The Art of the Ease In: A Guide to Starter Horror

Ah, children. At some point, they’re going to ask, “Hey, when can I start watching R-rated movies?” A loaded question as the R rating comes in all shapes and sizes. More importantly, they’re going to ask, “When can I watch scary movies?” That’s a risky situation, as you don’t want to traumatize your child. However, I beg to differ that children can handle a good scare or two, and that it might be good for them.

I remember distinctly when I was nine. I was out on the playground, playing with my friends and my one friend was bragging about having seen all of the recent Saw movies. They sounded disgusting to my little younger brain, but with a quick ask to my mom–a lover of horror films–she disliked those movies but started to open the door a bit to horror movies. With the disgust came honest intrigue as well, so we tiptoed into the genre inch by inch with every PG horror movie we could find.

Here are my genuine tips to easing into the horror genre and either getting someone or even yourself to like the genre. I managed to turn my partner around, and since you’re reading this, my mom was also successful. This article is going to focus primarily on the beginning stages and is part one of a three-part series. You can find part two here and part three here.

WHen the Discussion comes up

Obviously, word of mouth is a powerful thing. You might hear the latest buzz about the newest horror sequel or your kids are hearing about their friends seeing these crazy movies, which are most likely watched behind parents’ back. There is an art to building up the tolerance to horror. One thing that has to come up first: you can turn it off at any time.

Children of The Damned
No, your children will not turn into this if you expose them to some scary movies.

Someone might feel the obligation to ‘be brave’ and tough it out during intense movies. The honest truth coming from a horror lover, sometimes people aren’t going to like horror. That’s completely okay, and you should never ridicule someone for being scared of something that is meant to be scary. If they feel forced to watch something, a point of contention and possible trauma forms. Nobody wants that. Sure, it’s funny to scare someone, but it should never get to a point where it’s too much for them.

Luckily, there are plenty of mildly scary movies–even PG horror films. Here is a general guide for easing in with some quintessential horror films that everyone should see when they are mentally ready for it. Another suggestion is to pair all of these movies with a cleanser movie–like a goofy comedy to brush off the intensity and send everyone to bed with good vibes. This first part will focus only on PG horror.

Spielberg Anyone? Start off with Jaws

Jaws is a classic film anyways, so everyone should and can watch this film. With four notably intense scenes–two of which contain jump scares–Jaws comes in as one of the less intense monster movies out there. With a captivating story and brilliant performances, the brutality of it all fades to the background during the majority of the film. While it is Spielberg’s big break, that magic touch that he usually has is not absent in this film in the slightest. It is the first blockbuster for a reason.

Behind The Scenes: JAWS ⋆ Film Goblin

However, it is definitely not for people who have a fear for the sea and sharks. The intense scenes will really trigger those phobias, leading to an unpleasant experience. A technique that can be helpful both in the moment and preemptively is adding some fun facts about the making of the movie. This helps encourage the background thought that what they’re watching on the screen is not real and will reduce the stress effects while watching the movie and afterwards. Here are twelve BTS facts that you can share with new viewers from our friends over at CinemaBlend.

DOubles as a Christmas FIlm: Gremlins

Another thing that can ease the mind of newcomers to the genre is a lot of comedy and a touch of cuteness. Gremlins does just that. Gizmo is absolutely adorable and easy to love, so the first thirty minutes set up a sneakily dark twist that can sneak up on parents who groups Gremlins with Beetlejuice and company. It’s a little more intense than a Tim Burton movie, but not as intense as a PG horror flick can get.

Gizmo: King of PG Horror

Sure, the ‘gremlin’ part of the movie AKA Stripe and his minions can be a little jarring compared to the lovable Gizmo–but the film is full of dark humor and a goofiness to the violence that it is sure to make the viewer laugh if you’re laughing with them. Gremlins is a cult classic for a reason and is one to break out during Christmas time when showing to a younger audience in case you need to break out Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer due to an accidentally traumatized kid–take heed and keep in tune with the emotions to be ready to turn off these seemingly tame scary movies at a moment’s notice.

Poltergeist: Spielberg taking the Back Seat

This film was my first horror film. It was many people’s first. Poltergeist tiptoes more towards a traditional horror movie than Jaws. This makes this film the gateway to the greater part of the genre and will promote a viewer to PG-13 films, which will be discussed in the next section. Poltergeist has two intense scenes in addition to its final fifteen minutes that is chock full of scares to push some boundaries.

This one sadly doesn’t have the happiest of facts to it, there was actually quite a lot of tragedy around the making of Poltergeist. However, this film is chock full of family values and has a certain warmth to it that carries it through the darkness of the subject matter. There is bits of humor and a lot of love between the characters that eases tensions when they’re needed. Overall, Poltergeist remains a tried and true classic and a rite of passage for new horror fans. I wrote a whole piece on the film as it celebrated its 30th anniversary last year, which you can check out here.

What’s Next?

That wraps the introduction and collective PG horror flicks to test the waters for someone new to the genre. As I can’t stress it enough, horror should be respected and appreciated by all, but one does not need to indulge in it if they are not into the feeling of getting scared. Horror movies function off adrenaline rushes. Some people aren’t into that sort of thing. Others might want to take a stab at it but haven’t had the priming of becoming a horror appreciator: acknowledging that it is all fake and all in good fun. Much like roller coasters, horror induces a shock that should follow with a flabbergasted chuckle.

The next part of this series will focus on the step into PG-13 territory and how to gradually ramp up to those classics that everyone knows and loves. The PG-13 section will include more modern films that aided me personally in my journey. I mean, look where I am now–I have reached the point where I think I’m qualified to give advice. Getting into horror should never be stressful. It should be fun.

Thanks for spelunking this void with me. If you’re new to the Void of Celluloid, welcome. Feel free to spelunk some other voids while you’re here and follow me on other platforms by clicking the buttons below. We post regularly and stay up to date about what’s going on in horror today, reflect on what went on yesterday, and plan for a better, horror filled tomorrow. See ya next time.

Stranger Things: Horror Movie References You Might Have Missed

It’s been three weeks since the release of Stranger Things 4. The show really shook the world and was the most important season–I mean, it put Kate Bush back on the charts (where she rightfully belongs). While the press time has seemingly passed, I wanted to discuss the horror references in the show. I also wanted to do this without giving spoilers way too early in the cycle, so here it is now.

Stranger Things - What You Missed

This season was a tad bit scarier that the seasons in the past. With that came more horror movie references that made my heart giddy. It was fun to pick these out and cheer when an homage was made, so why not share my list with the world and see if there was any you might have missed. Without further ado, here are five references you might have missed in Stranger Things 4.

Vecna’s Attacks: A Nightmare on Elm Street

Stranger Things - Vecna

The first episode traverses through the torment that Chrissy goes through. It is a no brainer that the way Vecna attacks and manipulates his victims is an homage to A Nightmare on Elm Street. This trance that those who are cursed go under emulates a dreamlike state that can be fully controlled by the gruesome ruler of the Upside Down. Vecna poses as people to get under the victim’s skin. He traps them in a mental cage. He changes the scene at will. All of these are tactics that Freddy pulls from time to time.

Freddy's arms stretching out : r/NightmareOnElmStreet

Vecna’s appearance almost reflects Freddy Krueger. The disfiguration caused to Henry is very similar to the burn marks and scars seen on the slasher villain. Mixed in is the brutality of the kill–another thing they seem to have in common. A Nightmare on Elm Street is famous for its notoriously gruesome kills and the style in which Vecna kills his victims could fit right in.

Victor Creel: Speaking of Nightmare

Speaking of Freddy Krueger, the man behind the burns makes an appearance in the “Dear Billy” episode. Instead of being the perpetrator this time, he acts as father of the perpetrator in a twist. Robert Englund delivers in the haunting role, sporting grueling eye prosthetics. It’s his story that pushes the narrative further into the question of who is Vecna and what does he want.

Despite Victor being a victim rather than a villain, there’s no denying he’s connected to it all. Unfortunately, he’s even confused as to how and why he was targeted, and the events ruin his life forever–leading to him gouging his eyes out in grief. It’s a monologue that will stick with you and ultimately propels the story, therefore a great use and nod to Robert Englund and his character’s influence on the Stranger Things bad guy.

Steve Pulled Under: Jaws

There was a lot of surprises this season, and “Watergate” was one of them. The newly opened gate is discovered by Steve in his deep dive down Lovers’ Lake. Covered with suspicious tentacles, its presence is as ominous as it is threatening. As he swims up to inform the group, we are greeted with a reference from the first blockbuster ever.

What Happened To The Girl From Jaws' Iconic Opening Scene?

First, he is pulled down quickly. Next, he bobs up to react. Suddenly the underwater beast pulls him into the depths and through the mouth of the gate. Steve’s abduction is quite reminiscent of the first kill in the Spielberg classic Jaws. The first jerk down is always the most terrifying. Seeing the panic in Steve’s eyes and the transition of confusion to terror in the rest of the group is what sells the scene. It acts as the perfect reintroduction to traversing through the Upside Down.

A Rope Between Two Dimensions: Poltergeist

Stranger Things - A Reference to Poltergeist
I Rewatched Poltergeist for Its 40th Anniversary and I Have Questions |

Speaking of Spielberg classics, he acted as producer for the next film referenced. After their adventures through the Upside Down and their brawl with the Demobats, the gang make the connection between the deaths and the gates. They meet up with the others in Eddie’s trailer and cook up a method of escape.

This method of escape emulates a very iconic scene from Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist, which celebrates its fortieth anniversary this year. The rope that they throw up into the other dimension has the same kind of effect and look as the one used by the mother to save Carol Anne. Paired with the same emotional feeling of reuniting only for something terribly wrong to ruin it, it’s impossible to deny this is a Poltergeist reference.

Eddie and a Spider’s Form: It

Stranger Things - Eddie Munson

Finally, the number one comparison to Stranger Things is IT. Their similarity to each other is the reason for comparison, in which the series’ fourth installment further emphasized. The number one thing to bring up–even though it saddens me beyond belief–is the death of Eddie. It is general knowledge that IT packs an emotional punch with the death of their Eddie, and the Duffer Brothers decided to take that in the same direction. Eddie Munson died a hero and so did Eddie Kaspbrak.

We also got the tidbit of information that Vecna was behind the Mind Flayer. More importantly, he made it in the form of a spider due to his fascination with spiders. A spider form is kind of the butt of the joke in regard to the IT miniseries, as it is the “ultimate” form of the alien in the final battle. So, the comparisons to IT took on rather ironic levels in the season’s big plot twist.


This season was a wild ride and climbed the list to be my second favorite season of the show. I hope you enjoyed it as well and are hopefully exiting your mourning period for fictional characters. We have to wait two more years for the Stranger Things series finale, but in the meantime, let me know if there were any references that I might have missed or if there is anything you’re looking forward to next season. You can watch Stranger Things here on Netflix.

Anyways, thanks for spelunking this void with me. If you’re new to the Void of Celluloid, welcome. Feel free to spelunk some other voids while you’re here and follow me on other platforms by clicking the buttons below. We post regularly and stay up to date about what’s going on in horror today, reflect on what went on yesterday, and plan for a better, horrific tomorrow. See ya next time.