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Great Movies to Watch to Scar Your Children for Life

Theophanes is a New-England-based blogger, traveler, writer, photographer, sculptor, and lover of cats.

I grew up in the 80's in a time before the censoring of Bambi where children everywhere knew Bambi's mom was ruthlessly shot down by a hunter. We grew up with eerie dystopian fantasy movies mingled with muppets and mayhem. Today its hard to tell which are the children's movies and which aren't because, quite frankly, they couldn't be promoted to today's wussy little snot monkeys. Still, even today, more movies are coming out that either aren't actually children's movies or somehow seem to slip under the radar. I couldn't be happier about this!

Yes, that is one of many dead bunnies. It must be rabbit hunting season in Watership Down.

Yes, that is one of many dead bunnies. It must be rabbit hunting season in Watership Down.

Watership Down

Watership Down was actually made in 1978 but I think it kicked off the scary children's flick phenomena so I might as well pay homage to it. As a child of the 80's I was thoroughly scarred by it. You see my aunt went to the video rental store and looked over all the covers to the VHS tapes and saw one with a bunch of cute animated fluffy bunnies thinking that would be great for the kiddies. I was four years old. I can still remember vividly in my head little animated fluffy bunnies being ripped to bloody shreds by ravenous dogs. Blood everywhere! And the screaming! Bunnies really know how to scream. She turned the TV off but she couldn't turn off my memory of it. I'm told now that if I actually watched the whole thing there's an ecstatic bunny slaughtering in almost every scene and that the fact some of the cast lives in the end is a real shocker, having had to deal with ravenous dogs, hungry foxes, brutal hawks, and a patrol of fascist rabbit police! FUN! Why anyone animated this story is beyond me. The novel it was based on was most certainly not written for wee ones.

Look at those big bleary eyes! How could you want to drown one of these little suckers?

Look at those big bleary eyes! How could you want to drown one of these little suckers?

The Last Unicorn

Alright, so you know about unicorns now and how wonderful and magical they are... well we have some bad news. They've been involved in a little genocidal incident and now there's only one left. She doesn't know what happened to her fellow forest rompers so she's on a quest to learn the horrible truth. There is much strangeness and whimsy in this movie before we realize the other unicorns were herded into the ocean and left to drown by a monster bull. Comforting. I guess there is redemption here but wow. Just wow.


Mary & Max

Mary & Max is an independent Australian claymation. That being said I am not sure it was ever meant for children. Maybe? In Australia it is rated PG but I don't really think American audiences would agree! Mary is an eight year girl, thoroughly unpopular, who lives with her severely alcoholic mother and a father who'd rather stuff dead birds that he finds aside the highway than spend time with her. One day she decides to write to a random person who she finds in a phonebook. That person ends up being a 40-something year old man with Asberger's who after much mental torment decideds to write back. That's when the movie starts really showing every character in an unflinchingly honest sort of way, through the innocence of a child's eyes. Mary's mother isn't a kleptomaniac, she's just borrowing or saving on the use of grocery bags. Max writes back lacking any idea of discretion. When Mary asks where babies come from he tells her that Atheist babies come from eggs laid by whores. As the unlikely duo get older their problems with life and this relationship grow more and more complicated. I dare anyone to watch this and not fall wholeheartedly in love with all these foible-riddled characters, down to their very last flaw. But that all being said I wouldn't show this to any children in my charge... I wouldn't want to answer any questions they may have!

I'm still trying to figure out why this still looks so much like Mel Gibson to me...

I'm still trying to figure out why this still looks so much like Mel Gibson to me...

All Dogs Go to Heaven

Its true, all dogs go to heaven, except you Charlie, you've been a bad bad dog and you're going to Hell. Maybe he mistook the sofa for a fire hydrant, I don't know. More likely God's a bit pissed Charlie the dog is a mafioso, murdered by one of his cronies, who cons his way back to life. Talk about a mixed message! It's a moral saga that makes my mind today want to implode, I can only imagine what it does to children.

The Labyrinth

This remains one of my all time favorite movies, especially as a person who feels a bit uninspired by the presence of most children. The plot of the movie is set up pretty quickly as a twelve year old girl accidentally wishes away her crying snot-faced baby brother to the custody of a Goblin King who then gives her 24 hours to rescue the kidnapped infant. If that's not creepy enough the Goblins and many of the other creatures are scary little muppets. Oh and there's the oubliette, a dungeon where prisoners are thrown to be "forgotten" until they starve to death. Oh and then there's a tunnel of hands which were responsible for many many nightmares as a child. This is not to mention the fairy-killing can of Raid, the hoarder muppet that lives in the dump, or the crazy likely LSD inspired scene where a bunch of muppets start lopping off body parts and throwing them at each other. All those things are flipping scary as a child, but as an adult I have far more heebie jeebies thinking about the scene where the Goblin King tries to throw our twelve year old heroine off by enticing her with a romantic tryst - a memorizing dance where she is offered to be Goblin Queen if she just forsakes that damn baby! There's so many things wrong with that I can't even begin to write about it but I am willing to turn a blind eye because this movie still kicks butt.

Nothing to see here! Please avert your eyes from the duck-man and his scantily clad lady friend!

Nothing to see here! Please avert your eyes from the duck-man and his scantily clad lady friend!

Howard the Duck

I watched Howard the Duck before I was of school age but apparently even in the 80's it was labelled "Iffy for 11+" Oops. Maybe that's why when I watched it recently with my boyfriend all I could remember was the stupid monster at the end. "Oh my God! That thing is real!! I have been seeing that in my nightmares for over twenty years!!" My boyfriend is Dutch, and having lived here in the States and watched its puritanical attitudes turned to me and said, "This can't be a children's movie." What? There's something wrong with an ass-grabbing, chain smoking duck getting a little human action? Or was it the weird nonsensical plot? Or the copy of PlayDuck Howard is seen reading? Or maybe the duck boobs shown in the very beginning as Howard's chair bursts through a lady duck's bathroom as she's bathing? Who knew ducks could even have boobs! After watching this movie I am left with a feeling of pity for all the poor little people that got shoved in that hot sweaty duck suit during filming. I feel for ya. This movie is so horrible I actually recommend it to everyone who loves poking fun at B-rated movies.

If you don't want to scoop this little guy up in your arms and coo, "It's OK buddy, I'll keep you safe!" then you are a heartless bastard.

If you don't want to scoop this little guy up in your arms and coo, "It's OK buddy, I'll keep you safe!" then you are a heartless bastard.


"Gremlins isn't a children's movie!" Tell that to all the little kiddies who saw the adorable fluffy little Gizmo and squealed, "I WANT ONE! Forget the stupid pony! I want a Gizmo!" Oh but wait... you can't even give him a bath or feed him past midnight or retarded duplicates will sprout out of him and then morph into ravenous reptilian monsters.... Makes sense.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Oh man, this film has everything a geek like me could want, clay animation, an Edward Gorey-esque look about it, and a soundtrack by Danny Elfman. You just can't go wrong with this one... unless you're afraid of "the clown with the tear-away face" or you look at the story line. Yes, skeletons and monsters are going to kidnap Santa Claus and then deliver him to a maggot-filled sock who'll delight in torturing him while singing in the most sarcastic tone that is possible for the human voice to muster. I finally grasped how truly horrible this was when I noticed strange women slowly wheel their children away from me when I sang some lyrics jokingly to my boyfriend at the supermarket. Would you do the same if you heard someone pleasantly singing, "Kidnap the Sandy Claws, beat him with a stick, Lock him for ninety years, see what makes him tick...."

Since this movie is just that great I am adding two clips, one so you can appreciate the ghastly lyrics of Kidnap the Sandy Claws and the second so you can hear the seething raw sarcasm of Mr Oogie Boogie himself.

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Everything will be fine when you've got buttons for eyes!

Everything will be fine when you've got buttons for eyes!


Claymation movies have a tenancy to be... well... scary, even when they're adorable. How can you not get all warm and fuzzy watching the gerbil circus in Coraline? I mean its wonderful, whimsical, and wow... that must have taken some patience shooting that one frame at a time! I mean yes, there's an odd bit of nudity at one point with opera singers but I can overlook that... what I have a harder time overlooking is the truly dark nature of the storyline. Don't like your parents or home life? Fine! Just find a parallel world where your parents are the most amazing people ever and then to join them all you'll have to do is replace your eyes with giant black buttons, leaving a doll doppelganger in your own world in exchange. I love the complexity, though it does strike me as rather adult, as does the overall dark nature of the entire scenario! And what's up with the buttons?? I mean I think I remember reading that some serial killer used to sew buttons to the roadkill he stuffed as a child because he couldn't afford glass taxidermy eyes. That's just creepy man.

Alice in Wonderland (Any version)

I LOVE Alice in Wonderland, any version of it, save for Disney's. I have to start this by saying that Alice in Wonderland was written by a math genius and given to a ten year old girl as a Christmas present. Sounds sweet until you realize the entire story is a satire of actual people and events and the parts that can't be conclusively pinned are equally disturbing. I mean as a child I was infatuated with the hookah-smoking caterpillar. He just Sure, in the book he's depicted next to a tobacco leaf but I am certain it wasn't good old tobacky in that pipe! Even if it was there's still the abuse of mushrooms. One side will make you big, one side will make you small! These are actual feelings people have when taking hallucinogenic mushrooms. Cute, huh? I could write a whole flipping article about this but I shant. I'll only say I am not the only one obsessed with the story. In fact there's even a musical porno made in the 70's with the same lovable characters and plotline... I hear its the only porno ever to be considered adorable. Obviously don't let your kids watch that one!

This is possibly one the cutest Cheshire cats ever illustrated.

This is possibly one the cutest Cheshire cats ever illustrated.

Pan's Labyrinth

When Pan's Labyrinth came out parents everywhere saw the trailer and thought it'd be a great fairy tale-like movie to bring their children too. Little did they know it was indeed a fairy tale but only of the darkest sort. You could probably tell in the beginning when a man's face is beat in with a glass bottle for poaching rabbits, which two minutes later you realize he didn't actually do. Curiously this is about the same moment when parents started shuffling their screaming children out of the theater. Luckily that was the most violent scene but that being said it still takes place during the war and has a certain gravitational seriousness about it. There are marvelous undertones about what it means to be a child, to be innocent, and what and if that innocence should be kept. Intensely artful in every aspect it is a delight to the wandering mind but I think we should keep this to the adult daydreamers out there!

The sheer artistry of Pan's Labyrinth was never in question - quite simply it is breathtaking.

The sheer artistry of Pan's Labyrinth was never in question - quite simply it is breathtaking.

The skeksis may have been the world's first evil muppets.

The skeksis may have been the world's first evil muppets.

The Dark Crystal

The Dark Crystal is one of those movies that seems to have earned itself a cult status. I'm sad to say I never had the chance to watch this as a child. If I had I am pretty sure I would have loved the muppets, the scenery, and the wildly complicated plotline. I'm not sure how I would have taken the scarier aspects of the movie that start with the word gelfling. Considering the word for a neutered stallion is a gelding I couldn't help but think the main characters were some sort of sexless elves. They were also orphans, their parents having been ripped away from them by the evil vulture-like skeksis. What for? Well, it could have been a number of things... they may have been slaughtered, turned into slaves, or had their life sucked out of them to make youth potions. That question is never really answered. Being an orphan is sad, being the savior of the planet is just confusing, especially considering the entire conflict was between the Skeksis and the Mystics, not the gelflings. How's that for typical political nonsense!

The Never Ending Story

I remember watching the Never Ending Story hundreds of times... for the fluffy dragon. He was cute! Who doesn't love a fluffy wingless dragon that can somehow still manage to fly? How I managed to block out the rest of the movie is beyond me... It starts with a psychic book that writes about the life of the main character and drags him into a world it has seemingly created for him. I didn't think of this much then but I did find the Nothingness absolutely terrifying. The Nothingness is the bad guy of the story - it eats up the reality of this dream world like a black hole and turns everything into nothing, obliterating everything in its path. During the struggle to fight off the nothingness our main character will fight great battles and meet many strange creatures and peoples including a boy and Indian brave named Atreyu who gives the movie great emotional darkness in one absolutely wrenching scene. I am sure everyone whose seen this movie can recall this one cinematic moment where Atreyu looses his faithful companion, his horse, in a patch of quicksand as he tries desperately to save the struggling beast. There are lots of tears, a horrible gut wrenching feeling of utter helplessness, and then a deep sorrow as we're left staring at a devastated crying boy. It makes Old Yeller look like an uplifting film.

Old Yeller - Proving that shooting your childhood best friend is indeed a noble act.

Old Yeller - Proving that shooting your childhood best friend is indeed a noble act.

Old Yeller

Well... since we were already on the topic we might as well give this one a shot. It's an oldie but I still see people torturing their kids with this one. Its like saying, yes, you can have that puppy you have been begging for since you can talk, but beware! After you've gotten desperately attached to it you will have to shoot it in the head - yourself. Tough love? I don't even know what the moral of this psychologically warped story is supped to be....

Who hasn't wanted to bring their childhood dog back with the flair of Frankenstein?

Who hasn't wanted to bring their childhood dog back with the flair of Frankenstein?


I LOVE Frankenweenie. It is another cult classic that is hard not to smile about. That being said it is rather creepy. On the surface it looks like a cute child friendly satire making fun of all the horror films of the 1950s, but it's deeper than that. In the middle of the movie there is a rant given by the science teacher that really cuts to the quick. I don't know what was bothering Tim Burton that day but WOW. It accuses stupid people of being suspicious of science because they don't understand it, worse it goes on to say they are intellectually stunting their children because of their own insecurities. Beautiful. That's not really the creepy part... the creepy part is trying to bring a dead dog back to life and succeeding. There is even a scene where the dog drinks only to have water shoot out of the stitches in its neck. It is one of those things you either laugh or shutter about. Pretty much all Tim Burton movies could make this list but I have chosen this movie because it was his first.

Yes, this is an alien wearing a gas mask and toting a gun because that makes for great children's entertainment.

Yes, this is an alien wearing a gas mask and toting a gun because that makes for great children's entertainment.

Battle for Terra

Have you ever looked at a small child and wondered how you could instill them with hopeless pessimism? Or perhaps destroy whatever faith in humanity they may have? Well then Battle for Terra is right for you! This movie retains all the darkness of an adult sci-fi while animating it with cutesy floating mermaids and a morally conflicted robot. The story goes something like this: Earth has been destroyed by war and the only humans left are apparently psychopathic militants who find an already inhabited new earth, Terra, to colonize. So obviously, they decide to wipe out all those pesky sentient being as well as their crops and civilization so they can make the atmosphere human-friendly and take over. And even more obviously they've decided to do this without even bothering to say hi to the locals. Basically we have an action packed children's movie based on genocide. Cheerful! And to make it worse the bad guys are the humans! There's even one absolutely horrifying scene where the one sympathetic human is forced to watch as his brother and one of the aliens is put into a chamber where one of them will have to die. Does he push the button to fill the chamber with oxygen and save his brother or does he allow the alien to live and watch his brother suffocate? What sociopathic values this is supposed to teach children I haven't the foggiest! And of course this movie is topped off by a brilliantly horrific ending. SPOILER ALERT the one Jesus-like human who is sympathetic to the aliens saves them by committing a suicide bombing, which he believes will also doom his own people to extinction. In the last two minutes of the film the aliens decide to save the remnants of humanity. Why, I have no idea, no rational being would have decided to save something that has been trying to kill them for the entire movie! But there it is. This is the only movie on the list that literally left me feeling angry at the end.


In the end all these movies got me wondering where the tradition of making creepy children's films came from. You could argue it goes back to fairy tales but I'd rather just go back to the birth of cinema. Here's a cartoon produced in the 1920s that I think beats all the above films.

If you liked this article you may enjoy other written by Theophanes:

The Best Socially Awkward Comedy Films of all Time

Not Everyone Wants Kids

Psychologically Dark Movies for the Intellectual Mind

Feral Children - Raised by Animals and Wilderness

Interesting Ways to Make Telemarketers Cry

Killer Tampons - Society's Least Suspected Weapons of Womanly Destruction


More from this Author:


Catching Marbles - A New England based travel blog

Tales from the Birdello - For all homesteading and farming matters

Deranged Thoughts from a Cluttered Mind - For funny personal anecdotes


Through the Looking Glass Farm

Typhani Brooks - Artist




Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on October 20, 2016:

What a delight to have someone stop by and suggest something I have not heard of before. Looks like my movie nights are going to be booked for a bit! Thanks for the recommendations! :)

Lethara on October 16, 2016:

Interesting list, although Pan's Labyrinth was rated R, so any parents who took their kids were rolling the dice there.

I saw all of these that came out when I was a kid and loved them. I ate that sort of stuff up to be honest. I loved creepy and spooky and weird. I also saw a lot of movies and read books decidedly NOT for kids too, though.

I would add to the list: The Secret of NIMH, The Devil and Daniel Mouse, Rock & Rule (not sure if kids were the audience for this, but I saw it when I was a kid and it was animated), Plague Dogs (traumatized me way more than Adams' Watership Down), The Talking Parcel, animated version of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, and Warriors of the Wind (which is just a butchered version of Nausicaa, so probably just watch Nausicaa. But I still remember it as my introduction to Miyazaki as a ten year old.)

Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on September 17, 2015:

16 you say.... What an immature 16 year old.... I will take your word for it though! :)

Stephanie on September 15, 2015:

I love your hubs! Only one thing, in The Labyrinth she was 16 not 12. That makes a huge difference. :o)

Willem on October 02, 2014:

It remains an intrigueing subject.

The movie that stands out for me in this regard is Pinocchio. It's straight up horror made by Disney.

I mean, these kids turn into donkeys by some demonic coachman and are forced to work themselves to death.

As a kid I somehow was scared I might turn into a donkey and probably checked my butt multible times some nights to make sure there was no tail there.

Also, I really couldn't care less about Pinocchio becoming a real boy and was only concerned about the kids that where turned into donkeys, my mind was still there.

I did not even remember the whale when seeing the movie again many years later.

But main point being here that it is a Disney movie, and NONE of the bad guys are in any way punished or hindered. They just get away with everything.

kotobukijake on March 09, 2014:

Pretty cool hub here. Personally, I think Americans coddle their children too much, and don't give them enough credit. I will never forget my shock when a Japanese friend of my mine told she'd grown up watching Hotaru no Haka (Grave of the Fireflies)--the best animated film of all time, but utterly heartrending, and not a movie most Americans would THINK of showing their kids. That said, I admit many of your choices and those in the comments are definitely shows that might have unintended negative effects on children. Also, it is true that people often make BAD judgement calls on this subject. I don't believe for a moment that anyone (at least, anyone sane) would call The Cell a "children's movie," yet a mother was there next to me with her 9 or 10 year old boy at the screening I attended; I was in no small amount of shock that she would subject her child to this film (which, frankly, is only marginally suitable for ADULT viewing). Anyway, you seem to have ignited quite a lively debate with your hub; nice work, and I look forward to revisiting some of the classics from my own childhood that have faded somewhat from my my mind, like The Neverending Story and Old Yeller, as well as longtime favorites like Alice in Wonderland and Nightmare before Christmas, which no doubt are largely responsible for the fine, upstanding citizen I have become.

Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on October 23, 2013:

@Mel Carriere - I don't know if I was "impressionable" but I do know I wrote this article for a laugh and that these movies are far more disturbing to me as an adult than they ever were when I was a child. I stand by Pan's Labyrinth though, if I were young enough to see that as a child I am pretty sure the bottle scene would have given me nightmares for at least a few months. Violence is one of those things I will never understand... and by that I mean people freak out all the time about children's movies being too sexual but violence, which I think is far more damning, is pervasive in everything. Pan's Labyrinth was extreme in that. I STILL can't watch that scene! (But I love the rest of the movie and as an adult I understand it was necessary to point out the inhumanity of war so I can forgive it but it doesn't mean I want to see it again!)

@BernietheMovieGuy - People brought their kids to South Park?? Wow... they either must be idiots or in desperate need of a babysitter. That's.... I mean one little R might be easy to miss but that title... just wow. I'm at a loss for words and that takes a lot! Thanks for that laugh!

@Shinkicker: Thanks for the shares and comment! Indeed fairy tales are.. dark. I grew up with a lot of German and Russian fairy tales (as well as Persian, English, Native American, African, etc) and I must say German and Russian fairy tales are astoundingly dark. In the original Snow White the evil queen sends Snow White out with a hunter telling him to bring back her lung and liver. When he brings back the lung and liver of a boar she eats it and at the end she pays for her cannibalistic deeds by dancing in a pair of hot iron slippers until she drops down dead. Censorship here in the states has made finding the original versions of these stories difficult to say the least. As for Russian fairy tales... they're a trip! Like Baba Yaga, the witch who lives in a house that walks around on a pair of giant chicken feet. When she comes across children she eats them - unless you can trade the child for a blue rose, something that at the time didn't exist! Creepy.

@condominium - The Nightmare Before Christmas was one of my favorites when I was a little one. It didn't scare me and the truth is very few of these things scare children. The funny thing about that is children have so little life experience they often don't know to be scared! It's a wonderful thing. :)

MovieMadness12316 - Welcome to HubPages! (I know I am quite late in responding.) Anyway, I wrote this article as a work of satire. I never meant it to mean kids shouldn't see these movies... it was more of a reflection of the fun I had growing up watching them. Mollycoddled children have been and always will be within our society - so will feral children, who there are far more of, that no one's watching or paying any attention to. Forgive me but most days for the sake of sanity I'd take a well behaved mollycoddled child over a screaming uncontrolled feral one!

hlwar: I would like to think these movies helped twist my growing mind too. I watched Pan's Labyrinth as an adult and never expected it to be a children's movie. I was curious to see a foreign film in our American movie theaters. You just don't see that, especially with subtitles, and even playing in small towns! I have heard a lot about Neil Gaiman over the past couple years and am slightly embarrassed to say I haven't read anything of his - although it is on my to-do list! Now you've really peaked my curiosity with Coraline, I just can't imagine how that could be creepier... I think I'm off to Amazon now. Thanks for the suggestion!

hlwar on July 31, 2013:

Oh my goodness, I love this hub! I was also a child of the 80's and grew up on almost all of these movies, still favorites of mine in a nostalgic manner. I like to think they helped mold me into the creative individual I am today. XD

People were probably given the wrong impression about Pan's Labyrinth because it was released the year after the first Narnia movie (which also has fauns). It's funny because Guillermo del Toro's Spanish films are not really known for being "kid friendly". Seen The Orphanage or The Devil's Backbone? (o_o;;) Parents should really pay attention to ratings.

I have to say I was thoroughly disappointed with the movie adaption of Coraline. Neil Gaiman's novel is much more creepy than that.

MovieMadness12316 on July 24, 2013:

I'm new to HubPages, but I think I can understand where you are coming from about scaring little children, and I think that it does depend on the age of the child. The last thing that I want is a scared child, that is a horrible thing, but there was a time when people were taught to be tough and rugged from childhood on up, they had no choice, it was a matter of survival. The beginning of cinema basically came from that era. Also there usually is a life lesson from these movies. Bambi, for example, teaches children that Mom is not always going to be there and it is important that the child understand that the child will someday have to fend for him/her self. That just the way life is. Sorry if that sounds kind of harsh, but it is a fact of life. For mothers and father that coddle their children too long, they certainly are not doing their children any favors. And just so people understand where I'm coming from, I have 2 of my own, 1 already grown and gone with a family of his own, and I couldn't be more proud, and our second child is a teen, we're a little tough on her but she understands and is a borderline straight A student.

Shinkicker from Scotland on May 26, 2013:

Interesting Hub

A reminder of how dark fairy tales can be. I remember as a child thinking how creepy the Hansel and Gretel story was. Gremlins is a great example of the scary children's movie.

Voted up and shared on Facebook too.


Bernie Ment from Syracuse, NY on May 25, 2013:

I still got a kick out of parents reactions when they took their kids to see South Park: Bigger Longer and Uncut in the theater. So, to make sure I understand this, they didn't see that it was rated R, but because it was a cartoon, it had to be for kids, right? That was the same logic they used for Heavy Metal. Parents. Sheesh. They just never get it.

Voted up! Thanks for the laughs!

Mel Carriere from Snowbound and down in Northern Colorado on May 25, 2013:

Were you a very impressionable youngster, or what? As a child I was traumatized by a great many movies, but nothing as tame as the fare you have listed here. I love Watership Down (the book, I admit), and Pan's Labyrinth is a good one too. There is nothing on here that I would have prohibited from my own children. Maybe I wasn't a very good Father, after all. Anyway, I like your writing style and a lot of your comments are amusing, which I find refreshing.

Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on May 22, 2013:

Yeah I agree... the violence in Pan's Labyrinth made me want to heave as an adult. I am reeeeally happy I didn't see it as a child! I mean I still remember being horrified by Medusa's beheading in Clash of the Titans when cold tomato soup pours out of her paper mache neck hole... Pan's Labyrinth was so much more real - I think it would have left many scars!

Carlo Giovannetti from Puerto Rico on May 22, 2013:

LOL, I can't imagine a parents surprise after taking their children to Pan's Labyrinth. That bottle scene was brutal, but so was the knife-in-mouth one. Ick.

Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on March 14, 2013:

cfin: Disney movies and their warped sexist morals could make another article entirely! There was a Lewis Black bit about the first black princess they animated that cracked me up. Went something like, "Yes! They finally have a black princess! She can be added to the white princesses, the Asian one, the Native American, the Middle Eastern, and even the one that's half fish! And where shall the black princess live? In New Orleans of course! She'll be a maid! That's a stretch!" (And then they married her off to a white prince... mixed messages much??)

I don't think Nosferatu was meant for children!

Kathleen: Hell, Teletubbies and Yo Gabba Gabba give me nightmares today and I'm all grown up! I think as a child what scared me the most was the scene in Clash of the Titans where Medusa's head gets lopped off and what appears to be cold tomato soup pours out of the neck hole... that and Saturday Night Live. There was a blood skit on there one night that tweaked me out so badly I am surprised I am OK around blood now. haha

Thanks for the comments guys. Got to love some of these stories.

Kathleen Cochran from Atlanta, Georgia on March 14, 2013:

The show that gave my daughter nightmares in elementary school was Murder She Wrote. She later said it was because it was like real life and in every show somebody got killed. You never know -

cfin from The World we live in on February 16, 2013:

Auto correct really messed up my comment. Sorry about the typos.

cfin from The World we live in on February 16, 2013:

Don't forget the wolf in sheets clothing such as "beauty and the beast", it teaches women that they can love a beast, as long as they never give up on changing him into a Hansom prince. Then she can love the beast for who he is.... After he changes :D Like any Disney movie, the "moral" of the story, as clear as it is, is always overlooked. Such movies may warp kids even more than the nightmare before Christmas. I still can't watch that.

And land labyrinth, there was something about the shuddering of the special effects and the frame rate that weirded me out. On a separate note, please add my traumatic childhood movie to your list, "nosferatu" the original one. I still remember seeing it. It's. 1922 classic that was filmed under strange circumstances. Very odd movie.

Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on January 29, 2013:

Yes, some people should really stick to their day jobs! Thanks for the comment johndnathan.

John D Nathan from Dallas, Texas. USA on January 28, 2013:

I've seen each and every one of these movies, most of which during my adult life. Then again I don't scar easily.

These are all excellent movies... well except for the scene in The Last Unicorn where Jeff Bridges demonstrates his awful singing voice.

Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on December 26, 2012:

Thank you Black Alpaca!

THE BLACK ALPACA on December 26, 2012:

Great list and yes, all scary.

George Greene Jr. from California PA on November 28, 2012:

What got me about being scared was I never had a fear of any movies especially by the age that I was at the time(10)! We had a show here in Pittsburgh that aired late saturday nights called Chiller Theater hosted by Bill cardille (who was the reporter in Night of the Living dead!)He showed double features of monster flicks and none of them bothered me! But for some reason the Beware the Blob sequel did!

Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on November 28, 2012:

LoL, that's great George! I remember when I was little I loved the theme song to the old black and white blob movie. I still think it's damned adorable!

George Greene Jr. from California PA on November 28, 2012:

the only flick that actually scared me as a child was Beware the Blob! there was a scene where this barber was going to cut this hippie's hair and when he went to shampoo the guy in the sink, the Blob came up from the drain!

One week later i was left alone in the house with my uncle and he fell asleep! Scared , I went and turned on allt he cold water faucets in the house till either my uncle woke up or my Aunt got home so I would be safe!

Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on November 28, 2012:

That's great. I was never that jaded about horror flicks... in fact critters scared the bejesus out of me when I was a wee one! They're absolutely funny now. I love bad horror.

George Greene Jr. from California PA on November 24, 2012:

Legend is a true classic! I too never saw the Dark crystal so i will need to keep an eye out for that one! and you are right about not stopping to show these to kids! I grew up on monster flicks and actually found them more humorous than scary! The films to keep a youngster away from is documentaries that discuss political issues and stuff like that as they are too young to understand! At least they understand the monsters in the movies aren't real.

Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on November 24, 2012:

I actually never watched The Dark Chrystal and was waiting until I saw it to put it on here. Legend I forgot about. Thanks! Will work on that! :)

Dan Barfield from Gloucestershire, England, UK on November 24, 2012:

Never stop showing these to kids - they're a dark inspiration for the imagination! I love the ones you've mentioned, but I can't help point out that you've missed two essentials: "The Dark Crystal" and "Legend"

Check out those bad boys! :)

Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on October 30, 2012:

Hmmm.... will have to look that up, didn't know he was in a Western....

George Greene Jr. from California PA on October 30, 2012:

If children are to b eintroduced to Bowie the actor ,I think they should see him in a western he was in . I do ot recal lthe name but he was a dark character.

Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on October 23, 2012:

Helena Ricketts: I didn't know they made Rikki Tikki Tavi into a cartoon, though I do know he's one of the characters in the Jungle Book (the actual book - not the movie.) Will have to look into that one!

amandajoyshapiro: Absolutely! Children should be introduced to Bowie through the Laughing Gnome, no? ;) Nothing like British chipmonky background singers! And of course... I love collecting dark fairy tales too. They say so much about the human psyche.

amandajoyshapiro on October 20, 2012:

I saw The Labyrinth in elementary school when a substitute showed it in art class. No ten year old should be introduced to David Bowie this way. But scary stories for kids are part of growing up: just think of all those nursery rhymes and fairy tales.

Helena Ricketts from Indiana on October 20, 2012:

What an excellent hub! I've watched quite a few of the movies you mention, I am an 80's child too. Do you remember Riki Tiki Tavi? About the mongoose, the cobras and the little boy and his family? They used to show it on television here once a year around Thanksgiving. It had some violent parts too and I'm not sure it can even be purchased anymore. I have it on VHS but haven't watched it in a while.

Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on October 20, 2012:

Wow, thanks everyone for the comments! I never watched Benji, maybe I'll go see it and add a little blurb. :)

LA Elsen from Chicago, IL on October 19, 2012:

Last Unicorn. Wow. Thanks for opening up those old wounds! Just kidding. Crying thirteen year old girls is the only thing I remember about that one. This hub has stirred the waters and I believe I need a session or two. This a great list, but I would love to add one more from the seventies: Benji. The scene where the bad guy kicks Benji's little doggie girl friend Tiffany. All you hear is the kicking noise and she rolls across the floor and lies uncounscous. So Sad!

George Greene Jr. from California PA on October 19, 2012:

Yes indeed about gremlins! T hat movie was a true horror flick! I am glad me and my girlfriend at the time checked it out first before taking her kids. They understood when we told them this is no cute movie but actually a monster story.. they knew what to expect and weren't that shocked by it then as they were into some monster stories if they knew what to expect.

That is the key for taking children to see a horror story.. let them know up front it is not real and it will be gruesome, sad.whatever.. but they will appreciate the film a lot more instead of getting the bejesus scared out of them!

Martin Kloess from San Francisco on October 19, 2012:

Thank you for sharing. I agree. I still recall the effect Bambi (when his mother died) had on me. And that was mild in comparison to your examples.

Kimberly Vaughn from Midwest on October 19, 2012:

I loved Labyrinth when I was a kid but Coraline kind of freaked me out even as an adult!

Theophanes Avery (author) from New England on October 19, 2012:

That's the great thing about kids... most of the time they just don't notice!

Georgie Lowery from North Florida on October 19, 2012:

Great Hub. Sometimes these darker themes are terrifying for kids, and I hate that. Coraline is definitely a movie that I don't think young kids should watch. I had gotten it from NetFlix and my roommate's 8 and 10 year old girls watched it. Thankfully, they weren't as disturbed over it as I was.

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