Top 5: Influential Movies from Childhood

My very first blog was a little slice of nostalgia — a story about how creative mediums influenced my young brain.

After posting that blog, I was scrolling through other blogs and found one that listed the author’s top five video games from childhood (and I forgot to bookmark that blog or even read it, for which I am very sorry because it would be cool to add a link to it here. Yikes), and it seemed like a fun post to write.

I tried to start this post writing about video games, but could not stop thinking about movies from childhood. Maybe it has something to do with my last post being about a recent movie… In any case, here we are.

Video games. Books. Movies. Each had such a big impact on me growing up, for various reasons. I think movies are probably just the easiest to remember and discuss. These really won’t be in any particular order

Let’s dive in!

1. The Great Mouse Detective (1986)

gmdposterThe Great Mouse Detective is an animated Sherlock Holmes-type mystery/comedy with animals. It was adapted from the children’s book series Basil of Baker Street by Eve Titus. The story centers around Basil, the mouse detective, trying to rescue an old toymaker and arrest the villain Professor Ratigan, who plots to take over England.

I have not seen this animated film in many, many years. Probably not since I was a child, actually. But there are scenes from this movie that have stuck with me since, such as the peg-legged bat kidnapping the toymaker. Or the climax where Basil and Ratigan face off on the airship/the Big Ben clock tower.

Why do I feel this movie influenced my childhood? It’s all about the mystery.

This movie provided me with one of my earliest exposures to the genre of mystery, and it was love at first sight. As I have grown and consumed many forms of entertainment, I have learned that the element of mystery is one I have been drawn to consistently. And it started here. Sort of. Maybe.

Anyway, it was a good movie. Its childish spookiness captivated me and shaped my interests.

2. Happily Ever After (1990)


This animated film caused a whole lot of drama for being a self-proclaimed successor to Disney’s Snow White. The story takes place after the death of the Evil Queen in Snow White and follows Snow as she goes off to rescue the prince from the Evil Queen’s brother. Oh, and the “dwarfelles” accompany her.

I know it sounds ridiculous. I mean… it is. But it’s okay.

First of all, don’t judge a movie by its Rotten Tomatoes score (which I often look down upon with my nose held high. Is my taste bad or are their critics just a bunch of superhero movie circle jerkers?)

Second, I was actually OBSESSED with this movie when I was a kid. I lived for the drama. Particularly when the prince is transformed into some hobbled goblin thing, and when the prince is turned to stone by Lord Maliss (the brother).

I honestly can’t think of why this was influential. It’s just stuck with me throughout my life. I like to think it’s because of my naturally feminist way of thinking that roots for female dwarves and a female heroine. Something about seeing the male “hero” in trouble is so satisfying.

Admittedly, the writing for this seems rather lazy. But the nostalgia is so high, that I still enjoy this movie. You can find it on YouTube, but don’t tell anyone.

3. Adventures in Babysitting (1987)


I have to thank my cool older sister for this one. I’m pretty sure I would not have seen this if it weren’t for her.

The movie is set in Chicago and follows the adventures of a babysitter and her charges after an attempt to pick up a friend who is stuck downtown. Lots of crazy things happen and it’s fun to watch.

I liked this movie as a kid, and I love it as an adult. It has some good lines and exciting action. The little girl who is obsessed with Thor subverts every gender stereotype ascribed to little girls, and it’s awesome. Especially considering that this movie came out in the 80s.

Again, I think this movie is significant just for nostalgia’s sake. But I do notice a pattern of leading ladies also leading my list of memorable movies, which is something I take pride in.

It’s probably due to my deep-rooted issues with societal expectations of masculinity, but whatever.


4. Don’t Tell Mom the Baysitter’s Dead (1991)


A 17-year-old girl poses as a professional fashion designer to pay her family’s bills after their elderly babysitter dies suddenly. Involves a house of rowdy kids, a moody teen, and a clown truck that delivers hotdogs. Perfect.

I know. Another babysitter? Really? Accept that babysitters are cool and get over it. Plus Christina Applegate looks cool as hell in this movie. Also, the real babysitter dies, so it’s not really about babysitting. So. Calm down.

In doing this, I realize that my older sister influenced most of my top childhood movies. That likely has to do with them being my favorites, since she’s honestly the coolest. Besides, this movie is really good! I don’t give a damn about what anyone else says (looking at you, RT critics).

5. Scream (1996)


Sometimes I wonder why I have such a morbid sense of humor. Then I remember that I watched this goofy American slasher when I was eight years old.

The movie follows high school student Sydney Prescott as her sleepy hometown is struck by a series of murders.

There’s really a lot that I could say about this movie. I could dedicate a full blog to this movie, with the horror film cliches it subverts, such as the final girl element, and so on. But you’ve all probably stopped reading by now, so I’ll save it.

“But where were your parents?” you ask shockingly.

Dude, who knows? Scream was on the TV, and I sat, transfixed, watching every bloody second. I know how uncomfortable that sounds, but it’s true.

While I’m not professionally qualified to assess the level of damage this did to my young child self, I’m pretty sure it did quite a number. But it’s all good! I’m totally fine and sturdily hinged up there!

… But really, I love this whole series a lot. It introduced me to the horrors of death and sex at too young an age, sure. But it also held that element of mystery that I desperately love. The “whodunit” mystery was captivating to me. If I were to put this list in order, this movie would definitely be the number one influencer.

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If you’ve made it through my Top 5 list, congrats to you! Thanks for reading!

What are your thoughts on these movies? Love them? Hate them? Seen them?

— J. S.

4 thoughts on “Top 5: Influential Movies from Childhood

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