Top 20 Movies That Gave Us Nightmares as Kids

There is something strange about movies getting stuck in your mind as a kid forever. Of course, most movies we watch as kids are kid-proof, but a few always give us nightmares, even if they do not belong in the horror genre. So, read ahead to see if any of your favorites are included in the movies that gave us nightmares as a kid!

1. Wizard of Oz (1939)

Image Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM).


The story revolves around Dorothy, who is swept up to the magical land of Oz, and her journey from there as she encounters different supernatural creatures. Great props to the prop department of the time, but the special effects in the movie were just too much! The scene with the flying monkeys was a recurrent nightmare for many kids back in the day. Some claim the witch’s makeup was outstandingly horrifying for a children’s movie.

2. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)

Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.


Directed by the famous Tim Burton, this movie was given his signature gothic horror and fantasy touch, unlike the actual book. As the story follows Charlie and the kids on their factory tour, fans can’t help but remember the horrifying scenes of the boat ride in the Chocolate River, specifically the scene where Violet, a girl, turns into a blueberry. The movie was nothing short of sinister for a kid, contributing to many nightmares.

3. Gremlins (1984)

Image Credit: Warner Bros.


Now Gremlins was classified as a horror movie, so that’s on you for watching it as a kid! This one is about a unique pet going rogue and malicious, so that’s what kids remember. Who thought gremlins exploding in a microwave would not give kids nightmares? Kids who loved plushies claimed they would not stop getting nightmares about their own plushies going wild. Those creepy monsters were totally nightmare material.

4. Child’s Play (1988)

Image Credit: United Artists.


You may know this movie by the infamous name of Chucky the Doll. Again, who thought a super creepy doll with the soul of a serial killer would be appropriate for children? Because Chucky is responsible for many a nightmare! People claim they would get nightmares that their own toys would one day kill them or their parents at night. To this day, people claim to get nightmares of Chucky holding a bloody butcher’s knife.

5. Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Image Credit: New Line Cinema.


Following along the theme of bloodthirsty evil spirits, Nightmare on Elm Street was very true to its name, as confirmed by viewers; this movie gave them nightmares to the point that they could not sleep for days. The story follows the spirit named Freddy Krueger, who killed teenagers in their dreams, so they tried not to sleep to save themselves. That’s a perfect nightmare recipe!

6. The Exorcist 1973

Image Credit: Warner Bros.


When The Exorcist was released in 1973, it shook up the world of horror as people claimed that no movie was yet to match the absolute terror of this. To date, fans claim they cannot ever forget the face of the girl who was possessed by the demonic entity. Fans claim that for probably two years, they saw the creepy walk of the girl as she walked down the stairs, so this one will surely give you nightmares!

7. Poltergeist (1982)

Image Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM).


Poltergeist was produced by Steven Speilberg and was a classic like no other, filled with horror, suspense, and gory scenes. For some fans, the evil spirits were okay, but what gave them nightmares was the clown doll in Robbie’s room. Because of the clown, they became permanent fixtures in people’s sufferings because that clown was creepy for no reason!

8. The Truman Show (1998)

Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.


Starring Jim Carrey, this one was more of a sci-fi movie, but people found it so mind-boggling that many claimed they experienced a major existential crisis. Some believe that the absolute nightmare was realizing that the main character lived a fake life without realizing it was all a television show. It really made people question reality, hence the nightmares.

9. Coraline (2009)


Image Credit: Focus Features.


One fan claimed they saw Coraline at the dentist’s office, where their nightmares began. The stop-motion movie follows the story of Coraline as she encounters a much more sinister and eerie parallel world to her own. The realization of this concept as a child gave a lot of young kids lousy night terrors.

10. It (1990)

Image Credit: Lorimar Television.


It, or the infamous Pennywise by Stephen King, the King of Horror, has to be on the list. The proposal miniseries came out in 1990 and plagued the minds of even those who had yet to read the actual book. For most people, apart from the story, Pennywise the Clown was the main star of every nightmare. Fans claim they never liked clowns after watching this movie. A clown is always a nightmare!

11. Hook (1991)

Image Credit: TriStar Pictures.


Another Spielberg classic starring Robin Williams and Dustin Hoffman, Hook is believed to be a sinister take on the classic Peter Pan story. Even if the overall story was not nightmare-inducing, fans claim that its opening scene with the kids getting abducted was definitely nightmare material.

12. Peewee’s Big Adventure (1985)

Image Credit: Warner Bros.


Even though this movie is classified as a comedy, since it was directed by Tim Burton, it has his famous gothic horror touch. Not much horror, but apparently, the “large Marge” scene was freaky and “scared the pants off” for many people as children. It set an out-of-place tone for the movie as a kid.

13. Bambi (1942)

Image Credit: Walt Disney Productions.


The Bambi movie is a Walt Disney production, and the overall film may be a fairytale, magical Disney movie; it has some triggering scenes for kids. Spoiler alert! But many fans claim the scene where Bambi loses his mother and is crying was very painful to watch and was a regular nightmare visitor for most.

14. Signs (2002)

Image Credit: Touchstone Pictures.


Signs, starring Joaquin Phoenix, is a sci-fi thriller that revolves around aliens and mysterious crop circles. In particular, scenes like the ones with aliens on the roof and the hand under the door freaked out kids. So much so that some people claim they were so scared they could not look at the DVD cover for years because it gave them nightmares.

15. The Ring (2002)

Image Credit: DreamWorks Pictures.


Based on a Japanese film, this movie solidified people’s fear of staticky TVs because the story was of how a blank videotape led to the death of the one who watched it. Even years later, people say that static TV gave them nightmares so bad they were unbearable.

16. Return to Oz (1985)

Image Credit: Walt Disney Pictures.


Return to Oz is believed to be a lost sequel to Wizards of Oz, but this one is even more terrifying. Multiple fans claim this movie should have been tagged as a horror movie from the get-go. Even though it still follows the story of Dorothy and how she saves the Emerald Kingdom, what gives people the most nightmares is how the movie starts with Dorothy getting electroshock therapy! How could kids be allowed to watch that? On top of that, most people believe that the magical chicken was nothing less than a nightmare, either!

17. Jumanji (1995)

Image Credit: TriStar Pictures.


Everyone has watched Jumanji and its many remakes and sequels. The story is fantasy based, but as a kid, people found that watching kids being sucked into a board game was not the best. In fact, it became a source of nightmares for many people, especially the crazy giant wasps and other creatures that came along with it.

18. Pan’s Labyrinth

Image Credit: Estudios Picasso.


Pan’s Labyrinth is a dark fantasy story directed by the infamous Guillermo del Toro. Without the horror, the story is very brutal and dark, and some scenes, like people being beaten to death by a bottle, were enough to give nightmares to college students as well. Jokingly, many people claim they needed therapy after watching this nightmare contender.

19. Bridge to Terabithia (2007)

Image Credit: Walden Media.


Less on the horror side, this movie was brutal in the most nightmarish ways, according to many fans. Those who watched it as kids claimed forests plagued their nightmares and gave them the habit of drawing eyes on their palms. This one makes the list because of the never-ending disturbing moments it had.

20. The Mummy (1991)

Image Credit: Universal Pictures.


Starring Brendan Fraser, The Mummy is a classic movie of the 90s. Even though the animation of bugs crawling out of people’s skins looks funny now, most film lovers say that as kids, it was definitely something stuck in their minds and nightmares for a long time.

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