Rather than leaving children to the blissful innocence of childhood and letting puberty scare them later, adults continue to take charge in scaring the youth with terrifying movies made for kids. Revisiting certain Disney movies really makes you wonder who green-lit these production, and why your parents let you watch them in the first place. For example, watched Pinocchio recently? Kids violently turn into donkeys and get eaten by whales! Maybe instead of popping on a horror flick this Halloween, try out one of these obscure scary children's movies to remind you everything, every day, is truly a living nightmare.
Plenty of pretty famous scary kids' movies exist out there to reminisce upon, but some of the scariest kids' movies ever are films you never even realized existed, or at least never realized the implications of. Who knew a film about a unicorn could get so dark and focused on death? Filmmaker's of kids' movies, that's who.
The Witches, based on Roald Dahl's book of the same name, stars a poor orphan boy named Luke who ends up at a resort hosting a witch convention, and not friendly, bumpit-wearing witches like Sabrina Spellman. These witches hate kids, trap Luke's grandmother’s friend in a painting, and attempt to create a potion to turn children into mice.
Truly unforgettable nightmare fuel: a scene where all the witches remove their human skins off to reveal what's underneath - sharp-toothed bald wrinkly monsters! You literally get to see them zip off their skin, a process that adds about five years of maturity to your childhood self.
#63 on The Best Movies of 1990
When the farmer whose land she lives on decides to start plowing his fields early, Mrs. Brisby, mouse widow and mother of four, must move her family home. But there's a hitch: her young son Timmy suffers from pneumonia and cannot go outside for three weeks or he will certainly die. Mrs. Brisby meets friends of her late husband - rats escaped from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), where numerous tests gave them heightened strength and intelligence. They help her move her house, but doing so puts all these woodland creatures in grave danger.
In addition to the stakes being high as hell, the film features the ominous ad looming existence of NIMH, threatening larger animals, and spooky magical elder with glowing eyes. Not exactly kids' fare, but definitely nightmare fuel.
#97 on The Best Animated Films Ever
#17 on The Best Movies of 1982
For anyone who considers themselves a '90s baby, October meant 13 nights of Halloween and the Disney Channel getting spooky, bringing you original classics like Halloween Town and Twitches. But you may not remember Disney Channel’s all-time scariest original movie, Don't Look Under the Bed. An unknown Boogeyman keeps pulling teenage pranks all over Frances McCausland's high school, and people think Frances is responsible. A Boogeyman who paints B’s in people's lockers and pouring gelatin in the swimming pool might not sound scary, but just you wait. This isn't Mom's Got a Date With a Vampire.
According to the film, when a child stops believing in their imaginary friend, it becomes a Boogeyman. So basically this monster is Freddy Kruger kind of scary, because it's all in your head. Frances’s own imaginary friend turns into a terrifying monster when a series of hardships forces her to grow up. Her imaginary pal Larry Houdini, originally suave and sweet, ends up growing fangs, sharp nails, and his eyes turn purple, a visual nightmare for children and adults alike.
The Last Unicorn, featuring soundtrack by America and the voice acting talents of Mia Farrow, remains an underrated children's movie, perhaps because it's too scary for them to ever watch it. The plot itself, innocent on the surface, gets pretty existential as it tackles the life of the last unicorn, who must face creepy and saggy-looking baddies to save the rest of her species.
At one point, the unicorn, in Farrow's crystalline voice, screams "I can feel my body dying!", a heavy admission to make in a children's film. But hey, memento mori, right kids?
#51 on The Best Movies of 1982