From the age of ten or eleven through my early teens, I spent a great deal of time sitting up late to watch mostly inappropriate things on my already-ancient Magnavox TV show.  Benny Hill taught me about the female anatomy, Monty Python about the beauty of absurdity, and Rod Serling knew how to push buttons across the entire emotional spectrum, hitting all the highlights of the human condition.  Rod even knew how to scare the hell out of me, but one of the most terrifying moments in my life came when I accidentally caught ‘Night Of The Living Dead’ on Uncle Ed’s All Night Live show on Channel 41.  I honestly don’t remember if the broadcast version I saw was the unrated (and horrifying) version that I own now, but I remember feeling as though the life were literally being frightened out of me.  (It might be worth noting that I already lived in a poorly lit, dank basement.)  Few recent films have given me that same terror, although my ill-advised late-night solo first viewing of Paranormal Activity came close, but it leads us to today’s bone-chilling query…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) also had a terrifying moment with a rerun of ‘Dance Fever’, but for entirely different disco-collar related reasons, asking: What was your most terrifying viewing experience ever?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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  1. July 3, 2014 at 11:40 am — Reply

    I saw Return of the Living Dead on tv when I was 9 or 10. Scared the pants off me. I kept thinking zombies were going to break in my house at any moment.

    As an adult, the second time I saw the Blair Witch disturbed me. At that time, they hadn’t had any actor interviews and that faux-documentary had just run on tv. The aura of realism was still there. Blair Witch was the first scary movie of its kind that I had seen. It was genuinely scary without showing a thing. Having grown up with 80s and early 90s slasher films, that wasn’t something I immediately associated with horror films. You used to ALWAYS see the killer/monster/whatever. Plus, we had to drive home through on a wooded road that had no street lights…

  2. Frank
    July 3, 2014 at 11:43 am — Reply

    When I was about 13, I was on a Boy Scout trip to coastal South Carolina. We stayed at a Boys Home next to a river that had lots of old Live Oak trees with Spanish Moss hanging down. The occasional alligator could be seen in the river. Creepy during the day. More so at night.
    That evening, they showed “Creature from the Black Lake.” It was about a monster lurking in a Louisiana swamp that was attacking people.
    This was probably the first ‘horror’ movie I had ever seen. For most of the movie, I was hiding behind older boys and covering my eyes.
    The combination of staying overnight in sleeping bags, close to swamps made it even more scary for a 13 year old kid.

  3. Mike
    July 3, 2014 at 1:11 pm — Reply

    My parents still make fun of me to this day, but my scariest viewing experience was watching “The 10 Commandments,” and seeing all the first born children die when I was roughly 11. I have always figured that I could fight off or run away from most things, but I don’t think I can do much about the wrath of God.

    • July 3, 2014 at 3:20 pm — Reply

      I just watch The Prince of Egypt with my daughters. God’s wrath was pretty scary in that.

  4. July 3, 2014 at 1:36 pm — Reply

    Oddly enough, it was a beatutifully animated version of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” that I saw in grade school. The treatment of the ghosts was brilliant but >ahem< haunted me for weeks.

  5. July 3, 2014 at 1:37 pm — Reply

    Watching Phantasm on late night tv with my best friend. We were six, and scared ****less. Neither of us could sleep afterwards.

  6. Rob
    July 3, 2014 at 3:51 pm — Reply

    Watching the Night on Bare Mountain part of Fantasia scared the crap out of me when I was little (it’s still pretty creepy)

  7. Kirby
    July 3, 2014 at 4:11 pm — Reply

    When I was a child, I watched a little movie called Disney’s Pinocchio, and everything was going fine until they got to the island. Boys started turning into donkeys and were being sold into work, until death, and the ones that could still cry out for “Mommy” were kept there until they totally turned. I immediately turned off the VCR, went looking for my mom, and to this day I have not seen how the movie ends.

  8. July 3, 2014 at 7:31 pm — Reply

    As a child in 1984, when I was going through treatment for Leukemia and was on a LOT of heavy medications in high doses (I was 4 years old, but due to my body apparently having a bit of an immunity/toleration to the meds, I was given higher doses than any of the other kids), I vaguely remember that I’d randomly flip through the cable stations that the hospital had. Of all things, I stopped on “The Wizard of Oz”. Imagine seeing that on a drug trip, then imagine a CHILD seeing that on a drug trip. I was absolutely terrified of so many things in that movie and couldn’t watch it again until I was in my mid-teens. To this day, I still feel a sense of dread when I see that some channel is going to play it around the holidays.

    Everyone I know finds it hilarious because I can watch the “scariest” films without flinching, but “The Wizard of Oz” scares me.

  9. Ingrid LJ
    July 3, 2014 at 10:20 pm — Reply

    I had to do a little research. When I was about 8 or so, I was at a friend’s house and we watched this show. It was a horror story that had to do with some people who were being terrorized by a toy horse. They found the toy horse somewhere, and it started coming out at night, moving around, threatening them. Yeah, sounds silly now, but it was really creepy and made a big impression on me. It was apparently from the show Circle of Fear, and the episode was called Dark Vengeance.

  10. J Perez
    July 4, 2014 at 12:05 am — Reply

    X Files. That show inspired a recurrent nightmare that haunted me for years: “aliens are behind you”. It would always run late at night (like 2 in the morning) and at that time my young brain would just absorb everything and the fear of tiny grey skin creatures coming for me never left. A bit ridiculous, but I never feared zombies, vampires or ghosts, those you can fight… but aliens who are smarter than me, that was scary.

  11. July 4, 2014 at 3:09 am — Reply

    I was an idiot and watched the Exorcist at my next door neighbors house. When it was over my friends older brother walked me to their gate and I ran the next ten feet home thinking the devil was going to get me. I went into my parents room and lay down on the floor by my dads side of the bed. My dad’s a preacher so I knew I was safe although I don’t recall sleeping at all that night. The whole experience is etched in my mind.

  12. Gehrigan
    July 4, 2014 at 6:20 am — Reply

    I was 14 in hospital for a week with a broken leg. I had finished reading ‘Salem’s Lot and at 2 in the morning turned on the tv to feel more comfortable, instead I caught the original Halloween. Every noise outside my hospital room was accentuated including the creaking of the nurses’ cart as it was wheeled around dispensing meds. A truly disturbing and sleepless night was to be mine.

  13. Zombi
    July 4, 2014 at 10:21 am — Reply

    When I was 5 or 6 I begged my parents to take me to the Drive-In to see John Carpenter’s The Thing, thinking it was about The Fantastic Four’s Thing. Boy was I wrong! Oh, and as a bonus, it was a Double Feature with Halloween II. Needless to say, everyone slept in the same bed that night

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