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Top 10 Darkest Moments in Children’s Movies

VO: Emily Brayton
Script written by Alex Crilly-Mckean Chitty bang bang, Matilda, the Beastmaster, Ferngully: The last rainforest, An American Tail, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory, Labyinth and The Wizard of Oz are children’s films that have dark moments which we might have been oblivious too when we watched them as kids.
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Top 10 Darkest Moments in Children’s Films


Were these flicks really meant for kids? Welcome to MsMojo and today we are counting down our picks for the Top 10 Darkest Moments in Children’s Films.

For this list, we’ll be looking at moments in films and miniseries aimed at a younger audience that contain moments that are in no way kid friendly. As such, be on the lookout for a few spoilers down the line.


#10: The Giant Mouse of Minsk
“An American Tail” (1986)


For the most part, the only emotion that this Don Bluth film conjures up is a growing sense of sadness, as young Fievel Mousekewitz continually fails to reunite with his immigrated family. That is until we get towards the finale. In a bid to take down the villainous Warren T. Rat, the mice of New York band together to create a machine that resembles the monster of legend known as the Giant Mouse of Minsk. As it happens, its nightmarish debut not only scares the crap out of the cats, but also every kid in the audience. As dark as this climax is, at least it gets us one step closer to a happy ending.


#9: The Boat
“Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” (1971)


Thought a tour through a chocolate factory would be a dream come true? Well think again. While the golden ticket winners and their folks get the sugary-sweet experience of a lifetime, they also find themselves on the boat trip from hell. As they press onwards through the tunnel, horrific images start to appear along the walls, but that’s not what’s most terrifying. That honor goes to Willy Wonka, who starts to sing a less than pleasant tune about how their voyage could end in disaster. It may be over in the blink of an eye, but we’re pretty sure moviegoers are still scarred for life from this scene.


#8: Fireys
“Labyrinth” (1986)


The horror factor here works on two levels. First, there’s the less than stellar green-screen background that at times is just painful to look at, and then there’s the Fireys. This film had already given us a fair amount of disturbing puppets that would give anyone shivers, but then these guys show up and things get even crazier. Not only do these creatures live up to their namesake and start random fires, but they also seem to get their kicks by ripping off their own heads and tearing out their eyeballs. Even if they do look like Muppets, seeing all those limbs flying is sure to creep you out.


#7: Jabberwocky
“Alice in Wonderland” (1985)


Step aside Tim Burton. This is how you generate fear in an “Alice in Wonderland” adaptation. In this TV version of the classic Lewis Carroll story, we see Alice return home after her crazed adventures. There’s only one problem: she’s now on the wrong side of a mirror. Unable to reach her parents, Alice doesn’t have much time to contemplate before she receives a visit from the Jabberwocky. The practical effects of the suit may not have aged well, but as far as a first impact goes, we can see such a monster petrifying any unfortunate children who happen to be watching.


#6: Flying Monkeys
“The Wizard of Oz” (1939)


And you thought that the Wicked Witch of the West was bad. While this classic green-skinned villain terrorized many children with her shrill laughs, she’s still second best in the scare department when up against her winged henchmen. While their screen-time is vastly limited, the sight of hundreds of these flying monsters swooping through the sky and swarming around Dorothy filled many with dread. Given how demonic these monkeys look as well as their vast numbers, we can see why the infamy of these creatures has withstood the test of time.


#5: The Chokey
“Matilda” (1996)


Can we just admit that this film is filled with examples of child abuse? The ultimate punishment for misbehaving students designed by the monstrous Miss Trunchbull, the Chokey is a thin cupboard filled with broken glass and nails, forcing students to stand as still as can be or risk being cut. As if school wasn’t bad enough, the thought of teachers being able to inflict such cruelty probably scared a fair few youngsters straight. Here’s hoping some members of faculty weren’t too inspired by this.


#4: Winged Devourers
“The Beastmaster” (1982)


Man, the 80s got away with showing a lot more mature content back in the day. In this vastly underrated fantasy epic, a warrior with the power to communicate with animals battles against a wicked sorcerer to avenge his people and free an enslaved populace. There’s blood, boobs, cute animal sidekicks, everything you could want in an adventure flick. Then these creatures show up. We have no friggin’ idea what their backstory is, but what we do know is that they love nothing more than to trap humans in their wings before showering them in acid until they are nothing more than a fleshy puddle and a pile of bones. Lovely.


#3: Toxic Love
“FernGully: The Last Rainforest” (1992)


Oh Tim Curry, we will never get tired of your performances, but we’ll be damned if you don’t make for a scary as hell animated villain. As an evil entity that thrives on pollution, Hexxus wastes no time in taking advantage of local logging company and their machines to revive himself to full strength, complete with a catchy tune. While his voice may be velvety smooth, his appearance is far from pleasant to look at. Then there’s his final form, where he loses all sense of slickness to become some kind of diabolical beast. Pretty sure there are 90s kids who still aren’t over that.


#2: Bunny Massacre
“Watership Down” (1978)


It’s a rabid dog ripping apart adorable bunnies to bloody pieces with its jaws, who wouldn’t be traumatized by seeing something like this?! A truly harrowing piece of animation, you would have thought that the worse this film could get would be watching rabbits kill each other, but then the dog enters the scene and things become a whole lot gorier. After tearing apart a few rabbits, the bloodthirsty mutt and the deranged Woundwort throw themselves into a final bout. While we never see the outcome, going by what we just had to go through we can guess it wasn’t a pretty picture.


#1: The Child Catcher
“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang“ (1968)


Remember how whimsical this film was? How its songs were delightful and the entire premise revolved around this one miraculous car? Well for any kids who saw it, chances are the only thing they remember is this top-hatted, large-nosed antagonist whose sole goal was to capture children. Granted, we never see him do anything awful, but can you honestly watch that whole scene where he tries to lure the kids out with sweets and not feel disturbed? Despite it all being a fantasy, there’s an element of real-world threat that makes this character poignantly unsettling.
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