The 1989 film Little Monsters is about a kid named Brian who befriends Maurice, the monster who lives under his bed. The pair pranks Brian's classmates and gets revenge on the school bully. Everything isn't fun and games, though. There are plenty of disturbing moments in Little Monsters, hardly making it the family film it claims to be.
Though the movie is similar in concept to Monsters, Inc., Little Monsters is undeniably one of the scariest selections in children's cinema. From the innuendos to the dark references to abuse, this fever dream of a film isn't easy to watch.
Kid films frequently feature adult-themed jokes, helping the programs appeal to parents, as well. Little Monsters really amps up the innuendo, though, and questionable jokes run rampant. In one instance, a monster jokes that a man's best friend is his right hand.
A child may not understand the thinly veiled reference, but the intent is clear to older viewers.
Several Little Monsters critics suggest the monsters not only take children but also mistreat them. And in one Little Monsters scene, Boy, the monsters' leader, even takes off with Brian's little brother, dosing the child and locking him in a box. Additionally, the monsters seem to mimic the ways ill-intentioned adults lure children from their families; Boy abducts the younger sibling to coerce Brian. In another memorable moment, Maurice pulls down Brian’s pants against the boy's will; another ghoul comments Brian has a “nice [butt].”
The monsters lure children away to the land under their beds, promising the victims a place free of rules, but vulnerable kids seem to be targeted most frequently.
For example, Brian's home life is taxing, and he's in a new town with few friends. The monsters offer him everything he wants - ice cream, video games, and more. But it's all a ruse; the monsters want to turn him into one of them.
The monsters are more than just lovable pranksters. Some of their so-called jokes are dangerous. For example, Maurice helps Brian get revenge on the school bully, Ronnie. After sneaking into Ronnie's home, the monster-and-kid duo tampers with the sleeping youngster's school lunch. Things take a dark turn when Maurice replaces the bully's apple juice with urine. Studies show that urine ingestion can be incredibly harmful, though, potentially causing infection or bacteria growth.
When the unsuspecting kid drinks the human waste, Brian laughs. No one even considers the repercussions of such a harmful prank.
The monsters in the film have one weakness: light. When exposed to sunlight or artificial light, the monsters shrink and disappear, leaving only a pile of clothes on the floor. When the light goes away, they reappear.
Being weakened by light is a well-known film and television trope. Often, darkness symbolizes something scary, malicious, or unpleasant, while light symbolizes goodness or safety. Little Monsters plays into this trope: The monsters live in a world of darkness and cause mischief, often scaring children, at night. Many kids - and even some adults - are afraid of the dark, and this movie stokes that fear by featuring monsters that only come out at night.