Every horror fan has been there. You’re sitting down with your family to watch a movie and it’s your turn to pick. Or maybe they’re trying to finally show an interest, as they put it, in the things you like. You already know you’re going to pick horror. If they want to partake, good for them, but you’re going to watch the kind of film that you want to watch.
But you’re also put on the spot. Your horror viewing will be monitored—and, let’s face it, judged—by your parents. You have to watch something that they can get behind. One of those magical “I don’t like horror, but” movies. Everyone has their but. There’s always one feature that maybe your parents saw in their youth or that was so critically acclaimed they couldn’t turn up their nose at it.
These suggestions fall into both categories somewhat. Either way, I’m here to save you with a selection of six horror movies you’ll be able to watch with your parents when put on the spot like this. Things they can’t possibly argue with. Although they probably will anyway.
OK, people will say it’s more thriller than horror but it’s still pretty horrific. Plus, you can use that. As much as it may make you cringe on a normal day, now you can use the “It’s really more of a thriller” argument to your advantage. Misery is an extremely well-made, high profile classic with excellent performances. Better yet, you’re making them watch a Stephen King movie and they’re probably going to love it. Just don’t use it as a springboard to move onto Maximum Overdrive next.
This really is a stand-in for all of the old Universal monster movies. Most of them will work here. They’re old, classic cinema. They’re all pretty tame. They all feature great monsters and great performances. Frankenstein is the one I picked because it’s the Universal classic I happen to like best. Even though you can watch it with your parents, it never sacrifices the horror. It’s actually pretty dark.
Poltergeist is a great horror movie. There are some incredibly scary sequences in it. But it’s also a Spielberg film at its core. Family comes first here, and that’s what makes it a perfect happy medium. It’s pure family oriented horror and one that both you and your parents can enjoy on the same level.
Gremlins is a similar concept as Poltergeist although it’s moved a little further in the family-oriented direction. Still, it’s a family film, a comedy, a horror feature and an adventure all rolled into one. It’s your favorite genre along with any other genre they could have picked, which makes it a natural choice.
It seems strange to watch such a gruesome movie with your parents, but it’s okay. Like most of the world, they have blinders for this particular feature. They don’t see the woman-skin suit or Hannibal Lecter wearing a man’s face, they see the film that swept the Oscars and took home all five of the top awards. That’s fine. Use that. They won’t talk about how gory what you’re watching is, for once, and you’ll have an excuse to watch Silence of the Lambs again.
Psycho seems like a perfect choice for me. What are they going to do, tell you it’s a bad movie? It’s so perfectly done, it’s virtually bloodless—and even when there is blood, it’s chocolate syrup—and yet never once lets up on the scares. It’s so incredibly well made that, honestly, I’m hoping that just about everyone who watches it is going to see that, no matter who they are.