Andree Honore (Jackie), Debra De Liso (Kim) and Michele Michaels (Trish) in a scene from 'The Slumber Party Massacre.' Jackie is a Black teen girl with long, natural hair wearing a white sleeveless nightgown. Kim is a blonde teen girl in a tank top. Trish is a white teen girl with curly brown hair wearing a jersey with blue sleeves. They are standing huddled together in a kitchen all holding large knives.

The Big Baby’s Guide To Enjoying Horror Movies

I started October 2023 as a self-professed “Big Baby” about horror movies. Then I held my Big Baby Horror Fest, choosing 31 horror movies I’d never seen and watching one a day for 31 consecutive days. And wouldn’t you know it, I found myself falling in love with horror.

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Here’s some stuff to keep in mind when approaching horror as a Big Baby. You might find yourself falling in love with the genre too!

Give your opinion of horror a chance to evolve along with you

My most harrowing horror experiences happened when I was a kid. Certain movies, like A Nightmare on Elm Street and Carrie, I saw way too young. Even after seeing The Ring in theaters on Halloween as a full-ass adult, I couldn’t bear to turn on the TV when I got home because I was sure Samara was gonna get me.

I’d held onto the narrative that “horror isn’t my thing” for some time. Everything changed in October, when I mainlined films with varying degrees of gore, creepy imagery, and psychological depth. I realized that none of this is negatively affecting me! That surprised me!

This Big Baby is in her 40s now. I’ve lived through plenty of real horrors simply existing in the world, so maybe it’s just that “horror films” now seem quaint by comparison. But tastes change when we get older. As a kid, I hated spinach. Now, it’s my favorite leafy green!

I used to think horror wasn’t my thing, but I’ve learned that it’s an awesome genre through which we can examine our most visceral and important human experiences.

Horror has something for everyone.

Adrienne King as Alice in a scene from 'Friday the 13th.' She is a white teen girl with short red hair wearing a long-sleeved white shirt that's been torn in a fight. She's sleeping in a canoe out on a lake with her arm dangling in the water.
(Friday the 13th, Paramount Pictures)

Watching one film every day for a month really drove home the idea that “horror has something for everyone.” We all have preferences, but saying “I don’t like horror” is as silly as saying “I don’t like drama” or “I don’t like comedy.” It might not be your go-to genre, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t specific titles to love.

I learned that, while I tend to prefer psychological horror about topics like grief, mental illness, or family (a la The Babadook), I also enjoy a good, silly slasher like The Slumber Party Massacre or Friday the 13th! I was also pleasantly surprised when some of the “sillier options” ended up making statements underneath all the camp.

Slumber Party Massacre was written by Rita Mae Brown (Rubyfruit Jungle), and directed by Amy Holden Jones (Mystic Pizza), giving all the female nudity and the male killer’s phallic weapon of choice (a huge power drill) a queer, feminist vibe.

Meanwhile, I’d heard so much about Jason Voorhees through cultural osmosis, but—SPOILER ALERT FOR A 43-YEAR-OLD-MOVIEFriday the 13th isn’t even about him. It’s about a mom getting revenge on horny teenagers at a summer camp! Years ago, some counselors were so horny they weren’t paying attention and her son drowned! I wasn’t expecting such poignant motivation, nor that the whole franchise started with a mother’s grief.

International horror is awesome!

South Korean zombie film Train to Busan was one of my favorites and one of the best zombie stories I’ve experienced in any language. The Mexican film Tigers Are Not Afraid floored me with its beauty. Not only is it elegantly told from the point of view of children, but it’s clear that writer/director Issa López respects the experience of childhood.

The five young protagonists of 'Tigers Are Not Afraid' (four boys, one girl in the center) stand together in front of a larger group of boys behind them. All of them are Mexican.
(Tigers Are Not Afraid, Videocine)

Neither of those stories would’ve been told the same way had they been American films. Watching these movies, along with Huesera, Cronos, Julia’s Eyes, Piggy, Attachment, and even Ginger Snaps and The Babadook (English-language films from Canada and Australia, respectively) showed me the possibilities of horror when using familiar genre tropes while leaning into specific cultural elements.

You might be a Big Baby about American horror films, but another culture’s POV might give you the distance you need to handle horror differently.

Big Baby Horror Fest 2023 Selections

Below is the final list of films I watched for my 31-day Big Baby Horror Fest. They’re divided into “Loved,” “Mid,” and “Boo,” indicating the movies that were great, just okay, and “horrors” because they were bad.

Each gets a short review and a rating using the Baby Bottle system for quality, and the Axe system for how disturbing it might be for a Big Baby.


Gong Yoo in a scene from the fllm 'Train to Busan." Yoo is a Korean man with dark hair that hangs in his eyes. He's wearing a white buttondown that is splattered with blood. His face is also sweaty and splattered with blood as he seriously looks over his shoulder while standing on a train with other frightened Koreans.
(Train to Busan, Next Entertainment World)

TRAIN TO BUSAN (2016) – One of the best zombie stories I’ve seen with characters I deeply cared about.
5 baby bottles / 1 axe

MIDSOMMAR (2019) – Succeeds where Hereditary failed as an exploration of grief and mental illness.
5 baby bottles / 2 axes (two instances of shocking violence)

TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID (2017) – A beautiful, heartbreaking story that doesn’t sugarcoat children’s trauma.
5 baby bottles / 1 axe (add an axe if you’re sensitive to children being killed/in danger)

THE BABADOOK (2014) – A compelling story about the complexities of motherhood and of being a child with an emotionally unavailable parent.
5 baby bottles / 2 axes (unsettling bedtime imagery, child in danger)

GINGER SNAPS (2000) – Quality werewolf outsider story with a strong sister relationship at its center.
4 baby bottles / 1 axe

SAW (2004) – I’d remained spoiler-free since 2004, so this film’s execution and twist were impressive!
4 baby bottles / 1 axe

PIGGY (2022) – An emotionally harrowing, but super-satisfying fat girl revenge tale.
4 baby bottles / 2 axes (less about “scary” imagery and more about traumatic bullying and abduction)

THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972) – Despite being Wes Craven’s first movie, and being so ‘70s, it’s incisive and brilliant.
4 baby bottles / 3 axes (brutal violence/sexual assault surprisingly not exploitative, but make it a hard watch)

THE EXORCIST (1973) – The template for how to tell a grounded, mature horror story.
4 baby bottles / 2 axes (add an axe if you’re Christian and would find crosses used in gross ways disturbing)


Image of Megan Fox as Jennifer in a scene from 'Jennifer's Body.' She is a white teen girl with long black hair hovering over a dilapidated swimming pool that's filled with algae and has the word "Hopeless" written in red spray paint on one end behind her. She's all wet and wearing a black and white prom dress that's covered in blood.
(Jennifer’s Body, 20th Century Studios)

JENNIFER’S BODY (2009) – SO fun, well-written, beautifully performed, and so randomly queer.
3 baby bottles / 1 axe

ATTACHMENT (2022) – A queer love story woven into an intriguing horror story from a Jewish POV.
3 baby bottles / 1 axe

THE FLY (1986) – This movie knows exactly what it is, and gets right to it with tight storytelling and great performances.
3 baby bottles (could’ve been four, but Geena Davis’ character is so poorly written) / 2 axes (I have a high tolerance for gross, but if you don’t, be warned that this movie is so gross)

M3GAN (2022) – So much fun, but made me want to shake Allison Williams’ character for how terrible she is with kids.
3 baby bottles / 1 axe

FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980) – This paint-by-numbers slasher ended up having more emotional depth than expected.
3 baby bottles / 1 axe

THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE (1982) – A campy slash-fest that made me think more than I anticipated.
3 baby bottles / 1 axe

HELLRAISER (1987) – Julia’s the worst. What the hell is that thing with no gums? How was that unhoused dude a DRAGON?! I NEED TO KNOW!
3 baby bottles / 2 axes (this movie is non-stop gross)

X (2022) – Really enjoyable, but something is missing. A movie that could’ve been great is just okay.
3 baby bottles / 1 axe

SCREAM 5 (2002) – A great, meta “requel” in a beloved franchise.
3 baby bottles / 1 axe

Joely Richardson (Starck) and Lawrence Fishburne (Miller) in a scene from 'Event Horizon.' Starck is a white woman with blonde wavy hair wearing a green jumpsuit uniform. Miller is a Black man with closely cropped black hair and also wearing a green jumpsuit uniform. He is partly shielding her face as they both look up at something frightening.
(Event Horizon, Paramount Pictures)

EVENT HORIZON (1997) – Entertaining sci-fi horror that does right by both genres.
3 baby bottles / 2 axes (more grossness)

FREAKS (1932) – A classic for outsiders and for disability representation, but also a slog to get through.
2 baby bottles / 0 axes

JULIA’S EYES (2010) – An interesting premise with a visually-impaired protagonist navigating a series of murders, but felt weirdly ableist, too?
2 baby bottles / 1 axe

SMILE (2022) – A creepy film that just made me angry about how we handle mental illness in this country.
2 baby bottles / 2 axes (self-harm while possessed is a particular kind of disturbing)

THE DESCENT (2005) – What starts as a decent, all-female story is ruined by a stupid argument over a dude.
2 baby bottles / 1 axe

BLACULA (1973) – An interesting take on Dracula, but a slog despite the amazing 1970s fashions.
2 baby bottles / 1 axe

CRONOS (1993) – This is Guillermo del Toro’s first feature film, and it shows.
2 baby bottles / 1 axe

HUESERA: THE BONE WOMAN (2022) – An interesting look at the hardships of motherhood that’s muddled by disparate horror elements.
2 baby bottles / 1 axe (add an axe if the sound of bones cracking/breaking skeeves you out)

A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS (1987) – The film’s promising premise is executed so poorly.
2 baby bottles / 1 axe


Toni Collette as Annie in 'Hereditary.' Annie is a white woman with shoulder-length strawberry blonde hair wearing a light blue buttondown over a white shirt. She is looking at something with a horrified expression on her face.
(Hereditary, A24)

HEREDITARY (2018) – God, this story is stupid. I resent that this movie has imagery creepy enough to make it hard for me to sleep.
1 baby bottle / 3 axes (self-inflicted harm, creepy naked people, people crawling on walls)

WHO INVITED THEM? (2022) – The true horror is how insufferable every character is in this movie.
1 baby bottle / 0 axes

RE-ANIMATOR (1985) – Despite being “set in modern times,” it still feels infuriatingly like a Lovecraft story set in 1920-whenever-the-f*ck and doesn’t update the source material’s gender politics or science.
1 baby bottle / 2 axes (Gross body horror and sexual assault…played for laughs?)

THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA (2019) – Boring and ridiculous, and the “La Llorona” legend can’t really sustain a horror movie.
0 bottles / 1 axe (add an axe if you’re sensitive to seeing children lying dead)

Feel free to check out my in-the-moment Big Baby Horror Fest reviews on TikTok!

(featured image: New World Pictures)

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Image of Teresa Jusino
Teresa Jusino
Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.