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1.

Matilda

Matilda holding a notebook and pencil


TriStar / courtesy Everett Collection

Matilda literally has abusive parents and an abusive principal who puts her in a torture device called “The Chokey,” and then she figures out she’s got mysterious powers. Tell me this isn’t basically the plot of Carrie, but more messed up.

2.

Coraline

Other Mother with button eyes cooking


Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection

Don’t even get me started on Coraline. The book alone traumatized me, and the animation of this…I cannot deal. Other Mother is one of the creepiest villains of all time.

3.

Don’t Look Under the Bed

Frances looking under her bed


Disney

Ah, back when DCOMs were FREAKING TERRIFYING. I used to have a loft bed with a huge hidden area under it, and I spent like a decade being terrified of what could be under it. Thanks, Disney Channel.

4.

Chicken Run

poster for the film with the chickens fleeing the farm


DreamWorks Distribution / Courtesy Everett Collection

Maybe it’s partly that I am terrified of claymation, but there came a point in my childhood when I straight-up refused to ever watch this film again. The whole meat pie thing freaked me out so much. It felt like if the people in Sweeney Todd knew they were about to be turned into meat pies. And Mrs. Tweedey’s death?!? Eek.

5.

Spy Kids

the thumb-thumbs


Miramax/Courtesy Everett Collection

Kidnapping people and turning them into grotesque creatures that cannot communicate and are forced onto a kids show where people think they’re cute sounds like the plot of a Saw movie. 

6.

Mrs. Doubtfire

Mrs. Doubtfire in costume


20th Century Fox / Courtesy Everett Collection

Mrs. Doubtfire is one of my all-time favorite movies, but even I have to admit that the premise is pretty damn creepy. I mean, let’s picture for a minute that Daniel wasn’t a good guy at heart (it might be easier if you don’t picture Robin Williams playing him). He literally adopts a full-body disguise and a fake identity to trick his ex-wife into leaving their kids with him for an extended period of time. That is…not normal behavior.

7.

Willa Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Augustus drowning in the chocolate river


Paramount Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

It’s never really clear if the kids die or not, but I’m not sure how they survived. And that tunnel scene?? One of the most harrowing movie scenes of all time. The soda/burping scene where Grandpa Joe and Charlie are floating toward the steel turbine is also pretty disturbing — they’re literally about to be hacked into pieces. The Johnny Depp version is a tiny bit less creepy, except for the fact that Johnny Depp is way more terrifying as Willy Wonka. 

8.

Return to Oz

Dorothy and the scarecrow on a throne


Buena Vista / courtesy Everett Collection

Putting Dorothy in a psych ward with electroshock therapy and a creepy nurse was basically One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, but with kids — and it just got creepier from there. The whole ornaments thing still freaks me out, and then it ends with the hospital burning down?! What happened to the patients?? Was Oz even real? These are questions I didn’t want to consider at age 10.

9.

The Triplets of Belleville

Souza outside Champion's door as he looks sad sitting on his bed


Sony Pictures Classics / courtesy Everett Collection

I know people love this movie, but this animation freaked me out so much as a kid. And the story’s basically about this orphan who gets kidnapped and then his grandma goes to find these creepy old triplets that then help save him. The part when Champion is slowly trying to bike through his exhaustion and is then kidnapped was HARROWING to me as a child. 

10.

We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story

Screweyes and Stubb at the circus


MCA / courtesy Everett Collection

Creepy clowns, a twisted circus, a man being eaten by crows, and drugs that turn kids’ brains into mush and make them into chimpanzees…what more could you want from a children’s movie?

11.

Watershed Down

the rabbits gathered around a bleeding rabbit


Nepenthe Films

This has got to be the most violent animated kids film to ever exist — I can barely recall seeing blood in an animated film before, and this one’s got MURDERED BUNNY RABBITS. 🙁

12.

The Brave Little Toaster

broken cars in the junykard with faces


Hyperion Pictures

I’ll take “horribly disturbing animated films” for 500, Alex! This might not be as gory (can’t believe I have to describe a kids movie that way) as Watershed Down, but it’s possibly more disturbing. That junkyard scene?! Traumatizing.

13.

Crybaby Lane

title card for the film


Nickelodeon

I know Crybaby Lane is SUPPOSED to be scary, but like, for KIDS. This movie is scary for ADULTS. It’s about conjoined twins, one good, one evil, who are SAWED IN HALF BY THEIR DAD. And then in the present day, the kids resurrect the evil one…does this not sound like the plot of a modern-day horror film?! It did not belong on Nickelodeon!!

14.

The Dark Crystal

Jen holding Kira


Universal / courtesy Everett Collection

(Stefon voice) This movie’s got everything! Genocide, kidnapping, and best of all, terrifying puppets! The photos alone haunt me. 

15.

Holes

Stanley taking Zero's hand in one of the holes


Walt Disney / courtesy Everett Collection

Holes is a harrowing story about an evil woman exploiting juvenile delinquents on a prison work farm with poisonous lizards, and is if that weren’t enough, the movie’s got a literal serial killer. How was this place legal?

16.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Judge Doom about to dissolve Roger in acid


Buena Vista / courtesy Everett Collection

There is so much murder in this movie. I mean, it’s basically a noir. Judge Doom is terrifying (let’s not even talk about his transformation scene) and his main plot is basically committing mass toon murder by dissolving toons in acid. Breaking Bad, much?

17.

The Tower of Terror

promo shot for the film with Buzzy and Anna outside the elevator of the five ghosts from the hotel


Courtesy Everett Collection

This is a legitimately creepy kids movie and is responsible for my fear of elevators. Abigail literally killed five people and confined them to the hotel for eternity as a CHILD, then decades later returned to finish the curse, which is apparently worse than what she’s already done to them. It’s messed up, and Anna being stuck in the elevator seriously freaked me out when I was little.

18.

And finally, Labyrinth

Sarah getting attacked by Fireys


Tristar Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

The movie’s basically about an older creep who kidnaps a baby so that he can force a little girl (that he is “in love” with) through a torturous maze and brainwashing. AND it’s got terrifying puppets and visuals!!! No, thank you.

What movie do you think is way too creepy to be a kids movie? Let us know in the comments!



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