The Horror Honeys: The Ten Scariest Kids Movies in Forever!

The Ten Scariest Kids Movies in Forever!

A Spooky Kids Top Ten from Revenge Honey Linnie

If you grew up to be a horror fan, chances are you stumbled across a few of them in your childhood that lead to the fascination. Maybe it was a late night dalliance on HBO with Freddy, or perhaps you tangled with Stephen King's Pennywise via IT. However, not every experience that a kid has with the horrifying is a result of horror films. Many of the movies my particular generation grew up on had scenes that were downright terrifying, or in the case of a few, were total mindfucks from beginning to end.

The following are just a few of the most twisted kids movies ever made, many of which rival horror movies in the "fucked up shit" department. Which are YOUR favorites?

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

I think on some level, even as kids, we knew this movie was twisted. All of the candy in the world couldn't hide the fact that kids were disappearing left and right, small orange people were singing strangely prescient songs, and people were licking penis-flavored wallpaper. (Yeah, that's what a snozzberry is. Sorry to rain on your parade.) But what was most terrifying about this Chocolate Factory? I think we all know where this going...

Sweet holy god! Even now, there are scenes in this boat trip from hell that make me cringe, and I credit the chicken shot with my eventual vegetarianism. I am sure that the film's creators would claim that they were trying to show children that even in the most beautiful places, there can be darkness, blah blah blah. But not only did this scene traumatize scores of children, but it also inadvertently created an entire new generation of horror fans. Psycho scared me less when I saw it a handful of years later.

Return to Oz (1985)

Could there be anything more lovely than little Dorothy Gale telling stories of her adventures in Oz? I know if I had met so many amazing creatures and done so many wonderful things, I certainly would be excited to talk about it. Except now, Aunt Em seems to think Dorothy is delusional, and decides electric shock treatment is the best way to burn the imagination from her niece's little brain. And thus, kiddies, we begin our Return to Oz. YAY CHILDHOOD!

Basically, I'm fairly confident someone at Disney was on acid when they decided to adapt later Oz books into this "sequel" to The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy has somehow aged backward, she's locked up in an asylum, Oz is a slum, the characters living there are horrifying (including the terror inducing "Wheelers"), and a Princess with a hallway full of alternate heads is running the show.

So, thanks for the endless freaking nightmares, Return to Oz. I'm sure you will continue terrifying children via clueless parents for years to come.

The Witches (1990)

“An idiotic vitch like you, must rrroast upon the barbecue!”

Another film based on a Roald Dahl book, that kooky Welsh bastard! The Witches was one of my favorite books when I was wee, so I was extremely excited when the film version came out in 1990. And while my imagination was (and is) incredibly vivid, I could never have fathomed visuals like this:

There was something so unsettling to me about actually seeing a room full of teachers, librarians, and future candy shop owners who were really secret child murderers, ESPECIALLY when they look like THAT. Luckily, Anjelica Huston went on to play Morticia Addams and I totally fell in love with her at that point. But if all I'd known of her as a child was The Grand High Witch, I think Anjelica and I would still have a very contentious relationship.

The Dark Crystal (1982)

I was a total Jim Henson junkie when I was a kid. Fraggle Rock, The Muppets, Emmet Otter... but when it comes to scaring the short pants off of me, there was definitely a near tie between Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal. While David Bowie's codpiece was unsettling, several creatures from the otherworldly fantasy that is The Dark Crystal sent me running for my teddy bear:

I've never been much of a fan of birds to begin with, but these nasty vulture/lizard-like creatures were the kind of thing that would haunt my dreams. And the sounds, oh, the sounds! These vicious creatures were frightening enough without the excellent sound effects. Frankly, while I love The Dark Crystal even more as an adult, I still find the scenes featuring the skeksis' totally unnerving. Well done, Creature Shop. Well done.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)

Roger Rabbit is easily one of the most innovative, creative, and entertaining movies ever made. The problem was, that because it featured so much animation (including classic Disney characters), parents automatically assumed it was a kid's movie. Roger may be a goofy and happy-go-lucky lead rabbit, but when it comes down to it, there is much about this movie that isn't exactly child-friendly. From Christopher Lloyd's performance as the totally frightening Judge Doom to the really jerky weasels, there were more than a few moments in this movie that stressed out kids. However, for me, no moment was more upsetting than this one:

Yup, when I saw this movie in the theater at age five, I buried my face in my dad's arm to hide my tears. To this day, I have to fast-forward through this scene when I watch Roger Rabbit. It's something about the terrified look on the shoe's face, and its desperate and pained cries, that just break my heart. Do I know it's a fake shoe? Of course. Does that make it any less upsetting? Nope.

The Neverending Story (1984)

Sooooo, confession time. My mom and dad bought me The Neverending Story when I was 6 or 7, we turned it on, I got hysterical about 45 minutes in, we turned it off, and I didn't see it again until I was 25. I bet you can guess which scene it was...

I could handle people dying for the most part, but the minute you killed an animal, I was done. Then you make it a little boy's beloved horse? Seriously? What the hell, Wolfgang Peterson? Thanks for totally traumatizing a generation of children by murdering a beautiful animal in the most awful way possible without turning it into a Tarantino film.

PS - I still don't like The Neverending Story. Sorrynotsorry.

Mr. Horatio Knibbles (1971)

In all fairness, this could quite possibly be one of those movies that only I saw, or perhaps only I remember. But it's making the list because even all these years later, I remember it. Mr. Horatio Knibbles is a 70s British children's movie about a little girl who thinks rabbits are just tops, so she magically comes to see a life-size rabbit/man hybrid creature who wears a top hat and lives in the bushes behind her house. These days, people would probably just assume Mr. Knibbles was a pedophile, but in 1971, it was all delightful.

Nightmare fuel...
You can't get copies of this on VHS or DVD, but if you're curious, it's on YouTube in pieces. And I assure you, if you want to be terrified 70s style, it's worth your time.

Watership Down (1978)

"Oh, boy! Mommy! A movie about bunnies! Can we get it? Can we get it?"

"Sure honey, whatever."


The Black Cauldron (1985)

Nothing says "Disney Film" like Welsh mythology and an evil horned monster trying to rule the world with the aid of undead slaves. The Black Cauldron was the first animated film to receive a PG-rating, one of Disney's biggest bombs up to that point, and was beaten at the box office by the Care Bears Movie. In hindsight, this is a shame, because Cauldron was beautifully animated and fascinating in that it's based on the ├╝ber-dark Prydain anthology by Lloyd Alexander. But it was also one of the very first movies I saw in the theater... when I was 2.

No, that's just... great. Not scary at all.
While I love The Black Cauldron now, my original memories of it were less than pleasant. It could even be why I'm not all that in love with zombies as an adult...

The Princess Bride (1987)

Now, we all watch and look back on The Princess Bride with so much nostalgia and affection, that it has practically become a sacred entity: with good reason! It is one of the most romantic, fantastical, awesome films ever put to celluloid. But if you were a child the very first time you saw it, there is a chance you saw it through a slightly different lens...

These things may seem less than frightening now (okay, that evil old hag is still pretty awful), but in the days of kid-dom, don't tell me that ROUS's and shrieking eels weren't lingering in your brain. If it weren't for my adult obsession with Chris Sarandon, I'd probably still be over-focused on the creepier elements of this classic.

You charming bastard.

A Honorable Mention to: the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Seriously. Fuck that guy.

Did a one of your traumatic childhood memories not make the list? Let Linnie know on Twitter: @linnieloowho