Childhood Horrors

Sometime ago in the mists of the last century, there were only three TV networks. On holidays, you usually had the choice of a football game, a different football game, or the longest movies the network could find – usually Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The Sound of Music.  Chitty, an overly technicolor musical, scared the daylights out of me. As soon as that Childcatcher came prowling, I was behind the sofa holding my breath. Today’s kids would just send his photo to Instagram and beat him up.

Children see things differently. Some are easily spooked, some are skeptical from birth. Kids misunderstand and misinterpret things, and that alone can create unfounded horror.

Obviously, most children’s films try to avoid horror, but what’s marketed to kids is not always Barney and Big Bird – few Grimm’s Fairy Tales end happily ever after. Poltergeist –  ghosts, demons, peeling faces, and evil clowns in child-swallowing glowing closets – was only rated PG. PG, because PG-13 hadn’t been invented yet.

Young Sherlock Holmes (the food nightmare) scarred one of my children; to this day she won’t eat cream puffs. Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks! and its disembodied heads was another. Another didn’t trust Nazgûl (nor should you), and was terrified by Matilda. The 1971 Alastair Sim animated A Christmas Carol, with its writhing starving waifs and the faceless, voiceless Ghost of Christmas Future taints every incarnation I’ve seen since.

If your child likes spooky things and wants to be a part of the Addams family, here’s a list of kid’s films – honest! – that just might give your kid the shivers. If you have a child with a more sensitive nature, you might want to wait a few years on these:

Toy Story – Oh, doll-headed spider and hook-bodied Barbie, how we hate you! You may be Pixar, but you’re scary!

Coraline – Creepy button-eyed fake parents trying to steal a child?  Hmm….

Labyrinth – Sure, we adore Bowie, but these are Muppets who steal babies, chase girls with drill bits with intent to kill, and drop people into pits lined with talking disembodied hands. ‘Nuff said.

Something Wicked This Way Comes – Disney likes to whistle and pretend this isn’t theirs, but Ray Bradbury didn’t edit the scariness out of his novel of two boys and an evil carnival run by Mr. Dark, complete with electrocutions and freakshow.

Who Framed Roger RabbitBut this is a comedy! you cry – and it is, until crying Toons get faced with The Dip. Be prepared for a talk on death.

Return to Oz – if the flying monkeys didn’t scare you, perhaps Dorothy’s electroshock treatments will.

Jumanji – sure, it’s a game, but a deadly one. Floors that swallow people are just some of the issues; the intensity and situations may be too much entirely for young viewers.

Harry Potter series – yes, the first one is a charming tale of an orphan boy who learns he’s a wizard, but the stories get darker, and major beloved characters start dying. By the third film, Voldemort is embodied evil and believably out to get Muggles. Like your child.

The Dark CrystalFraggle Rock it’s not. It’s a dark Muppet film with lots of dark themes. Preteens maybe, but there’s no Elmo to lighten it for the little kids.

Gremlins – another movie made before PG-13, so it was stuck with PG. Gremlins are cute little things until you feed them, and then they become psychopathic demons out to harm and kill.  If preteen horror films was a separate genre, this would be one of their cornerstones, along with perhaps The Witches, Watcher in the Woods, and Jaws (which is also only PG).

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory – let’s face it, Roald Dahl is almost never nice to children. Here alone, he sucks them up pipes, dumps them down garbage chutes, and has them cornered by very scary men in dark alleys asking them to sell their souls for money. But the crowning touch cited by many critics is the boat ride  scene, all psychedelic and threatening – but that’s the way it is in the book, too – a disorienting journey where everyone believes Wonka’s looney.

Every parent knows their child best. Some kids like a scary movie, some kids will wind up sleeping in your bed for a week with all the lights on. If your kid shows interest in scary movies, these might be a gentler introduction over, say, The Exorcist. Just be aware that even a seemingly wholesome, kid-marketed movie can have some really scary moments when you least expect it.

What’s Happening at Cheshire Library in November

Programs about Puppetry, Power, and Photographs are only Part of the Phenomenal Presentations you can Participate in at CPL in November!

ghostlyGhostly Photographs

Monday Nov 3, 2014, 7:00 –  8:30 PM

Julie Griffin, author of Ghostly Photographs: Ghost Stories You Can See with Your Own Eyes, (copies of which will be available for purchase on the night of the program) will tell the tales behind the very real “ghostly” photographs she has taken. Register on our website.

dvd1Tuesday Movie Matinees

Tuesdays at 1:00 PM

dvd2Tues Nov 4  – Saving Mr. Banks (2013 – 120 minutes)

dvd3Tues Nov 18 – The Pursuit of Happyness (2006 – 117 minutes)

Tues Nov 25 – Philomena (2013 – 98 minutes)

No registration required.

 Wrimo Write-In Wednesdays

Wednesday Nov 5 and Wednesday Nov 19, 2014, 5:00  –  9:00 PM

All NaNoWriMo and YWP participants are invited to Write-In Wednesdays on November 5 and November 19 from 5 – 9 pm. Drop by the Moss Room on the top floor for a dedicated space to write and rant as you strive to reach 50,000 words. The Library will supply power strips, scrap paper, and some resources for inspiration. Bring anything else you might need for an evening of high-velocity writing: laptops and power cords, tablets, typewriters, notebooks, etc. No registration required.


Rescue of the Bounty: Disaster and Survival in Superstorm Sandy

Thursday Nov 6, 2014, 7:00 –  8:00 PM

Michael J. Tougias, co-author of Rescue of the Bounty: Disaster and Survival in Superstorm Sandy will give a dramatic visual presentation about this event.   The tall ship Bounty, featured in the Marlon Brando classic movie Mutiny on the Bounty, sank in 2012 during a voyage from New London, CT, to St. Petersburg, FL.  The Captain and a crew member perished, but the Coast Guard managed to perform harrowing helicopter rescues to save the other fourteen sailors. Register on our website.

verneCheshire Cats Classics Club

Monday Nov 10, 2014, 7:00 PM  –  8:00 PM

The Cheshire Cats Classics Club meets once per month on a Monday evening. This month we are discussing Around the World in Eighty Days, the classic adventure novel by Jules Verne. Copies of the book are available to check out. Please register on our website.

The Power Within, Part I

powerThursday Nov 13, 2014, 6:00 –  8:30 PM

Join Cheshire resident Cindy Mazzaferro, Registered Physical Therapist, Master Reiki Practitioner, Motivational Speaker and Life Coach, for a presentation on how your thoughts affect you physically, mentally and emotionally and what you bring into your life. (This is Part I of a two part series.  Participants of this session will have the opportunity to attend a follow-up session, which will be presented at the library on Thursday, March 12, 2015, at 6:00 p.m.). Register on our website.

PUPPETRY DEMONSTRATION with the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry

puppetsSaturday Nov 15, 2014, 11:00 AM  –  12:00 PM

Ever wonder how puppets are made for movies like The Muppets, and how people are trained to perform with them?
Cheshire Public Library is proud to host a puppetry demonstration with graduate students enrolled in the University of Connecticut’s puppetry program in affiliation with the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry in Storrs, CT.  The students will demonstrate several of their own puppets, talk about the world of puppetry, and answer any questions you may have about puppetry and what it takes to become a professional puppeteer. This program is for ages 6 and up. Please register on our website.


Public Reception for Librarians Cindy Tencza and Sue Hartley

Monday Nov 17, 3:00 – 6:00 PM

Two long-time Children’s Librarians are retiring! Please join us at a public reception to help us say farewell to Head of Children’s Services Sue Hartley and Children’s Librarian Cindy Tencza.

arts-and-crafts-tableMaker Fun

Wednesday Nov 19, 4:00  –  6:00 PM

We’ll set up several seasonal crafting stations around the room and children will be able to make several art projects to take home with them at the end of the two hours. The framework of the program will be very loose, so children will be free to work at their own speeds and do only the crafting that interests them. Register on our website.

crystalFab Film Saturdays: THE DARK CRYSTAL

Saturday Nov 22, 2014, 2:00  –  4:00 PM

Travel back in time to the faraway planet of Thra. Cheer on the Mystics as they fight to overthrow the evil Skeksis and take back control of their planet! From the brilliant imagination of Jim Henson, this masterpiece of animation recounts the timeless tale of good vs. evil and has become a cult favorite of children and grown-ups alike! Running Time 1 hour, 33 minutes.  Rated PG.
NO REGISTRATION REQUIRED.  Feel free to bring your own snacks!