13+ Kids' Films That Were Actually Pretty Terrifying

It's no surprise that some kids films are more terrifying than you'd expect for the genre — even ones that aren't intended to be scary can contain a scene or two that etches into your early memories like a witch's claw on a window pane. But it is a lot of fun to take a nostalgic look at those moments that kept us up at night, so today we're doing just that!

We've got some of your favorites that you'd expect on this list, and a few you may have not even heard of or seen before. From modern movies to classic wayback playbacks, these are the kids' films with the most horror!

1. Monster House


This movie kinda came out of nowhere back in 2006, but it was a great blend of animation, comedy, and horror! With more than a few legitimately freaky moments, this film stood out by embracing the terror elements of its script. A script, I might add, that was co-written by Dan Harmon of Community and Rick and Morty fame!

2. Toy Story


It was tough to pick between this moment and the furnace from part 3, but I gotta go with the original here. The first time this spider-baby creation crawls out of the dark, along with the other zombified toy creations, is a piece of horrifying nostalgia for all Pixar fans.

3. Coraline


How could you not have this film on the list?! From the get-go, the eerie, gothic setting is unnerving — and it only gets more terrifying from there. The "other parents" with the button eyes are scary enough before revealing their true, monstrous form.

4. ParaNorman


If you liked Coraline, you're doing yourself a disservice by not checking out ParaNorman. A similar stop-motion aesthetic gives it that Tim Burton-esque horror feeling from the get-go, but is surprisingly original throughout.

5. Beetlejuice


These days, there's no way this flick would pass for a PG rating. Adult themes and brutal scares are latent throughout. A definite kids' classic, if you had cool parents.

6. Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

Disney Wiki

Another classic from the same year as Beetlejuice, Who Framed Roger Rabbit was also a PG rated film, chock-full of adult themes and horrific scenes. The villain actually finds a way to permanently kill a cartoon character with this mixture he calls "the dip." In this scene, Judge Doom forces a cartoon shoe into the dip as it struggles back and screams for its life. Don't worry, doom gets his comeuppance with the same fate in the end...and we get to watch his corpse melt in it. Enjoy, kids!

7. Dumbo


There are a ton of classic Disney cartoons I could've put on this list. Pinocchio, Alice In Wonderland, Sleeping Beauty, all of these had horrifying potential for our parents/grandparents when they came out. Dumbo, however, has this acid-fuled mega trip in the middle that's unarguably disturbing for kids.

8. The Dark Crystal

Dark Crystal Wiki

As we've seen from the past couple entries on this list so far, the '80s were a freakin' nightmarish time for kids' films. This one was made by Muppets creator Jim Henson and every single character, setting, and plot element is uncanny, terrifying, and/or revolting. A must watch!

9., uh, it was just called "9."


Coming in at #9 is 9! An often overlooked, yet beautifully animated adventure story with a sorta steampunk aesthetic. For some reason, rag dolls were the thing in the late 2000s, but somehow, it worked!

10. Corpse Bride


An arguably underrated Tim Burton film, Corpse Bride came under some criticism upon its release for being too much like, but not as memorable as, The Nightmare Before Christmas. That being said, the horror elements are really amped up in this one and can definitely stir up a fright.

11. James And The Giant Peach


Another stop-motion classic from Tim Burton, this film was a shuddersome adaptation of a Roald Dahl novel by the same name. James finds himself in a literal giant peach that's filled with eerie insect creatures. Of course, they all become friends and things turn out alright for the most part, but again, something about Burton's uncanny aesthetic is just hair-raising.

12. Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory

You must've guessed that this movie, and specifically this scene, would be on this list. The iconic, terror-inducing boat ride has scarred audiences since its release in the early '70s!

14. Home Alone

YouTube | Movie Screens

The nerve-wracking basement scene, in which Kevin comes face-to-face with his imagination in the form of a demonic furnace, always gave me chills. Add Marve stepping onto a rusty nail in the final act, and you've got something not unlike a Saw movie.

14. The Brave Little Toaster


A fairly depressing look at the secret lives of appliances, The Brave Little Toaster had one scene that made me run out of the room screaming any time I was brave enough to watch the film. Our protagonist has a nightmare of accidentally setting the kitchen on fire, but never fear! The firefighters are here! And also, they're terrifying clowns that will haunt you, some fear, I guess. Yeah.

15. E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial


A Spielberg classic that left a lot of kids feeling more than slightly disturbed near the end. Our beloved alien friend is stumbled upon, just dying in a creek, lookin' like a chewed up hunk of beef jerky. Even when he was healthy, I thought E.T. was pretty creepy.

16. Return to Oz


The original 1939 Wizard Of Oz is an obvious classic, but, leave it to the '80s to make things wayyy more creepy than they need to be. I mean, if this shot of the characters doesn't give you a hint to why it's on this list, I don't know what else to say. Definitely check it out if you like macabre takes on classic tales!

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