My first traumafession was a shining example of what would ultimately lay the groundwork for my lifelong affair with the macabre and grotesque side of cinema. RAWHEAD REX was an obscure/ridiculous example of irrational fears that ultimately does not stand the test of time, however the works of STEPHEN KING namely PET SEMATARY, IT, SILVER BULLET and, to a lesser extent, SLEEPWALKERS.
Shall we begin?
First off the one thing we all must take into account is this I saw all of these movies before I hit the ripe old age of eight (it amazes me how liberal my parents were), but I still contend that for the most part these movies still retain their scare factor. The reason why I believe these movies were so effective is that in some way shape or form they all share in common either young people as heroes or villains and the fact that they flesh out the characters and how they react to the circumstances surrounding a paranormal circumstance, which adds to the believability of the events taking place. And they all share in common this; for the most part the antagonist is/was viewed as a trusted or loved pillar of the community.
STEPHEN KING is undoubtedly a master of horror however I would say he has cornered the market on what I would call dramatic horror, wherein the protagonist are not simply meat puppets being dangled over a flame until the inevitable flame roast them for our amusement no they are much more than that and that is what makes these films stand the test of time.
These movies all scared the hell out of me as a child because of the monsters involved, but as a 23-year-old adult they unnerve me because of the realization that, for the most part, the evil often takes the form of an individual that we take great trust in (i.e., a minister, that cute guy next door, your child, or a very creepy clown.) Yes, in their true form these monstrosities are sure to turn the driest pair of pajamas into something resembling the Mississippi River after a recent down pour. These movies play on the one assumption that we all like to hold onto and that is we can trust the people who are closest to us, and they all flip that notion on its head.
The funny thing is my parents who have been the best parents ever, probably watched most of these movies with me and I thank them for that because these movies taught me that yes love the ones who are closest to us, but never forget that sometimes even they may be the ones we should watch the closest (especially if they can turn into giant demonic spiders, werewolves, cat monsters or come back to life after being buried in an Indian burial ground.)
On a final note I would say that my childhood was a blur for the most part, but these movies and other film adaptations definitely stood as pillars amongst many good and bad childhood memories.