Five Children’s Movies That Scarred Us

You know, sometimes you look back at movies you watched when you were little and you think, “Wow, how did I not grow up to be a sociopath after watching that?” Because let’s be honest, kids’ movies are full of some pretty upsetting themes, like parents dying, animal cruelty, or Bill Murray eating a hard-boiled egg off the floor of a chimp’s cage in Osmosis Jones. So for this edition of Top 5 Tuesday, let’s take a look back at some of the most traumatizing movies from our childhood that still haunt us to this day…

1. Bambi (1942) – I seriously have no idea why anyone would show this movie to their kids. The scene where Bambi’s mom gets shot is one of the most devastating things I’ve ever seen in a children’s movie, and yet Bambi is considered a “classic.”  I’m not really sure what Disney’s obsession with dead parents is about (see: The Lion King, Tarzan, Fox and the Hound, etc.), but it makes for some super sad kids’ movies.

2. The Secret of NIMH (1982) – What can you expect from a movie about animal testing? They literally show rats getting injected with experimental drugs. Also, the general feel of the movie as a whole is like an 11 on the creepy scale. There are evil red-eyed rodents, faceless scientists with syringes, and sad monkeys stuck in cages. Maybe it’s because I’ve always been an animal lover—especially of the rodent variety—but this movie was just too much for me. This scene where she visits the Great Owl is literally the scariest thing I’ve ever seen. (And that scene is also why I’m afraid of spiders.) I would definitely wait until my kids were in middle school to show them this movie. And even then, only as a form of punishment.

3. The Land Before Time (1988) – Certainly not as bad as Bambi, but still, the part where Littlefoot’s mother dies gets me every time. Not to mention the fact that basically all the young dinosaurs in this movie are orphans. WHAT’S WITH ALL THE DEAD PARENTS? This movie seriously shook me up when I was a kid. I get that we need to teach kids about death and all that, but there’s got to be a less traumatizing way to do it, right?

4. Dumbo (1941) – Another example of animal cruelty portrayed in children’s movies… After watching Dumbo, I never wanted to go to the circus again. Not only is Dumbo ridiculed for having huge ears, his mom is then locked up away from her baby. The look on that animated elephant’s face as she stares through the bars at Dumbo is so heart-wrenching it could move a stone wall to tears. This is another one of those kids’ movies that I only needed to watch once in order to be scarred by it. Unlike the next film on our list…

5. The Last Unicorn (1982) – I used to watch this movie all the time when I was little, but I could never get past this one part with the talking skeleton. I would watch the first half-hour, and then I’d immediately turn it off when I got to the skeleton scene. Every so often I would try to sit through that part, but it was just too terrifying. I had nightmares about that skeleton. To this day, I don’t think I’ve ever watched that movie all the way through. Even aside from the creepy talking skeleton, the movie is pretty scary. Between the Red Bull and Mia Farrow’s hauntingly breathy voice, I’m not sure which was more frightening.

Apparently the 40s and 80s were a great time to make sad movies for children. Then again, if we weren’t shown all these horrifying movies when we were little, what else would we have to blame all our neuroses on? Anytime someone asks me something like, “Why does confrontation make you uncomfortable?” or, “Why don’t you like your foods to touch?” I just tell them that my parents showed me Bambi way too early. (Side note: if I wanted syrup on my bacon, I would put it on it. Otherwise, no, I do not want my pancakes and my bacon and my eggs all touching each other on my plate. What are we, heathens? Geez.) Food rant aside, what do you think, pop culture fans? What movie scarred you most when you were a kid? Do you have an explanation for all the absent/deceased parents in Disney movies? Can you tell me what happens at the end of The Last Unicorn? Leave a comment below, or tweet us @PopCultureNexus!

-L

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Posted on April 24, 2012, in Film, Top 5 and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I used to cry my eyes out watching the cartoon movie Once Upon a Forrest! Too sad for a childrens movie argghhhh bringing back bad memories lol

  2. I love The Last Unicorn. It is one of my favorite movies of all time, creepy skeleton and all (I found the king creepier than the skeleton). The ending is bittersweet, but she finds her unicorns. If you can’t make it through the film version, the movie is based of the book The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. Maybe trying it in book form will help you get through it.

  3. I only had the vinyl record of Bambi when I was littel (we’re talking 60s here!) and my mother took it away from me because I went into hysterics every time Bambi started calling for his dead mom. I was in my 30s when I finally dared to watch the movie. And I must say, heartbreaking as that scene is it wasn’t as bad as only hearing that lost little voice without the visuals.

    The movie that scared me to death when I saw it as a kid (even more than the green witch from ‘Wizard of Oz’, but she was a close second) was ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’. That child catcher with the long nose who was sniffing out the kids and took them away in his creepy prison cart gave me nightmares for weeks.

  4. dude sloshing together the workings of that plate is the best part of breakfast

  5. The poster obviously didn’t grow up before this generation. For thousands of years, including 20 years ago, kids grew up facing REALITY. Wisdom comes through struggle to understand a tough situation. Now we are seeing more and more weak-minded individuals who run and hide from every potential negative thing they could be exposed to. They must be schizo or something.

    Look at history. Native Americans died of diseases that were brought in from Europe. Obviously they had not built an immunity due to lack of exposure over time. The same applies today. People are getting drugged up to avoid allergies. Thus, building no immunity. I spend tons of time outside throughout the year. I used to suffer from allergies until I became immune. Staying in and avoiding them will MAKE YOU SICK.

    Here’s my point. If our children do no grow up facing certain realities, they will stand for NOTHING. Just a bunch of complainers they will become. We need to stop making them so damn soft that they become “sissies”. I love animals. But I would kill one if necessary. My 6 year old daughter has watched many old Disney films that portrayed animals. And there were times when those animals were hurt or killed. She understood why. Over time, she will be wiser for it. It hasn’t ruined her intense love for all animals. We cannot hide reality from them. We are better off being close to them each and every day, ready to educate them as they experience life. But parents are now raising children in daycares and schools where they get taught sensless and stupid things. They obtain ZERO wisdom from those places. Therefore, they are becoming DUMBER as time progresses. They are learning NOTHING.

    But kids DID learn something back before we ended up with a bunch of liberal minded complainers who cry wolf any time they see someone spank a child. All three of my kids get spankings. They know I don’t like to do it. And when they are about to get one, they KNOW they did something wrong. In time, they learn the value of authority and respect. This worked for thousands of years. But low and behold. The 21st century thinks its is wiser! You haven’t been around long enough to write your own book of wisdom! Such arrogance. And such stupidity of those who choose to reject time tested wisdom to follow foolish ignorance of modernism!

  6. Animation wise, Lady and the Tramp for me is one tht’s just unbearable. I love dark animation, but The introduction to the pound is too much. The absolute sadness of it. And then a couple minutes later we see the sillouette of an old dog gleefully following a human to be put down?! Ill say that i am thankful for movies like this, that show these horrors from the animals’ perspectives, but i still cant handle watching it.

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