Top 10 Kids Movies That Weren't Supposed to Be Creepy
VOICE OVER: Andrew Tejada
WRITTEN BY: Jonathan Alexander
Won't someone please think of the children! For this list, we'll be looking at our childhood favorites that were unintentionally terrifying. Our countdown includes "The Brave Little Toaster", "The Care Bears Movie", "Pinocchio" and more!
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Kids Movies That Weren’t Supposed to Be Creepy. For this list, we’ll be looking at our childhood favorites that were unintentionally terrifying. Which innocent flick scared you the most as a kid? Let us know in the comments!
#10: “The Brave Little Toaster” (1987)
The title of this beloved classic promises that its titular appliance is courageous. What it fails to mention is that audiences will have to be the same. Don’t be fooled by the cutesy designs of the sentient machinery; the film does not shirk away from some downright disturbing imagery. The psycho clown dream sequence still haunts us to this day. Worse, it’s not just one incident, either. The whole runtime is full of menacing villains, genuine death, and even a musical number about worthless appliances in a scrapheap. Just because they’re mechanical doesn’t make their demises any less spine-tingling.
#9: “Matilda” (1996)
Miss Trunchbull may be a simple school principal in this movie, but her dayjob includes extracurriculars that would put her on the FBI Most Wanted list. From stalking the halls like a predator to chucking kids by their pigtails, she’s more like a prison warden than a teacher. Somehow, all that’s without even touching upon her most infamous moment. There’s nothing sweet about when she forces the poor Bruce Bogtrotter to eat a massive dessert by himself. It doesn’t sound that bad on paper, but that’s part of what makes Trunchbull so terrifying: she can even make chocolate cake scary.
#8: “Unico in the Island of Magic” (1983)
How scary could a movie about unicorns and friendship really be? Turns out, the answer is really freaking scary. Part of the shock comes from the fact that the film’s title and opening minutes aren’t at all indicative of the mature mayhem to come. Thanks to the exploits of the imposing Lord Kuruku, the color and fun fade away until there’s nothing left but a chilling sense of foreboding. Kuruku’s vengeful quest against humanity is bad enough, but what’s even worse is that it comes with an army of living puppets. To say they’re walking nightmare fuel is putting it lightly.
#7: “Watership Down” (1978)
At a certain point, the furry main characters make this novel adaptation even harder to watch. After all, no one wants to see an adorable critter get mauled. To be frank, some of the more brutal scenes are tough to stomach even as adults. Especially any that include General Woundwort. The film examines death and loss in a way few so-called children’s stories ever do, and the result is undeniably moving, if a bit unnerving at the same time. “Watership Down” is basically a walking reminder that just because something’s animated does not make it easy viewing.
#6: “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” (1985)
Conceptually, a guy named Pee-wee trying to recover a stolen bike seems refreshingly innocent. But, almost impressively, his zany journey pedals from laughs to scares in a matter of seconds. The absurdist storytelling can certainly feel a bit off, but that’s nothing compared to the utter madness of that clown dream. Their stilted movements paired with the uncomfortable sound effects are enough to make even the Joker look tame. The film’s title makes it clear it wasn’t supposed to be scary, but they should’ve thought of that before going full John Carpenter with that dream sequence. And need we even mention Large Marge?
#5: “The Care Bears Movie” (1985)
The vaguely named “spirit” takes over Care-a-Lot with an iron grip - or, technically, a floating head. But, despite its lack of a corporeal form, the spirit takes supervillainy very seriously. Alongside cloudquakes and evil monologues, it sends a legion of terrifying monsters after the bears. It’s hard to be menacing while sharing a screen with a pastel bear, but thanks to the eerie designs, these evil foes manage just fine. So does the spirit itself, for that matter. By the time the credits roll, its malevolent schemes have ensured that the bears awoke from hibernation and into a living nightmare.
#4: “Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure” (1977)
This ‘70s feature doesn’t do the innate creepiness of dolls any favors. It blends live-action and 2D animation, which would be fine if its titular character didn’t move in a horrifyingly uncanny way. Honestly, “Ann” and “Andy” aren’t the right names for these dolls - “Annabelle” is much more fitting. The other toys come to life with designs that make them feel more like zombies than imaginary friends. It’s a musical, too, but the off-putting animation reframes even the dance numbers in an uncomfortable light. It’s clear these things belong locked in the toy chest.
#3: “The Secret of NIMH” (1982)
There’s a potent, fantastical tone to the harrowing exploits of Mrs. Brisby, but her journey to save her family comes with an equal amount of turmoil. The appalling story of the rat’s experimentation and desperate attempts at survival is compelling on the page, but translated to the screen, it took on a much darker context. The visuals support the empowering tale with an unwavering horror aesthetic. Even friendly characters are backed by harsh lighting and intense expressions. It’s all in favor of a deeply moving story, but one that never loses sight of the fear its characters endure at every turn.
#2: “Pinocchio” (1940)
Somehow, the famed talking puppet isn’t even the spookiest part of this classic Disney flick. That honor belongs to when he drops anchor at Pleasure Island. Rest assured, it’s anything but a pleasurable experience. Pinocchio befriends the gruff Lampwick just in time for him to make a literal ass of himself. That’s no hyperbole, either. The pained screams, fluid animation, and despicable implications make this island detour more disturbing the longer it goes on. The last thing we ever hear from Lampwick is him crying for his mother. The film doesn’t dwell on his fate on a donkey, either, which makes the loose end even more appalling.
#1: “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” (1971)
Hear us out: a morally-gray ensemble gets picked off in inventive ways in part by a mysterious title character. There’s no pure imagination needed to realize this plot summary reads like a straight-up horror film. Though, we shouldn’t be surprised after that horrifying, surrealist tunnel scene. At the very least, these tours should come with a hazard warning, since their completion rates are astonishingly low. The cheery music and eerie smiles become incredibly haunting as the group gets whittled down in famously demented fashion. Even though they’re just kids, their fate is not as sweet as a Wonka Bar, that’s for sure.