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Five Horror Films I Never Wanted My Kids to Watch

For my parents out there who's kids scroll past the 'R' rating

I am a long-time fan of the horror genre. It all started with V.C. Andrews. The first book of hers that I read was Flowers in the Attic, and it wasn't, until recently, that I discovered V.C. Andrews is considered gothic horror. Who knew?

In retrospect, I can now see how her stories fit the mold, and in fact, her stand alone story, My Sweet Audrina, about a girl whose parents try to shield her from the awful truth of the assault she suffered, by making her believe that she is the younger sister of the “first and best” Audrina, who died mysteriously, is a classic psychological thriller, and the fact that her parents perpetrate the lie is very terrifying.

Although I have read a great deal in the genre (my collection of S. King is swoon worthy), I haven't spent a lot of time watching scary movies. The first, and scariest scary movie I ever saw was The Omega Man starring Charleton Heston. The post-apocalyptic thriller had all of the hallmarks of wet-your-pants terror – blood-thirsting zombies, run amok viruses, last man on earth. There was also a pretty graphic scene toward the end that has stayed with me for a lifetime, and even though I have seen the film since, and I know that by today's standards, it's not really all that scary, it's still the scariest movie I have ever seen. Ask my kids. They'll tell you.

And that's what's kind of funny, actually. My children are huge fans of the horror genre, especially movies, and they've have seen ones that I can not bring myself to watch. Just the description is enough to send my wild and active imagination down into the rabbit hole, and I fear … well, exactly – I FEAR.

I was never one of those parents who forbid movies or books, especially as my children got older, but there are a few movies that I strongly discouraged their viewing.

In no particular order, the following is my list of the Top 5 “Don't Let Your Kids Watch” horror films from my childhood.

1. The Omen

I spent most of my childhood in the Bible belt. As such, when this film came out in the 1970s, the implication – that the Anti-Christ had been born – was just about as horrifying as it could get. I mean, I was just a kid. It was the end of the world?

I was so terrified by just the story, that I (still have) never watched the entire film. I remember some pretty amazing cinematography with crows and skeletal trees, and a very creepy little kid named Damian, but that's about all I recall. It was enough.

I wouldn't allow my children to watch this film. It's likely they've watched it now – as adults – and they're probably wondering why it was on the no-watch list.

2. The Exorcist.

This film falls into the same category – religious horror – as The Omen, and in fact, it is also a book. I was never able to read the whole book, just like I was not able to sit through the entire movie. The puke scene is horrific.

Worse though, and the reason I lowered the ban hammer on this one, was the helplessness and senselessness of the story itself. It starts with a priest somewhere in Egypt, perhaps, unearthing some demon possessed artifact that was never meant to be dug up, but the connection between the artifact and the child who gets possessed is never explained in the movie. It just feels to arbitrary. There's no explanation as to why the demon chose poor little Ragen.

And, for me, that's probably the most terrifying part. This beautiful little girl is violated and abused. She is trapped in a body she can no longer control, because the thing inside her is so much stronger than she is. What does one say to one's children when they witness an event like that? There were too many layers of “bad” to unpack and discuss, and so the film occupied a prominent place on the NOT ALLOWED TO WATCH list.

3. Poltergeist

I guess, in general, I really just don't like horror films that feature children, and as a mom, those were the films I wouldn't let my kids watch. In Poltergeist, the family moves into their new suburban home, and then, a series of very strange things happen, and then their beautiful blond-haired darling is kidnapped and taken into the spirit realm.

Yeah. That'll be a big nope on that one.

4. Child's Play

I don't think I ever watched this film in its entirety. I think I decided that I had seen enough to know that I didn't want to see it. And also, perhaps, there is a theme to the films that are on my NOT ALLOWED list. The very idea of possession is frightening, and the story of a doll who comes alive and kills people is petrifying. I guess I didn't want my children to be afraid of their toys. So, this movie was off the shelf of possible entertainment.

5. A Nightmare on Elm Street In the interest of full disclosure I must say that my daughter watched this movie on Netflix on her computer, by herself, in her room, without telling me, when she was a teenager. If she had told me her intentions, I would have tried very hard to discourage her.

It makes my list as one of the most terrifying films for me, as a mom, because like the others, it's about loss of control and possession. A group of teens is terrorized in their sleep by the ghost of a man who was murdered by the parents in the community – because they believed he had been hurting their children. What they did was justified, and his coming back seeking revenge is just the epitome of unfair. Certainly, no one ever said life is fair, and I suppose the whole point of horror is to horrify us by creating scenarios that make our blood run cold. Good job, Wes Craven! Goal achieved.

My children have watched most of the above movies, and in fact, my youngest (now an adult) talked me into putting my fears aside and watching The Exorcist with her. I think she laughed a few times. I'm pretty sure it's not supposed to be a comedy.

My children tell me that best thing about watching scary movies with me is that I'm the only one who gets scared. I'm pretty sure I'm not a comedy, either.

What films would you not want your children (either real or imagined) to watch? And why?

What are the last horror movies you want your kids watching?

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