Rated PG? The Trauma of your Childhood
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Rated PG? The Trauma of your Childhood

All the reasons you needed the night light.

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Rated PG? The Trauma of your Childhood

I’m sure we can all remember the good old days when we’d plug in the VCR we just rented from Blockbuster, rip open a fresh pack of Dunkaroos and stay up late (until about 8:30 p.m.) to watch a new movie. Sometimes that movie was great — who knew a talking donkey could be so damn funny!? Sometimes, the movie was sad — why was Mufasa sleeping so soundly? Other times, however, the movie was downright terrifying. Not “Boo! I scared you!” terrifying, but more of the “Dad has to sleep under my bed while Mom camps out in the closet for the next two months” kind of terrifying.

I look back at some of these movies and still find them terrifying. Who could have possibly decided this concept was a good foundation for a children’s movie!? Being a rather skittish child, I’ve narrowed down my list to the top four scariest "kids'" movies and why they're terrifying.

Nightmare Before Christmas

Traditionally “nightmare” and “Christmas” should never be in a sentence together, but you know, it's Tim Burton. What are you going to do? I remember running around a house during a Halloween party one year when I was about eight and stumbling into a room that was showing this movie on a projector in all its glory. It was during the opening number, and I’d never been so physically and emotionally uncomfortable in the presence of claymation until I witnessed a clown rip its own face off. So what if Oogey-boogey looked like a sack of potatoes? He was planning TO EAT SANTA (Sidenote: It’s not cannibalism, but it feels kind of close, no?) I know the place was called Halloweentown, so of course there should be monsters everywhere, but did the claymaniacs have to make their creations so visually disturbing?

Anastasia

I picture writers in a smoke-filled room, brainstorming their next project, when one guy sits bolt upright and shouts “I know, let’s do a kids' movie about the assassination of the Russian royal family and the rise of communism in Russia!” Someone enthusiastically adds, “Brilliant! And we can have that creepy guy, Rasputin, be the villain — only he’s already half dead and his body will crumble throughout the movie!” Everyone in the writers' room enthusiastically applauds until the new guy shouts “Hey, isn’t that a bit dark for kids to see?” Eventually, they decide to fire the new guy, but they add in a funny talking bat to lighten the mood a little bit. The first time I saw this neat little movie, I was able to keep my composure until the very end of the film, when (spoiler) Anastasia destroys Rasputin, and he writhes uncomfortably before withering away into a chattering skeleton before becoming dust in the wind. Yeah, that stayed with me for a while.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

So 1996 rolls around, and Disney has a few winners under its belt already — "The Lion King," "The Little Mermaid," and "Cinderella" to name a few — but they’re tired of using the tales of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen for their source material. Obviously, their next step should be to commercialize Victor Hugo’s "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" into a family friendly cartoon, right? After all, sin, temptation, murder and our immortal salvation are all themes constantly stressed in children’s movies right!? The movie begins with a gypsy being murdered as she tries to escape capture with her baby. As she lies dead on the ground, the man pursuing her finds that her baby is deformed and tries to drown it in a well. Classic Disney opening! All this comes to fruition in the song “Hellfire,” in which the main antagonist sings about how much he desires Esmeralda but how he can’t have her because he’s a man of God. He then decides the only logical decision is to burn her at the stake. You know, kid stuff.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

From the mind of Welshman Roald Dahl, infamous for writing all the books in your childhood that scared you into being a well-behaved child, "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" pretty much confirmed all your childhood fears about what could happen if you misbehaved. Throughout the movie, a bunch of bratty children are systematically eliminated from a competition by a man who seems to have little to no regard for anyone's personal safety. Meanwhile, terrifying little orange men sing macabre songs about why the fat kid had it coming. However, the worst scene in this movie doesn't have to do with a girl turning into a blueberry or a boy almost being chopped in half by a fan. No, the scene that is really questionable and downright disturbing in this movie is the psychedelic tunnel scene. This scene, in particular, is so weird and disturbing — and really doesn't relate to the rest of the movie at all — they're just traveling down this dark dank tunnel with weird images projected behind them, while little orange men row to seemingly nowhere, as Gene Wilder sings quietly over the screams of the children:

Not a speck of light is showing
So the danger must be growing
Are the fires of Hell a-glowing
Is the grisly reaper mowing?

Yes, the danger must be growing
For the rowers keep on rowing
And they’re certainly not showing
Any signs that they are slowing!

So yeah, blame Gene Wilder for your irrational fear of underwater tunnels that persists to this day.


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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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