According to a recent study from Dartmouth Medical School, more than 2.5 million children between the ages of 10 and 14 have seen a (gasp!) R-rated movie. Not only that, some violent films like Blade, Hollow Man, and Bride of Chucky have "huge child audiences," although none of these movies were released within the last seven years (which begs the question: who the hell is still watching Bride of Chucky?). Researchers asked children if they had viewed various movies that had been released in the past few years and found that 12.5% of children had seen R-rated film with "the most extreme examples of graphic violence." Sadly, the researchers didn't ask children how they saw the films (in movie theaters, on DVDs with their parents, or on the internet) which would seem to be a huge factor in a study about what children are watching. [USA Today]
Oooh! Sharing time!
@braak: My friend came over to my house to watch The Ring (she's kind of a scaredy cat; she loves scary movies, but she will wrap herself into a little blanket burrito to watch them), and we went down into the basement where I could turn off all the lights and really freak her out (I was never scared by that movie, I just wanted to know way more about Sumara). So we turned it on and were watching that opening scene and in the part where the TV kept flipping on no matter how many times she tried to turn it off, the lights on the stairs flickered on and off a couple times. And we both paused, like, WTF?? and finally I kinda cautiously climbed the stairs and was like, "Uh, Mom?" and she cracked up laughing. Then I explained her timing to her and she laughed even harder. Seriously, it was really good timing.
The only movie that has ever really, really, really scared me (aside from ET which I still can't watch) was the TV miniseries of The Stand. I was about 9 or 10 when it came out, and I wasn't supposed to watch it, so, of course, I snuck into my parents' room and hid around the corner just in time to catch the scene where Randal Flagg approaches that sweet old black lady while she's playing guitar on her porch and her fingers start to bleed, and it freaked me the fuck out. So I screamed (oh-so-smoothly alerting my parents to my presence) and burst into hysterical tears, which gave me the hiccups. I fled back to my room, which was dark, and was curled up into a ball in bed crying and hiccuping and suddenly my Mom popped around the corner and yelled "Boo!" Which, of course, did nothing but make me cry even harder and start shrieking at her, "Why would you do that? Why would you do that???" And she started laughing and hugging me and explaining that she was trying to scare the hiccups out of me like, yeah, Mom that should definitly be the method you use at this point in time.
The next day it was pretty funny, but that was a rough night.
I was also freaked out when I was about 6 or 7 by seeing some of the final scenes of Silence of the Lambs totally out of context, which made me think that movie was very, very different from what it actually is until I was 14 and read the book. And then Arachniphobia which took my early childhood fear of spiders and turned it into a very, very severe phobia I struggle with to this day.
But I read my first Stephen King book (The Dead Zone) when I was 8 years old. I had no freakin' clue what was going on in it, but I loved it, so I kept at it (progressing to Thinner, then to some of his shorts, and finally, when I was around 11 or 12, to Misery, then The Shining, and then, at 13, IT and from there through the rest of his repertoire, which I've read in its entirety at least 2 times for each book at this point, more for some of them), and now I'm a total horror buff with nerves of steel.
Except for ET.