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The movies that scarred people from an early age

From Jaws to Poltergeist, here are the films that have traumatised film fans

Moves that have scarred people include Poltergeist, The Exorcist and Jaws (MGM/Warner Bros./Universal Pictures)
Movies that have scarred people include Poltergeist, The Exorcist and Jaws (MGM/Warner Bros./Universal Pictures)

Watching a scary movie at an early age can be a formative experience for many movie fans, leaving a lasting impression for better or worse.

From horror films and controversial dramas to animated movies that were scarier than they ought to be, cinephiles have shared their thoughts on the films that terrified them the most on Reddit.

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In a recent Reddit thread about which films viewers watched that were inappropriate for their age, film fans spoke about which ones left them scarred.

Here are the movies that were singled out.

Poltergeist (1982)

USA. Heather O'Rourke in a scene from the (C)Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film : Poltergeist (1982). Plot: A family's home is haunted by a host of demonic ghosts.  Ref: LMK110-J8772-170223 Supplied by LMKMEDIA. Editorial Only. Landmark Media is not the copyright owner of these Film or TV stills but provides a service only for recognised Media outlets. pictures@lmkmedia.com
Heather O'Rourke in a scene from Poltergeist (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)

1982 horror film Poltergeist was mentioned multiple times by Reddit users as the film to scar them the most when they were younger.

It's no surprise many people saw this Steven Spielberg-produced horror film at an early age. It was PG-rated for many years, but that has been upgraded to a 15 in recent years.

Directed by Tobe Hooper, the film is set in the home of the Freeling family whose home becomes haunted by malevolent ghosts who then abduct their youngest daughter, Carol Anne.

One Reddit use said they'd seen Poltergeist when they were seven-years-old, and added: "My parents told me I couldn’t watch it and then I watched it at a friend’s house. Many many sleepless nights and many many regrets."

Another person said of the film: "Seems like Poltergeist really messed with our generation! That static on the TV. That clown in the corner of the room. So many scenes seared into our little brains."

A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Malcolm McDowell stars in 1971's A Clockwork Orange (Warner Bros)
Malcolm McDowell stars in 1971's A Clockwork Orange (Warner Bros)

The controversial Stanley Kubrick film was also singled out as one that scarred viewers, an adaptation of Anthony Burgess' book of the same name it follows delinquent Alex (Malcolm McDowell) and his fellow gang members as they commit horrific acts from rape to ultra-violence.

While it now has a cult-like status, at the time of its release the film had to be removed from cinemas in the UK after it apparently incited copy-cat incidents, and was banned in other countries because of its depiction of graphic violence.

One Reddit user noted that they found the film haunting because of the content of the story, and said: "It's paradoxically one of Kubrick's best movies, in terms of the effectiveness of the filmmaking, and one of his hardest to watch because it's just nonstop f***ed up."

Watership Down (1978)

WATERSHIP DOWN, 1978
Watership Down traumatised a generation of children (Alamy)

Animated film Watership Down is quite controversial, namely because of how terrifying the film is for children especially with later scenes that depict brutally violence inflicted on rabbits.

For a long time rated U, the BBFC recently upgraded the film's age rating to a PG for 'language and violence'.

One Reddit user said they'd been shown the film when they were 5, and said: "Little did I know it was a rabbit snuff movie."

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Another person wrote: "My parents were oblivious to the insanity that this movie was. It was one of the only cartoon movies I had and they'd always pop it in the VCR when they wanted me distracted while they talked and discussed their grown up s***.

"Little did they realise lil ol' me was being traumatised the whole time."

Jaws (1975)

Jaws  Year : 1975 USA Director : Steven Spielberg Roy Scheider
Steven Spielberg's Jaws made people too scared to go into the water (PA Images)

Steven Spielberg's iconic shark film Jaws — which was a TV staple in the 1980s and 1990s — was also named by Reddit users as a film that left them traumatised, with several saying it led to a fear of the ocean.

One person remarked that the film was "scary for an under 5 year old" while another said they'd seen the film when they were seven and then "refused to swim in the ocean until [they were] 13" because of it.

Along the same lines, another person said: "I still don’t like swimming in the ocean because of it!"

The Exorcist (1973)

L'EXORCISTE THE EXORCIST 1973 de William Friedkin Linda Blair. d'apres le roman de William Peter Blatty based on the novel by William Peter Blatty Pro
Linda Blair in The Exorcist (PA Images)

William Friedkin's The Exorcist was also mentioned by Reddit users, which makes sense given the way the film terrified film fans around the globe when it was released and continues to be one of the most influential horror films every made.

One viewer said of the film: "I was 8 and my mother warned me never to watch it and honestly I had no intention.

Read more: How making The Exorcist was scarier than the movie itself

"My friend’s mom invited me to come watch an 'educational' movie about what happens if you don’t pray (they were clearly religious) and plopped me down in front of the TV to watch it with them while they were eating lunch. I was mortified to say the least and completely scarred afterwards."

Another person said they were scarred after their mother had "made" them watch The Exorcist at four-years-old, adding: "40 now, still can't watch it. The age of late-90's-internet-screamers was rough let me tell you!"

Watch a trailer for The Exorcist