Sometimes it doesn’t necessarily have to be an adult horror movie that can induce cold-sweats and nightmares amongst more seasoned movie aficionados. As unbelievable as it may sound, many children’s films also possess the ability to do the same… to kids! Whilst many children seem to be able to overlook the subliminal undercurrent of terror running throughout these supposedly cheerful flicks, it is hard to deny the concealed effects certain films, characters or scenes can have on viewers; creating a lasting impression that we remember well into adulthood. Here at Roobla, we explore a list of children’s films that do just that.

5. Dumbo (1941)

Years after its release Dumbo undoubtedly remains a cherished Disney classic amongst film devotees of all ages. A story of an elephant suffering cruel ridicule due to a deformity, who harshly acquires the nickname ‘Dumbo’ from all the other little elephants in the circus. Despite his immensely large ears, ‘Dumbo’ overcomes his abnormality with the help of a mouse and caring mother and becomes a true circus wonder striking back at his cruel tormentors… a genuinely pleasant ending for a beloved character.

Why it is disturbing:  So here they go and do it again. Walt Disney have been entertaining children for years so when creating the pink elephant scene in Dumbo they must have just decided to distort and damage the minds of their viewers with an extremely hallucinogenic scene in which Dumbo and his friend get ‘drunk’ but instead it genuinely resembles a bad acid trip. Good one Disney!

4. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

Roald Dahl does it again. This much loved classic centres around a young under-privileged boy named Charlie whose most cherished wish is to visit one of the most fascinating, miraculous chocolate factories in the world. Of course, he acquires his wish by obtaining the most sought after prize in the world permitting him and other lucky finders to explore the wonder-filled factory. That prize being an extraordinary golden ticket. Who wouldn’t want that?

Why it is disturbing: Straight away the kids get to perceive the amazingness that is Wonka’s chocolate room where you can eat almost everything and all is happy and dandy… until an unfortunate event occurs in which a greedy boy plunges into a chocolate river leaving the remaining guests somewhat shaken. Wonka attempts to lighten the mood again by inviting them onto his beautiful boat as cheerful music plays in the background but then… oh the terror. The guests of the boat and the viewers are treated to some truly haunting and disturbing images of dead people, animals being beheaded and other various insects eating inexplicable things while Wonka sings a creepy song. It’s enough to drive anyone insane.

3. The Witches (1990)

One of Roald Dahl’s more haunting stories, The Witches focuses on a little boy living with his grandmother after the death of his parents. His grandmother warns him oh so creepily about how Witches inhabit the world and that they are not what they seem. Unluckily, Luke ends up having to save all the little children of the world from the hands of these terrifying, murderous Witches.

Why it is disturbing: The Witches delivers a genuine terrorising atmosphere which in turn makes it somewhat a little inappropriate for children. It is the unnerving and frightening idea that numerous children have suffered horribly due to the hatred that these Witches bear for them. The most terrifying scene in this sinister film is where the brilliant Angelina Huston rips off her human disguise and exposes the most frightening face children’s cinema has ever seen. It probably haunted the dreams of the viewers for years with no surprise of course.

2. Return to Oz (1985)

Return to Oz is a sinister, bleaker interpretation of the story compared to the original 1939 film and slightly more loyal to L. Frank Baum’s Oz novels. Upon release it generated plenty of perplexity amongst parents who believed they were taking their children to see a happy-go-lucky flick but instead were exposed to the story’s overall nefarious atmosphere and the horror of Dorothy’s subsequent adventure into the Land of Oz.

Why it is disturbing:  In the opening of the movie the character of Dorothy nearly undergoes horrifying electroshock therapy due to her aunt’s disbelief of Dorothy’s memories of ‘Oz’. This is just the start of the terror and not just for Dorothy. Return to Oz is scarcely kid-friendly. Who knows what the filmmakers were thinking during the creation of this terror filled ‘children’s’ movie. The last straw in this horror film is when Dorothy aims to pocket some sort of magical powder from a sleeping headless witch when she abruptly awakens from her slumber and begins chasing Dorothy around derelict Oz with no head. Those poor children…

1. Watership Down (1978)

After an apocalyptic vision plagues a small rabbit living in the countryside, he urges the residents to evacuate but his attempts are ridiculed by the chief of the warren they inhabit. The rabbit escapes with some other rabbits and they go on an adventure in search of a new home coming across many dangerous events in the process. Watership Down is a beautiful adaptation of Richard Adam’s book but it is clear the movie is aimed somewhat more at adults rather than children.

Why it is disturbing:  Littered with unbelievable gory violence and explicit, plaguing deaths of various rabbits, Watership Down is certainly not a kid’s movie. Generally bunnies are supposed to be cute, fluffy and cuddly but instead in Watership Down they are massive, menacing creatures with enormous blood coated teeth who murder each other…

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