It's no secret that Roald Dahl's children's books are a bit unnerving. The author created whimsical worlds with dark undertones, reminiscent of the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm. Henry Selick's 1996 adaptation of James and the Giant Peach may have tweaked a few moments from the book, but it might be even creepier than the book itself. Is James and the Giant Peach scary? Yes, and that's a bit of an understatement.
Even when not comparing the film to the Dahl classic, James and the Giant Peach is nothing short of nightmare fuel disguised as a delightful children's film. The movie features homicidal relatives, an inexplicable and horrifying mechanical shark, and a drawing-and-quartering torture scene that feels more at home in Braveheart than an animated kids' film. If you are still wondering whether or not James and the Giant Peach was appropriate to watch as a child, maybe looking back at these horrific scenes will make you question your parents' decision to let you watch the film.
An Angry Rhinoceros Appears Out Of Nowhere And Eats James’s Parents While He Watches
There are several antagonists in James and the Giant Peach, but the ravenous rhino is easily the most horrifying. At the beginning of the story, James Henry Trotter has an idyllic life - until his parents are annihilated by a menacing rhinoceros that is always followed by dark, ominous clouds.
Not only does this malicious, seemingly spectral rhino end James's parents' lives during a peaceful beach day, but it also makes sure that James is watching. And, of course, it's also James's birthday. This poor young boy watches as his parents are gobbled up by the phantom horned beast on his birthday.
James’s Aunts Verbally Berate Him And Mock Him For Being An Orphan
After James's parents' lives come to an abrupt and tragic end, he is forced to live with his two aunts, Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker. They don't give him a moment to grieve and bark at him to stop "lollygagging in dreamland" and get to work doing chores.
That's the most mild these two witchy women are toward James. The two go so far as to berate James for being an orphan as they continuously hound him to do chores. Any time he doesn't immediately give into their commands, his aunts remind him that the rhino that offed his parents is still at large - and James could be next.
A Mysterious Man Gifts James Glowing Green Pasta Made From Crocodile Tongues, Among Other Things
James saves a spider from his hysterical aunts and takes it outside. "Go on, get out of here, get as far away as you can," James advises the spider. A strange old man quickly pops up and asks James why he wouldn't do the same thing. He also calls James by name and assures the boy his name isn't the only thing he knows. Instead of running away, James gives him his full attention.
The man enters full snake oil salesman mode and describes the magical concoction he has for James. It will solve all of his problems and is made of things like "one thousand crocodile tongues, the fingers of a young monkey" and lots of sugar. Desperate, James takes the glowing bag.
James accidentally spills the disgusting mix near a peach, which makes it balloon up to the size of a house.
James Resorts To Eating Garbage
As James toils away with chores and cleaning, Aunt Spiker and Aunt Sponge lounge about. One day, James finishes his chores early and tries to sit down and eat with his aunts. They scold him and tell him to start the dishes, cackling as they watch him clutch his stomach in hunger.
After James cleans the dishes, he scrounges around in the garbage for a scrap, anything. He pulls out a chip bag, brings it up to his room, and pours the crumbs into his mouth. He even rips it open and licks the inside of the packaging.