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Years after I first lost sleep watching scary movies, I revisit the ten films that made me fear horror and see if younger me was right to be afraid.

I have a shocking confession to make. As a kid, I didn’t really like horror movies that much. They would give me nightmares if I watched them at night, and I would just dread being terrified. Obviously, I grew into my love of genre films. Now, as a card carrying adult horror fan, I wanted to go back and see if my views on the nightmare inducing films of my childhood have changed. 

So, without further delay, here are the top ten films that sent shivers down my young spine. Are they still scary today? 

1. The Witches (1990)

Why 1990's 'The Witches' is the Scariest Children's Horror Film Ever Made - Bloody Disgusting

I know this film may not be considered horror necessarily, but stay with me here.

In this film, we meet Luke (Jaden Fisher), and his grandmother (Mai Zetterling) who are going on vacation together. They go to a hotel by the beach, where a conference for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children is taking place. Luke finds out that the women that are part of this conference are all witches. They are led by the Grand High Witch (Anjelica Huston) who informs the women that their main goal is to turn every child in England into a mouse. 

Luke finds himself in trouble when he and a friend he met at the hotel, Bruno (Charlie Potter), are both turned into mice. The boys must find a way to stop the witches and find a cure before they are forced to live as mice forever.

This movie is definitely much goofier than it is scary, but as a kid, the grand high witch was so frightening to watch. The convention scene alone would give me goosebumps, and seeing Anjelica Huston as such a hideous witch made it 10 times creepier. I think Anjelica Huston’s performance deserves more praise, because she truly makes the audience believe she is the grand high witch. 

If you want to give your children nightmares, perhaps consider forcing them to watch this movie.

The Witches can be streamed for free on Netflix.

Where to Watch

2. Leprechaun (1993)

Leprechaun vs. Candyman?! Seven Planned 'Leprechaun' Movies That Never Happened - Bloody Disgusting

In this movie, Tori Redding (Jennifer Anniston) is unhappy to spend the summer with her father (John Sanderford) in a rented house. There, they meet Nathan (Ken Olandt), his younger brother, Alex (Robert Hy Gorman), and their friend Ozzie (Mark Holton), who are all helping to repaint the house. After Ozzie accidentally sets free the leprechaun (Warwick Davis), the group are tormented by the leprechaun, who only wants one thing: to know where his gold has been hidden.  

Nothing seems to kill the leprechaun for good, which the group finds out after attempting to kill him numerous times, mostly by gunfire.  Eventually, however, Alex realizes the one weakness of every leprechaun: a four leaf clover. He shoots the clover down the throat of the leprechaun, which finally seems to kill him.

This is another movie that is far goofier than it is scary. There are several sequences that really add nothing to the plot, along with chase scenes that seem to come from a child’s movie. However, it was clearly popular among horror fans, considering the several sequels it spawned. 

Whether you love it or hate it, you cannot deny how utterly creepy the Leprechaun is, and how scared you would be if he showed up one day demanding you give him his pot of gold.  

Watch Leprechaun for free  on HBO Max/HBO, or rent it for under $4 on most VOD platforms.

Where to Watch

3. Bones (2001)

Scream Factory's 'Bones' Blu-ray Is the Perfect Way to Discover Ernest Dickerson's 2001 Gem [Review] - Bloody Disgusting

Brothers Patrick (Khalik Kain) and Bill (Merwin Mondesir), along with their stepsister, Tia (Katherine Isabelle) and their friend, Maurice (Sean Amsing) buy a property that they intend to turn into a nightclub. Unbeknownst to them, this building used to belong to Jimmy Bones (Snoop Dog), a well-known and well-respected man from that area, who died tragically several years prior.

It is revealed that Jimmy Bones was set up and murdered some of the people he trusted the most, including his bodyguard, Shotgun (Ronald Selmour), crooked cop Lupvich (Michael T. Weiss), drug pusher Eddie Mack (Ricky Harris), Pearl (Pam Grier), and Jeremiah “J-bird” (Clifton Powell). Bones’ remains are dug up, and he is resurrected, which the intent of getting revenge towards those that played a hand his murder (except for former lover, Pearl).

This movie may be over the top and campy towards the end, but it does have its moments that are pretty chilling to see. Most of the effects were done practically, which makes me love this film even more.  There is one scene in particular in which several arms and bodies that are from the “city of the dead” reach out from the walls, which is probably my favorite scene from the film.

Say what you want about Snoop Dog, but this film shows that he definitely has some great acting ability.  

Bones is available to stream for free on Tubi.

Where to Watch

4. Hellraiser (1987)

12 Sharp Facts About Hellraiser | Mental Floss

This modern classic by master of horror Clive Barker is about a man, Frank (Sean Chapman), who buys a mysterious puzzle box. This puzzle box sets from cenobites, lead by the infamous Pinhead (Doug Bradley). These monsters torture and kill Frank, as well as anyone that solves the puzzle box. After Frank is brought back to life by blood slipping through the cracks in the floor, he enlists the help of former lover, Julia (Clare Higgins), to help him kill people so that he can be fully restored. 

Although initially hesitant, Julia complies, and even sacrifices her husband, Larry (Andrew Robinson), so that Frank can use his skin. Larry’s daughter, Kirsty (Ashely Laurence) accidentally gets caught up in this mess when she opens up the demonic realm with the puzzle box. The cenobites want to take her with them, but she tells them that Frank escaped. They return to the house, and once they catch Frank again, he is torn apart by hooks. Kirsty does not hesitate to send the cenobites back to hell with the puzzle box. 

We cannot deny the impact that this film has had on the horror genre. However, I must say that this film is pretty nasty, and I found myself physically cringing at some of the scenes. Just the fact that Frank stole his brother’s skin and wore it makes my stomach turn a bit. The cenobites were so creepy, I think I remember having nightmares of the chattering one as a kid. 

This is not a film I would recommend for those with a weak stomach.  

Watch Hellraiser for free on Hulu, Roku, Hoopla, Tubi, Shudder, or Pluto TV.

Where to Watch

5. Ghost Ship (2002)