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.
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.
From the twisted minds of the people who made Watership Down a cartoon comes another classic: The Plague Dogs. The film follows Rowf and Snitter, two dogs from an animal experimentation facility. Scientists constantly drowned and revived Rowf, while ruining Snitter's mind by running tests on his brain. Once the dogs escape, they then must contend with an outside world that believes they carry bubonic plague.
Rowf, who trusts no humans, tries his best to protect Snitter, who desperately wants a master. Watching it sorta feels like Of Mice and Men, but with dogs, so it's even more heartbreaking.
Neil Gaiman and the Jim Henson company made a film for kids that is more likely to appeal to your moody, adolescent self than children. Mirror Mask follows Helena, the daughter of circus performers who longs for normalcy. She Alice In Wonderland’s herself into a world of light and shadows, a landscape beautifully executed in CGI and true to Gaiman’s dark and surreal appetites.
But anyone familiar with Gaiman's work knows how gruesome it gets, especially concerning the film's antagonist. Helena's doppelganger, a black-eyed twin who longs to escape into Helena's reality, nearly succeeds at her villainous agenda, but not before sending Helena through a world of unsettling and twisted characters.