The Brave Little Toaster
In many ways, The Brave Little Toaster was the 80s precursor to Toy Story with its tale of household appliances coming to life when humans were not present – in fact, many of the staff who worked on The Brave Little Toaster went on to form Pixar, the studio behind Toy Story. While Toy Story had its moments, nothing compares to the horror of witnessing a vacuum cleaner attempt suicide. Yes, you read that right. The horrifying moments come thick and fast in this animated feature, including appliances being effectively killed by their batteries being forcibly removed after being held in a vice and a silent evil magnet hunting the characters down in a junkyard, with the intention of crushing them for scrap metal. The most horrific moment is undoubtedly in the Toaster’s dream sequence, when a gigantic clown firefighter uses a hose to fire sharp forks at our protagonist.
The premise for Roald Dahl’s The Witches is pretty terrifying in itself: Witches who can hunt children merely from the smell. While their plot to turn every child on the planet into mice is pretty scary in itself, it is by no means the scariest part of the film. That award is reserved for a flashback scene involving a missing child whose devastated father eventually discovers she has been transported into a painting in the family home. Nobody ever sees the girl move, but each day her position and activity in the painting has changed, before she ages and eventually fades away. This is a kids’ film?!
Ghostbusters struck a real chord with children, despite the adult humor heavily present in the film. For a period, it was impossible to avoid the Ghostbusters phenomenon, as all manner of merchandise flooded the market. Lunchboxes, toys and even a popular cartoon series heavily targeted children, but the film itself contained some pretty dark themes. Demonic possession and jump-out-of-your seats littered the movie. Youngsters should probably stick to the cartoon team!
Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory
The second Roald Dahl film in the list. For such a famous author of children’s books, his film adaption sure seemed to terrify his audience. While the majority of the film is perfectly suitable for kids, there is one scene which comes out of nowhere are terrified audiences worldwide. When the visitors and Wonka take to the boat, the film quickly and unexpectedly descends on a journey to hell. In a complete contrast to the colorful and cheerful edible room scene which preceded it, the boat scene is notoriously terrifying. A pitch-black tunnel is illuminated only by the gruesome images projected onto the ceiling, including severed chicken heads. Gene Wilder’s portrayal of Wonka ranting about a growing danger is incredibly intense, but the scene is never explained and completely glossed over once the characters disembark the boat.
Return To Oz
Everyone loves the Wizard of Oz. Bright colors, munchkins and a comedic lion. Sure, the flying monkeys were a bit scary, but nothing we couldn’t handle as kids. Surely the sequel would continue in the same vein? It seems Walt Disney had other plan, however, as Return To Oz sees the shiny, happy land replaced by a desolate land ravaged by a tyrant. The flying monkeys are replaced by the rollers, which were sure to fill and child’s heart with fear, while the general bleakness of every scene saw heavy criticism from parents. Oh, and back in the real world Dorothy is subjected to electro shock therapy.
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