There’s a hugely satisfying mix of children’s and family-friendly cinema available for viewing today, from animation to live-action and everything in between. Fantastical tales of love, friendship, and growing up have delighted audiences since the motion picture became a thing. On occasion though, audiences end up with more than they bargained for, exiting the theatre with nightmare fuel instead of happy movie memories.
One step too far in keeping the audience excited can result in disaster when it comes to the younger viewers, outrage from parents, and studios wishing they’d tweaked their film a little to better fit the demographic they were originally aiming for.
10 Coraline Viewers Will Quickly Sense The More Sinister
Stop motion animation can be a sure-fire way to ensure a film stands out against the competition, the Wallace and Gromit franchise is a great example of the unique charm it can bring to a movie.
In some cases, though, like that of Henry Selick’s Coraline, stop motion can be used to inject an unexpected level of fear and creepiness into the movie. Though Coraline’s strange world is most certainly an engaging one, looks alone are enough to keep some young children away from this film.
9 The Dinosaurs Are In Constant Danger In The Land Before Time
Before the Disney Renaissance began in 1989, animator Don Bluth was giving Walt’s company some serious competition at the box office. One of Bluth’s many classics, The Land Before Time, warmed the hearts of families the world over upon its release in the late ’80s, and main character, Littlefoot, became the talisman for a franchise that would spawn multiple sequels and TV adaptations.
Littlefoot’s desperate quest for survival was regarded by many as being too intense for young children. Concern from executive producers Steven Spielberg and George Lucas even led to around 11 minutes of footage being cut from the film.
8 Jumanji Is A Great Choice, But Only If You’re Game For A Few Scares
The face of Robin Williams is one that so often brought joy into theatres, but with 1995’s Jumanji, audiences were treated to a few more scares than they might have expected.
The magic and wonder of the titular board game is its unpredictability, and when giant spiders and rampaging elephants result from an unlucky roll of the dice, it’s bound to send little children (and some adults) running for the exits.
7 The Wizard Of Oz Toes The Line Between Classic And Creepy
A true classic with an undeniable influence when it comes to modern cinema and pop culture, The Wizard Of Oz is a staple in many households when it comes to children’s movies. Its place amongst the finest of its kind is well deserved, though there are certain elements in the film that can leave young children more than a little upset upon first viewing.
There’s a certain eerieness that can be attributed to the age of the film, but the evil Wicked Witch of the West and her flying monkeys are the stuff of childhood nightmares.
6 Snow White’s Evil Queen Is Enough To Have Kids Hiding Behind The Couch
Walt Disney’s original animated feature is a frightful one. Since its release in 1937, Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs has gained notoriety for its ability to scare young children. Even legendary director Steven Spielberg believes the Disney classic to be more terrifying than any of his own films, which of course includes the likes of Jaws and Jurassic Park.
Snow White’s haunted forest is more than enough to instill young children with an irrational fear of trees, and when it comes to Disney villains, the Evil Queen may just be the most fearsome one of all.
5 The Goonies Is A Terrific And Sometimes Terrifying Treasure Hunt
Richard Donner’s The Goonies is ’80s popcorn cinema at its finest. Sean Astin and Josh Brolin star, and Chris Columbus delivers the family-focused warmth and charm that his scripts are known for.
The film follows a group of kids who discover a treasure map and set out on an adventure to find a lost pirate fortune, though things don’t go to plan, and the group is soon hunted by a gang of criminals. It’s an underground adventure complete with deadly traps, and the action is often too high-stakes for younger members of the family.
4 Spirited Away’s Spirit World Isn’t All That Welcoming
Studio Ghibli has a knack for creating timeless classics that can be enjoyed equally by audiences of all ages, so it’s not unexpected for one or two of their films to cause some discomfort in the more easily frightened. Yet, few match up to Spirited Away in this regard. The 2001 movie chronicles the journey of a young girl as she makes her way through the spirit world.
The animation is beautifully calming, so when sights like the character of No Face pop up on-screen, it can be incredibly startling for younger viewers.
3 Fans Feared An Untimely End For Woody And Co. In Toy Story 3
Disney and Pixar owe a huge amount of their success to their Toy Story franchise. When the trailer for Toy Story 3 dropped in 2009, fans were overwhelmed with excitement, and given the way the trailer pushed the emotional buttons, fans knew to have tissues at the ready when release time came around.
What fans may not have expected, though, is the amount of sheer terror brought on by the film’s infamous incinerator scene. Audiences everywhere had bonded with these beloved characters for over 10 years, and this scene had them all watching through the cracks between their fingers.
2 No Film Scares Kids Quite Like The Black Cauldron
Disney’s 25th animated feature film is one of the most infamous when it comes to frightening the youth. The studio’s first animated film to receive a PG rating, The Black Cauldron more than earns its parental guidance label.
The film’s magical sorcery, wicked creatures, and daring dragons make for high thrills alongside a chilling performance from John Hurt as the Horned King, though it wasn’t enough to stop the film’s failure at the box office. The Black Cauldron did scare Disney fans for another reason altogether as it’s often mentioned as the film that almost killed Disney animation.
1 Watership Down Is A Warren Of Worry For Many Children
A quaint English countryside may conjure up images of pristine meadows filled with fluffy farm animals, but whilst 1978’s Watership Down delivers on this promise to some extent, the real core of the film is a harrowing tale of loss, loneliness, and abandonment.
There’s a shocking amount of bloodshed amongst the bunnies, and one simply cannot forget the sight of the black rabbit of death hopping across the screen to the sounds of Art Garfunkel’s Bright Eyes. Watership Down has kept British children up at night for generations.
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