WHEN I WAS LITTLE: Mermaids, wizards, Borg terrified reporters as children

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The DVD cover for the first “Harry Potter” film.

“The Prisoner of Azkaban”

Almost all American children enjoy the Harry Potter series. But I am not one of them.

In fact, as a seven-year-old, the Harry Potter series used to be the bane of my existence. They are the reason that I still quiver in fear while watching a horror movie. I first watched these utterly scarring movies, which still give me nightmares, seven years ago.

Every Harry Potter movie terrified me; however, it was “The Prisoner of Azkaban” that completely destroyed my liking for Harry Potter.

What scared me the most about “The Prisoner of Azkaban” was the dementors. Dementors are monstrous creatures that appear for no reason, and drain peace, hope and happiness from those around them.

The music also played a role.

In one situation, I thought that dementors were real and would feast off my happiness at night. This certainly caused more than a few sleepless nights for me.

That too, because the production was able to effectively create animations that pop-out and change the lighting by dimming the background, the movie seemed to darken as if the viewer was in a haunted house.

Similar to the Prisoner of Azkaban, “The Goblet of Fire” scarred me in a lot of ways.

In this movie, Harry reaches a point of near death after getting chosen by the Goblet of Fire to participate in the Triwizard Tournament.

As each challenge goes by, Harry Potter almost dies, either by the hedges that he barely gets by, or by facing challenges that are tougher and tougher.

As Harry Potter faces near-death in all these challenges, I was so frightened that I felt like screaming so loud that I would break the windows.    

Because the movie’s special effects were so effective in portraying this scene, I thought, “Harry is going to die!”

After almost witnessing a death of a fictional character that I thought was real, I decided to never watch Harry Potter ever again!

—By Keshav Anand


“The Little Mermaid”

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The DVD cover for Disney’s animated “The Little Mermaid.”

The Disney Princess movies are the pinnacle of sweet, heartfelt, do-good animation, perfect for young girls because of their strong female characters and triumphant happy-ever-afters. Right?


The first time I watched “The Little Mermaid” at 5 years old, I was terrified.

It wasn’t the sight of the tentacled sea witch Ursula or her eel henchmen, Flotsam and Jetsam. It was the storm.

And not even the storm during the final battle, in which we see Ursula, in all her queenly glory, get skewered on the prow of a ship by Prince Eric.

Nope. The storm in the beginning.

For some reason, the sight of Eric and his men at the mercy of towering, violent ocean waves inspired a fear so strong, I couldn’t continue to watch the movie. I never got to the part where Ariel saved Eric until a good five or six years later.

As someone who’s now a dedicated fan of horror movies, thrill rides and the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series, I find the story hard to believe. But I have a very vivid memory of sobbing and screaming, “I don’t want to watch it! Turn it off!” while my mother tried to comfort me.

Coincidentally, I read Hans Christian Andersen’s original fairy tale before watching the Disney movie in full, and it’s undeniably darker. Ariel obtains her legs at the cost of not only losing her voice but feeling the sensation of walking on knives with every step. And there’s no happy ending. The prince marries the other girl, and instead of killing him to save herself, Ariel chooses to dissolve into sea foam.

Looking back, I think it was the original fairy tale that convinced me the movie wasn’t as horrifying as I’d once thought. Thanks for curing me, Hans.

—By Sahej Claire 


“Star Trek: First Contact”

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The promo picture for “Star Trek: First Contact.”

“Star Trek: First Contact,” which came out in 1996, is a movie in which the villainous Borg go back in time to assimilate Earth after the Third World War. The crew of the Enterprise, the main ship in the series, follows them back in time to prevent this, but is infected by the Borg along the way.

The Borg are a cyborg collective all connected by a hive mind that fly around in gigantic cubes as their space ships. They go from planet to planet integrating life into their collective by turning that life into cyborgs.

Whenever they hail someone, they would say, “We are the Borg. Your biological and technological distinctiveness will be added to our own. Resistance is futile.”

As an 8-year-old, this mantra terrified me.

Whenever I bring this up with friends, they say, “Wow, you were such a scaredy-cat!”

To justify my long nights of staying up staring into the dark corners of my room for a week after watching the movie, here is some background.

As a young child, I not only watched the Borg destroy a lot of human starships while suffering little to no damage itself, but also saw the scary assimilation scenes.

The Borg would start by injecting people with nano-probes, discoloring their skin. Soon after they would amputate a limb and replace it and an eye with cybernetic implants. Once the nano-probes took over completely, the victim’s hair would fall out, marking the end of assimilation.

This transition into a part of the collective was the scariest part. Most of the crewmembers who were assimilated had already had screen time as people. But once they had been assimilated, they were a different person. This person who had been funny or quirky was now just a mindless drone connected to the hive-mind.

I didn’t watch this movie again for years afterward. When my family members watched it, I would hide in my room. When I was 14, I finally grew the nerve to take another look.

While I was still scared to death, I only stayed up for two nights instead of the whole week!

Go ahead and poke fun all you want, but just imagine watching this as an impressionable 8-year-old.

Scary, right?

—By Spencer Scott

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