Night terrors aren’t like normal nightmares. There is no imagination involved, no story. You wake up, and it’s just an overwhelming sense of dread, a feeling of a malevolent presence in your room, and a keen awareness that you are totally unable to move. I can’t say for certain how long they typically last, but I’d guess it’s less than five minutes. Once one ends and you regain your senses the adrenaline and paranoia last on a while. It’s a wholly unpleasant experience.
I can’t say for certain why I never watched horror films as a kid. I had easy access, getting HBO straight to my bedroom. I had friends who liked them that I could’ve connected with. Seeing them would’ve certainly helped me have more pop culture sensibility. But I avoided them. I wonder now if having those occasional night terrors might have had something to do with it; they might’ve been enough horror for me.