Strange things can creep you out when you’re a kid. But one thing I’ve noticed is that when I saw something that freaked me the eff out as a child, it stuck with me for a while.
As in, to this day, I’m still unsettled at the initial object of “terror.”
My wild imagination coupled with my penchant to lie in bed reminiscing over distrubing images makes for an unpleasant combination.
Anyways, today, I thought I’d go over some scenes/images/characters in kids movies that scared the hell out of me even though I don’t think they were supposed to.
Side note: And my parents thought they needed to keep me from watching R-rated movies. If only they had taken a look at these purported children’s movies.
Be prepared for some distubing pictures up ahead. You’ve been warned (albeit briefly).
The Fireys – Labyrinth
Let’s be honest, the whole of Labyrinth is pretty terrifying. From the stalkerish Goblin King to the tunnel of hands, it is a nightmare fest. But nothing made me squirm in discomfort quite like the Fireys.
These “playful” critters torment Sarah on her journey, and they have this terrifying song-and-dance number where they cavort around like demons from the fires of hell. They even kick their own heads off and play with them like hacky sacks.
I haven’t seen Labyrinth in years. And I’m not planning to. While I am very curious to see how I’d feel about it as an adult, those damn Fireys are keeping me away. I don’t think I’m going to touch this movie with a ten-foot pole.
Artax in the Swamps of Sadness – The NeverEnding Story
If people thought Mufasa’s death in The Lion King was traumatic, then they never saw the way Artax died in The NeverEnding Story.
On a quest to save his land, Atreyu and his loyal horse, Artax, have to travel through the Swamps of Sadness. These swamps are incredibly dangerous because it can make you feel so sad, you become so heavy, you sink into the treacherous muck.
Atreyu is protected from the Sadness thanks to the amulet he wears (called the Auryn). But his horse has no such protection.
Artax slowly starts sinking into the mud, and at one point he just can’t move at all.
This moment scarred me because Atreyu is screaming the whole time, trying to get his horse to stop feeling sad. Also, since I had read the book, I knew exactly what Artax was thinking as he sank into the mud forever.
E.T. – E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
Don’t judge me.
I know E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is a classic film, but as a kid, E.T.’s design freaked me out.
I’m not alone in this sentiment.
Both my boyfriend and I shared this distaste in our respective youths. It impacted our enjoyment of the movie as a whole.
However, the two of us have largely grown past this, and we can watch the film and appreciate it for what it is.
But whenever I’ve seen the movie on my own, I always wonder who in the world okay-ed E.T.’s appearance in a children’s film. I’ve seen better lovable aliens in sci-fi horror movies.
Rat Bellies – The Secret of NIMH
Overall, I actually very much enjoy The Secret of NIMH movies, but that first one was incredibly dark, and it’s only now that I look back at them that I realize this.
If you haven’t seen the first film, I would highly recommend it to you. There’s just one part that made me absolutely squeamish. When recounting the rats’ time at the National Institute of Mental Health, we’re treated to a montage of flashbacks showcasing these experiments. And boy, they did not hold back. The image of rats getting injected in the belly has been forever imprinted in my memory.
I don’t know why this moment in particular stuck with me. It just did. And later on in the film, when the evil rat Jenner gets sliced in the stomach with a sword, I had flashbacks.
The Elderly – Spirited Away
Look at the detail given to Yubaba’s facial features in Spirited Away, and I think you’ll be able to understand why she scares me.
That’s right. “Scares.”
She still does.
Every indent on her lips denoting where her teeth are located, the brightly jeweled rings on her fingers, the massive wart in the middle of her forehead, her clawed nails, and the menacingly pale eyeshadow she has applied all contribute to making her the most feared elderly woman I’ve ever encountered.
And Spirited Away is by no means lacking in freak-out moments. Chihiro’s parents turning into pigs, the gigantic needy baby, and No-Face’s gluttonous rampage are all disquieting moments.
Yubaba takes the cake when it comes to the scariest of them though.