“My earliest and most vivid encounter with sheer terror took place in a movie theater when I was 3 years old. It was at the Fresh Pond Cinema in Cambridge, Mass., not during a showing of ‘Cujo’ or ‘It,’ but another dog and clown horror classic (masquerading as a kids’ movie), ‘Air Bud.’ Still indelible in my memory is a particular scene in which the sottish, spiteful clown re-emerges intent on snatching Buddy, our endearing, basketball-dunking dog pal, away from his newfound, but kind, young companion. Even now, I’m not sure what was scarier: watching the clown reappear on the screen, or the deafening, collective cry of fear that erupted from me and the rest of the audience of toddlers.”
— Clare Goslant of Cambridge, Mass., on seeing “Air Bud” at age 3.
“The wicked witch was the most terrifying thing I had ever seen. I screamed and shut my eyes every time she appeared. That same year, after I had watched ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ I was cast as a wicked witch in my second-grade play. I cried and cried when I came home. I had wanted to play the fairy princess. My mother taught me how to cackle. And she said I’d be the star of the show. She was right.”
— Cathy Arden of New York, on seeing “The Wizard of Oz” at age 7.
“It was supposed to be a children’s movie, but the scene of Bambi’s mother dying in a forest was something I found terrifying!”
— Carter Bancroft of Huntington, N.Y., on seeing “Bambi” at age 5.
“My older sister and I were dropped off at the big movie theater for the Saturday matinee. She left me all by myself and went off with her girlfriends. This was before parental helicopter-ing. ‘The Wizard of Oz’ would later be broadcast annually on TV. Kids were able to cuddle with grown-ups in the safety of their own home, with the happy songs, cute little Munchkins and Dorothy’s funny friends. There’s no place like home. That’s a whole different process than I experienced, and it was a whole different picture for me. It was not so much my young age, but watching a family movie in that wild setting, having such a powerful effect on my senses, made it my first scary movie. I was scarred for life.”
— Don Feiler of Mattituck, N.Y., on seeing “The Wizard of Oz” at age 5.