9 Traumatizing Moments from Classic Kids Movies
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Just because a movie is animated, it doesn't mean it's suitable for children. And apparently, just because a movie is marketed toward children, made by a studio associated with children and specifically designed with children in mind, it also might not mean it's for children.
With that in mind, let us once more explore the moments from kids' movies that left many a child traumatized.
"Night on Bald Mountain" in Fantasia (or, The One With Satan)
As the third Walt Disney film ever, Fantasia came out only two years after Snow White and right after Pinocchio. People were expecting Fantasia to be just as kid-friendly as those two, and for the most part, it was: It included waltzing flowers, Mickey Mouse getting in a crazy mix-up and a hippopotamus dancing ballet with an alligator.
This caused a lot of misconceptions about how mating works in the animal kingdom.
Everything seemed relatively normal for a children's film until the introduction to the last segment, in which we're told, "Bald Mountain, according to tradition, is the gathering place of Satan and his followers... ". Wait, what's that? Satan? Surely they don't mean that Satan. "Here ... the creatures of evil gather to worship their master."
That's right, Walt Disney's masterpiece transitioned from dancing animals to the devil summoning evil spirits and bringing hell to Earth -- and the only thing to prepare us was some guy saying, "We're going to start talking about Satan now, kids."
Donald, Mickey, Goofy ... Lucifer? Yeah, we can see that.
In this lone sequence, you've got eerily animated ghosts wisping out of haunted graveyards ...
Imps, demons and devils burning in the flames of hell ...
... and a Ghouls 'n Ghosts-worthy end boss.
They even slipped in a few nipples for good measure, because what the hell, most of the kids in the audience are probably covering their faces by now.
A wholesome way to find out about boobies.
The segment ends when daylight comes and all the demons and stuff crawl back into hell, the implication being that this happens every night while you sleep -- or try to, if you're a kid and you've just seen this cartoon. Walt Disney himself once admitted that Fantasia was a bad idea, though we think there might have been another reason for that.
Judge Doom's True Identity in Who Framed Roger Rabbit
Truth be told, it is damn near impossible to find things not to like about this movie: Doc Brown plays the villain, Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny share a scene and just about every second shown in Toontown is loaded with cameos. Plus there's this:
Unfortunately, most of us were too young to fully appreciate Jessica Rabbit when we first saw this film -- but not too young to cry when Judge Doom murders that cartoon shoe.
The "Bambi's mother" of its generation.
But even that pales in comparison to Doom's epic freak-out in the end, which starts off with the man getting very slowly run over by a steamroller ...
And screaming in terror all the way, of course.
... only for his freakishly flattened body to get up and start walking around like the Slender Man.
And just when you think it couldn't possibly get more traumatizing, his eyeballs fall out and Judge Doom reveals his true identity in this memorable moment:
You'd think that when Robert Zemeckis or Steven Spielberg said, "And then knives come out of his eyes," someone would have stopped and said, "Is ... is everything OK with you, pal?" Perhaps that could have spared us what comes next: Doom's hand turns into a buzz saw and he tries to kill the terrified Bob Hoskins, while his eyes continue to get creepier by the second.
This would have been much funnier in Back to the Future.
Then Hoskins manages to produce a pond of the same stuff that killed the shoe before, and Doom melts to death while inexplicably clucking like a chicken. It's a pretty terrifying moment, too, but at this point you're just relieved that the bastard is finally dead and that they can't use him to scare the shit out of you anymore.
Except when they show you his corpse a few minutes later, that is.
The Great Owl in The Secret of NIMH
Before An American Tail and The Land Before Time, Don Bluth's first attempt to beat Disney at its own game was The Secret of NIMH, a classic G-rated movie about friendship and magic and talking animals ...
... and stabbing and death and monstrous beasts with glowing eyes. You see, The Secret of NIMH employed a technique called backlighting, which created a surreal glow in some parts of the film. Unfortunately, Bluth decided the best use for this revolutionary technique was scaring the crap out of us.
It's hard to comfort your children when you're going "OH NOOOO" yourself.
The foremost example of this was the film's classic character the Great Owl, whose introduction to the audience includes crushing a spider, standing on a pile of bones and freakishly twisting his head around like something out of Hellraiser. And this is all done after it is made explicitly clear that he feeds on animals like, for example, the main character of the film. At this point making his eyes glow just seems like overdoing it.
The bright lights signal the film's scariest parts like a goddamn beacon, just in case the kids didn't know they were supposed to feel scared when they show us humans injecting weird things into caged rats and such. And then there's the unusually violent sword fight at the end, in which two characters are stabbed to death and you can clearly see their blood, making this officially more brutal than anything in Highlander: The Series.
Oh, and in case you haven't seen the film, a little spoiler: the mythical NIMH turns out to be the National Institute of Mental Health -- we're guessing Bluth had some sort of product placement deal designed to create as many young patients for them to treat as possible.
Pretty Much Everything in Return to Oz
Return to Oz wasn't just a sequel to one of the most beloved children's films of all time: it was also, unlike the first one, a Disney film. Surely that means there will be twice as much singing, twice as much dancing and twice as many adorable characters ... right?
Let's play a game of Count the Psychotic Eyes.
Actually, remember those terrifying flying monkeys from The Wizard of Oz? Apparently someone at Disney decided, "Forget all the rest, we need more of that," because everything about this movie seems designed to give you nightmares.
For starters, we find out that the happy ending for the classic first film was secretly terrifying, too, because right after Dorothy came back from the land of Oz, her aunt and uncle decided to take her to a quack doctor for electroshock therapy. Seriously. They wanted to zap Dorothy's brain with electricity.
No place like home, indeed.
Later, Dorothy returns to find Oz more wrecked than the movie she's starring in. The Yellow Brick Road and the Emerald City are in complete ruins, her best friends have been turned to stone and, by the way, Oz is now policed by a gang of deformed rollerblading freaks known as the Wheelers.
At this point it is pretty clear that Return to Oz is just one washed-up actor away from being based on a Stephen King novel -- but shit goes from "bad for children" to "inappropriate for all ages" when Dorothy is imprisoned by a witch who has her own collection of disembodied heads. You know, because she's headless.
Oh, and did we mention that the actress playing Dorothy is only like 10 in this movie? They probably did that because if they had used a teenager, Return to Oz could have easily been mistaken for a Nightmare on Elm Street movie.
All Dogs Go to Heaven Reveals That Some Dogs Go to Hell
All Dogs Go to Heaven was the classic tale of a zombie dog voiced by Burt Reynolds who comes back to life to repay his deeds, which he does by conning a little orphan girl to make money. Statistically speaking, you owned this on VHS at some point.
It also has one of the most misleading titles for a children's film ever: it turns out that, yes, some dogs go to hell, too.
Truth be told, this scene is actually a dream sequence, but that doesn't make what happens in it any less scary. First we see Charlie the dog flying through an electric storm and falling down an endless void ...
... only to land in a river of lava just as a bone ship is beginning to emerge from it.
And then a giant lava dragon comes out and starts shooting little devil dogs out of its mouth to terrorize Charlie ... until he wakes up, probably soaked in a pool of piss. And then it's over and you can go back to watching this little adorable film knowing that hell only exists in the imagination of the Burt Reynolds dog.
Imagination at work.
Oh, no, wait, scratch all that. Later we learn that Doggie Hell does exist, and it can show up virtually anywhere in the world the instant a bad dog dies.
Did we mention this one was also made by Don Bluth? Probably should have started there.
The Fatality in Hocus Pocus
A Disney Channel regular, this 1993 fantasy/comedy remains the stuff of legends, if only because it shows that with enough makeup and unsightly co-stars even Sarah Jessica Parker can look attractive.
You'll find more examples of this same basic principle in every nightclub.
But despite being a Disney movie, this film's beginning is more macabre than most horror flicks from the 90's. It starts in Salem, Mass., in 1693, where by the five-minute mark we are introduced to a book made out of living flesh.
The witches use this book to make a brew out of assorted human body parts. The purpose of this brew? Allowing them to perform a Mortal Kombat-like fatality on a little girl by literally sucking the soul out of her body. Oh, and they force her brother to watch the whole thing.
The witches become rejuvenated thanks to the ritual, this being basically how they apply their makeup. But wait, what happened to the little girl? Although it's never acknowledged, you can see her aged, shriveled body sitting completely still in a chair for the rest of the scene while the witches celebrate. It's pretty obvious that they killed her.
As we said, the corpse is never acknowledged by the witches ... except when someone comes knocking at their door and they unceremoniously cover it with a tablecloth.
It's like a scene out of ALF, only with more child murder.
Or maybe we're reading too much into it and the soulless girl is still alive, in which case she probably went on to star in one of those Disney Channel comedies.
The Futuristic Nazi Demons in Wizards
Wizards was Ralph Bakshi's first attempt to prove that he could produce a family picture after his X-rated Fritz the Cat film failed to capture the imaginations of children everywhere. If you don't know who Ralph Bakshi is, let's put it this way: He's the type of guy whose idea of a "family picture" involves showing as much side-boob as possible.
Wizards is set in the far future and follows a group of elves, dwarves and fairies, one of whom is voiced by Mark Hamill, but he's murdered right away. At one point the villain, Blackwolf, gets his hands on some Nazi stock footage and uses it to cause instant post-traumatic stress on the elves ...
... after which they are swiftly massacred by Blackwolf's Nazi demon army. And by "massacred" we meant literally blown to shit all over the place.
It's like the elves are meant to represent the children watching this movie, with the villain being the guy literally projecting this horror in front of them.
"This is for not watching my previous film, you little twats."
The Ghost Army from Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Bedknobs and Broomsticks was a follow up to Disney's Mary Poppins, using the same winning combination of live action and animated musical sequences, only this time with more witches. Oh, and Nazis.
Conspicuously absent from the poster.
Having a bunch of Nazis crash any Disney film sounds like a recipe for disaster, but interestingly, the Nazis are not even close to the creepiest thing about this movie: That would be the part where the witch played by Angela Lansbury possesses a whole goddamn castle, which essentially amounts to summoning an army of the dead tough enough to take on a squad of Nazis.
We thought the floating horses were a nice touch.
The worst part? The chanting. That goddamn chanting.
First a book made of flesh, and now an army of undead medieval knights. At this point we have to wonder how many Disney films have stuff in common with The Evil Dead.
The Sinking Horse in The NeverEnding Story
The NeverEnding Story is one of the most beloved fantasy films ever, even if, more so than All Dogs Go To Heaven, it suffers from a horribly misleading title.
The film is not on long enough to warrant a potty break before subjecting children to one of the most unexpected, drawn-out deaths in children's cinema outside of Japanese animation. We speak, of course, of the loss of the protagonist's beloved horse, who is tragically swallowed by the set design of the Swamps of Sadness scene very ...
... very ...
... very slowly, until we lose sight of it and it drowns.
Oh, and the reason why the horse was standing still in the first place? It was "overcome by the sadness of the swamps," and because of that, it died. We're sure that sent a great message to all the kids watching the scene and beginning to tear up.
"This could be you, kids!"
The scene is not only one of the most unexpectedly depressing moments in children's cinema, but one of the most realistically acted as well -- that's because the actor playing the kid accidentally got his leg caught in the elevator used for the scene and was slowly pulled beneath the swamp as well. According to IMDb.com, "he was unconscious by the time he was brought to the surface."
Jacopo's book Go @#$% Yourself! is available for the Kindle (DRM free!) and in paperback, including his manic observations on nuclear war, public breastfeeding, video games, conspiracy theories, the economy, and alien invasions. Also includes: hidden messages and secret codes that may or may not reveal the location of the Holy Grail.
For things made for children that really should not have been, check out 10 Awesome Ads (For Traumatizing Children) and 9 Toys That Prepare Children for a Life of Menial Labor.
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