5 Unnecessarily Terrifying Kids Movie Villains
Everyone get upset if even a little bit of full-frontal nudity turns up in a kids' movie. Yet for some reason, we have no problem with horrifying imagery that seems specifically designed to make sure children never get another good night's sleep. How else do you explain these hellish villains in otherwise kid-friendly movies?
Claude Frollo In The Hunchback Of Notre Dame
On the page, Claude Frollo, the main antagonist in The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, is a complicated villain. He is a self-righteous and "pure" man who hides behind his high-ranking position in the Catholic Church to murder and abuse people who defy him. And when Disney made their G-rated adaptation of the novel, it was a safe bet they would smooth out his rough edges. But they didn't. Oh god, they didn't.
Fearing backlash from Christian organizations, the film turned Frollo into a judge instead of the archdeacon. With the change in occupation came a bloodier introduction, involving him killing a woman by knocking her down some stairs. He then tries to drop her baby down a well, but is caught and shamed into raising the baby instead. From there things get worse, as the plot focuses on Frollo's unholy infatuation with Esmeralda, a beautiful woman who, like most people on Earth, wants nothing to do with him.
Frollo's lust for Esmeralda leads him to sing the song "Hellfire." Here are some of the lyrics from this actual Disney cartoon:
Protect me, Maria
Don't let this siren cast her spell
Don't let her fire sear my flesh and bone
Destroy Esmeralda, and let her taste the fires of Hell
Or else let her be mine, and mine alone
Ah, that classic kids' movie trope of the elderly sex predator who compares his lust to a fire that burns him alive, and who insists that his sinful thoughts are a woman's fault for being too sexy. In between some farting gargoyles and the bright colors of Disney's Paris, a deeply religious man plots to kill someone because she gave him too many self-loathing boners.
Maybe Disney should be applauded for respecting a child's capacity for such heavy themes. Then again, even they were surprised when the movie received a G rating. But it's Disney, so Frollo obviously learned his lesson right? Ha, no. He falls into a fiery pit that's clearly meant to symbolize Hell.
The Other Mother In Coraline
Coraline tells the story of an unhappy young girl discovering an alternate world that closely resembles hers. There she finds alternate versions of her parents, who among other minor differences, have black buttons for eyes:
We're already at "unsettling," but for the unsuspecting child who sat down for this lighthearted animated adventure, things are about to get much worse. Logically, an alternate world with a button-eyed "Other Mother" and "Other Father" would be terrifying to experience in person, but not for Coraline, whose only companions at home are a cat and Wybie, a chatty neighbor. Also, her parents are a pair of self-absorbed writers who can't be bothered to spend any time with her. At least in this weird other-realm, people pay attention to her. Who wouldn't make that trade?
But this is when things start to go downhill, as the merely unnerving button-eyed mother is revealed to be a Beldam, a malicious old woman who hates cats, rules the other world, and oh yeah, plans on surgically replacing Coraline's eyes with buttons. Also, she looks like this:
Or at least, that's how she looks before completing her heel turn and becoming a cracked-faced button-eyed skeletal spider monster:
Remember that up to that moment, she'd been wearing the face of her target's mother. Yes, good luck to anyone who plopped little Timmy in front of the TV hoping this would keep him distracted for a couple of hours. If the mere appearance of this thing doesn't haunt his nightmares for the next couple of decades, there's the fact that the Other Mother's story culminates with Coraline tossing a cat at her face, which promptly claws those damn eyes out:
The monster then thrashes around in her own giant web, blind and screaming. Stop-motion dolls or not, that's some Lars von Trier shit right there.
Director Henry Selick has said that this movie is for "only the bravest of children," and compared it to early Disney cartoons which tapped into the "same sort of primal fears of Grimm's fairy tales." Job well-done, Selick. I will never forgive you for it.
Trantor The Troll In Ernest Scared Stupid
In 2013, 22 years after the release of Ernest Scared Stupid, director John Cherry wrote "It turns out the Troll was too scary" in his autobiography. He'd also write "What makes a creature scary? The first thing is that the creature has a single purpose ... There is no negotiation with the creature." It sounds more like he's talking about Michael Myers than a snot-nosed ogre in a slapstick comedy, but it's this mission statement that turned the third sequel in the Ernest series into a nightmare.
Ernest Scared Stupid is about an ancient troll named Trantor, who is unleashed upon a rural town because of Ernest P. Worrell. In 1891, Ernest's ancestors captured the troll by -- let me double check here -- using a terrified girl as bait. Because of this, Trantor cursed the Worrell line to become "dumber and dumber and dumber," until one of the idiot descendants (Ernest, natch) frees him. When Trantor is unleashed, he goes on a mission to kidnap five children so he can raise an army of gooey trolls. What an adorable, wacky mix-up from our bumbling protagonist!
Here's a sample of what you're in for in this goofy comedy. After a long and frightening day of being harassed by the troll, a child named Elizabeth comes home to an angry '90s movie mom who doesn't want to hear about her "troll nonsense," and refuses to look under her bed. When the mom leaves, Elizabeth looks down there and finds her beloved stuffed animal waiting for her. She hugs it and rolls back onto the bed to see:
This. Trantor waiting for her, inches away, with a sinister grimace on his face.
I should note here that this was the first Ernest movie to gross under $20 million at the box office, though you'd have to wonder if it'd have done better under the more accurate title Ernest vs. The Child Predator.
Snik In Little Monsters
How bad can a 1989 movie starring Fred Savage and Howie Mandel called Little Monsters be? I mean, look at the VHS cover:
That seems tailor-made to get five-year-olds to nap on a Sunday afternoon. But while the film initially focuses on main character Brian befriending a monster named Maurice who lives under his bed, it spirals into weirdness as they piss in people's apple juice, destroy homework assignments, joke about masturbation, and terrorize babies. Things go swimmingly until Brian realizes he's becoming a monster himself, which puts him on the radar of Boy and Snik, the leaders of the monster world.
While the "Child befriends the monster under his bed" aspect is easy to explain, the rest of the movie isn't. Beneath the surface, there is some bizarre and unexplained subtext involving child abuse that has been copiously analyzed on the internet here and there, with most of the attention focused on an odd scene in which Snik terrorizes a kid named Arnold. Here is the disturbingly vague dialogue:
Arnold (pleading): I tried, you gotta believe me, Snik! I tried!
Snik: Oh you tried, did you, Arnold? Well you didn't try hard enough!
Arnold: My knees, they hurt!
Snik: Oh, your knees hurt? Well, that's not all that's going to hurt. You know why? Because I'm gonna take my big thumb AND I'M GONNA JAB IT IN YOUR EYE. Now I'm gonna take my finger, and I'm gonna put it in the corner of your mouth, and I'm gonna rip the corner of your mouth out. Ha ha! That's good for a laugh, isn't it? Huh? You're scared of me, aren't you, Arnold? Oh, I like that. Ohhhhhhh, I LOVE THAT. But do you know what I like even more than that, Arnold? I like taking my two, big, black, leather-gloved hands, and grabbing your head, and tearing it off!
Just in case you're at work, or at a family dinner, or in a Chili's, and can't play the full horrifying video, know that yes, the monster does assault a child and then rip the child's head off.
And while writers Terry Rossio and Ted Elliott have never revealed if these theories about the whole thing being symbolic of real-life child abuse are correct, they've never refuted them either. So it's kind of hard for anyone to say "Nah! It's just a movie about silly monsters! Where would you get the idea that it's a metaphor for one of the worst crimes possible, outside of, well, most of the movie?"
The Grand High Witch In The Witches
Based on the book by Roald Dahl, 1990's The Witches is about a kid named Luke battling witches who plan on turning the children of England into mice. On paper, it sounds like standard kid adventure fare. But on screen, it becomes a parade of sexy witches, attempted infanticide, and a witch turning into a rat before being killed by a butcher knife -- all in a PG movie.
The most talked about moment of The Witches features the Grand High Witch peeling off her face to expose some hideous (and pretty amazing) Jim Henson makeup work. Her elongated features and bulging warts are front and center as she murders disobedient witches with laser beams and tells her underlings that she expects "maximum results" in their quest to kill children. However, this is far from the most frightening moment in the movie.
The worst bit also ISN'T when the Grand High Witch forces Luke to leave his hiding place by pushing a baby stroller down a hill toward a cliff. This is made all the worse by how absolutely thrilled the Witch is by the prospect of offing newborns.
No, the worst moment comes when the witches are turned into mice and the hotel staff starts brutally killing them with kitchen tools. The worst fate belongs to the Grand High Witch, who is transformed into a hairless rat thing and cut up with a butcher knife.
But hey! She does get killed by Rowan Atkinson, aka Mr. Bean, who does some funny facial expressions as he gleefully murders your innocence. So there's that.
For more, check out The 6 Creepiest Videos Aimed At Children:
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