6 Terrifying Children's Cartoons from Around the World
If there's one thing we know about kids' movies, it's that some of them can get pretty terrifying. And if there's one thing we know about foreign movies, it's that all of them are confusing and bizarre. Now combine those two things, and you get the following traumatizing scenes from cartoons around the world:
The Animals of Farthing Wood (Britain/France) -- Little Baby Cartoon Animals, Horribly Stabbed to Death
The Animals of Farthing Wood is an early '90s cartoon about a bunch of talking woodland critters who, after their forest is destroyed, make a friendship pact and set out on a grand adventure to find a new home. It took the combined efforts of Britain and France to turn such a harmless-sounding concept into what's possibly the most depressing animated series ever made outside of Japan.
For example, in one episode, the group gains new characters when two members of the party, the field mice, have little mice babies:
"They're all so adorable. I'm not sure which one to consume."
Surely adding kids to the cast will make the show more whimsical and fun, right? Um, no ... because exactly one episode later, this happens:
They couldn't have known they were trespassing on Vlad the Bluejay's territory.
Holy shit -- there's more gore in that scene than in the entire second season of The Walking Dead. Yes, those are the newly born baby mice impaled on a thicket of thorns.
They weren't just killed off subtly off screen: We needed to witness their horrible deaths, for some reason, and then watch their mother crying in sadness and guilt. Why introduce a litter of babies only to have them snatched away an episode later?
"Chill out, lady. They were basically strangers."
And this wasn't a one-time thing -- in another episode, the group is found out while hiding on a farm, and one of them, Mrs. Pheasant, is shot and killed by a human. Oh, but that's not the unusually cruel part yet: After the group has managed to escape, they notice that one of the animals was left behind, and the recently widowed Mr. Pheasant volunteers to go back and get them. If you already know where this is going, you are one sick individual.
"Mummy, I'm a vegetarian now." "Oh, get over yourself, honey."
Yes, he finds his dead wife plucked and cooked and about to be eaten by humans. Mr. Pheasant is so distraught that he is literally blinded by the tears and doesn't see the farmer coming. Long story short, they had a really big dinner that night.
If you look at things from the farmer's perspective, it was an incredibly happy ending.
There are actually three full seasons of this shit, with a running total of 23 on-screen deaths, many of them regular characters.
Wakfu (France) -- The Heroes Become Accidental Cannibals
Wakfu is a French cartoon based on a popular (in France) MMO video game of the same name. It follows a group of heroes who wander across the land having adventures, fighting the forces of evil and occasionally murdering innocent people and eating their remains. By "occasionally," we mean "in one disturbing episode," but that's enough to land them on this list.
The episode starts innocently enough. The heroes are walking through a forest, looking for food, when they come across a little piglet ...
... which they proceed to murder the shit out of and devour. That's actually not the disturbing part.
There it is on the spit.
Granted, the fact that the animators went out of their way to make the pig look as cute as possible before slaughtering it may be disturbing enough for some kids, but it's not what we're here to talk about. It's about to get much, much worse.
After picking the piglet's bones dry and doing some other things we don't completely understand because a) we've never played the game this is based on and b) it's all in French, the heroes end up making their way into a nearby dungeon. At this point, three of the characters wander into a poorly ventilated chamber filled with green fart-air ... and when they emerge, they look like this:
In France, this is probably a metaphor for sexting or something.
It turns out that the dungeon is inhabited by a giant pig monster who somehow turns people into little piglets with wings. Oh, yes, you see where this is going.
The characters get turned back to normal at the end of the episode, of course, but that leaves a question: What about the piglet they just killed and ate? You know, the one they found near the pig-transforming dungeon, who looked exactly like they did when they were turned into pigs?
Everything seems to indicate that the pig was another adventurer who just happened to be caught in the same trap, came out as a pig and was looking for help. That's why it was smiling when they found it. And just in case you think we are jumping to some conclusion here that isn't in the show, they actually explain the whole thing again during a little credits sequence. First we see a lone swordsman wandering around, minding his own business.
"Once I sell this magic sword, I'll have enough gold to keep the orphanage afloat!"
As he wanders off screen, he is treated to the same gaseous stink as before ...
... and emerges as the little piglet from the beginning of the episode. Scared and confused, he sees something coming toward him ...
Something with inexplicable vampiric teeth.
... which turns out to be our heroes, locked on to his sweet bacon aroma. They chase the poor little bastard back off screen and off to his horrible, terrible demise.
Level up! You get +4 cannibalism!
This is either a re-creation of what happened earlier in the episode or an extra scene showing what happens once the heroes get a taste for human flesh.
The Moomins (Finland) -- The Moomins Are Visited by Death Incarnate
The only things kids under 5 demand out of their TV screens are pretty colors, catchy tunes and characters with annoyingly high-pitched voices. It's that simple. On all those counts, The Moomins pretty much delivers. The classic Finnish stop-motion show stars a race of wide-eyed mouthless semi-anthropomorphic hippos called Moomins.
A consequence of Finland's rampant genetic experimentation.
The colorful storybook valley the Moomins inhabit is populated by all sorts of friendly animals and cheerful children. Everything is happy and pleasant -- but then out of nowhere comes the Groke, and everything goes to shit.
This is what the Teletubbies needed.
The Groke is an almost indescribably terrifying creature that occasionally invades the show for no apparent reason. You never actually see the Groke move: It slips between the seconds, its gaze fixed on your soul, as it emits a low, horrid breathing sound, like a recording of death itself. The worst part? It kills everything it touches. In one episode, we see a butterfly approaching it ...
You know, Finland's famous cyclops butterfly.
... and instantly dropping dead just for breathing the same air.
Technically, the Groke prevented a hurricane in France. But fuck France.
The same happens to the plants and trees surrounding it. The butterfly comes back to life when the Groke leaves at the end of the episode, but we seriously doubt there was a single kid left watching by that point.
Every other character in the show is terrified of the Groke to the point of hysteria. Another episode shows the Moomins panicking and barricading themselves into their house because they know the Groke is coming that night. Desperate, Moominpappa runs to the attic and grabs a shotgun.
"The gun won't hurt it," said Snufkin. "I know," said Moominpappa, "it's for us."
The next morning, when they head out to investigate the spot in the garden where the Groke was, they find it dead and frozen, as if the warmth of a loving God just blew away like leaves in the wind. Then the narrator says, "Oh, what could they do? The terrible Groke would surely return" -- and then the credits roll. That's how the episode ends, with the lingering thought that it's still out there.
"I don't know who you should pray to, for our God shuns you for being so funny-looking."
It's never explained what the Groke is or where it comes from. It seems specifically designed to teach kids about the randomness and inevitability of death (which is apparently more important in Finland than learning the ABC's and shit like that).
Alma (Spain) -- Pixar Meets M. Night Shyamalan
Even if you've never heard of Spanish animator Rodrigo Blaas, you might have heard about some of the movies he had a hand in creating, like The Incredibles, Cars, Up or a little film called Wall-E. His short silent animation Alma could easily pass for another Pixar film ... if it wasn't for that soul-crushing twist ending.
The film starts innocently enough, with an impossibly cute little blonde girl running down a snow-covered street and writing her name, Alma (which is also "soul" in Spanish), on a wall. Then she spots something strange on the window of a closed toy shop: It's a doll who looks exactly like her.
All children desire plastic, dead-eyed replicas of themselves.
Naturally, Alma decides to break into the shop and grab the doll. We're barely two minutes into the film, and she's already guilty of street vandalism, breaking and entering and attempted theft -- but you know what, that sort of stuff happens in cartoons all the time. It's not like she's gonna receive some sort of convoluted supernatural punishment for her actions, right? This is an animated film set to clarinet music -- nothing bad can happen here.
Anyway, she gets inside the store, and while trying to reach the doll, she steps on a toy of a boy on a bicycle. She sets the toy on the floor and watches it go off on its own until it bumps into the store's door, over and over. Like it's trying to escape.
"Man, I wish I could speak forebodingness."
But we're still within the realm of a cutesy kids' movie here, like a short feature they'd show before a Disney movie. Everything changes when Alma notices that her toy double is now up on a shelf filled with other dolls, reaches up to touch it and ... we are treated to a flash of inexplicable images that would make Clive Barker flinch. In two seconds, the film goes from Pixar whimsical to David Lynch insane.
When the Nine Inch Nails promo clip sequence is over, Alma's view comes into focus and she breathes heavily, unable to move. She's trapped inside the doll and can only move her eyes. The camera pulls back to reveal the dozens of dolls around her also moving their eyes in terror, each one imprisoning the soul of someone's missing child.
This is actually the gritty prequel for Toy Story.
We're just gonna go out on a limb here and guess that the reason Rodrigo Blaas doesn't work at Pixar anymore was less "seeking new opportunities" and more like "We are terrified of what you may do to us in our sleep."
Dot and the Kangaroo (Australia) -- The Bunyip Song
Dot and the Kangaroo is a classic 1977 animated film designed to teach kids about Australia's unique and often hilarious fauna. In it, the eponymous Dot and Kangaroo go around the Outback meeting animals like the grumpy platypus ...
"I remembered what a crime against nature I was, and then dropped my damn ice cream, too."
The lazy koala ...
And his literal morning wood.
And the ... the ... what in the hell is this thing?
Seriously, what are we looking at he -- oh dear God it's coming this way.
What makes this sequence so terrifying is that it's completely unexpected. One minute you're watching this movie about little cartoon animals singing and dancing, and then literally out of nowhere comes a horrible growling noise accompanied by depressing piano music and these lyrics:
"The bunyip's very bad,
And the bunyip's very bold,
And they tell me that the bunyip
Is now a thousand years old."
The blood of children makes it immortal. Happy Earth Day, kids!
The song goes on to inform us that "You better hide very soon, or the bunyip's going to get you in the bunyip moon," and that "It's the most unpleasant monster that you have ever seen" (but we already knew both those things, just from instinct). Compare that to the lyrics of the previous song: "I'm a frog, I'm a frog, I'm a frog, I'm a frog."
And this is of course accompanied by creepily animated visuals in a completely different style from the rest of the film, as if an actual ghost had possessed your TV.
Well, at least the kids can take comfort from knowing that the filmmakers just made up this bunyip creature ... after hearing about it from actual aboriginal accounts dating back hundreds of years.
The Plague Dogs (Britain) -- Watership Down, With Dogs
If you were "lucky" enough to experience that gore-filled bunny rabbit classic called Watership Down as a kid, by the time the movie was over you had one consolation: There was no more of it. Discounting the nightmares it probably still inspires, there are no new scenes of that particular brand of carefully animated animal violence to traumatize you. Or so we thought.
"A special kind of movie magic" is the type they have to keep under three tons of lead in case it leaks out.
Four years after Watership Down came out, the same British studio teamed up with the same director and many of the same voice actors on an adaptation of a book by the same author, The Plague Dogs. Although slightly more obscure than its predecessor, it is just as messed up.
Right off the bat, The Plague Dogs lets kids know they're gonna regret picking the video cover with the doggies by showing them some good old-fashioned animal cruelty in the very first scene. First we see a dog in a room full of water, desperately trying to stay afloat.
"And then he starts singing, right?"
Exhausted, the dog gives up and starts sinking in the water as the air leaves his lungs. The whole time, a group of men in lab coats watch and commentate in their nonplussed British voices.
Finally, his motionless body settles at the bottom of the room, before being dragged away by a hook that grabs him by the collar.
But this is nothing compared to what's in store for you if, for some reason, you decide to keep watching this movie. The most soul-deadening scene by far starts when one of the canine protagonists is spotted by a hunter with a shotgun.
The hunter starts calling the doggy, and then he ... puts the gun down. He actually just wanted to pet him! Not everything in life is death and cruelty: There are also kind, friendly people out there. And then the dog excitedly leaps into the man's arms and ...
... accidentally shoots him in the face.
How do we know the shotgun wasn't pointed at, say, his dick or something (which is at least survivable)? Because they goddamned show us, that's why.
"It's just a really bad nosebleed. From the eyes."
That thing about the man being friendly with the dog? That was just there to lull you into a false sense of security before dragging you back into the cold, terrifying world of British children's animation. The dog sees the man's lifeless corpse and runs away, now a murderer.
Those aren't spots. They're bits of brain.
The worst part? This doesn't have anything to do with the plot. The man is never mentioned again, so presumably they just put the scene there to freak us out (it worked). Oh, and later on we see a re-creation of the scene from First Blood (released a couple of months earlier) where a guy falls from a helicopter and dies -- except this one's even more gruesome, because at least Rambo didn't go back and feed on the man's corpse.
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