Being a parent seems impossible. There's so much to manage all at once, and you have to sort through an infinite amount of information every day to try to keep your kid happy and healthy. That's why it's all the more upsetting when sneaky movies that pretend to be great and kid-friendly actually end up featuring traumatizing scenes or concepts that leave your kid sobbing uncontrollably or refusing to go to bed. How many parents have popped in a seemingly innocent movie for the kids while trying to finally get a load of laundry done, only to hear a terrified squeal midway through the movie? Seriously, there are so many movies out there that were way more scarring than your parents ever realized.
Alas, it seems that a crucial part of growing up — and especially growing up in the '80s and '90s — was the experience of being emotionally scarred by movies that our parents didn't realize were actually kind of horrifying. From the depressing and devastating to freaking and frightening, there are so many ways to get scared as a kid and you probably went through it all. Hopefully you learned some lessons from the 12 movies below, but it's more likely that you just have a lot of good material for therapy. Some decades-old spoilers ahead!
1. My Girl
Raise your hand if you weren't outrageously terrified of bees after seeing Macaulay Culkin's character die horrifically from bee stings in this movie. What's this? None of you are raising your hand? Yeah, exactly.
Okay, The Land Before Time movies make up the greatest film series of all time and I will fight anyone who disagrees with me, but the scene when Littlefoot's mom dies ruined my young life. Since that moment, I have never felt pure happiness untinged with deep melancholy.
3. The Witches
This movie is rad, but the parents who thought it was friendly kid fare were out of their minds. My mom still mocks me sometimes by turning on her evil witch voice and shrieking, "the child is no longer a child! The child...is a MOUSE!"
4. Old Yeller
He has to shoot his dog. The little boy has to shoot his own dog. Get out of here with this. Wikipedia says it's his "first step into adulthood" but I am definitely an adult and I've never had to murder my own pet.
This move 100 percent should not be watched by children. The disgusting evil trolls turn children into tiny dolls and keep them in a sack for all eternity. Also, all the parents keep acting like the kids are ridiculous for being afraid of the very real, very terrifying trolls, which is, you know, great for teaching kids about authority. Earnest Scared Stupid is legitimately as a suspenseful as an actual horror movie, and my brother claims it messed him up "for years."
Get that demonic flying monkey army away from me. That scene of those winged demons attacking Dorothy is just The Birds for children.
Let me tell you how much I love princesses, and then let me also tell you how much I hate obnoxious, slimy, long-nailed, evil-eyed goblins — even that one that looks like Iggy Pop for some reason. Get me out of your demonic lair, Prince Iggy Goblin.
Look, I know everyone is crazy about Bowie as the Goblin King, but I am still a little freaked out by this movie and am amazed that the kids I babysit for actually like watching it. I think maybe goblins are just always terrifying.
Sure, it's all happy fun and games and cute kitchen appliances with faces on them until suddenly this evil clown is leering down at you.
Disclaimer to all parents: this move is not another fun Narnia adventure. It is sad. It has death. Be prepared to talk to your kids about how sometimes their friends die and that's just life. It'll be a great chat. Good luck.
11. It Takes Two
A charming Olsen twins movie... except for the part when Amanda gets adopted by the evil Butkises who are basically just straight-up child abusers that make all their kids work in a scrap yard. After seeing this movie as a kid, I was terrified of being kidnapped by a cult of crazy people who would give me a new name that started with a B.
Pretty much everything about the movie Jumanji registered to child-me as terrifying rather than exciting. Those opening scenes, with the board game slowly becoming real and the animals attacking them were traumatizing. One of my friends had the Jumanji board game based on the movie and I refused to play. I'm not getting stuck in there.
One of the beautiful things about childhood is that each one is unique, so you probably had your own set of emotionally scarring scenes and movies beyond the ones in this list; maybe they even still freak you out to this day. Isn't that fun?
Images: Columbia Pictures (1), Universal Pictures (1), Warner Bros. (2), Buena Vista (2), Loew's Inc. (1), Hemdale Film Corporation (1), Tristar Pictures (2), Hyperion Pictures (1)