People Talk About Kids’ Movies That Are Actually Dark and Intense

I’m just gonna go ahead and say itOld Yeller scarred me as a child and I still haven’t completely recovered.

And I think it’s one of the saddest movies I’ve ever seen in my whole life.

Why do so many movies geared towards kids have to be so disturbing?

Folks on AskReddit talked about the kids’ movies and TV shows that are actually pretty disturbing.

Let’s get weird!

1. Go ahead and cry.

“My Girl.

“He needs his glasses! He can’t see without his glasses!””

2. Cover your eyes.

“The Road to El Dorado is extremely s**ual for a kids movie.

A lot more than I remember it being.”

3. Why, Mom?

“The Dark Crystal.

I remember when I was a kid my mom introduced me to the movie, and all I could think of was “wtf is this movie my mom is trying to show me?”

I was really young when I first watched it and had no idea what was going on, no matter how much my mom tried to explain it.”

4. Scary stuff!

“Return to Oz.

I’m 38 years old and I’m still horrified by the wheelers.”

5. And it’s Disney…

“The Hunchback of Notre Dame is pretty scary for a Disney flick.

The kiddos should consider themselves lucky that they deviated from Hugo’s ending.”

6. Symbolism.

“There was an animated movie of Animal Farm, based off the novel by George Orwell.

I absolutely loved watching it as a kid. I did not understand the symbolism. I saw it when it aired on tv a couple times during the day in the 1990s.

I remember during Christmas I was unwrapping at video tape and saw a pig on the cover. I was so excited! I didn’t know my parents knew I like animal farm. But then I read the title on the vhs and saw it was Charlotte’s Web. A movie I h**ed.

Also, Charlotte’s Web. A movie about a pig that is trying to be k**led for its meat, depends on a spider and other farm animals to come up with words to impress people to not want to eat him.”

7. Dealing with grief.

“The Neverending Story is actually about dealing with grief.

Bastian lost his mother at the start of the movie and depression is causing him to fail in his fathers eyes. In the imaginary world the “nothing” is consuming everything endlessly because Bastian will not confront his loss.

Bastian’s participation at the urging of the Empress, is to confront the loss and participate in the world.”

8. Disturbing.

“Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Watership Down.

These two are disturbing.”

9. I’m freakin’ out!

“Willy Wonka- are they on a boat ride or an acid trip?

I couldn’t find the clip, but Will Ferrell even lampooned that scene on SNL- he was like “hey, this movie’s for kids?!””

10. This one goes deep.

“The Transformers: The Movie (1986 animated film, not the Michael Baysplosions ones).

Like most of its 1980’s Saturday-morning peers, the purpose of the Transformers cartoon was to make kids want to buy a line of toys. The feature-length movie took everything about the cartoon and kicked it up a notch, including the capitalist motivations.

Hasbro had an entirely new generation of Transformers toys lined up, and the movie was meant to introduce them, and convince kids to buy the new Transformers instead of the existing Transformers they already had.

So how did the accomplish this?

Gratuitously murdering all of the existing characters.

They don’t even wait. Less than ten minutes in, Prowl and Brawn get shot with lazer beams just like they have been dozens of time in the cartoon, but they actually f**king d**. Ironhide, the grandpa who yells at kids from his rocker to get off the lawn, tries to d** with his boots on but suffers what can only be described as a literal execution.

Optimus Prime is a better father than your real dad, and this is what happens to him. This isn’t even the movie’s climax, this is immediately after the opening set-piece. That color of gray will haunt me.

This approach was, in retrospect, a mistake (the crying children in theaters was a tip-off). Hasbro and others have since learned to take different approaches to updating the character line-up in their toy lines and associated cartoons. The modern standard seems to be power-ups and new suits, rather than wholesale slaughter.”

11. Now you get it…

“The Last Unicorn.

Wore the VHS out when I was a kid, but didn’t truly appreciate the darker moments until I grew up.”

12. Here’s a secret…

“The Secret of NIMH.

The animal testing scene, scary owls with lamp like eyes, bloody sword fights, and characters being crushed to d**th.”

13. Too upsetting.

“All Dogs Go to Heaven was one of my favourite movies he’s made as a kid.

But it is too upsetting for me to watch after learning about Judith Barsi. RIP.”

14. Not over it.

“Courage the Cowardly Dog.

That was a pure nightmare fuel.”

15. A classic.

“Chicken Run!

The movie that turned my mom into a vegetarian.”

16. Oh, boy…

Watership Down was one I watched when I was likely 5 or 6.

It was way worse than I expected.

I don’t know that I have watched it since.”

17. Horrified.

“The Neverending Story .

I showed it to a bunch of preteens a couple years ago and they were far more horrified by the all-egg smoothie Bastian’s dad makes at the beginning of the movie than they were by anything else.”

18. Noir-ish.

“Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is the defining movie of this subgenre.

It makes a lot more sense once you understand film noir, but what 8 year old is going to pick up on that?

Then the movie is seen purely for the cartoon characters, and this movie is just not about cartoon characters.”

19. Left an impression.

“Toy Story 2 is f**ked up.

Especially the part where Jessie gets left in a box on a hill. Made me scared to give away my toys or even give them all less than equal attention for years, even though I was pretty sure they weren’t sentient.”

20. Have you seen it?

“Disney’s 1979 sci-fi film The Black Hole. It was the first film from Disney to receive a PG rating. I saw this movie in the theater when it was new. I had just turned eight years old.

It’s pretty dark, and I remember the ending was kinda creepy but I wasn’t traumatized by it or anything. It was probably fine for my age but I grew up in a different era. These days it would likely be PG-13.”

21. Messed up.

“The Princess and the Frog.

A character d**s (won’t spoil it) and it’s a very clear d**th. Another is implied to be k**led. Demons/ghosts, voodoo, guns and the implication that the frog will be used as a lifelong blood bag.

The movie is great. I feel like Tiana is an inspirational character for young girls, but I’m not showing this to a single digit age child.”

22. Don’t go in the house!

“Monster House always freaked me the hell out as a kid.

It could just be because I was always uncomfortable with any sort of ghosty claymation-looking movies, but it always made me really uncomfortable.”

23. Not for kids.


Incredible movie, but not for kids. It is animated though.

Also, Ratatouille. Not so much dark but I feel like it connects with people who are in there late-teens/20’s.”

24. Adult themes.

“Mrs. Doubtfire – one of my favorite movies that I find highly enjoyable as an adult.

Robin Williams is the star of the movie, and he’s wearing a disguise, but, it’s loaded with adult humor and themes. Maybe some kids are wise to what’s happening, but, it would be real easy to love Daniel while despising Miranda.

There is even a set of deleted scenes with Daniel getting revenge on the neighbor who called the police on the birthday party, but, even if she was a bit nosy, he was in violation for bringing in animals from a petting zoo, and being excessively loud.

Apparently, the original idea was to have Daniel and Miranda get back together too, but, Robin Williams and Sally Field fought against that ending, because it could give kids who watch it a sense of false hope.”

25. Freaked out.


Maybe debatable as a kid’s movie but it did have a PG rating and was later made into an after school cartoon series.

It has it all though, decapitated heads, a woman emanating smoke from her neck hole, depictions of s**cide and one F-bomb.”

26. What am I looking at?

“The Garbage Pail Kids Movie (1987)

The KIDS are disturbing looking puppets.”

27. Avoid at all costs.

“Grave of the Fireflies.

It was originally released as a double feature with My Neighbor Totoro as the studio wasn’t sure that Totoro would do well. But yeah, that movie was released for kids.

That first double screening must have been disturbing as all hell.”

28. Nightmares.

“Little Nemo’s Adventures in Slumberland

I had a cousin who was OBSESSED as a child so we watched it a lot.

I still have nightmares about that creepy as black fog overtaking everything around me.”

29. Scary.

“One word…Coraline.

The buttons were creepy, yes. But the creepy thing I got from that movie was how easy it was for people to prey on children. Coraline’s parents weren’t terrible, but they were preoccupied–with things not her.

This caused them to do what they saw as little actions (ignoring her when she wants to play, telling her to go entertain herself, rejecting her attempts to stand out, etc. etc.) that, to her, seemed like really big big actions.

So from her perspective, she’s being wronged and neglected when she’s in a new unfamiliar place far from her old friends and she’s lonely and (as she sees it) feeling unwanted… whilst her parents are too busy to notice. Then this Other shows up–her Other Mother. A creepy stranger who’s willing to fulfill all those roles Coraline’s own parents won’t.

This predatory figure dotes on her, plays with her, gives her gifts and attention and positive feedback–and because of this, she consistently ignores all the little signs that scream GET OUT, CORALINE! She ignores them because she’s young and naive and just desperately wants to be loved and given attention, even at the expense of her own safety.

By the time she realizes she has to get out, it’s too late–she’s trapped, and the Other is willing to do anything to get what it wants from Coraline.

I think Coraline is a cautionary tale for parents and children alike–how the way adults and kids perceive the world is very different, and how predatory people are so very good at exploiting that.”

Okay, now it’s your turn to speak up.

In the comments, tell us which kids’ movies and TV shows creep you out.

We look forward to hearing from you!