Top 5 Most Traumatizing Moments from Kid’s Movies

8 Jul

People keep commenting on how Pixar films seem too intense or deep for children. They say it as if this is a New Thing. However, as groundbreaking as Pixar is, children have been getting scarred and upset by movies targeted at them for decades! We have made a list dedicated to those scenes that still disturb us, twenty years later.

Most Traumatizing Moments from Kid’s Movies

Lara’s List

5. Judge Doom’s reveal, from Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Christopher Lloyd as Judge Doom, still giving me the heeby jeebies

As if having a steamroller drive over a man isn’t scary enough, that man then inflates himself, develops bulging, red eyes, and has a voice like a steam whistle. Oh yeah, and then he turns his hands into saws before attacking our squatty little hero. Thus the fear of Christopher Lloyd was first instilled in little children everywhere.

4. Littlefoot chasing his shadow, in The Land Before Time

Littlefoot and his mother

This is a Pixaresque moment if I ever saw one. A dinosaur gets lost from his mother. Sad. He chases his shadow thinking it is her. Tears abounding. I can’t really talk about this any more…

3. E.T. dying, in E.T.

You're Killing Him!

This is what kept me thinking that I hated E.T. for years. Whenever critics talked of the brilliance of this film I was appalled, only remembering the image of E.T. lying by the riverbed, all white and chalky and approaching death. That shot kept me for fifteen years from the film that would one day be ranked as my Favorite. Sucky as that is, it makes E.T.’s death all the more poignant – as if Steven hadn’t worked his magic on that already.

2. Heffalumps and Woozles, from Winnie the Pooh, and Pink Elephants, from Dumbo (let’s face it, they are basically the same scene)

Pink Elephants on Parade

Heffalumps and Woozles

I don’t know why Disney had a fascination with creepy elephant dancing sequences—especially when they were so unsettling. I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly it is that still scares me about these prancing mammals, it’s just so unnatural. I loved both of these films as a child, but was forced to hide my face and/or run out of the room during both of them. Yet even when I avoided seeing them, the Pink Elephants and Heffalumps would march on into my dreams at night… yeesh… I still shudder to think of it now.

1. The witches, from The Witches

Anjelica Houston as you've never seen her

This is the only Roald Dahl book I still haven’t read to this day because it is, very likely, the scariest movie of all time. Old women take off their wigs, exposing their peeling bald heads, and turn little boys into mice. It is terrifying. Upon seeing this film (though I never was able to finish it) I had many a sleepless night and avoided old people for about a year. About five years ago my mom and I tried to watch it again to “face my fears,” and, once again, didn’t finish it because it was just as eerie as ever. And now I’m back to being suspicious of the elderly.

(Note: this has been my least favorite list to find photos for).

David’s List

5. The Boo Box, from Hook

The Boo Box

I know he was a pirate. He had probably done terrible things in his life at some point. But he felt so bad about this one thing. He was crying. And still he was killed by scorpions. That was more than my little heart could take as a child.

4. The Donkeys, from Pinocchio

Pleasure Island not as pleasurable as Pinocchio thought

I’m not even really sure what it was about this that made it so terrible for me as a child. The giant man-eating whale didn’t even phase me, but these bratty little kids turning into donkeys, that was truly horrifying. I think it was the fact that you can see how terrified they are that its happening. You can feel their fear.

3. Optimus Prime dying, from Transformers: The Movie

Optimus Prime

I don’t even remember the rest of the movie. I was so scarred from this that I have no other memories from the entire film. What a way to open a movie. Kill the character that millions of children see as a father figure. Wow.

2. Nightmare, from Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland

The Nightmare King

This movie is awesome. One of my favorite animated movies, to this day. But I am still frightened by Nightmare. He is one of the scariest bad guys in any film ever made. Which I guess is kind of the point. I still watched the movie all the time, but I was never so terrified.

1. Artax dying in the Swamps of Sadness, from The NeverEnding Story


I don’t think I’ve ever cried so hard in a movie as I did when Artax drowns. I still have a lot of trouble watching this scene. Or talking about it. Or thinking about it. I hate this list.


11 Responses to “Top 5 Most Traumatizing Moments from Kid’s Movies”

  1. Desiree July 8, 2010 at 11:41 am #

    Ok I completely agree with ET, Dumbo, and Pinocchio! Especially Pinochhio. And the whole movie of the Never Ending Story I refused to watch as a kid. Same with ET. (still do actually). The Secret of Nimh & Watership Down are creepy kids movies and I hate the scene from Willy Wonka with the tunnel.

  2. iamhrothgar July 8, 2010 at 1:08 pm #

    The Secret of Nimh! Good one! I love that movie too.

  3. Val July 8, 2010 at 1:16 pm #

    Oh my gosh! This list! I’VE MADE THIS LIST BEFORE! They were traumatizing childhood MOVIES and not moments, but still! Yay– I can participate!!! One of mine was The Neverending Story as well. What is WRONG with that movie?!

    Anyway: check it:

  4. Susan July 8, 2010 at 7:05 pm #

    I always made an excuse to leave the room during the Boo Box scene whenever my family watched Hook. What a horrible feeling.

    Also, Lara, I’ve never watched the movie Witches, but the book is absolutely terrifying. Great list, as always!

  5. Dan July 8, 2010 at 11:07 pm #

    i dont know if i can forgive you for this list!
    & yes– between poisoning witches, horses drowning, boys turning into donkeys & a dinosaur chasing it’s dead mother’s shadow, i can most sincerely agree pixar’s got nothin’ on that disturbing sh*t.

  6. Brian July 9, 2010 at 9:20 pm #

    No mention of the Dark Crystal? The Skesis are still a little creepy watching it now..

  7. Kristin July 10, 2010 at 3:33 am #

    Pinocchio’s donkey scene also freaked me out as a kid. *shudder* as did the dancing elephants in Dumbo. I was ALSO terrified of Malificent in Sleeping Beauty and the ROUSes in The Princess Bride. Ahhh…definitely not going to sleep easy tonight.

  8. breadtobeeaten July 12, 2010 at 5:59 am #

    I used to hide behind the couch during scenes in The Witches. I think creepier than the witches themselves is when they poison them at the end and squash them. Pleaselordheavenjesus let me never see one of those witch-rats in real life. Also, that moment in Dark Crystal… “I…. IIIII…. am still… emperooor…. yelakh..” crumble crumble crumble… oooh that really does me in.

    Also… a list I’d like to see: Scenes in movies you used to fast forward as a kid. (It will even be a commentary on technology!)

  9. Susan G. July 13, 2010 at 12:39 pm #

    My most terrifying scene would also be Artax dying. It would be seconded by Gamorg attacking Atreyu, which would be followed by Ursula getting really big and making growly noises before getting stabbed by a ship.
    Pinocchio scares me. To this day. Everything related to him- merchandise, movies, etc. I can’t handle it.
    I was a twisted kid though. I liked the boo box scene.

  10. Sei July 19, 2010 at 6:25 pm #

    I’ve seen Bridge to Terabithia recently. That movie is cruel.

  11. SPURWING PLOVER November 14, 2011 at 2:56 pm #

    PINNOCIO nuaghty boys taken to PLEASURE ISLAND they drink,smoke,vandalize play pool and are turned into donkeys and sold to miners never to see their parents again

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