief): The first horror film I remember seeing was Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later. I was 8, and my mother and stepfather (both horror fanatics) rented it on VHS. Despite the fact that I grew up in a household that embraced all things macabre with open arms, I don’t know what possessed them to think it was a great idea to let a third grader watch it the movie. I distinctly remember a dead body hooked up to a cable with a light bulb, and needless to say, I was scarred. I began having regular nightmares about Michael Meyers–he was lurking in my closet; he was chasing me home from school. The night terrors only intensified until Halloween that year. My stepdad and I were walking back to our apartment after a long evening of trick-or-treating when a sports car rolled up to us blasting John Carpenter’s classic theme. Suddenly the driver, wearing Myer’s mask, whipped his neck around to face me, and I responded by shrieking and jumping a foot in the air, much to everyone’s amusement. My fear of him completely subsided after that encounter, and instead turned into an obsession. Maybe seeing Michael Myers driving around my small city in a fancy sports car jolted me back to reality, but now the original Halloween film is my all-time favorite classic, and Michael Meyers is my favorite slasher figure.

Brenda Cierech (Tardy to the Party): The first horror movie I ever watched was the original version of The Haunting. I had a stomach virus and my mom rented it from Video Den (I don’t think Blockbuster even existed yet) in an attempt to distract me from my nausea. I remember lying on the couch in front of the TV, trying my best to forget that I felt like I was going to throw up at any second. I made it through about four minutes before jumping up and running to the bathroom to vomit. And though my mom paused the movie every time that happened, I was in no condition to follow the plot. Still, those first few minutes made a lasting impression on me—the damaged wheel of a crashed carriage spinning, the hand of the first Mrs. Crain hanging lifelessly in front of a motionless wheel as her bracelet slid down her arm—those images were burned into my brain. As soon as I recovered, I asked my mom to rent it again so I could watch it for real.

Janelle Hawkins (Turn It Up): My mother loved horror movies. One of my favorite memories was coming downstairs after a weekend at home at 4 AM on a Monday morning. She couldn’t sleep, so she was perched in her favorite armchair watching House of Wax. At Four. O’Clock. In. The. Morning. This is how she started her day. She’d always loved them though, so this wasn’t a surprise. She wanted to share this with me from an early age but ease me in, so when The Nightmare Before Christmas came out, she figured it would scare me just enough to get me hooked. The end result: I am a twisted artsy type who’s obsessed with that movie (and all things Burton) but I absolutely hate anything actually considered “horror.” Sorry, Mom. Nice try.

Gabbie Robbins (The Think Tank, Gabbie Re-reads): In 1997, my dad brought myself and another second-grader to see Spawn, which got horrible reviews, and to the adults and Spawn fans who saw the movie, was not at all scary. As described on Common Sense Media, Spawn is “ …a lumbering, explanation- heavy, oddly un-scary horror movie that features what looks to be a computer-generated giant goat-yak with yellowed carnivore teeth in the role of the devil.” But unfortunately, I was seven years old. Besides the inappropriate language, and the fact that any humor in the movie is relegated to fart and poop jokes, there is a disturbing amount of violence. People are literally burned to death and sent to hell, 10,000 people are killed by a virus, and a lot of folks are shot or violently maimed and killed in a series of completely incomprehensible contributions to a bewildering and incoherent story. Any-who, it definitely messed me up.

Dave Marconi (You Shall Not Pass Go): The first horror movie, if you can call it that, would have been Nightmare Before Christmas. But if we’re going actual horror, and not fake horror, then probably the first Child’s Play movie. It was on cable when I was over at my Grandpa’s house as my parents had left me with him for a weekend in October as they went somewhere. He was napping and I snuck it on the TV. I remember having the remote in my hand and changing the channel to cartoons every time something scary was about to happen.  

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