10 Terrifying Kids' Movies Scenes You Totally Forgot
These scenes make us question the PG-13 rating.
When some people hear the term 'children's film,' they often make the mistake of assuming it will be nothing more than fluffy, innocent, entertainment. However, fans of family movies understand that the medium offers just as much diversity as films targeted at older audiences.
Some movies made for younger viewers can be just as chilling and scary as any film made for adults. Here are some terrifying movie scenes you watched as a kid that likely will still scare you today!
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - The child catcher
Robert Helpmann portrayed the menacing Child Catcher, responsible for abducting children and imprisoning them underground under the command of Baron and Baroness Bomburst from the fictional land of Vulgaria. He enticed the kids with treats and captured them using a colossal butterfly net. Despite the campy and theatrical performance, it was still truly frightening to watch as a child.
Coraline - Buttons for eyes
Coraline, despite being a children's film, truly delves into the darker side of storytelling. The stop-motion animation adds an eerie touch, and the 'other' world Coraline stumbles upon becomes a perilous place where she faces the risk of death and the presence of ghost children. This movie has the ability to instill lasting fears in children, making it a unique and haunting experience - and perhaps the most chilling scene is when the Other Mother presents Coraline with the buttons for her eyes.
Tarzan - Clayton's death
Despite Clayton being the worst of the worst, when Tarzan tried to save him from falling to his death, we all assumed he would make it. However, the scene abruptly shifted to the silhouette of his lifeless body hanging from a tree, which was disturbing even for adults. It's unusual for the villain's fate to be the most shocking aspect of a film, but Disney in the '90s often included scenes that were perhaps too intense for young viewers.
Pinocchio - The donkey transformation
The entirety of Pinocchio is quite unsettling to watch, with a constant sense of darkness and chill throughout. However, one scene in particular stands out as truly terrifying - the moment when Lampwick desperately cries out for his mother as they both undergo a painful transformation into donkeys. Even as an adult, revisiting this scene only intensifies how dark Disney movies really were.
Dennis the Menace - The homeless man
Despite the movie being a family comedy, and Dennis using his menacing qualities to outwit everyone, the villain of this movie is actually pretty terrifying to see. Known as Switchblade Sam (even the name is chilling), the villain, who is wanted by the police, captures young Dennis and takes him as a hostage at his camp near the river. His appearance of greasy limp hair, boils on his face and a cigarette constantly in his hand alone is enough to send shivers up any kid's spine.
Harry Potter Chamber of Secrets - Aragog's family
Approximately 5% of the population experiences arachnophobia, and it's entirely possible that this early Harry Potter movie contributed to the fear. The scene in which Aragog's offspring swarmed Harry and Ron in the forbidden forest likely left a lasting impression on many viewers, causing them to feel uneasy or frightened as kids. Even as adults, it can still be challenging to watch without looking away or grabbing a cushion to cover your eyes.
Watership Down - The fields of blood
It's unlikely that Martin Rosen and John Hubley, the directors of the 1978 film, intended to frighten their young viewers. However, there is a particularly intense moment in the movie where Fiver, the main character, senses danger in the air and witnesses a terrifying vision. In this scene, a fencepost transforms into a hangman's gallows and the field becomes flooded with blood, threatening to drown them all. Very confusing artistic choice for a family movie.
The Witches - The big reveal
This movie was among many Roald Dahl adaptations that were truly horrifying to watch as a child. The premise alone of a hidden coven of witches who hated children was enough to scare us as kids, but the scene where the witches revealed their true form of bald heads, disfigured faces and oddly misshapen feet was enough to leave any child with nightmares.
All Dogs Go to Heaven - The vision of hell
In kids' movies, murder is a surprisingly common theme. However, Don Bluth's All Dogs Go to Heaven takes it a step further by starting off with the murder of a dog, which is considered the ultimate crime in cinema. Despite this dark beginning, the story follows Charlie as he defies death to seek revenge on his killer. The consequence, though, is that Charlie forfeits his place in heaven and faces the prospect of going to hell once his time on Earth is over.
Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory - The Oompa Loompas
Imagine a mesmerizing scene where psychedelic factory workers joyfully chant and dance while children mysteriously vanish one by one - sounds more like the plot of a Netflix Thriller than a classic kids' movie. It's a true testament to the boundless power of imagination and the writing and directing of family entertainment in the 1970s.