There’s a good argument to be made that parenting is the most important job in the world. After all, children are the next adults, and adults run our planet. It’s largely the responsibility of the parents to raise children to be good people. Our world depends on parents to make the next class of voting and working citizens the best that they can be. For the most part, parents do an incredible job. Obviously, some are just terrible, but on average, they’re pretty good. But, even if you had great parents, many of us realized that our folks may have done things or allowed us to do things as children that were questionable. There are a number of things we could use to point out these slip-ups, but access to films might be the easiest. We’ve all probably lived through that moment when we revisit a film we watched as children, a film our parents allowed us to watch, and we realize it’s much worse than we remember. This is the type of film we’re looking at today—the films that make us question if our parents were truly good people.
Now, this realization can come in different ways. For many grown-ups, the films and scenes on this list have long haunted them. They didn’t forget or need to re-watch these scenes to question their parents’ decisions. These scenes have stayed with these people for years. They’ve developed irrational fears related to them. They’ve held grudges against their parents because of them. Some people only noticed that their parents were awful judges of films when they went back and rewatched a film from their childhood. They were shocked to see how bad it was. But, you let me watch this when I was seven, mom. What gives? Let’s take a look at the worst of the worst—the films and scenes your parents let you watch as kids that they never should have. Not all of these are kids movies, but they are all movies that most kids were allowed to watch. These films would likely never be shown to kids these days, but we were the guinea pigs. It was through our horror that the kids of today were spared. If you’re looking for a list of films you should avoid ever showing to your children, this is it. If you were looking for a checklist of films to determine if what your parents showed you makes them awful, this is it. Here are 15 Scenes From Your Childhood You Won’t Believe Your Parents Let You See.
15. Watership Down
There’s no one scene in Watership Down that shocks children the most. The entire damn movie is horrifying. This is a film that, since 1978, has been haunting the dreams of kids everywhere. Although the children’s movie was given a “U” rating, suitable for all ages, the U.S. gave it a PG. The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has said that Watership Down might be the film that they receive the most complaints about from parents. It’s filled with intense violence and terrifying zombie rabbits. It’s nightmare fuel of the greatest concentration. Yet, year after year, parents keep showing it to kids, so do you. For shame.
14. The NeverEnding Story – Artax In The Swamp Of Sadness
Truthfully, The NeverEnding Story isn’t all that bad, but it rubbed certain children the wrong way. It was dark, and it was advanced for kids. If there was one thing that scared us the most, it was seeing Gmork, the wolf-like creature, attack Atreyu. Sure, Falcor was a creepy old thing too, but Gmork was evil. After lunging at the boy, Gmork gets a blunt rock shard stabbed into his heart. It’s a pretty crazy scene. For us, however, it wasn’t Gmork that slayed our innocence; it was watching Artax drown in the Swamp of Sadness that did it. Watching that sweet horse give up and slowly sink lower and lower as Atreyu screams and cries. It was maddening that parents let children watch this. Film or not, that’s a childhood-ruining device.
13. Little Nemo: Adventures In Slumberland – Nightmare Land
There are plenty of scenes in Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland, an animated film that is built on nightmares, that could have made this list. For us, the scariest memory we have is from the scene in which the Nightmare King invades the coronation of Morpheus. Although he is only kidnapped by the Nightmare King, Morpheus sure appears to die in the attack scene. He doesn’t just die either. He is swallowed up and drowned by a thick black nightmare smoke. It’s scary and dark and just adds to the film’s overall horror. The journey that follows into the depths of Nightmare Land is just craziness. What kind of child wants to watch a journey into a place filled with frightening imagery and monsters. This film is not for children who scare easily. Actually, just keep all kids away from this.
12. Chicken Run – Chicken Pot Pies
Chicken Run is an intense movie for kids. It’s basically a retelling of the Holocaust except that it uses a chicken pot pie processing plant in place of Auschwitz. We would feel safe saying that this film, more than any other animated film in history, was responsible for making the most vegetarians. It’s strange all over, but the scene in which the protagonists are thrown into the pot pie machine is particularly eye-opening for kids. Escaping several near-brutal-death scenarios, the heroes get loose only to fall onto the packages of all those pot pies/victims that didn’t make it out. This might be an important movie, but it can cause some serious issues in a child.
11. The Watcher In The Woods – Everything
Even though the film was made for young adults, The Watcher in the Woods was viewed by many a child. After all, it was a Disney film, and Disney only makes safe movies. Well, this one is not safe. There are several scenes that are scary, as they are meant to be, but that creepy old lady and that creepy little girl are the worst. Sweet lord. If your parents ever sat you in front of the TV and put on this movie for you, hoping you’d get out of their hair for a little bit, you would have been scarred for life. This is not a kid’s movie. Sure, it hasn’t aged all that well, but it would still make the little kids of today pee their ever-loving trousers.
10. Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory – Tunnel Of Terror
Roald Dahl created a lot of strange stories, but the film adaptation of his work, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, might be the strangest of them all. Made for kids in the ’70s, this film told the story of a deranged candy maker who killed children for the fun of it, a thinning of the herd to find the right child to take over his kingdom. Many of the scenes in the film scarred children viewers, but the tunnel scene was the worst of all. Even today, that scene triggers PTSD in audiences. They are dragged back to their childhood nightmares, dreams that were brought on by watching a psychopath ferry children to the depths of a psychedelic hell.
9. Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure – The Greedy
If you never watched Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure as a child, then consider yourself lucky. Not only is this movie terrible, but it’s terrifying and strange. Take the character Captain Contagious for example. This guy’s mustache gets physically excited when he sees Babette, and he thrusts constantly as he looks at her and speaks to her. The characters run into several terrifying monsters on their journey, and the entire film is an animated acid trip. One of the creepiest monsters is “the Greedy,” a gelatinous, liquidy monster that never stops eating. Predictably, this monster tries to eat our heroes. The scene is kind of reminiscent of the Oogie Boogie scene in The Nightmare Before Christmas, to help you picture it, but much weirder and more disgusting.
8. James And The Giant Peach – Everything
Like a few other of the films on this list, there’s not one single scene in James and the Giant Peach that scared kids. The film as a whole was scary. There’s something off-putting about stop motion animation. With James and the Giant Peach, the animation makes the already-creepy creatures even creepier. Although many kids will like this, it does have the tendency to give severe nightmares. It’s a lot darker than almost all kids’ movies these days, and it’s this dour and dreary mood that makes everything seem more sinister than it would if it were a little brighter. But that’s Roald Dahl for you. He wasn’t about making kids’ lives better. He was about making the world around us more terrifying so we wouldn’t set our sights so high.
7. Who Framed Roger Rabbit? – Judge Doom’s Doom
Although many people may cry foul that this movie is on here because it wasn’t a traditional kid’s movie, it was a movie that many, many children watched. We watched it and our parents let us. There were songs, toons, and a happy ending. What’s the worst that could happen? Well, there is some heavy “inappropriate” content. There are some toons being murdered in cold blood. Well, there are toons being melted in the Dip (turpentine, acetone, and benzene), which is even worse. Hell, Judge Doom’s death scene is probably the craziest of all. The high-pitched screaming as he melts in a pool of the Dip is pretty chilling for even the most hard-boiled adults.
6. The Secret Of NIMH – The Great Owl
If we would have known, as kids, that The Secret of NIMH was a movie about animal testing at the National Institute of Mental Health, we never would have watched it. God damn you clever acronym. Well, our parents should have known. There’s death on screen in this film, but there are also a lot of implied horrors. Take the Great Owl scene in which we see a cave filled with the bones of mice and other rodents, the testing facilities and methods, the sword fight which ends in death, and more. This movie wasn’t the worst thing available to kids back in the ’80s, but it would torture the kids of today.
5. Pee-wee’s Big Adventure – Large Marge
When Pee-wee’s Big Adventure first came out, it was not a children’s movie. However, the following year after the film was released, Pee-wee’s Playhouse hit the airwaves and that was directed to children. This led many parents and kids think that the previous movie was acceptable for all ages. Technically, it was alright, but there were some moments in the film that were not made for kids’ eyes. The film was directed by Tim Burton and that man loves his scares, so the Large Marge scene must have been a lot of fun for him to make. For kids, it was a nightmare. When Large Marge picks Pee-wee up and tells him the horrible story of Large Marge, the kids watching know that something bad is going to happen. Then, it does. She turns to look at Pee-wee, and her face changes into a terrible sight. This caused many a nightmare. That horrible face.
4. The Brave Little Toaster – Air Conditioner And The Clown
The Brave Little Toaster is really a fantastic movie, but it has a couple of scenes that are insanely dark and scary for a kid. There are two that are particularly egregious. The first comes from the Phil Hartman-voiced Air Conditioner. Impersonating Jack Nicholson, the AC unit gets angry because it is stuck in one place and never got touched by the child. It sounds weird and out of context. In its fury and anger, the AC overheats and explodes in a fiery blaze. It’s shocking but it’s not alone. The clown scene is another terror in the film. It comes in a nightmare that the toaster has. After a fireman/crazed clown appears and chases the brave little toaster, the scene switches and the toaster is shown hanging by his fingertips from a shower curtain railing. Below is a full bath, and the toaster is plugged in. As he falls and explodes in an electric ball of sparks, he wakes up.
3. Pinocchio – Pleasure Island
While the vast majority of Pinocchio is just fine for children, the small bit that takes place on Pleasure Island was enough to terrorize kids. On Pleasure Island, kids could do whatever they want. They could drink, smoke, and play all day, and they did. Pinocchio smokes on a cigar while Lampwick enjoys a beer. That alone is much crazier than most kids’ movies today. Then, they start turning into Donkeys, and we see that the kids are being rounded up and sold. This is when it hits you that the donkeys who were pulling the stagecoaches were once kids. They’re now slaves and forever stuck in donkey bodies.
2. Return To Oz – Wheelers
Even though many critics and fans claim that Return to Oz is faithful to the source material, there is no one who will say that this is a good children’s film. It’s haunting. The film is so bleak, and the characters are so odd that it’s inexplicably frightening. There is an eeriness to the movie that never quite dissipates throughout the entire run time. The concept is strange, and the execution is even stranger. Take the Wheelers for example. If you remember one thing about this movie, it’s almost certainly the Wheelers. These are the laughing freaks that have wheels for hands and feet and chase Dorothy. It’s the anarchy and the ridiculousness of the scene and the movie as a whole that really gets kids.
1. The Adventures Of Mark Twain – Satan
In 1985, director Will Vinton gave the world The Adventures of Mark Twain. This stop-motion Claymation film was a collection of Mark Twain’s stories. Most of the tales fit perfectly and almost all could be watched by children. But there was one scene that stood out from the rest, one scene that anyone who watched this film as a child remembers even if they’ve spent years trying to forget. That is the Satan scene, adapted from The Chronicle of Young Satan. In this scene, a horrifying Claymation Satan brings a community of clay people to life. He then destroys them and brings a plague upon them just because he can. There’s so much to this scene that is scary. It would be right at home in a horror movie.
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