20 Children’s Movies that Were Actually Terrifying

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971)
The whimsical chocolate factory sounds like the stuff of a child's fantasy, but there was something very off about the frantic candy maker. There are his outbursts, physically altering treats and let's not forget that boat ride.
Paramount Pictures via Everett Collection
The Neverending Story (1984)
The Neverending Story (1984)
A magical world is in danger of being destroyed by a void of depressing nothingness? No thanks. And let's not forget about that giant, flying dog.
Warner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
Murder, betrayal and escaped prisoners -- these are pretty heavy themes for a children's story revolving around a 13-year-old boy. At least Harry got that sweet Firebolt broomstick out of it.
Warner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
As if the creepy brown alien's voice was scary enough, we had to watch him become ill and die on top of it? No amount of Reese's Pieces could erase that memory.
Universal Pictures
Bambi (1942)
Bambi (1942)
All little ones hold their mommy a little tighter after seeing animated flick. Sure his sidekick Thumper was cute, but if you didn't shed a tear when Bambi became an orphan, you may not have a soul.
RKO Radio Pictures
Homeward Bound (1993)
Fearing they've been abandoned, these three pets face off against the wilderness, bears, and mountain lions to try and find their owner. Seeing Shadow limp up that hill still puts a lump in our throat.
Pinocchio (1940)
Pinocchio (1940)
It all looks rosy when the puppet is first brought to life, but the rest of the tale involves kidnapping, enslavement and a giant, man-eating whale. Thank god for the happy ending.
RKO Radio Pictures
Fantasia (1940)
Fantasia (1940)
The many acts of this animated film took our emotions on a roller coaster. One minute we were watching adorable dancing mushrooms and the next seeing the dinosaurs die.
Walt Disney Productions
Return to Oz (1985)
Return to Oz (1985)
First of all, Dorothy basically gets committed at the beginning. When she returns to Oz, she finds it in ruins. Probably not what she had in mind when she first clicked her heels together.
Buena Vista Pictures
The Witches (1990)
The Witches (1990)
Those faces, those eyes -- no witch was more terrifying than Anjelica Huston, who led all of England's witches on their quest to kill all the nation's children. Sounds like a great time.
Warner Bros. Pictures via Everett Collection
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
Roger Rabbit is an accused murderer in this fantasy comedy. Let's also not forget about the "Dip," a toxic concoction that can kill toons. Because every child wants to see their animated favorites get melted.
My Girl (1991)
My Girl (1991)
Traumatized by the details of puberty, we then had to watch Thomas (Macaulay Culkin) die after being attacked by bees. Our hearts may have actually shattered when Vada (Anna Chlumsky) ran into his funeral: "He needs his glasses!"
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
Gremlins (1984)
Gremlins (1984)
Who didn't want Gizmo as a pet when this movie started? That is, until he bred a mini-army of terrifying little creatures that only needed a splash of water to reproduce.
Warner Brothers via Everett Collection
The Land Before Time (1988)
The Land Before Time (1988)
No amount of adorable baby dinosaur antics or sparkling leaves could erase the sight of Littlefoot's mommy being savagely killed. We probably squeezed our mothers a little tighter that night too -- it could all be over in a flash.
Universal Pictures via Everett Collection
The Lion King (1994)
The Lion King (1994)
Scar was the stuff of nightmares. This evil uncle killed his own brother and then tries to off his nephew. If it weren't for those catchy songs, we may never have recovered.
Buena Vista Pictures
Labyrinth (1986)
Labyrinth (1986)
If you ever tried to wish your younger sibling away, this was a cautionary tale. Goblins and puppets and a massive maze? Not worth it.
TriStar Pictures via Everett Collection
Jumanji (1995)
Jumanji (1995)
You never looked at your board games the same way after seeing this film. Those giant spiders were enough to keep you up for weeks.
Columbia Pictures via Everett Collection
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
You'd be hard pressed to find a millennial who doesn't consider this Tim Burton flick a favorite. However, there are some seriously dark elements, like severed heads in boxes and a giant creature made of bugs.
Touchstone Pictures
Alice in Wonderland (1951)
Alice in Wonderland (1951)
This animated feature based on the story by Lewis Carroll was one trippy ride from start to finish, including magical mushrooms and a bizarre cast of characters.
Disney
The Dark Crystal (1982)
The Dark Crystal (1982)
The Skeksis are, without a doubt, the scariest puppets ever created by Jim Henson. Nothing could have prepared us for them.
Universal Studios

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