A vote for the most traumatising childhood film that completely messed you up
Who decided that family death, ghosts and evil monsters were suitable for children?!
Do you ever just lie in bed at night and then get a recurring flash back to a distant memory of a film you watched in your youth? You can’t remember what the film was called or what it was about but you do remember that scary evil character or that tense chase scene and it feels like a weird nightmare.
It’s time for all those childhood nightmares to be reawakened because below is a round up of the most messed-up, traumatising and unnecessarily sad films that were meant to entertain or educate kids but instead left us completely scarred. Vote, once and for all, for the children’s film that fucked you up the most:
Most of Tim Burton’s stop-motion films traumatised us when we were children, but Coraline was a whole different experience. Not only is the aesthetic of the film weird and grey, but the storyline is so messed up.
She nearly gets stolen from her parents by an evil woman who looks exactly like her mum, who wants to steal her eyes and replace them with buttons. She then meets all the ghosts of the past children who have scary ghost voices and no eyes and she has to save their souls.
THEN her evil mum turns into a giant spider and chases her through a tunnel. It’s too damn much.
The look of The Witches when they’re all ugly and deformed is awful. The skin on their ears looks like it’s dripping off. Their long fingernails and wispy hairs on their head. Then their necks and chest look like all the tiny muscles are on show. It’s so explicit.
Also, when they’re not witches they look like one of us. Anyone could be a witch! Maybe my friends. Maybe me.
An evil Mummy comes back to life and has to steal human parts to make him human again. An especially scarring moment is when Evie falls through a trap door and finds a man with no eyeballs, then she turns around and the Mummy’s face is there made of only bones and that guy’s eyes.
Don’t lie to yourself and pretend Mrs Trunchball didn’t nearly put you off school for life. She had a room covered in nails that she threw children in as punishment – how they didn’t get skewered to death still keeps me up at night.
She also throws a child across the playground by her pig-tails, makes little Bruce eat a giant cake in front of the whole school then smashes the glass tray over his head, and she chases Mrs Honey and Matilda through her whole house in one of the tensest scenes in all of film history.
Also Cookie the school cook is creepy af.
Not scary but just unnecessarily sad. Obviously this is aimed towards really young children and maybe it’s cartoon talking deers but that doesn’t change the fact that his mum was shot! As a young child just wanting an easy watch, it’s pretty traumatising discovering the reality that parents dying is a thing and poor Bambi is now orphaned.
I just have memories of Madame Medusa and her super long fingers, excessive blue eye shadow and skinny legs. She was so mean.
The Mini Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: Heffalumps and Woozles
Watching this for the first time is when we all realised that cartoons can be fucking scary. Firstly, she loses her parents, then she finds herself on this weird island with ghosts and monsters walking around, then she finds her parents and they’re half pig!!! This is all in the first 20 minutes of the film. From then on it’s just even more terrifying animal-creatures and it’s just a lot, okay?
The Lion King
Firstly, maybe he is a fluffy lion but Scar is scary. Also, the Elephant Graveyard scene when it went silent and all you can hear is the hyenas laughing – awful. And then Mufassa’s death, it is so stressful to watch and then brings such heartbreak to a young viewer.
Doesn’t the memory of this feel like a weird anxiety dream that you forgot about? Those robotic puppets are hard to forget. Also, The Goblin King is in love with Sarah, and is trying to groom her – she’s sixteen!!!
When those giant grasshoppers fly in to the ant’s home. The buzzing of their wings gets louder and louder, until BANG they all land surrounding the ants.
Also the chase scene when they’re flying on those birds and trying to avoid the giant raindrops. As six-year-old, I was on the edge of my seat.
The Little Mermaid
Just Ursula in this whole film. Her big, gravity-defying hair and her powerful voice. Also, the whole premise of stealing someone’s voice is really intense.
The non-cartoon one obviously. Cruella De Vil wants to steal people’s puppies, kill them and turn them into coats. It’s pretty traumatic as a cartoon but real-life puppies?! No.
Another film where Disney made the villain too scary for children. In his song In the Dark of the Night, his bones falls apart so he’s just a bouncing, singing head. This is rated U, if you’re a 5-year-old watching this it’s going to mess you up.
One of the best films ever and if you haven’t watched it as an adult, I highly recommend. However, there were a lot of moments that left us all a little bit shaken. Most importantly, the lizards that come out of nowhere, hiss and then kill you with one bite.
Also, Madame Zeroni cursed a whole family eternally because she didn’t get carried up a mountain – a little bit unreasonable. Finally, the whole punishment of being sent to a desert to dig holes for however long is messed up.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Three words that still plague my thoughts – The Child Catcher. As a child, who doesn’t realise prosthetics are a thing, it’s easy to actually believe that’s what his face looks like. Also, as a child, I knew I would be enticed by his delicious array of sweets, and get stolen myself.
One scene in particular that probably still sticks in your brain – the silent, beautiful streets of Turville and then suddenly you hear, “Childreeen”.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
The combination of cartoon and real actors is what makes this film so stomach curdling. When Judge Doom gets flattened and then stands up as a flat pancake man. Also, when he shouts and his eyes turn into cartoon knives that shoot out.
Don’t get me wrong, most of Toy Story is a really magical experience. However, there was one moment in the film that fucked everyone up a bit – Spider Baby. A baby’s head, on a robot spider’s legs. Why Pixar, why?
James and the Giant Peach
A weird one because this film is mostly full of fun, laughs and enjoyment for the whole family but his evil aunties are horrible and the texture of the peach is bookey.
Another children’s film about dead people coming back to life. It’s a scary concept for children to get their head round, does no one understand this?
We’re talking the original 1995 one ofc. A magical board game that a family just want to have some fun with turns horribly wrong. The stampede scene was so terrifying. Also when the floor turns to quicksand and the son turns into a werewolf. Who gave this the okay?
The Wizard of Oz
When the Wicked Witch of the East gets crushed by the house and then her feet curl away and disappear. *quiver*
The moment Pinochio’s friend turns into a donkey. You hear the sound of a scared child screaming which then morphs into the hee-haws of a distressed donkey. Then you see as he grows big ears and hoofs. The fear in the poor donkey-boy’s eyes is so much for a child that genuinely believes this could happen to them.
Also that giant fucking whale.
“E.T. phone home” while he points his weird boney, long green finger. Nuh uh E.T., not today.
Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
Another storyline that felt too real. As a child watching, it’s easy to be convinced that your dad could also invent a shrink ray and accidentally shrink you. They nearly get lawn mowed and have to fight off giant ants and spiders – that’s everyone’s biggest fear (child or adult).
Those gremlins. Whatever this film was even trying to do or say, the special effects of those gremlins will haunt me for the rest of my life and I’ve just got to accept that.
The scene when the bath fills up with gloop and tries to kill Dana and her baby. Also the scene when she’s sat on the armchair and loads of ghost hands rip through it, pin her down and she’s dragged into this room with a ghost monster.
Two kids are the best of friends and then he gets stung by bees and no one knew he was allergic and then he dies, and then she gets her period and thinks she’s also dying. It’s so cute and amazing but so tragic and now I’m crying again.
Bridge to Terabithia
Again, a heartbreaking story about two children who are best friends and then one of them dies. Do children film makers not realise this is a disturbing theme that inspires a very large fear that our friends are going to die.
Leslie and Jesse make an entire fantasy together and then one day he doesn’t go with her, so she tries to swing to it herself and doesn’t make it and drowns. Horrifying.
It’s clear looking back that Fantasia was an excuse for Disney animation to show off all their sick skills. In the moment, it just felt like a very long, trippy dream that makes me feel sick every time I remember it. Also, Churnabog, the big devil character, what was that about?
He’s just a normal guy, like you and me, trying to survive in a world where scissor hands aren’t acceptable or practical. Fair enough, he has a good time cutting people’s hair and making amazing hedge sculpture’s but he also gets banned to a tower and the whole town tries to kill him.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher Stone
A lot of the Harry Potter films have their scary moments for sure, but with the later ones we were older and better equipped. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is a PG but that scene in the Forbidden Forest when Voldemort’s eating the unicorn will take more than parental guidance to forget.
Vote for the most traumatising children’s film: