Everybody has one (or two). For me, it was the poster for the 1995 Clint Howard movie Ice Cream Man (pictured above), which freaked me out way more than it should have considering I was 11 years old at the time. Years later, I actually saw the movie, and realized it was really dumb. But Ice Cream Man and its bloody ice cream cone topped with human eyeballs still have an outsized hold on my imagination, all due to a briefly glimpsed image in the horror section of a video store.
I was—and still kind of am—embarrassed about this. But ScreenCrush’s Jacob Hall has reassured me that I am not alone by writing an article polling filmmakers and film writers about the movie posters, DVD, and VHS art (I have a similarly complicated relationship with the VHS for Motel Hell) that made a terrifying impression on them as a child. In the article, Hall argues that the decline of video stores and rise of Photoshopped poster art means that kids will no longer experience this scarring-but-essential first step on the road to horrorphilia. (In the article, many of the respondents describe being strangely drawn to the images that scared them, a sentiment I identify with as well.) So do your civic duty, horror fans, and leave some graphic box art lying around where children can find it. They’ll thank you eventually.