The premise is ridiculous, the acting questionable and – with adult eyes – the special effects leave a lot to be desired. But Deep Blue Sea has left me with a great big, bloody shark bite-shaped scar. Ten-year-old me unwisely watched this certificate 15 film on VHS during a sleep over. It follows a group of scientists on an isolated research facility who are hunted by their own insanely intelligent lab sharks.
Naturally I didn’t let out a single squeak during the movie and never mentioned the lasting, terrifying impact it had had on my young and impressionable brain to my friends. But boy did me (and my extended family) live to regret that rental choice.
I became convinced that wherever there was water there were sharks ready to jump up behind me and take me unawares. Even, implausibly, in the shower. And my poor younger sister had to sit in the bathroom with her eyes shut while I washed for at least 18 months.
Eleven is only four years away from being allowed into a certificate 15 movie. That’s pretty close, right? How mentally scarring can it be? The answer: incredibly.
I don’t know what responsible adult was in charge when I was allowed to watch this monstrosity but being scared of woodland was incredibly inconvenient for a pre-teen living in the rural English countryside. The peaceful forest which surrounded my childhood home – once an innocent idyll and potentially the ideal teenage party location – was ruined in one hour and 21 minutes. Ruined, I tell you. Someone holding a torch under their chin still makes me feel a little panicky to this day.
Those damned sharks. Jaw is a 12A but that doesn’t mean it isn’t life-changing, absolutely terrifying stuff. A killer swimmer-munching beast, ready to snap at your toes whenever you go slightly out of your depth, to pull you under when your parents aren’t looking. Basically, ready and waiting to ruin each and every family day out at the beach.
“I couldn’t go in a swimming pool for about two years (despite being assured that sharks live in the sea not in Harlow municipal swimming baths),” says RadioTimes.com editor Tim Glanfield.
I was actually 15 when I watched this, but I would argue it’s incorrectly classified. Or that a girl already plagued by nightmares about being murdered in woods and eaten by sharks should have just stuck to watching rom-coms and period dramas. But peer pressure, as ever, won out and at yet another sleepover this monstrosity was popped on for a bit of light entertainment before bed.
The lasting impact: I really struggled to turn off the TV when I was in on my own and actually almost wet myself whenever I turned it on to that grey fuzzy noise. It didn’t help that one of my “friends” decided I looked like a girl who crawls out of the TV (long/lank straightened hair was fashionable in the 00s, okay?) and brought it up all the time. But it seriously haunted me.
In fact, this gif is still making me feel uncomfortable.
What Lies Beneath is a 15 because of its moderate horror and violence. Moderate? Please. This seriously creepy thriller, starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Harrison Ford, is perfect for making innocent teenagers leap to strange and surreal conclusions about the way the world works. And in this case, it was the reason yet another RadioTimes.com writer struggled to wash during their early teenage years.
“I genuinely thought I would turn into a skeleton if I had a bath,” admits Kasia Delgado. “Once I was forced to have one and I kept feeling my face to see if there was still skin there or just cold hard bone.” Creepy.
Most adults can watch movies about the impending destruction of our planet and then get up at the end and go and empty the dishwasher. Nine-year-olds who find out the world could be destroyed by a random asteroid hurtling towards us struggle to get on with life afterwards. Even when it’s delivered in this poor package. Deep Impact, the less popular Armageddon of summer 1998, triggered an existential crisis before I even knew what an existential crisis was. I blame you, young Elijah Wood. You and your completely nonsensical ability to escape that petrifying wave.
This magical movie might be a PG but that doesn’t mean it’s harmless stuff. It does feature evil witches who want to suck the souls out of children, after all. “I watched Hocus Pocus while in Primary School and had nightmares for weeks (OK, months. OK, years. OK I still have to race past it when I see it on Netflix…)” says RadioTimes.com writer Emma Daly.
But while plenty of children have doubtless been left scarred by this creepy movie, not every one was as lucky as Emma… “My dad worked as a London taxi driver at the time and, of all people, picked up star Bette Midler. She apologised profusely for having scared his daughter so much.”
A tragic true tale reimagined for the silver screen, starring every 90s kids favourite Hollywood hunk Leonardo DiCaprio. We’d even heard there was a sex scene in it. And one of my primary school friends – the one with the cool mum – had rented it from Blockbuster. What could go wrong?
Well no one told us it also featured thousands of people drowning and dying and freezing (though if we’d been older we might have been able to work this out for ourselves). People being locked in the lower decks, mothers smothering their children, panic, despair, utter terror and the death of Leonardo DiCaprio.
Ten-year-old me is sure it’s the worst movie ever made. And it’s responsible for making me (even more) terrified of water as well as boats, holidays, being spontaneous, attempting to better your station in life, water, flirting, falling in love, lifeboats, cars, fancy dining rooms, water, drawing, walking down grand staircases, ice, diamond necklaces, ice, water, boats and did I mention the cold water and the boats.
I’ve never rewatched the entire movie. I tried this Christmas – 16 whole years later – and ended up turning it off after the steamy window scene. Ignorance is bliss.
This 70s horror film is a 15 for good reason. But that didn’t stop RadioTimes.com reporter Ben Dowell… “Aged nine, my twin brother and I conned our babysitter into thinking it was perfectly normal for us to stay up late and watch The Omen. Terrifying. Nightmares for years after,” he says.
This scene, where Damian’s nanny publicly hangs herself at his fifth birthday party, was especially haunting. Although, you might have thought would scare the babysitter more than the kids…
What movie did you watch when you were younger and then wish you hadn’t? Let us know in the comments box below…
Sign up to the Radio Times newsletter for the latest TV and entertainment news