Kids movies are great. They are imaginative, adventurous and more often than not teach valuable life lessons. But every once in a while, something scary slips through the cracks. The horror may last only one scene; grab the latest release from Pixar, turn red, for example. At the start of the animated film, protagonist Mei experiences a frightening nightmare, seeing sickening images like the destruction of her house, demonic red panda spirits, and her friends and boy band members. favorite merged horribly with thrashing fish and writhing flowers.
Some movies, however, go the extra mile and make it their mission to scare their poor, innocent audiences. Whether those movies were surprisingly dark, visually disturbing, or gave you nightmares, it’s hard to forget the movies that terrified them as kids.
“The Witches” (1990)
Based on the book of the same name, written in 1983 by Roald Dahl, The witches has to be one of the most terrifying children’s movies of all time. The film is as comedic and cheeky as Dahl’s original tale, but its use of makeup and other practical effects to bring the demonic witches to life brought a degree of horror to the film’s antagonists that the written word could only dream of. to reach.
movie stars Jason Fisher as Luke, a nine-year-old orphan boy who spends his summer vacation trying not to be killed or bewitched by the convention of witches who have stayed at his hotel. Robert Zemeckis decided to rehash the story, releasing its version of Dahl’s tale in 2020 – just in time to scare a whole new generation of kids.
“All Dogs Go to Heaven” (1989)
A Horror Story Lurks Beneath This Film’s Adorable Animated Facade. All dogs go to heaven was released in 1989 and stars Burt Reynolds like an adorable German Shepherd named Charlie. But behind its colorful animation lies a plot punctuated by murders, betrayals, kidnappings of orphaned children and the ever-present threat of eternal damnation.
All dogs go to heaven depicts Charlie’s death at the hands of his former best friend, his refusal to transition to the afterlife, and his return to the land of the living to pursue a quest for revenge. Sure, Charlie forms friendships and learns the value of kindness, honesty, and trust along the way, but don’t let his looks fool you. All dogs go to heaven intends to send shivers down your spine.
“A Series of Unfortunate Events” (2004)
Sometimes sharp and whimsical, just like the series of books from which it is based, A series of unfortunate events follows the Baudelaire children, three siblings orphaned after a fire claimed the lives of both their parents. Netflix re-adapted the story in 2017, releasing a series of the same name, with the added runtime added by its three twenty-five-episode seasons allowing showrunners to stay more faithful to the original source material.
In the 2004 film, Baudelaire’s orphans are relentlessly hunted down for their inheritance by the evil Count Olaf, brought to life by jim carrey. Their misadventures bring them face to face with poisonous snakes, a cast of murderous actors, creaky cliffside houses and a lake of carnivorous eels. Don’t get me wrong, this is by no means a happy story (it’s right in the title), but the love shared by the kids, Violet, Klaus and Sunny, is definitely a highlight of the film – it that is, of course, if you can stand her creepy hijinks.
“The Secret of the NIMH” (1982)
This cult classic begins as a cozy animated fantasy adventure movie. The audience is introduced to the cutest family of little field mice. Sure, one of the kids is sick, but look, Mrs. Brisby (the film’s protagonist, voiced by Elisabeth Hartmann) is wearing a cape!
The NIMH Secret barely allows audiences to savor the taste of its dreamy setting before hitting viewers with one terrifying bombshell after another. Don’t let its storybook appearance fool you, The NIMH Secret will force you to grapple with hellish visuals and themes of heartbreak, animal cruelty, and experimentation, whether you like it or not.
‘Monster House’ (2006)
In all honesty, this animated film didn’t exactly do its best to be kid-friendly. As the title of the film suggests, The monster house tells the story of DJ friends (Michael Musso), Chowder (Sam Lener) and Jenny (Spencer Locke), as they investigate a haunted residence in their neighborhood. With its silly protagonists and cartoonish computer animation, the film seemingly has all the tropes of a kid-friendly Halloween game.
The film takes a truly gruesome twist in the creative way the house changes to scare its victims and another twist for the sinister and tragic once the film begins to uncover the haunted house’s dark origins. Be sure to watch it if you missed it, and hopefully it won’t deter you from living near old wooden residences for life.
“The Spiderwick Chronicles” (2008)
This 2008 film is the best of modern children’s fantasy, featuring a wonderful variety of fantastical creatures that are an absolute treat to behold. Showcasing the talent of Freddie Highmore, Sarah Bolger, Martin runs, Seth Rogenand more, the film begins with the Grace family moving to an old New England estate and discovering a book: Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Hidden World of Fairies.
Unfortunately for its young viewers, The Spiderwick Chronicles does not retain the more sinister side of its mythical beasts. Upon discovering the field guide, siblings Jared, Simon (both portrayed by Highmore), and Mallory (Bolger) become the target of the ogre Mulgarath (Nick Nolte) and his army of glass-toothed goblins. For every sprite and gryphon to be seen, there’s a monstrous troll or shifting menace to face. The vast mythology of The Spiderwick Chronicles is impressive, sure, but some of its creatures are best left unseen and undiscovered.
‘Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’ (1971)
A certified children’s classic, Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory is undoubtedly dear to many hearts. Featuring classic, kid-friendly moments like Augustus Gloop’s entrapment in the chocolate factory machinery, Violet Beauregarde’s blueberry inflation, and the unfortunate eliminations of other Golden Ticket winners.
What etched this film in the minds of young moviegoers was the infamous scene involving a boat and a tunnel of terror. The screen flashes with inappropriate images, including those of a decapitated chicken and close-ups of scorpions and insects (some crawling on human faces)! This scene alone makes you wonder whether or not the filmmakers were actively trying to traumatize their audience.
by Shane Acker animated film 2009 9 doesn’t even try to hide his horror. Set in the post-apocalypse, the film follows a living rag doll – named “9” after the number inexplicably sewn into its back – after coming to consciousness amid the rubble of a burnt-out lab.
The film boasts an impressive voice cast; Elijah Wood, Jennifer Connelly, Christopher Plumer, and others lend their voices to the living dolls that appear throughout the film. But its stellar cast aside, the film is ready with more: human extinction, killer robots, creepy jumps, you can be sure. 9 he has everything!
‘Watership Down’ (1978)
boat down is based on a 1972 children’s book of the same name. Set in rural England and following the travels of a group of rabbits fleeing their home, one might be fooled into thinking the film will contain all the thematic features of an average children’s animated film.
Instead, boat down feels more like a mythological epic than a children’s film, relentlessly meditating on violence, religion and the despair of exile and survival.
Boasting impressive stop-motion from Laika Studios and an all-star cast to bring its characters to life, Coraline is a masterpiece of children’s cinema, nominated for Best Animated Feature of 2009 at the Oscars and Golden Globes. Some kids – the scared and shaky ones, to be exact – might not agree with all the fanfare.
Coraline is based on by Neil Gaiman 2002 novel of the same name and makes the story by Coraline Jones (Dakota Fanning) as she discovers a seemingly ideal “Other World” behind a magical door in her new home. The film’s animation and score also help deliver the horror of the film. The opening titles, which depict the unsettling, button-eyed doll creation of the film’s title character, are the perfect example at work. The rest of the movie does too, but it’s likely that some viewers didn’t get past the opening scene.
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