5 Kids Movies That Are Actually Kind of Traumatizing #movies

While the children’s movies of today tend to leave potentially frightening elements out of the final cut, the standards in previous decades were decidedly different. Most of us can point to those specific moments in the movies of our childhood that kept us awake for days. Let’s take a look at five of the most notable examples of kids movies that have traumatized their young viewers.


Pinocchio (1940)

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The classic tale of a wooden puppet who longs to be a human being is riddled with upsetting scenes and disquieting elements. No moment exemplifies this better than the transformation of a misbehaving young boys into donkeys, which is followed by the even more shocking shipment away of the donkeys, via wooden box, to work in a mine. Plenty of crying donkeys being brutally whipped add to the nightmarish quality of the sequence that has been terrifying youngsters the world over for more than 50 years.



The Dark Crystal (1982)

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Jim Henson’s popular fantasy film was brought to life with sophisticated puppetry, and some of the puppet designs – in particular those of the villainous, vulture-like Skeksis – are downright terrifying. The creatures may have been intended to seem simply campy and mischievous, but to children they are frighteningly sinister and dark. Who are we kidding, even to adults these monsters are incredibly creepy!


The Polar Express (2004)

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This film was animated using an at-the-time groundbreaking process called ‘motion capture,’ in which the movements of actual actors are captured in an animated form. Perhaps unintentionally, the resulting visuals are a bit too realistic for comfort. The fact that the tone of the movie is darker than you would normally see in a holiday movie, especially one based off a heartwarming classic, doesn’t help much.


The Neverending Story (1984)

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The concept behind this film is perhaps its most unsettling element. Rather than giving us a campy villain to menace the heroes, the film takes a unique approach to the central crisis: the land of Fantasia is being literally consumed by nothingness. The existential terror this predicament inflicted upon a generation of innocent children may have made them wiser, but it certainly didn’t create happy childhood memories.



The Brave Little Toaster (1987)

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Like the previous entry on this list, much of the traumatizing material in this film is in concept itself. The idea of a Certified Appliance that speaks and acts like a human opens the doors for children to be frightened by objects they see in their houses every single day. The story line is scary and dark too, with sacrifices, meltdowns, and near-death experiences. Even professional appliance services in Las Vegas threaten to be inadequate to repair the devastating damage the hero receives as he is brutally crushed at the end of this journey after a song about being “worthless”. The emotional roller-coaster of watching the anthropomorphic appliance heroes face their utter destruction and meaninglessness is more than many kids are equipped to handle.


It’s probably a good idea to take a look at these titles before allowing your children to view them. For some, there may be a few chills during the experience. Other kids may be plagued with vivid nightmares. In all, parents should carefully screen the movies their children are permitted to see at a young age to be sure the material is truly suitable. That said, every kid is bound to come across some movie that will scar them for life for one reason or another. Part of the joy of adulthood is getting to share and compare those childhood battle wounds with others!

by Samantha Stainsburry

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