Common Phobias and Horror Movies That Trigger Them
You’re settling in for an unsettling Halloween movie marathon, but you and your friends can’t agree on what to watch. Someone doesn’t like excessive gore, another pal might squirm at the sight of zombies. But do they have a true phobia?
We are all afraid of something (don’t lie, we’re sure you’re very brave otherwise) but if you have a phobia, it is considered an extremely irrational and disproportionate fear to a specific category of stimulus. You might not know why, but your whole body can react in extremes to a deep-rooted phobia. Fear of heights, fear of tight spaces, you know many of the most common ones. Experiencing a phobia is an astronomical degree of terror.
Horror films like to play with their prey and some people get a thrill from their chills, but if you find yourself with clammy hands, a racing heart, and a genuine aversion to certain intense subjects, you might want to avoid these particularly prickly flicks.
Arachnophobia – Fear of Spiders
Film to Avoid: Arachnophobia
Let’s start with a no-brainer. The film Arachnophobia is a 1990 horror comedy film centered on the fear of spiders. Whether or not you’re regularly afraid of the lone eight-legged freak (different movie!) in your home, the sight of a spider nest hatching with hundreds of small arachnids can horrify even the most hardened heart. No amount of levity can balance the way this film preys on popular theory that dangerous foreign spiders are waiting to sneak home with unsuspecting international travelers. Add in spider venom, mortuary madness, and spider hatchlings eating someone whole, and you’ve got a recipe for absolute trauma. Yeah, we’re shuddering just writing this.
Coulrophobia – Fear of Clowns
Film to Avoid: IT
If you remember the summer of 2016 fondly, it’s probably because your brain blocked out that weird plague of mysterious forest clowns. (Yes, really. Look it up.) But if you have coulrophobia, you don’t find anything funny about these jolly jokesters, whether or not they are offering you balloons and smiling with rows of pointed teeth. The acclaimed horror novel IT has had several adaptations over the years, bringing us terrifying renditions of Pennywise the Dancing Clown — not the one true form of IT, which is known as the Deadlights, but clearly the one that elicits the most fear from children of all ages. Tim Curry or Bill Skarsgård? Either way you slice it, these two are guaranteed to send in the frowns.
Trypanophobia – Fear of Injections
Film to Avoid: Re-Animator
Re-Animator is another horror comedy, this time churning the stomachs of the medically averse. Trypanophobia is usually described as the fear of injections, but can also largely refer to needles or being pierced in general (but it doesn’t account for knife-based stabbings — this is for tiny pricks like a hypodermic). If you can’t even watch someone else take the jab, you’re going to want to skip the Miskatonic misadventures of Herbert West, because he uses glowing needles to stick corpses full of all sorts of experimental serums in an attempt to, well, reanimate them. There are a lot of needles in this movie, so you’re better off sticking with something else for Halloween night.
(We also recommend avoiding Saw II and its dreaded needle pit trap.)
Pediophobia – Fear of Dolls
Film to Avoid: Child’s Play
There are an upsetting amount of creepy dolls in horror fiction, from Talky Tina to Annabelle. Dolls can ignite the sensation of the uncanny valley in people, because they look like familiar human shapes but are inanimate. Usually. But the franchise that keeps the killer toys coming year after year is Child’s Play (or as everyone calls it, Chucky). Putting a serial killer inside of a Good Guys doll is bad enough, but as the franchise continues, we get the Bride and the Seed — with the addition of Tiffany and Glen to complete the fun-time family. They walk, they talk, they do it all, especially commit a lot of murders. Nightmare fuel for anyone who can’t stand the sight of any type of person-like plaything.
Ophidiophobia – Fear of Snakes
Film to Avoid: Anaconda
If you’ve simply had it with these snakes on this plane (or in your favorite films) then you might have ophidiophobia, the extremely common fear of snakes. In Anaconda, a poacher sets out to track down a record-breaking green anaconda to capture it and bring it back from the Amazon. Of course, in a horror adventure movie this goes about as well as you can expect, and the particularly sensitive will definitely want to avert their eyes for the aforementioned anaconda swallowing people whole, attacking with its immensely powerful body to strangle and crush people (as this variety of snake is part of the boa family). Snakes … why did it have to be snakes?
Cynophobia – Fear of Dogs
Film to Avoid: Cujo
This one goes further than being a cat person instead of a dog person. Many people with cynophobia have had a traumatic experience with a canine sometime in their lives, and so it’s only fair that they would want to avoid depictions of animal cruelty. That is, cruelty perpetrated by animals. Another Stephen King adaptation on the list, Cujo is about a St. Bernard bitten by a rabid bat quickly becoming murderous and attacking a mother and son as they are trapped in a Ford Pinto. He mauls a number of victims before being put down, but even if you don’t have a deep fear of dogs, this one can make an uncomfortable watch for animal lovers.
Bonus: Samhainophobia – Fear of Halloween
Film to Avoid: Trick ‘r Treat
You thought we were going to say Halloween, didn’t you? While that may seem the obvious choice for Samhainophobia (pronounced saa-wn-o-phobia), anyone who has seen the hit anthology story Trick ‘r Treat knows that little Sam is particularly punishing towards those who disrespect the hallowed traditions of the eve. With its many explorations of Halloween celebration, from parties in the woods to carving jack-o-lanterns, Trick ‘r Treat is top to bottom the embodiment of modern Halloween. And if you don’t want to play along, it’s best not to let Sam and his sharp-as-a-knife lollipop know. After all, the film opens up with the consequences of not getting in the spirit of the season (and spoiler, it’s not as sweet as you might think).
There are plenty of other phobias out there that make it difficult to enjoy the spooky season, including nyctophobia (fear of the dark), necrophobia (fear of death), wiccaphobia (fear of witches), and somniphobia (fear of sleep — you can thank Freddy Krueger for that one). While everyone is entitled to one good scare for Halloween, you should never seriously distress yourself for the sake of a film marathon.
That said, are there any horror films you refuse to watch? Any that you love more than anything else? Don’t forget to Let Your Geek Sideshow and tell us in the comments!
There’s a chill in the air. The leaves tremble in a skeleton dance and shadows seem just a little darker. Channel the spirits and revel in Sideshow’s Spooktacular 2021 — a celebration of all things sinister, scary, and downright spoopy.
Join us from October 25-31 by visiting side.show/spooktacular and don’t forget — Sleep is for the weak!