Name a moment from games, TV, or movies that still haunts you today

We’re just packing away our Halloween decoration for another year, shaking with the sugar rush from too many Milky Ways, but spooky stuff is still very much of our minds. As such, we decided to dive deep into the ruined psyche’s of our writers to find out what really messed them up. Some of the answers might surprise you. 

This is the latest in a series of big questions we’ll be interrogating our writers with, so share your answers and suggestions for topics with us on Twitter. (opens in new tab)  

Titanic – Basically the entire movie

Hi, I’m Sam and I have a weird fear of cruise ships. While I actually know how to sail, love smaller boats and other sea vessels, there’s something about a cruise ship that I find terrifying. They’re huge, beastly things that don’t look like they could ever be seaworthy; you hear so many horror stories of people going missing on them, or no-one realizing someone’s fallen overboard; and who the heck thought it was a good idea to put a pool, complete with water slides, in the middle of the ocean? Bonkers. You can imagine then, my joy, when my friend’s mum decided it was a good idea to take me, and my childhood best friend to see Titanic at the tender age of 11. All the bits before it slams into a gigantic iceberg proved fairly tolerable, but as soon as things started filling up with water, I was done. My poor friend’s mother had to carry me out of the movie theater screaming at the top of my lungs. My own mum even had to hide the Titanic soundtrack she’d bought me on cassette as a memento of the occasion, because every time I heard Celine warbling, the nightmare for my young mind would literally go on, and on. Now, nearly 20 years later, I still haven’t seen Titanic all the way through. I’m still terrified of cruise ships. Recoil at the thought of anyone even suggesting a cruise holiday. And if anyone tries to do that song at karaoke I’m outta there. Sorry Celine. And yes, even I know that they both could have floated on that door… Sam Loveridge

Pee-wee’s Big Adventure – Large Marge

Look, Tim Burton: if you want to look at ghoulish, bug-eyed phantoms, that’s great. Do it on your own time. But don’t go scarring a generation of kids who were not in any way emotionally, physically, or spiritually prepared for the jump scare that is Large Marge. Having grown up on Pee-wee’s Playhouse, I assumed that the film (which actually came first) would be just as jolly and family friendly. And it mostly is – save for this egregiously frightening scene. Pee-wee grabs a hitchhiking ride with this truck-drivin’ old lady, who’s a pretty entertaining character without the gimmicks. But just to spike childrens’ heart rates through the roof, she creepily builds up to a shocking moment where her kindly face morphs into a screaming claymation banshee. For years, I had to look away during this scene – and only through copious forum posts of her face was I able to withstand the gaze of Large Marge. While we’re on the subject of human actors having their faces morphed in deeply disturbing ways, Jim Carrey and The Mask can go straight to hell.  Lucas Sullivan

Courage the Cowardly Dog – You’re Not Perfect

Courage the Cowardly Dog was a weird and creepy cartoon that seldom leaned all the way into horror territory. But when it did, it really went there. Many folks around my age still get shivers when they think of the uncannily animated 2.5D mummy from the first season episode “King Ramses Curse” – return the slaaaaab – but the moment that still haunts me is from Courage’s final episode: “Perfect”. This is the setup: Courage keeps messing everything up so badly that he’s visited by a headmistress who forces him to endure a series of tasks and tests to make him, well, perfect.

After a long day of failing to please her, Courage flops down on the family bed and closes his bloodshot eyes. The soundtrack crashes into dissonant strings and the show’s hand-drawn animation is replaced by a computer rendered, malformed, aquatic fetus thing suspended in inky black darkness. It lifts its head, locks eyes with the viewer, and whispers “You’re not perfect”. Then its gaze shifts away and Courage wakes up screaming. Now I understand that this scene is probably meant to show other parts of Courage’s subsconscious pushing back against the headmistress, who is also almost certainly a figment of Courage’s imagination. But when I was a kid it felt totally inexplicable and shocking, and the horror I felt then still gives me after-shivers thinking about it a decade and a half later.  Connor Sheridan

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Hush’s Gentlemen

One of the scariest (and best) episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is without a doubt season 4’s Hush and it’s creepy AF demons, The Gentlemen. In case you haven’t seen this nightmare-inducing episode, it involves The Gentlemen stealing the voices of everyone in town, and then, in the dead of night, floating around the darkened streets to find victims to cut open with the help of their straight-jacket clad henchman. The idea is that no one is able to scream for help and that’s what makes it such a spine-chilling piece of filmmaking that continues to keep me up at night, years after I first watched it. That, and the fact that The Gentlemen look like this (opens in new tab). There’s one scene in particular which never fails to give me nightmares and it’s where Tara (a relatively new character to the series at the time) is running from The Gentlemen, desperately banging on doors for someone to let her in, but, unable to ask who it is, everyone is too afraid to open the door for fear they might be the next victim. And all the while The Gentlemen draw ever closer…  Lauren O’Callaghan

Event Horizon

There’s one part in 1997’s Event Horizon I absolutely cannot bear to watch. At one point relatively early in the film, it seems a spaceship’s warp drive is malfunctioning, so the engineer who designed the ship goes into the vents to fix it. These vents are small and claustrophobic, and light up with an eerie green glow. The engineer begins to hear ghostly voices coming from seemingly all around, and the lights begin to dim as if the ship was breathing. In a panic, the engineer swings around to look for the source of the whispers and BAM! JUMP SCARE! Now, the escalating tension and commendable performance from Sam Neill are great, but you might be thinking, “But if you know it’s coming, can’t you mentally prepare yourself so it’s not scary?” To an extent, perhaps I could – but this jump scare is accompanied by the image of a woman’s face, and where her eyes should be are instead two empty, red sockets. Things being wrong with a person’s eyes just plain freak me out more than other types of body horror or gore, so to this day I’ll cover my own when this scene starts. Sam Prell

Batman: Arkham Asylum – Killer Croc’s lair 

Rocksteady’s Batman adaptation frequently leaned into the darker, gothic side of the caped crusader’s universe, but it was Arkham Asylum’s trip to the sewers that truly pushed the boat out in full blown scarefest. At one point in the story, Batman has enter the sewers beneath the asylum to retrieve the antidote to Joker’s corruptive serum. Unfortunately, this is where Killer Croc – the giant, half reptilian half humanoid creature – resides, and the villain makes it very clear that he wishes to hunt Bats down for a tasty snack. The player is thus forced to walk across a series of floating platforms with Croc circling the water beneath, and every now and again he’ll suddenly jump out and start running towards you, snarling and drooling with the ferocity of a rabid dog, before you quickly fire a batarang to knock him off. It’s a long, horribly suspenseful sequence that left my 13 year old self with a serious case of the jitters. I, for one, was one of the few people happy to learn that Croc’s appearance in future games would be reduced to a mere cameo.  Alex Avard

The Dark Crystal – Skeksis

The Dark Crystal is like Labyrinth’s twisted older sister, instead of magical balls and cuddly orange giants you get death, decay, and the Skeksis. Looking like a bird that got tortured in a microwave, these are the big bad of the fantasy story and seared themselves into my brain when I saw it as a kid, leading to a series of nightmares and – even to this day –  a low tolerance for any horror entity with an avian appearance. Apparently the original concept for the Skeksis had more of a fishy flavor, but – yay – they went with an ultra horrifying combination of  “part reptile, part predatory bird, part dragon” instead. Rachel Weber

Which entertainment property is responsible for your lifetime of therapy bills? Let us know on Twitter.  (opens in new tab) 

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