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The horrors of childhood

My childhood was scary enough.
I’m not a big fan of horror movies. That is to say, I don’t watch them. Suspense? Sign me up. Sci-fi? It’s going in the Netflix queue. But horror, the kind directed by Rob Zombie where half-naked coeds get gutted like codfish? Just not my cup of blood-pudding.

That’s not to say that I haven’t watched them. But it was back in junior high with the other 9th grade residents of the Stridex burn-ward. Even then, we were only watching Friday the 13th, Part II, to get my friend’s mom to go to bed so we could watch Ursula Andress in the Sensuous Nurse. Late night HBO in the 80s––what a strange soft-core wasteland that was.

But wanna know what’s really scary? Really scary is serving waffles to my 10-year old daughter and her friends after a slumber party and one of them says "have you ever seen Saw or Saw II? They’re really freaky".

Me in stunned silence: wake up, wake up, the waffles are burning.

Okay, I haven’t seen either movie, but I’m going to go way out on a limb here and guess that these aren’t movies any 10-year old should be watching. Am I wrong? If I am, please present your argument (and your home address so Child Protective Services can come spirit away your children, pets and any living houseplants).

Apparently her dad rented ‘em and watched them with her older brothers. So this little girl who looks and acts like Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird just soaked it all in. The parental control knob on her father’s brain fell off and rolled away somewhere beneath the couch.

Call me a prude. Call me old-fashioned. But my oldest is 12, and I don’t let her watch R-rated movies. Ever. Even PG-13 gets a glance of suspicion. If she’s going to see scary movies, she’s going to have to go about it the proper way––by sneaking in when she’s supposed to be watching Herbie-Fully Loaded, the way I did when I was her age.

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Reader Comments (19)

Oy, that's horrible. I AM a fan of horror, but not the Saw-variety (ooh. can't even watch the previews) I love me a good ghost story (the Spanish movie The Devil's Backbone, for example) and always have since I was a tiny kid, but man, horror movies have changed and NO kids should be seeing these things! I am often appalled by what I hear kids are allowed to see, and I'm certainly on your side here. Funnily written, too.
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterLaini
I recall watching Friday the 13th part II at the age of ten. The old-fashioned way of course: sleeping over at the house a friend whose identity I'll protect and sneaking it on HBO while her parents were sound asleep upstairs. I had a tough,year or maybe even more after that. Scared the crap out of me. Pulled back every shower curtain and positively sprinted from light switch.

And parental permission would've totally ruined the fun of THAT, I'll tell you.

I'm pretty sure when my daughter's that age I'll still be debating whether she's ready for Harry Potter IV. She won't be getting acquainted with Jason on *my* watch. (As you say, let her do it when I'm not watching).

But oddly enough, I'll probably let her read whatever she wants. There's no logic.
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJen
"positively sprinted from light switch."

light switch to bed I meant to say.
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJen
I'm with you Jen. I'd probably let my kids read whatever they want. I remember the first real books I began reading after the Tolkien stuff were all horror. Dead & Buried. The Funhouse. The Amityville Horror. Slogging through Lovecraft before finally discoving Harlan Ellison, and then Stephen King (with some John Saul thrown in).

April 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJamie
how fondly i look back upong the glory days of 80's analog cable. when pressing four buttons simultaneously on the cable box unlocked premium and pay-per-view channels, opening up whole new worlds of forbidden delight. without the magic combination, how would i ever have learned that teens having sex by a lake always get speared through the gut, or that the perfect female form, judging by commonly accepted laws of physics, should have trouble standing upright. =)
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjackt
Oh yeah, you don't want 10-year-olds watching "Saw." Geez, I had MY head buried in my hands watching it. I don't know why I'm a sucker for good horror. Not splatterfests, mind you, but really scary movies like "The Others" and "Ghost Story."
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterKarl
Ah, a voice of reason. I'm so sick of shrugging parents who say "kids will be kids, What are ya gonna do?" I'm gonna unplug the t.v., take away the car keys, read your email, search your room, hire drug dogs, plant surveillance cameras, deadbolt my closets and whatever else your particular age requires to keep your ass in school, off the couch, and out of jail, that's what!!!

Wait. What was the question? Oh. No, my twelve year old son has not seen them, but I took my 16 year old and his friends to see Saw 2 in the theater. Naturally, I called each mom first to make sure the boys had permission. Not that I didn't believe them -- yeah, I didn't believe them.
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMaryAn
I loved Ghost Story. The Thing, Alien, even Blair Witch––I guess I do like scary movies. Just not over-the-top gore.

Speaking of movies freaking out children. I watched A Clockwork Orange when I was 13. Disturbing flick for a 7th grader. A friend read the book and told me how great it was. Of course that friend is now 37 and still has old Fangoria magazines under his bed.
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjamie
My nine-year-olds are all bluster. They don't even like to hear scary music. Something yucky shows up on the tube, they are out the door.

I love the original version of The Thing.

The Hero: "Okay, so the Thing's a vegetable. What do you do with a vegetable?"

All eyes turn to the token woman.

Token Woman: "Well, you boil 'em, mash 'em, stick 'em in a stew...er...sorry, you fry 'em."

Nerdy Scientist: "FRY 'EM! Ye gods and little fishes, woman! You're a genius! Where'd we stick that crate of flashlight batteries we brought with us?"

Gotta love that kind of unpretentious stuff.
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterm.g. tarquini
My God, the scariest thing I was allowed to watch at age 10 was My Little Pony: The Movie. I had to hide my horror books under my bed to stop my parents taking them off me. My Mum saw "The Exorcist" when it first came out in the cinema and apparently had nightmares for months afterwards. The first time I saw it, I hurt myself laughing. Maybe it's a generation gap thing?
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterNaomi
Being so tender as a child myself, I can't imagine seeing "Saw" at age ten. (I haven't seen it as an adult. Not my cup of joe. Give me scary. Give me tense and suspense. Hold the slice and dice.)
At thirteen I was shocked and horrified at seeing my first severed limb…in the original "Star Wars" movie. I ask you, how lame is that prop!? But at the time, to my virgin eyes, it was the goriest, bloodiest, most unexpected thing I'd ever seen.
Yes, I was a sheltered child.
April 18, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterMeleta McHarlin
The original Thing movie is a classic. "Keep watching the sky!"

April 18, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjamie
Thank goodness there are still some parents out there who think their children are worth protecting. I'm not even sure some of those movies are fit for adults!
April 20, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJay
When I was a preteen I probably read more books that were inappropriate for kids than saw movies in that category.(Think: Jerzy Kozinsky's The Painted Bird, DH Lawrence, Stephen King, etc.) I do remember seeing snippets from THE SHINING when I was a kid, and being scared sh*tless.
April 20, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterJess
I admit that I saw Friday the 13th, part two, in the theater at the age of eleven, but I haven't let my kids watch it.

Saw... never. Not for me, not for my kids.

April 20, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterAdam Hurtubise
My boy is four and I don't want him to ever have to interact with the unclean masses, but I know it will happen, just like it did with me, only I purpose to make his transition better than mine. That's every parent's goal, or it should be. If not, then they're not of the human species. Most movies (and I'll add music to the list, as well as television) are unfit for conscious humans. The dilemma is preparing the child for the reality of it without making him a part of it. How are we going to keep'em down on the farm after they've seen Paris? As I watch my child's eyes open in wonder at DragonTales and Cyberchase cartoons, these are the thoughts that scare the crap out of me.
April 22, 2006 | Unregistered CommenterBob Farley
I'm with you Bob. When my little daughter sees Britney Spears on TV and says "she's not very modest" it makes me very very happy. Let's hope that lasts until she's, oh say, 35.
April 22, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjamie ford
Oh boy...I can't wait for the pre-ado slumber party scene...yikes.
April 23, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterkathie
Kathie--I have four kids. I lose track of all the various permutations of children that are in and our of our home. I usually just walk in on Fridays and ask my wife "how many bonus children do we have tonight?"

It's chaos, but a good kind of chaos.

April 24, 2006 | Unregistered Commenterjamie

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