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23 Things Horror Movies Ruined For Us

Everything is terrible.

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1. Showers - Psycho, 1960

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A classic example of how a master filmmaker can take something mundane, like the act of taking a shower, and turn it into something truly horrifying that will never leave you. In fact, actress Janet Leigh was so frightened after participating in the scene that she "stopped taking showers and I take baths, only baths."

Which brings us to...

2. Bathtubs - A Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984

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Sure, you're familiar with the trope of a moldy, decrepit bathtub in horror movies --something meant to cleanse that's been defiled. That's scary. But scarier still is an immaculate, upper middle class bathtub, shiny and new, that nonetheless holds horrors barely concealed beneath the water. Other notable examples: Fatal Attraction, 1987, and What Lies Beneath, 2000.

3. Old TVs - Videodrome, 1983

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Expect much more Cronenberg on this list. Dude is brilliant at combining fear of technology--televisions, in this case--with body horror and creating something that is glitchy and fleshy and covered in wires, pulsating quietly in the corner of your living room.

4. Slightly Newer TVs - The Ring, 2002

There is nothing scarier than a dark TV in a dark room. Except maybe a TV with a pissed off dead girl crawling out of it.
DreamWorks Pictures / Via nitehawkcinema.com

There is nothing scarier than a dark TV in a dark room. Except maybe a TV with a pissed off dead girl crawling out of it.

5. Dolls - Child's Play, 1988

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What better way to portray the fear and disgust of innocence corrupted than with a childhood plaything possessed by the spirit of a serial killer? After all, a doll is essentially a vessel for children's imagination. Their cold, vacant eyes and permanent smiles reflect back whatever you need them to.

6. Hotels - The Shining, 1980

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Looking down the length of an empty hotel hallway, you can't help but think of all the things unseen behind those doors. What sort of maniacal dead women or surreptitious viewings of a pay-per-view Adam Sandler movies are going on in there?

7. Phones - Scream, 1996

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Never answer the phone. It could be a psychotic killer who has just disemboweled your boyfriend, or a telemarketer.

8. Sewer drains - It, 1990

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It'd be too easy to say that "It's" clown form, Pennywise, is what made us scared of clowns, but let's face it. Many people were already plenty terrified of clowns before this adaptation hit TV screens. A more specific fear that arose from It is a fear that a thing as mundane as the sewer drain by the side of the road in a nice, friendly little neighborhood can hide something awful, something dangerous and evil. Like, say, a clown with nightmare teeth who preys on the small and innocent.

9. But, sure. Also clowns...

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Obviously. They're scary even in movies where they're not supposed to be scary.

10. Toddlers - Pet Sematary, 1989

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Gage is so friggin' cute, and that's what makes this movie work. He is an adorable child and a victim in his own right... and he wants to kill the people who love him the most. It goes against our innate instinct to protect the small and vulnerable, to sacrifice for those who rely on us the most. To disrupt that so violently is not just terrifying, it's heartbreaking.

11. Children - Village of the Damned, 1960

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Based on The Midwich Cuckoos, the movie tells the story of a town whose residents lose consciousness en masse, an incident which somehow results in women becoming pregnant and delivering children at the same time. The resulting offspring are odd, to say the least. The horror here is not just that a small town would be overrun by milky-eyed nightmare kids (happens all the time), but that something that you made, that grew within you and that should be a part of you, can be so foreign to you and hate you so coldly. Other notable example: The Omen, 1976.

12. Neighbors - Rosemary's Baby, 1968

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Of course much of the horror of Rosemary's Baby lies in the fear of creating something foreign inside you, the same fear that permeates The Omen and Village of the Damned. Pregnancy can be a terrifying concept even for people who desperately want children. But the film is also about the fear of neighbors, the not-quite-strangers who are privy to your everyday life, who know your habits and routines, who know exactly where you lay your head at night. They're just right there on the other side of that wall, listening and knowing. And convincing your asshole husband to let you birth the spawn of Satan.

13. Gynecologists - Dead Ringers, 1988

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Ask anyone with a vagina (but, actually, don't): going to the gynecologist is, at best, an uncomfortable experience. At worst, it's invasive and painful and makes you feel exposed and vulnerable. And if your doctor happens to be, say, an unhinged identical twin whose mania manifests in the creation of "gynecological tools for mutant women" which he then proceeds to use... Well. Then the experience is even more horrible.

14. Admirers - Misery, 1990

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What makes Misery so successful is the idea of "knowing" --more specifically, the invasive nature of a stranger knowing all and nothing about you, and believing this bonds you together. After all, it's a thin, thin line between love and wanting to smash your feet against a block.

15. Sleep - A Nightmare on Elm Street, 1984

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We've mentioned what this movie has done to your ability to take a "quiet bubble bath," but the real key to Freddy Kreuger's lasting grip on the collective conscious is that he comes to harm you while you're doing something you need to survive --sleeping. (In fact, Wes Craven was inspired by an actual phenomena, dubbed "nightmare death syndrome.") When all your fears and frustrations and hopes and memories are working themselves out in your subconscious, you are at your most vulnerable for this uninvited stranger. Especially if you're dreaming about sex.

16. Typewriters - Naked Lunch, 1991

You know how, if you're ever in the mood to really give a metaphor some exercise, you could say that the act of writing is like masturbation, because both are (usually) solitary practices utilizing creative... parts? Well. This film makes that connection explicit. And then drenches it in fluids.

This movie will also make you fear well-dressed older men with giant birdcages in their living rooms, although you really should have been afraid of them already.

17. Dogs - Cujo, 1983

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I am not afraid of dogs and, in fact, this image makes me want to cuddle Cujo and give him a bath while calling him "Buddy-boo." But! That does not detract from the reality that this movie and the book that inspired it tap into the very real fear that something we see every day, something we love and believe we can control, can end up overpowering us. And surely that could be a metaphor for animals of other sorts.

18. Taxi cabs - The Bone Collector, 1999

I don't remember anything about this movie except that the killer, a rogue cab driver, replaces the locks on his car with knives so people can't get out. Every time I take a cab, I wonder, however briefly, if the stranger behind the wheel might perhaps want to see what the inside of my face looks like.
Universal Pictures / Via s.mcstatic.com

I don't remember anything about this movie except that the killer, a rogue cab driver, replaces the locks on his car with knives so people can't get out. Every time I take a cab, I wonder, however briefly, if the stranger behind the wheel might perhaps want to see what the inside of my face looks like.

19. Dating - Audition, 1999

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Do you know what's frightening? Allowing a stranger into your life. Yes, it's less terrifying when you call it "dating," but still. Do you ever really know the person you're letting into your heart and your home? Do they ever really know you? Oh well. At least you'll never be alone.

20. Hitchhikers - The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, 1974

The original film is a masterpiece or horror and dark comedy, telling the story of a family whose livelihood, butchery, has been rendered obsolete. So how do they hold on to what they know? By mimicking a typical nuclear family gathered around the table for supper in as grotesque and deranged a tableau as possible.

Add to that a hitchhiker who threatens a group of well-meaning young people for no reason other than, well, he wants to. In broad daylight. On their own turf. After they've invited him in.

21. Mirrors - Candyman, 1992

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Mirrors are an oft-used device in horror, playing on our fear that we can never truly trust what we see... and, worse, that the things we see really are right there, hovering just behind us in our reflection. Candyman throws a whole lot at you, but its enduring legacy is a game that involves a dark room, a mirror, and lots of emotional, if not literal, scarring.

22. Camp - Friday the 13th, 1980

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Going to summer camp can be an awkward, lonely experience --you're likely in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by people you don't know, missing the familiarity of your own bed and daily routine. What if you don't make any friends? What if the counselors ignore you? What if the boy who drowned in the camp lake and his grief-crazed mother go on a venge-fueled killing spree?

23. Sex - Pretty much every horror movie

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Never have sex in a horror movie. Never reach puberty in a horror movie. Never have a crush on anyone in a horror movie. Because you will die.

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