While the fine details may change, the story remains the same.

You wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of someone screaming for their life. Alone and covered in sweat, you look around frantically, trying desperately to collect your thoughts. The screaming continues, and you think to yourself, "What is a six-year-old supposed to do about this?". Nevertheless, there you are, walking down the hallway as the screams grow louder and more panicked. You remember that your older brother had a couple of friends over to stay the night, but as you pass by his room and peek inside, it's empty. "Oh no! Could that be them screaming?", you think to yourself. As you get closer to the living room, you notice a strange glow permeating into the hallway. The screaming intensifies, almost too loud to handle. You cover your ears as you tiptoe to the edge of the hallway and slowly peek around. In an instant, that strange glow becomes a comforting beacon.

Inside the living room, you see your brother and his two friends huddled around the television, wide-eyed and watching intently as a masked maniac removes whatever limbs he pleases from helpless, scantily clad women and their beefcake, letterman jacket-wearing boyfriends. You just stand there staring, warmed by the light from the very beacon that you now recall has been calling for you as long as you can remember, unable to remove your virgin eyes from the unspeakable acts that you know you shouldn't be watching in the first place. You know you should turn around and climb back into your bed, but you don't.

Instead, this is a defining moment for you. It may take several years, maybe even a decade or more, for you to realize this amazing world of constantly evolving, endless entertainment that awaits, but even if you don't find it, it will find you. I plan to be the guide for my daughter in a few more years, whenever she's ready, and it's something that's often on my mind. Where do I start? What films are best to break the ice? At what age? I started young, but is that really what's best for my child? These are answers I'll have to find on my own, but regardless, I've decided to compile my own top 10 list of films that I think might put me on the right path, and may even inspire a few other parents along the way.

10. Ernest Scared Stupid (1991)

"Ernest P. Worrell is working as a garbage collector in a small Missouri town. Despite the warnings of superstitious local Old Lady Hackmore, he accidentally unleashes devious troll Trantor, a slimy creature confined under a tree for 200 years. Trantor changes some kids into wooden dolls and turns Ernest's dog, Rimshot, into a log. Ernest then teams up with Old Lady Hackmore to get rid of the beast and bring the victims back to life."

As far as seasonal, must-watch films go, Ernest Scared Stupid has been a long-time fixture in my family's household come Halloween. Obviously, having already been familiar with the earlier Ernest films, I could have watched this on repeat as a child, but what's surprising is how well it still holds up as an adult. I'd say I revisited it somewhere in my early 20s and could hardly believe it was the same film. It's a solid flick, with the perfect balance of scares and laughs for a kid (or adult), and a knack for perfectly encapsulating all that is Halloween.

Fun fact: The Chiodo Brothers who did the effects for the film also did Killer Klowns from Outer Space a few years before. They reused a couple of the klowns, transforming them into trolls for Ernest Scared Stupid.

9. The Addams Family (1991)

"When a man claiming to be Fester, the missing brother of Gomez Addams, arrives at the Addams' home, the family is thrilled. However, Morticia begins to suspect the man is a fraud, since he cannot recall details of Fester's life. With the help of lawyer Tully Alford, Fester manages to get the Addams clan evicted from their home. Gomez realizes the two men are conspiring to swindle the Addams fortune and that he must challenge Fester."

As one of the more iconic families not only in horror history, but in television history, it's no surprise that The Addams Family makes the cut. While not full-on horror, they're clearly modeled after the classics, with obvious nods to Frankenstein's monster and Vampira, yet are light-hearted enough to appeal to younger audiences. "They're creepy and they're kooky" is actually the perfect description, as they mastered blending both together so well. As dark as it could be at times, I don't recall the original TV show ever actually scaring me as a kid, nor the film adaptations. I was around 7 years old when the first film was released and fondly remember seeing it in a theater when it came out. I loved everything about them and still do. Come to think of it, there's a good chance they're the inspiration for my insistence on exclusively being a little goth vampire from approximately ages 5 to 8. They're the perfect American family, and while many families may appear more normal than the Addams clan, they probably have many more skeletons in their closets, figuratively speaking, of course.

8. Monster House (2006)

"No adults believe three youths' assertion that a neighboring residence is a living creature that means them harm. With Halloween approaching, the trio must find a way to destroy the structure before innocent trick-or-treaters meet ghastly ends."

To be perfectly honest, I never expected to enjoy Monster House as much as I did. Even though it was released in 2006, before both Coraline (2009) and ParaNorman (2012), it fits perfectly in line with them. While it will be hard to top ParaNorman in my book as far as animated children's horror goes, I'd actually put Monster House right behind it, just ahead of Coraline. It's just a well-balanced film. It's funny, fast-paced and exciting, but still manages to nestle a touching story beneath all the horror elements. For an animated film intended for children, Monster House succeeds in building a surprising amount of suspense throughout. Growing up in a small town, I definitely remember doing my fair-share of exploring big, abandoned houses in my youth, so that sense of dread and fear of the unknown is very familiar territory for me. It actually brought back many memories for me, but unfortunately, none of them involved a sentient house possessed by a scorned lover.

7. Gremlins (1984)

"A gadget salesman is looking for a special gift for his son and finds one at a store in Chinatown. The shopkeeper is reluctant to sell him the "mogwai" but sells it to him with the warning to never expose him to bright light, water, or to feed him after midnight. All of this happens and the result is a gang of gremlins that decide to tear up the town on Christmas Eve."

Gremlins came out the year I was born, and honestly, it's one of the first horror films I recall watching. I remember having a tape that one of my sisters or brother likely had recorded from TV. It's got an almost Spielberg'esque vibe to it (who did, in fact, serve as a producer for the film), channeling an almost E.T. or The Goonies sense of adventure. Sure, it has violence, but it's comedic in nature for the most part, and is such a masterfully controlled-chaos that it's still suitable for all ages. I didn't even care much about the violent gremlins. I mean sure, Stripe was cool and all, but what stood out the most to me was Gizmo, and like every other kid in the world, I had to have my own. Where do I get my own mogwai? Which antique store downtown is the old man hiding in the back of? Thirty years later and I never found him, but I did find a movie that lasted the test of time. A timeless classic that has become a Christmas tradition in my household. In fact, it's the greatest Christmas film ever made, and I'll fight to the death defending that claim.

6. The Gate (1987)

"When Al and Glen's parents leave town for the weekend, Al uses the opportunity to throw a party while little brother Glen and his friend Terry decide to explore a hole left by a tree-removal service in the backyard. When unexplainable phenomena begin occurring, Terry, with the help of his extensive heavy-metal music collection, comes to the conclusion that he and Glen have accidentally opened a gateway to hell."

While it may be a stretch to consider this a children's film, I still say go for it. Sure, the film has its creepy moments, such as the construction worker zombie that bursts through a wall and turns into dozens of little demons when destroyed, undead family dogs, demons disguised as parents, backyard gateways to hell, and the one that disturbed me most as a kid, the old eyeball in the palm of the hand trick, but never did it become too much to handle. The Gate has enough action in it to keep a kid's attention, that's for sure. Also, it's a horror film where children are the heroes. What's more valuable than teaching your kids that they have the power to defeat demons and close portals to hell? The answer is nothing. Don't deprive your children; teach them. Introduce them to your collection of satanic metal records, then show them The Gate as soon as possible, before it's too late.

5. Ghostbusters (1984)

"After the members of a team of scientists lose their cushy positions at a university in New York City, they decide to become "ghostbusters" to wage a high-tech battle with the supernatural for money. They stumble upon a gateway to another dimension, a doorway that will release evil upon the city. The Ghostbusters must now save New York from complete destruction."

I'll be the first to admit, Ghostbusters scared me as a kid a little more than it should have. THIS scene sure didn't do me any favors. Monsters, goblins and demons were all easy to write off, but ghosts... they seemed a little more based in reality, and that scared the living shit out of me as a kid. I spent many sleepless nights looking around my room for ghosts with a flashlight, most likely because of this film.

All that aside, it's not intended to be very frightening. I understand that it's more action/comedy than horror, but I still say that this did help to propel horror into the mainstream at the time. Obviously horror was already having success in the box office at the time, but Ghostbusters took it to a whole new level, grossing $229.2 million, becoming one of the top 40 highest-grossing films of all time, and the most successful comedy of the 1980s. It's charm is undeniable, for both kids and adults alike, and that's why it was impossible to leave it off the list. Don't make your kids wait any longer to see this classic, and don't deprive them of the proton pack they will inevitably ask for immediately after watching it for the first time.

4. ParaNorman (2012)

"Young Norman Babcock has the ability to speak with the dead, and he often prefers their company to that of the living. Norman receives word from his strange Uncle Prenderghast that a centuries-old witch's curse on their town is real and about to come true, and that only Norman can stop it. When zombies rise from their graves, Norman must summon all his courage and compassion and push his paranormal abilities to the limit to save his fellow townspeople."

ParaNorman ranks as probably my favorite animated film, at least of the last decade or two. While many seemed to prefer Coraline, which came out around the same, it was ParaNorman that stole my heart. Make no mistake, I enjoyed Coraline, but ParaNorman just spoke more to me, probably because it almost seems like an animated mash-up of every horror film I grew up watching as a kid, most of which will likely end up on this list. It managed to do so without ripping those films off, too. ParaNorman blazed it's own trail in many ways, such as (to my knowledge) being the first animated children's film to include a homosexual character. Regardless of how that makes you feel, the quality storytelling and imaginative spooks made this a triumph for the little future horror fans for years to come in my book.

3. Beetlejuice (1988)

"After Barbara and Adam Maitland die in a car accident, they find themselves stuck haunting their country residence, unable to leave the house. When the unbearable Deetzes and teen daughter Lydia buy the home, the Maitlands attempt to scare them away without success. Their efforts attract Beetlejuice, a rambunctious spirit whose "help" quickly becomes dangerous for the Maitlands and innocent Lydia."

Beetlejuice is toward the top of the list as far as introductory horror films for kids go, most definitely. It holds a special place in my heart. We got this VHS tape shortly after it came out, probably around 1990, and wore it out as a family. Family movie night back then was just special, as shocking as that sounds this day and age. It was that one thing I could always count on and look forward to. It definitely geared me toward my lifelong obsession with cinema. We didn't have a ton of money, so if we weren't planning on renting something that night, we would often shuffle through the same few video tapes, and fortunately for me, Beetlejuice was one of them. I truly believe it helped me refine what would become my eventual tastes in horror and cult films later in life. In my opinion, it is Burton's best film, very closely followed by Edward Scissorhands. It's just magical, as corny as that sounds, and it blew my mind as a kid. I collected all the toys, watched the cartoon, and even as an adult, dragged my wife to the Beetlejuice musical (It was awesome, and she ended up loving it) at Universal Studios.

2. Little Monsters (1989)

"Brian isn't scared of the monster living under the bed. On the contrary, when he gets to know the wild-eyed boogeyman, Maurice, the pair become fast friends. During the night, Maurice takes his young charge into the netherworld of monsters, where they have a great time making mischief in the lives of sleeping children. But Brian's opinion of Maurice and his freewheeling lifestyle changes when he discovers that he himself is turning into a monster."

I can confidently say that Little Monsters held the title of my favorite film for a number of years during my youth. While it may no longer be my favorite film, I still adore the hell out of it. It's just a perfect amalgamation of imagination, humor, horror, suspense, and drama. Why are so many kids afraid of what's under their beds? Now we know. It's just the secret underworld full of monsters that intend to torture you at night. Although somewhat creepy, I remember the underworld being fascinating to me as a kid. I mean, these monsters just want to play baseball and have some old-fashioned fun. The majority of the film is a silly good time, but I must admit, that ending scared the shit out of me. You probably know the scene I'm talking about, and if not, it's probably time you watch it again. Also, did anyone else notice how badly Monsters Inc ripped it off?

1. The Monster Squad (1987)

"12-year-old Sean Crenshaw and his best friend Patrick are die hard monster fanatics. Horace, junior high bad ass Rudy, Sean's little sister Phoebe, and little Eugene round out their monster-obsessed club. But when the real Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Gill Man, and The Mummy come to their small town to retrieve an ancient amulet to control the world, Sean leads his friends into action to protect their town from the forces of evil."

Number 1 was really a no-brainer. The Monster Squad remains one of my favorite films. In fact, Fred Dekker has hit a few home-runs in my book. Night of The Creeps is way up on my list of favorites as well. I saw them both really young, renting them at friend's houses (I guess you could say we had our own...Monster Squad. Zing!). I just remember thinking about them all the time. The Monster Squad was my The Goonies. That's not intended as a knock on The Goonies, I just personally didn't give a shit about pirates. But monsters -- now we're talking. If only there were a film that combined a bunch of the old, iconic monsters from horror's rich history. What was that? There is? Wow. Now if only kids were the ones fighting the monsters, that would take this movie over the top. What? Are you serious? There is? Well what are you waiting for? Press play! That should be every kid's reaction to hearing about The Monster Squad. It's one of the film's I have the most fun watching, regardless of how many times I've seen it. I will never, ever grow tired of it. It's full of memorable one-liners, homages, and most importantly, fucking monsters. One thing that always stood out about this film is its brief, but hard-hitting social commentary when they finally muster the courage to visit the "Scary German Guy", as they call him, to ask for his help. Upon leaving, they pay him their ultimate compliment in telling him he sure knows a lot about monsters. When closing the door, his shirt sleeve rides up, revealing a tattooed number on his arm before he replies, "I sure do." This is such a powerful scene tucked away within an otherwise fun, light-hearted movie, but it works. I may not have understood it's importance as a kid, but as an adult, it just adds to my love for this film. Looking back, most of us horror fans probably had some sort of monster squad with their friends, but to get to see kids on screen, living out the things most of us probably only got to do with our action figures was amazing -- and still is for the kid in us.

Brian Troth is an independent writer from Tulsa, Oklahoma, obsessed with exploring the depths of horror cinema. Join his expedition at www.medium.com/@nitevision.