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There's nothing quite as wholesome as a board game. About the most scarring experience you probably expect from a typical board game is Colonel Mustard getting brained by a candlestick in the library. But you might be surprised by just how dark your awkward family get-together's go-to form of entertainment can be. For example:

Ca$h 'n Gun$: Shoot Your Friends and Family in the Head

Huy Quang

We did not Photoshop that raucous good time pictured above.

The game Ca$h 'n Gun$ (presumably spellchecked by Ke$ha) was released less than a decade ago for ages 10 and up, and there's nothing more bizarre than seeing a photo of grandma pointing a Glock at little Timmy's face.

Jooky/Board Game Geek
"Insult my tuna surprise casserole again. I dare you."

The point of the game is that you're all members of a gang of bank robbers, and at the end of each turn, it's time to divvy up the cash, which requires players to re-enact that scene from every action movie where there are six people all pointing guns at one another. And because it leaves nothing to the imagination, you really do point toy guns at each other, resulting in hilariously macabre scenes like this:

Joe Grundy
"I know what you're thinking, punk -- how amped up is she? Did she drink one juice box, or two?"

Whether or not you hustle Aunt Marie or your baby sister off this mortal coil in a hail of gunfire depends on which card you draw, a successful "Bang" or an empty "Click." By the time the game ends, the winner is either the player with the most cash, or the last one alive.

Perpetual Game Machine
To be fair, that's how some families play Monopoly.

Politicians may be quick to blame video games for the violence in society, but the ratings board usually demands you're at least 15 before you can shoot cartoon guns at cartoon aliens. If the game involves pointing physical gun replicas at actual people in the real world, though, it's apparently fine for 10-year-olds. Literally any activity, even multiple homicide, gets a "wholesome" stamp so long as it's a family affair.

The Alien Game: Control an Alien to Murder Your Friends


The original Alien movie came marketed alongside a surprising amount of children's merchandise for an R-rated film that was obviously not meant for kids. One of these tie-ins was the official Alien board game, which is billed as being for ages 7 and up. Apparently, 7 is the age when kids are deemed mature enough to roleplay as a giant walking murder-phallus as they attempt to slaughter their friends.

The alien does look a bit like a laughing child.

The plot of the film pitted a group of astronauts against a single monster, while the game departs from that premise by having up to four factions of humans, with an alien on each team. We're not sure how this unholy alliance with mindless monsters is supposed to work, or why the astronauts hate each other so much, but the goal is to get your humans to the end of the board while using your alien piece to mercilessly kill everyone else's humans.

It's basically like Snakes and Ladders, except here the snakes are trying to lay eggs in your throat in order to gestate young that will chew their way out through your sternum. If an alien lands on the same square as a human, the human dies. The only condition is that the aliens can't kill anyone on the same team, because they're ... domesticated, we guess? We could be down with a pet alien.

Good luck getting the acid shit stains out of the carpet.

The implications of the game are worrying, at the least; say what you will about the brutality of the Alien franchise, at least Ripley's go-to strategy for escaping killer extraterrestrials wasn't to trip her friends and use them as bait. In fact, we're pretty sure that's basically the tactic the villainous android uses in the film. What a great role model for a 7-year-old.

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Disaster: Survive (and Cause) Horrible Tragedies

Parker Brothers

For families who enjoyed board games but didn't find them bleak or tragic enough, Parker Brothers introduced Disaster, a game that proudly proclaims itself to be the "do-it-yourself catastrophe game." Players move their pieces through four zones: earthquake, plane crash, building fire, and sinking ocean liner.

Mike Kollross/Parker Brothers
It's a pretty rough neighborhood.

Players that survive these horrific events get a "survival chip," a nifty little token that will hopefully help curb your crippling survivor's guilt. The first player to survive enough tragic traumas to give them six chips wins the game! Of course, the real winner is the child psychology industry.

What's more worrying than teaching children that disaster zones are fun play-dates is the facet of the gameplay that involves actively trying to kill your opponents by playing "disaster cards." According to the game box: "It's as exciting to be caught in a disaster as it is to cause one ... the whole family will enjoy Disaster."

Parker Brothers
Wait, "catastrophes not included"? What is this bullshit?

To that end, the game recruits your future junior Al Qaeda operative to hijack planes and plant bombs on cruise ships. We can only assume the "fly plane into skyscraper" card was recalled in later editions.

Left Behind: Anger God Then Try to Escape the Antichrist


Left Behind is the official board game based on the 2000 movie (starring Kirk Cameron) that's based on the hit Christian book series, which is soon to be adapted to the screen again starring legendary Oscar-winner/paycheck-casher Nicolas Cage. Got all that? The game centers on this fun premise: What if your sinful ways led you to be trapped on Earth while most of your friends and loved ones ascend to heaven, leaving you in a post-apocalyptic wasteland populated by Godless fornicators? Haha, wouldn't that be the silliest, children?

Pete Hall
"This is what happens when you do not clean your room!"

When you start off, the game plays like a boring Sunday School version of Trivial Pursuit, in which you have to answer a bunch of lame Bible trivia questions. It takes a darker turn, however, when players are encouraged to deceive their opponents with "false confessions." And thus begins the karmic entrapment: at some point during the game, Jesus plays the Rapture Trombone and you're left behind on Earth because of those fake sins you just confessed.

The players then spend the rest of the game avoiding Carpathia, the Antichrist of the Left Behind series. You win by either vanquishing Carpathia or being the only player not to be horribly killed by him. All the while moving pieces around a game board adorned in flames. You can almost hear the wails of the eternally damned as you shake the dice.

Pete Hall
If you roll in the wrong order, Pat drives you to the Harrisburg airport.

It might sound like a darkly comedic horror game for Clive Barker fans, but it's really intended as a wholesome spiritual journey. The goal of which is to give kids a "heightened awareness of the End Times," which sure sounds like a lesson you need to teach a human being that's barely old enough to understand where it is and is not acceptable to poop.

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A Nightmare on Elm Street -- The Freddy Game: Find Out Which of Your Family Members Is a Child Murderer


The game industry has a long and proud history of hastily slapping together a tangentially related board game to tie in to the release of every single popular movie. But there's something especially odd about making a movie tie-in game for kids when the subject of the movie is an undead child-murderer.

A Freddy Got Fingered kids game would almost make more sense.

The Freddy Game invites children 8 and up to experience firsthand what it's like to live in a neighborhood in which everyone you know is potentially a murderous pedophiliac burn victim with supernatural powers.

The objective of the game is to find out which of the players, who are seemingly harmless characters -- teacher, mailman, your parents, even your grandfather -- is actually Freddy Krueger. Never trust again, kids! Everybody is a dream-monster.

Except for the dad, who is clearly being possessed by Ned Ryerson.

Check out those rosy-cheeked, Thomas the Tank Engine-style cartoon faces and try to reconcile them with the fact that this is a game modeled after a film in which a child predator with knives for hands graphically disembowels Johnny Depp like a weird homage to Edward Scissorhands.

The words above the characters' heads represent their greatest fears, and it's the job of Secret Freddy to use this information to his advantage to knock his friends and family off one by one. We're not sure how he does this without revealing himself (the rules to the game are fairly difficult to understand) but at least it's educational: it's never too early to teach children how to murder ironically.

Escape From Colditz: Fun in Nazi Germany

Parker Brothers

Escape From Colditz is a '70s Parker Brothers game that revolves around escaping from a Nazi prison camp. You just know something's not quite right when your family's evening entertainment comes with a big ol' swastika stamped right on the front.

Anthony Simons
And we're not talking the Asian good luck type of swastika.

This wasn't the brainchild of the Stormfront forum's merchandising department -- it's a board game brought to you from the makers of Scrabble. But to add an air of disturbing authenticity, the box and instructions come with photocopies of actual Nazi documents and propaganda, and the game board itself is lovingly modeled after the real-life Colditz prison camp in Germany.

Tom Verdonck
So we're guessing the escape plan involves a cardboard disguise and an elaborate stage show.

For the game to work, you have to convince at least one person to play as the Nazi guards. So when you lose the game, not only will you be virtually marched to your certain extermination, you now have one friend who is slightly more convinced that maybe there's something to this whole fascism thing.

The prisoners attempt to collect helpful tools for escape, such as forged papers and disguises, as well as opportunity cards that make escape possible. Meanwhile, the Nazi guards collect opportunities too, such as the coveted "shoot those dogs in the back if they run" card.

Parker Brothers
Gotta love the disclaimer about how Nazi soldiers weren't really that bad.

To be fair, the game is marketed to ages 12 and up. Apparently, pre-teen is plenty old enough to roleplay some genocide. Despite its violent nature, the game still exists, though in later editions Parker Brothers wisely decided to remove the swastikas from the materials and replace them with the glorious eagle of Democratic liberty, because you wouldn't want to give your tweens the wrong idea.

J.M. McNab writes and podcasts for Rewatchability.com. You can also find him on Twitter @Rewatchability.

For more misguided attempts at entertainment, check out 5 Grossly Inappropriate Jokes Hidden in Children's Cartoons. And see what it takes for animal celebrities to become psycopaths.

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