A few months ago I gave some tips on how to handle new horror fans with care. But what if this new horror fan is your child? Well, that changes things up a bit.
Horror is bombarded with bloody scenes, sex scenes and bloody sex scenes, so depending on your kid’s age, a lot of the genre is inappropriate. Finding the right starting point is difficult with what’s currently being released, but there’s hope.
If your spawn is too young to remain interested in a feature-length movie, TV shows are the way to go. Some kids are more sensitive than most, so introducing them to monsters through the old Scooby-Doo cartoons can be a way to ease them in without frightening them away. If your kid is tougher than others, however, I’d recommend jumping straight to the scary stuff.
Courage the Cowardly Dog, which is currently streaming on Netflix, is a satisfying introduction. It has some comedic elements, but the foundation of each episode is downright creepy. The infamous “King Ramses’ Curse” episode was known to have given kids nightmares back in the day, but there’s also lighthearted content to balance it out.
Everyone mentions Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Goosebumps, but one show no one seems to talk about is Truth or Scare. This early millennium Discovery Channel series, which lasted only 20 episodes, laid its foundation in history. Horror host Michelle Trachtenberg would entertain kids with talks of famous “witches” or how the legend of Dracula came to be, among other things. While it’s up to one to decide if the supernatural elements brought up are true, there are actual facts to be learned from the show. It’s eerie and educational.
Once you feel that your child is at the age where they can pay full attention to a movie, the doors open significantly wider. Your best bet is to start with showing them a movie that has horror elements but isn’t necessarily horror. However tame Disney might be, they have a great selection. Hocus Pocus and Halloweentown are absolute classics. They’re goofy to a degree, but that’s what makes them work so well for such situations.
Sometimes starting a child’s love for horror isn’t necessarily about showing them someone getting stabbed a million times over. All you need is that special spark that they’ll keep revisiting as they grow older. This is why Edward Scisssorhands and Beetlejuice stuck with me so much. The humor was dark and the fashion was gothic. I was in awe of this macabre reality which was so different from the world around me.
And hell, if you’re comfortable with showing your child some of the PG-13 and R-rated flicks out there, by all means, go ahead. I discovered such films at a young age, and I honestly don’t feel like it had a negative impact. The only way it changed me was that I knew about some things my classmates didn’t. Plus, I got to say that I saw some pretty damn good movies.
If none of this works, your kid simply might not like horror, and that’s okay. They’re still your kid after all.
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