July 18, 2014 at 7:05 AM ET
Oh "Jaws," thanks a lot. The 1974 Peter Benchley novel and its 1975 hit movie taught us that swimming in the ocean equals human buffet for great white sharks. But it wasn't the first or the last movie to try to put a scary shine on ordinary things. Here are 7 films that gave us phobias. (Spoilers ahead.)
Scared us away from: Showers, motels in the middle of nowhere.
Even before "Jaws" made ocean water horrifying, "Psycho" gave us a complex about indoor water. Who wanted to take a shower the morning after watching Janet Leigh get stabbed in the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock classic? Baths looked a lot safer — until "Fatal Attraction" came along and ruined those, too.
Movie: 'Fatal Attraction'
Scared us away from: Affairs, bathtubs, owning a bunny.
Thinking of cheating? Sit down and watch "Fatal Attraction" first, buddy. Married Michael Douglas has a fling with Glenn Close, only to find she won't leave him, or his family, alone. RIP, pet bunny! Not only that, but just when you think he's drowned her in the bathtub, she rises up, knife in hand, only to be shot to death by his wronged wife (Anne Archer). So apparently bathtubs and showers are both terrifying. Just wash yourself with a rag on a stick.
Scared us away from: Banjo music, canoe trips.
"Dueling Banjos" is a wonderfully catchy instrumental, but just try and hear it without thinking of poor Ned Beatty squealing like a pig in the 1972 thriller "Deliverance." If you're ever in the woods and you hear those twangy notes that begin the famous duet, run like the wind and never leave civilization again.
Movie: 'The Ring'
Scared us away from: Videotapes, random phone calls, girls with long dark hair, televisions.
Hey, what's on this videotape? Think I'll just pop it in the VCR and see ... NO, NO, NEVER DO THAT! The 2002 film "The Ring" taught us that mysterious videotapes are cursed, and if you watch one, soon your phone will ring, with a voice telling you that you've got only seven days to live. Ditch your TV, too, because in a terrifying scene, evil Samara crawls right out of the set, her spooky, swaying hair as frightening as any special-effects job.
Movie: 'The Swarm'
Scared us away from: Bees.
Look, if we're honest, we never liked bees much before Irwin "Master of Disaster" Allen's 1978 movie "The Swarm" either. But this film convinced an entire generation that we were doomed, that killer bees were buzzing their way over and would be stinging us to death any moment now. "It is more than speculation," taunted the teaser, "It is a prediction." The movie is famously listed as one of the worst of all time, but the star-studded cast includes Henry Fonda, Michael Caine, Olivia De Havilland, Patty Duke, Fred MacMurray and more.
Movie: 'The Shining'
Scared us away from: Snowy hotels, Big Wheels, identical twins, garden mazes.
Where do we start with "The Shining"? Luxury hotels in the mountains seemed great, until Jack Nicholson started chasing his family around with murder on his mind. And his son Danny's Big Wheel seemed like a happy toddler toy, until he ran into a pair of scary twins with a bloody past. (See what they look like today!)
Scared us away from: TV static, swimming pools
Look Hollywood, enough is enough. It's one thing to scare us out of the ocean, but to frighten us away from pools and television, too? They're our comfort objects! Our well-deserved relaxation! In "Poltergeist," a staticky TV screen transmitted messages from a creepy dimension. And since the family's house was built on top of a cemetery, the characters soon found themselves swimming with rotting corpses and coffins. If there's one message we learned from the movies, it's gotta be this: Never immerse yourself in water, of any kind, ever.
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