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The Best Classic Kids Movies That Are Kind of Dark  

Ranker Film
2.2k votes 424 voters 10.8k views 20 items

Swamps that overwhelm you with sadness. Candy that transforms you into fruit. A witch that's out for your head. These may sound like the trappings of horror flicks, but they're actually features of a few highly acclaimed children's movies. When you think about it, some of the best classic children's flicks are downright terrifying. The best dark children's movies feature young characters fighting scary villains and often coming to terms with personal tragedies. This is a list of the top dark kids movies including everything from The NeverEnding Story to All Dogs Go to Heaven to Willow.

What films will you find on this list of dark classic movies for kids? You won't be surprised to spot Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory here. The imagery from Roald Dahl's original book is scary enough on its own, but Gene Wilder solidified his spot in countless kids' nightmares with his narration of that psychedelic boat trip. The Labyrinth, starring David Bowie, is another dark classic kids film featuring characters that are more than a little spooky. Bambi may seem like a cute animated film, but early in the story the title character becomes an orphan after a horrible hunting excursion. Other movies featured on this list include The Dark Crystal, Return to Oz, and The Witches.

Which classic kids film gave you nightmares? Give the best movies a thumbs up and share your thoughts in the comments section.

list ordered by
1
All Dogs Go to Heaven is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Classic Kids Movies That Are Kind of Dark
Loni Anderson, Dom DeLuise, Vic Tayback
All Dogs Go to Heaven is a 1989 American–Irish animated musical adventure comedy film directed and produced by Don Bluth and released by United Artists and Goldcrest Films. The film tells the ...more

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2
Willy Wonka & the Ch... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Classic Kids Movies That Are Kind of Dark
Gene Wilder, Jack Albertson, Tim Brooke-Taylor
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is a 1971 musical fantasy film directed by Mel Stuart, and starring Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka. The film, a film adaptation of the 1964 novel Charlie and ...more

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3
Bambi is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Classic Kids Movies That Are Kind of Dark
Sterling Holloway, Sam Edwards, Cammie King
Bambi is a 1942 American animated drama film directed by David Hand, produced by Walt Disney and based on the book Bambi, A Life in the Woods by Austrian author Felix Salten. The film was ...more

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4
Who Framed Roger Rabbit ... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Classic Kids Movies That Are Kind of Dark
Kathleen Turner, Christopher Lloyd, Bob Hoskins
Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a 1988 American live-action/animated fantasy-comedy film directed by Robert Zemeckis. The screenplay by Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman is based on Gary K. Wolf's ...more

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5
Gremlins is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Classic Kids Movies That Are Kind of Dark
Steven Spielberg, Corey Feldman, Phoebe Cates
Gremlins is a 1984 American horror comedy film directed by Joe Dante, released by Warner Bros. The film is about a young man who receives a strange creature called a mogwai as a pet, which then ...more

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6
Dumbo is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Classic Kids Movies That Are Kind of Dark
Sterling Holloway, Cliff Edwards, Verna Felton
Dumbo is an American animated film produced by Walt Disney Productions and premiered on October 23, 1941, by RKO Radio Pictures. Sound was recorded conventionally using the RCA System. One voice ...more

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7
The Secret of NIMH is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Classic Kids Movies That Are Kind of Dark
Shannen Doherty, Wil Wheaton, Derek Jacobi
The Secret of NIMH is a 1982 American animated fantasy adventure drama film directed by Don Bluth in his directorial debut. It is an adaptation of Robert C. O'Brien's 1971 children's novel Mrs. ...more

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8
The NeverEnding Story is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Classic Kids Movies That Are Kind of Dark
Gerald McRaney, Limahl, Moses Gunn
The NeverEnding Story is a 1984 West German epic fantasy film based on the novel of the same name by Michael Ende, about a boy who reads a magical library book that tells a story of a young ...more

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9
The Dark Crystal is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Classic Kids Movies That Are Kind of Dark
Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Lisa Maxwell
The Dark Crystal is a 1982 American–British fantasy film directed by Jim Henson and Frank Oz. The plot revolves around Jen, an elflike 'Gelfling' on a quest to restore balance to his alien world ...more

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10
Return to Oz is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Classic Kids Movies That Are Kind of Dark
Fairuza Balk, Piper Laurie, Nicol Williamson
Return to Oz is a 1985 fantasy adventure film based on L. Frank Baum's Oz books, mainly The Marvelous Land of Oz and Ozma of Oz. The plot begins with Dorothy's return to the Land of Oz, and her ...more

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11
Labyrinth is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Classic Kids Movies That Are Kind of Dark
Jennifer Connelly, David Bowie, Frank Oz
Labyrinth is a 1986 British-American musical adventure fantasy film directed by Jim Henson, executive produced by George Lucas and based upon conceptual designs by Brian Froud. The film stars ...more

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12
Lord of the Flies is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Classic Kids Movies That Are Kind of Dark
Nicholas Hammond, James Aubrey, Kent Fletcher
Lord of the Flies is a 1963 British film adaptation of William Golding's novel of the same name. It was directed by Peter Brook and produced by Lewis M. Allen. The film was in production for ...more

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13
The Witches is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Classic Kids Movies That Are Kind of Dark
Rowan Atkinson, Anjelica Huston, Brenda Blethyn
The Witches is a 1990 comedy-fantasy film based on the book of the same name by Roald Dahl. It was directed by Nicolas Roeg and produced by Jim Henson Productions for Lorimar Film Entertainment ...more

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14
Watership Down is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Classic Kids Movies That Are Kind of Dark
John Hurt, Denholm Elliott, Richard Briers
Watership Down is a 1978 British animated adventure drama film written, produced and directed by Martin Rosen and based on the novel of the same name by Richard Adams. It was financed by a ...more

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15
Clash of the Titans is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Classic Kids Movies That Are Kind of Dark
Ursula Andress, Maggie Smith, Laurence Olivier
Clash of the Titans is an 1981 British-American fantasy adventure film involving the Greek hero Perseus, and features the final work of stop motion visual effects artist, Ray Harryhausen. It was ...more

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16
Legend is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Classic Kids Movies That Are Kind of Dark
Tom Cruise, Tim Curry, Mia Sara
Legend is a 1985 British-American fantasy adventure film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Tom Cruise, Mia Sara, Tim Curry, David Bennent, Alice Playten, Billy Barty, Cork Hubbert, and ...more

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17
Something Wicked This Wa... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Classic Kids Movies That Are Kind of Dark
Pam Grier, Jason Robards Jr., Diane Ladd
Something Wicked This Way Comes is a 1983 American horror fantasy film directed by Jack Clayton and produced by Walt Disney Productions from a screenplay written by Ray Bradbury based on his ...more

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18
Willow is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Classic Kids Movies That Are Kind of Dark
Val Kilmer, Kevin Pollak, Warwick Davis
Willow is a 1988 American fantasy film directed by Ron Howard, produced and with a story by George Lucas, and starring Warwick Davis, Val Kilmer, Joanne Whalley, Jean Marsh, and Billy Barty. ...more

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19
Young Sherlock Holmes is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Classic Kids Movies That Are Kind of Dark
Sophie Ward, Michael Hordern, Brian Oulton
Young Sherlock Holmes is a 1985 American mystery adventure film directed by Barry Levinson and written by Chris Columbus, based on the characters created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The movie ...more

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20
Masters of the Universe ... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Classic Kids Movies That Are Kind of Dark
Courteney Cox, Dolph Lundren, Frank Langella
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