It's tempting to look back at your childhood and reimagine it nostalgically, as a time of fun, friends, leisure. No bills: just good times, and learning how to tie your shoelaces. But, this ignores one key fact: kids are easily scared. Not just by stuff they're meant to be scared of (strangers, traffic, kids getting rough on the playground), also by stuff that their parents could never anticipated they'd be skittish around. The same with entertainment. While as a kid, you might have assumed you were big and tough and could totally handle whatever film your parents put on, this swerves the fact that there were endless children's movies that were more scarring than your parents realized.
Actually, it was often the movies that looked the most child-friendly (animated, brightly colored) that ended up getting under your skin the most. I'm not sure how any of our generation hasn't shelled out all their savings on therapy after being exposed to the likes of the following, which feature: clowns, death by bees, death of a parent, death of a parent and it was your fault — and more. The most delightful surprise of adulthood has been finding that the world is nowhere near as bad as it came across in these movies.
1. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Fun fact: the terrifying Child Catcher wasn't even in the original book this movie was based on. He was just a cool extra to make sure you never slept again! This character was hired by Baron Bomburst to snatch and imprison children. Not scarring at all.
Yeah, the protagonist babysitting her younger brother and inadvertently allowing a Goblin King to steal him is terrifying.
You're a parent and you're thinking: Disney plus classical music? What could be more harmless? Then you come back two hours later to find your kid babbling about skeletons on horseback. Terrifying.
4. Watership Down
Who was anticipating this amount of blood, gore and violence in a movie about cute cartoon bunny rabbits? Not me.
5. My Girl
Three words: death by bees.
6. Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory
Think about it like this: disobedient or troublesome children weren't seen as needing tender loving care and firm handling, they were considered innately bad and therefore, it was no big deal in the movie when Veruca Salt or Violet Beauregarde or any of the other naughty children met their just desserts. Check out the lackluster reaction to Augustus Gloop's personal hell in the clip above.
7. Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
There are too many scenes to choose from in this extremely adult kids' movie, but I remember the scene above staying with me for weeks. It's the combination of the cartoon-like crushing of a person but that happening to an actual human being rather than an animated drawing. Then the eyes popping out of his skull and the "I've just ingested the contents of a helium balloon" screech? TERRIFYING.
8. The Witches
Adapted from a book by the king of scary-shit-for-kids, Roald Dahl, so you knew this was going to make you wet your pants. Extra scary, because you know you would have fallen for Angelica Huston's chocolate trick, too.
9. The Lion King
So scarring! We witness the death of Simba's dad — who, coincidentally, appears to be a single dad, and so, Simba becomes an orphan. Also, Scar tells him it's all his fault. This film is a psychological landmine, but maybe that was the point? I was certainly way nicer to my parents after watching this.
As a "gourmand" (translation: greedy guts), this scene was and is my worst nightmare. Imagine someone making you hate eating the thing you love? There is no greater terror.
This was all very Willy Wonka. It taught us all: kids that have a little too much fun and let loose get their unhappy endings. In this case, it's being turned into a donkey and having to work in a salt mine, not being sucked up a pipe to the Fudge Room... but I'd argue this is scarier.
12. Toy Story
Skip four minutes in: the one-eyed doll's head on the spider legs is one of the scariest characters in the kids' movie canon. She's all the more tragic because you know she's a product of her circumstances: her even scarier owner, Sid, who brutally operates on his toys and turns them into mutants.
13. The Brave Little Toaster
Such a cute name, so many tragic scenes. This air conditioner self-combusting had me hiding behind the sofa.
Who else is ready for a rewatch sesh right about now?
Images: Disney (3); netcore2k; Oliver Hayhoe; NycoRudolph; Hanna Beth Westwell; MrMxyVillain; Jessica Driscoll; stedz bk; nikker1985; Riko1980; Der Weiße Mann/Youtube (10); TriStar Pictures; Giphy