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50 Most Traumatizing Movie Moments in Kids’ Films

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I watched WAY too many movies as a kid. Certain movies were in heavy rotation. Others were only hauled out for special occasions. The beauty of finally getting a VHS player was in learning that we only had to run down to the video store or pull out one of the many over-dubbed cassettes with 30 names and titles scribbled over to brainwash ourselves with visual stories.

But the constant video watching might have taken a toll.

My dad used to “forget” I was in the room, or whatever, and I’d end up watching movies beyond my age bracket. They intensified my imagination in some ways. In others, they messed with my mind. I had night terrors as a kid and dreams became mangled reconstructions of fears, films and fantasy.

The video supercut below sums up some of the most brutal and pivotal shifts in my childhood consciousness. For better or worse.

List o’ Movies Shown Above:

1. Dumbo – Pink elephants are not natural.
2. Toy Story 2 – Oh, look. Nightmare cartoons!
3. Fantasia – The Devil is super ripped and pissed off.
4. The Princess Bride – No, I do not want to die or have years sucked out of me.
5. The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe – Keep that effing knife away from me.
6. The Lion King – Scar, you piece of shit. I’m having a FEELS attack.
7. Goonies – Coming after a hilarious scene, this made me fear for my hands.
8. Hook – NOT THE BOO BOX. By the way, that’s Glenn Close. MIND-EFFED FOR LIFE.
9. Scruffy – This was a ABC Weekend Special. WEEKEND RUINED.
10. An American Tale – I had this soundtrack on tape. SO I COULD PROCESS THE SADS.
11. Darby O’Gill & the Little People – Fitting for St. Pats, we had this on VHS. All the drinks!
12. Snow White – Old school Disney didn’t pull punches, man.
13. Time Bandits – My mom LOVED this movie. THANKS, MOM. BOOM.
14. Care Bears 2 – I had a thing for Care Bears. That thing turned on me in this movie.
15. Adventures of Baron Munchausen – Am I the only kid who watched this? DEATH COMES FOR US ALL.
16. Old Yeller – Mr. FrothyMouth dog needs some bullet medication for his sickness. I lost it.
17. Fox and the Hound – Can we not? Can we not do the slow push in on the crying?
18. Air Bud – Happy to announce I never saw this one. Looks like bad news.
19. Transformers Movie – So, your favorite character is dead. HOW DOES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL, CHARLIE?
20. My Girl – Yay! Plot twist where your best friend dies. How could that be traumatizing? Also, if Anna Chlumsky is reading this: you’re amazing on Veep.
21. Toy Story – Is the part where I lie about letting my little son watch this movie?
22. Matilda – Favorite book. Worst movie. Scary scene.
23. Babe 2 – WTF.
24. Dick Tracy – I saw this as a youngin’. Good times.
25. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – Again, I say: WTF.
26. Alice through the Looking Glass – Didn’t catch this one. Is this before or after the shrooms?
27. FernGully – Well, that escalated quickly.
28. Home Alone 2 – Didn’t like that scene then. Don’t like it now.
29. Pinocchio – No shit, I just got a twinge in my stomach and tears in my eyes. NO.
30. Pee Wee Herman’s Big Adventure – THIS ONE IS THE WORST OF ALL. NO CONTEST FOR ME.
31. Land Before Time – UGHHHHHHHHHHHHH.
32. Follow That Bird – Sesame Street decided hanging out on the street wasn’t good enough.
33. Witches – NOPE. Also? Anjelica Huston. Yikes. Witches of Eastwick also falls under this category because I accidentally watched some of that too.
34. Wizard of Oz – Because every other effing thing in this movie wasn’t scary enough.
35. Labyrinth – David Bowie is generally terrifying, right? It’s a good thing he’s also awesome.
36. The Jungle Book – Not a fan of any movie or cartoon with quicksand. Sorry.
37. The Dark Crystal – Again, saw this too early. Messed my shit up.
38. Return to Oz – This movie is, I think, why Fairuza Balk is so surreal and unique. And I am insane.
39.Up – I’m an adult. This messed me. For awhile. As in still.
40. Little Monsters – Not even Fred Savage could protect me from this one.
41. The Adventures of Mark Twain – This claymation movie changed my life. Honestly. It opened that door of fear and curiosity.
42. The Last Unicorn – WTF.
43. The Neverending Story – Third highest on the list of things that traumatized me. Definitely.
44. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory – Not sure this scene terrified me, but it kind of blew my mind.
45. Watership Down – Can someone explain this to me?
46. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? – Fourth highest on the list for me. YIKES.
47. Toy Story 3 – Yep. Adult aged when I saw it. Bawled like a baby.
48. All Dogs Go to Heaven – Blocked this one out. Burt Reynolds does that to a kid.
49. Bambi – Excuse me. I keep dropping saltwater on my keyboard.
50. The Brave Little Toaster – This entire movie was made from nope.

Sweet dreams tonight everyone! SWEET DREAMS MFers!

Learn more about my crazy childhood!
Because you need to answers to why I’m so weird, right?

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77 Responses to “50 Most Traumatizing Movie Moments in Kids’ Films”

  1. Liza says:

    Have you seen Mio min Mio? When kids are diying from hunger in the Tower of Hunger? And white horses cry blood?

  2. Jessica says:

    You want to get even more messed up by All Dogs Go To Heaven, try loving the movie as a kid then accidentally stumbling on the story of what happened to the little girl who voiced Ann-Marie (also, Ducky from Land Before Time.) She recorded the voiceover a year before the movie came out. Then her dad went nuts and murdered himself and her whole family a few months before it’s release. The audio was done, so the studio released the film anyways and just didn’t talk about it. I can’t watch that movie anymore after that 🙁

  3. One that got me was ‘Snoopy Come Home’…when he was downtrodden and they were just hammering him with the ‘No Dogs Allowed’ song…*sniff sniff*

  4. Alessa says:

    I couldn’t bring myself to watch the video for fear that it would show Large Marge. To this day I am terrified of her.

  5. Omar says:

    Okay, seriously. Jaws, Exorcise, Jason, Mike, Freddy, Children of the Corn, The Ring, etc. Have nothing on some of these nerve wrecking childhood scenes. Visiting some of these on the list has brought back….”WHAT WAS THAT”? I heard something, but I’m to afraid to look over my binky. GTG

  6. Tara says:

    What is the picture from? It seems very familiar in a frightening “I’m sure I blocked it for my mental health” way!

    • Liesl says:

      Who Framed Roger Rabbit. It’s from when the Judge starts going crazy. Shudder.

      • Ties says:

        One of my greatest childhood traumas. For over a year I imagined that guy standing in my bedroom doorway at night, looking at me.
        I got the chills seeing that face again for the first time in so many years, but I feel better now somehow. Like I’ve conquered a fear…

  7. Lisa says:

    Dammit, Charlie! I’d successfully blocked 90% of those movies from my subconscious!

  8. Misty O'Brien says:

    I saw Return to Oz as a kid and the whole movie traumatized me. We lived out on some acreage and I was convinced there where “Wheelies” behind every tree.

    • Cassie says:

      I never saw Return to Oz, but I read the book. I had the hardest time wrapping my head around Wheelies and I don’t think I ever finished the book because it was so odd.

    • Auntie J says:

      I was about 12 when I saw it, with younger cousins who had seen it numerous times. They were not bothered by it. Freaked me AND my sister out. I haven’t watched it since. Not just the Wheelies, but the body-less heads. Oy.

  9. Brent says:

    I wouldn’t consider “Princess Bride” or “Dick Tracy” kids’ movies, but otherwise pretty comprehensive.

    But that f’ed up childnapper from “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” will always be at the top of my list, asking if I want lollipops and stabbing me to death with his long, pointy nose.

    • Christina says:

      I have to say he is pretty creepy, but to this day, the WTF moment in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for me will be the song “Your my little choochie face”. Everything else pales in comparison to that…

    • NerdyLutheranChick says:

      I Loved Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as a kid, even though I was terrified of that Child Catcher!

  10. Risawn says:

    Water ship down is about communism, the freaked out rabbit in that scene is from the rabbit commune. I wouldn’t call that movie for kids, its pretty intense. I read the book in tenth grade, the lessons are kind of parallel to Animal Farm, which is better known.

    I thought it was a good book still.

  11. Mark says:

    For myself i would have to say that my number one most traumitizing movie is the Transformers Movie. I was nine years old and on my way to see my first movie in a theater. Back then I used to eat, sleep & breath Tranformers; so you can imagine my excitement. That excited came to a horrifying realization that my favorite Autobots were being massacerd within the first 10 minutes of the movie. Those ten minutes marked the beginning of the end of my childhood.

  12. Amy says:

    Alice and Labyrinth always got me…and then Toy Story 3. But most of those jacked me up as a kid.

  13. Sabrina says:

    Large Marge!!!!! I SCREAMED in the theater!
    But to my dying day I will forever love The Neverending Story… but that poor horse. “Fight against the sadness of the swamps Artax… ARTAX!” My heart was broken.

  14. Laurie says:

    WOW, holy crap I need tissues! The fox and the hound was so devastating and now I am re living it, the SOBS! I think I watched my girl about a million times in my life, so sad..and the Wheelies from return to oz are still in my nightmares!

  15. Laura Brown says:

    Never Ending Story = nightmares. Return to Oz = nightmares. Fantasia = nightmares. By that point my parents figured out I shouldn’t watch ANYTHING, and I was shielded from creepy-kid-movies for the rest of childhood. Unfortunately they seem to have thought that “Tremors” and “Indiana Jones: Temple of Doom” were so far beyond my level of comprehension that there would be no psychological damage??…and I never had a peaceful night’s sleep again (but they reaped the rewards of their stupidity, cause I woke them up EVERY NIGHT when I had a nightmare…sometimes 2-3 times in the same night)

  16. sally says:

    yes, I remember these. some of those old ones (“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”) were awful. Pete’s Dragon (1977) freaked me out as a child too. I was also incredibly disturbed by the scenes in ET when Elliott and ET are dying and the house is covered in plastic. Just recently watched ET with my own son, and couldn’t figure out whey I was so disturbed the first time I saw it.

  17. Jim MacQ says:

    Watership Down is no more a kids’ movie than Fritz the Cat or Cool World. Animation does not equal kid movie.

  18. Sarah Clock says:

    Pee wee’s large marge- holy crap. But another one that freaked me out was Stand by Me when they find the body and the Burbs. Nightmare city.

  19. Christina says:

    My messed up childhood memories were The Hobbit cartoon (Gollum…), Secret of Nihm, Alice in Wonderland (seriously, most of my nightmares come from that movie!), and yes – Pink Elephants on Parade was the absolute worst of the ALL!!!!

  20. The wheelers…… TERRIFYING! You forgot The Peanut Butter Solution though…..! And the octopus lady from The Little Mermaid – being a boy maybe you weren’t subjected to that horror :-/s

  21. Cindal says:

    I think The Watcher in the Woods should be on this list…. Oh Disney… Just because it says your name on the cover, does not mean little kids should watch it!!! That opening scene and it’s eerie music…..Terrified!

  22. Katie P says:

    I LOVED The adventures of Baron Munchausen. Saw it again as an adult, and it really is kind of scary for a kid.

  23. Tara says:

    Various parts of but mostly the ending of Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey.

    Anything Milo and Otis.

    The beginning of Oliver and Company (absolutely crushing).

    Here Comes Garfield. My mom caught me sobbing during Garfield’s flashback scene and I was forbidden from that movie forever.

    • Auntie J says:

      I have similar issues with Oliver & Company! My kids love it, so it gets seen quite a bit. I force myself to be VERY occupied for all of Huey Lewis’s opening number. Once Billy Joel starts, I’m good.

  24. Mandey says:

    I just watched this video without sound and was both afraid and sad. My face was in a permanent scowl the entire time and I just kept thinking WTF!!!??

  25. Ed says:

    What about The Peanut Butter Solution? The Disney Channel played it, ad naseum, until the reels melted. That abandoned house scene gave me nightmares for YEARS!

  26. Cassie says:

    Secret of NIHM over here! Fox & The Hound, Bambi…

    We were watching Chuckie once, and my stupid cousin had a stupid Chuckie doll, and my uncle thought it would be hilarious to move it around the house during the movie. I’ve successfully blocked out the entire movie but still experience intense fear when I see the doll.

    What was the kid’s tv show where the toys came to life when the kid left the room? There was a bear, rocking horse… the room had a dollhouse, white shelf, and light possibly yellow walls? That made me terrified that my toys came alive moreso than Toy Story because the tv show was live action. It came on right before or after the show with the library & lions.

  27. Elizabeth says:

    Watership Down was and still is one of my favorite movies. I’m not sure why none of it freaked us (siblings) out. Nothing like bunny rabbits foaming at the mouth tearing each others throats out to give you the warm fuzzies.

  28. Sondra says:

    I had never seen Time Bandits until last year when my husband decided to show it to my son (who was 8 at the time).

    All I can say about that movie is WTF?!

  29. Auntie J says:

    My kids don’t get why I flat-out refuse to watch “The Fox and the Hound” (gave me HORRIBLE nightmares as a kid), why I will NOT let them watch “The Brave Little Toaster” ever again (saw that for the first time as an adult, and I’m still disturbed), why I don’t like Dumbo. Seventeen of those movies listed I haven’t even seen, and most of them I never had a desire to. By the time I watched The Princess Bride, I was old enough to not be freaked by Count Rugen’s charming device (I think I was about 15), and while a friend just had the sacred first watching of that with her six-year-old, my girls are going to have to be at least four or five years older before I let them watch it. Now, I watched UP, and I thought it was charming and sweet, but I’m weird.

    My husband is a big guy, and he refuses to watch either incarnation of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. He was also, by his own admission, a fat kid, and freaked out when Augustus Gloop got sucked up the chocolate pipe. He’s never recovered.

  30. Marcie says:

    I think I may never have remembered The adventures of Baron Munchausen….until reading this post. Now I am having flashbacks!

    Your list is so spot on. I feel like most things I watched as a child creeped me out. I think it’s because of the way that we become immersed in movies when we’re young. Our wiring is raw and maybe not ready to fully separate fantasy from reality.

  31. Gale says:

    The Last Unicorn was my FAVORITE movie as a kid, even though I cried EVERY SINGLE TIME I WATCHED IT.

    But not as bad as I did watching the Japanese Anime Little Mermaid (NOT THE DISNEY VERSION). I seriously remember crying late into the night after watching that. Turned into freaking foam! Prince marries some other chick because she thought SHE was the one who rescued him. THE END. I don’t think my mom LET me watch that again.

  32. Gale says:

    Oh yeah, and “young adult books” are even worse. Why does it seem like every other book I read in Junior High had someone having to kill his pet as some sort of “coming of age” thing.

    “Where the Red Fern Grows” – Has to kill pet dog
    “The Yearling” – Has to kill pet deer
    “A Day No Pigs Would Die” – Has to kill pet pig

    I mean, isn’t just ONE of these enough? And why do so many authors think “killing a pet” is a good way to show pre-teens what it means to become an adult. Really!

  33. Erich says:

    Whyyyyyy, Charlie?! Whyyyyyyyyy?! Meh, I’ll get over it in a few minutes.

  34. Lindsay says:

    What about The Boogie Man? It was aired on the Disney Channel and for some reason it was in our “taped off the Disney Channel” library for years. Boogity boogity boo. Scared the crap out of me.

  35. Gabby says:

    Don’t look under the bed was a Disney movie that only aired on tv. 15 years later, I still have to jump onto my bed from a few feet away because of how traumatized I was after seeing it.

  36. C.T. says:

    I agree with this traumatizing factor of this list, but the “Air Bud” clip should have been replaced with “White Fang”. Same scene, but a WAY better movie.

  37. Samantha says:

    The Never Ending Story nearly killed me. Let’s spend twenty freaking minutes watching the boy’s horse sink into quicksand. Now he’s finghting, now worn out, now fighting again, now it’s just his head desperately nuzzling the kid’s shoulder…AHHHHH!!!!!!

    Anyone see Beetlejuice? Or Jumanji? The first half-hour of Jumanji at a birthday party traumatized me so that I really should stop thinking about it, like now. Beetlejuice used to come on Disney channel. Just the guy’s face terrified me.

    Weird, though? James and the Giant Peach is totally freaky and I loved it.

    • Ashley Ritchie says:

      OMG I was reading the comments just to see if anyone mentioned Beetlejuice or Jumanji. My parents sheltered us to a ridiculous point, but I had a teenaged Aunt and Uncle that LOVED to break the rules and scare the shit out of me and my siblings. Many of those movies I didn’t see until I was in college, but my aunt took me to see Beetlejuice and had to leave the theater midway through the movie because of my sobbing, and Jumanji, I still haven’t seen the entire movie. Seems like there was a creepy snake scene?

    • NerdyLutheranChick says:

      I have never seen all of Jumanji because it scared me so much!

  38. Jim MacQ says:

    Watership Down: Not A Kid Movie.

    • charlie says:

      We heard you the first time, Jim. I think people confuse MOST of these movies for kids’ films. Some are marketed to them, others just have elements of children’s stories.

  39. HazelBroadway says:

    Umm…do you guys really not let your kids watch these? I watch most of these with mine, never thought of them as being traumatic.

    But, my mom let us watch Exorcist, Poltergeist, IT, Amityville Horror, and the like when I was WAY little, so maybe my gauge is just horribly off.

    • HazelBroadway says:

      I am now totally questioning my letting my kids watch these…
      My son does not seem bothered by them. His fav movies are The Neverending Story, Beetlejuice, Jumanji, Nightmare Before Christmas, Monster House, The Labyrinth, The Goonies.

      But what if they are affecting his psyche in a damaging way that I am not aware of? :/

  40. Sharon says:

    I’ll see your list, and I’ll raise you: Chico the Rainmaker, and Jumanji. I am 30 years old this year and I still cant watch Jumanji again.

  41. Chris says:

    I had a major breakthrough last night which led me to this site. At almost 40 with kids, my 7 year old daughter was in full sobs and trembling after watching Wall-E last night. This made me recall how I felt at 7 watching The Fox and the Hound! That movie seriously messed with my psyche throughout my entire life! Watership Down was the cherry on top at 9-10. Glad to know we aren’t alone!

    • Roberto says:

      Wall-E is the most depressing kids movie I’ve ever seen. The guy is completely and utterly alone, another robot comes and he spends more than half an hour trying to get EVA to acknowledge is existence!! WTF!

  42. NerdyLutheranChick says:

    All Dogs Go to Heaven is even scarier when you learn that the little girl who voiced the girl in the movie was brutally murdered by her father before the movie was released.

  43. Roberto says:

    The most disturbing scene in Labyrinth was about the furry monsters that unscrewed their heads to play, and wanted to behead Sarah. Like, they didn’t even realize they were going to kill her if they did. Like being killed by a minor on crack. Terrifying.

  44. NerdyLutheranChick says:

    It is missing ET – the end with all the plastic tubes and sheeting, Gremlins (I didn’t actually get to see the end of it until I was an adult!), and Drop Dead Fred!

  45. Danielle says:

    Hocus pocus, I would have nightmares that the witches would come after me instead of the girl Dani in the movie because that was my nickname.
    Also Troll in Central Park F**ked me up, who lets the bad guy chase kids in a wagon seriously?!

  46. Hozay says:

    You were a kid when you watched Toy Story 3 and Up?

  47. Vanessa I. says:

    WOW!! this list could have been written by me! (I never thought anyone else had seen the movie Scruffy, it haunted me for years!)
    and nurtured my love for dogs 🙂

  48. I still remember having a nightmare when I was a kid about the “elephants on parade” in Dumbo, picking up my bed and throwing me down the steps! ahhhhh! Hate those elephants! #26 with Alice and the Jaberwaki scene… yeah, close second for wtf moment as a kid.

  49. Colin says:

    Bedknobs and Broomsticks, when the suits of armor come to life and storm the castle.

  50. Rob says:

    You missed The Secret of Nimh and The Neverending Story.

  51. Rob says:

    Nevermind, I blinked through The Never Ending Story.

  52. Vincent says:

    You forgot *batteries not included. The little machine creatures were awesome. It’s the human beings that are awful.

  53. Jay says:

    You shouldn’t have bet against Captain James Hook – made a “boo-boo”….. THE BOO BOX!
    God that still disturbs me now, no wonder i suffer from claustrophobia!!!!
    That shouldn’t have been put in a so-called kids movie

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