Last week, I wrote about the 20 scariest childrens’ movies of all time, and you responded with a list of kiddie films so terrifying I’d repressed any memory of them. So, to repay you, I’ve assembled another rundown of terrifying childrens’ films, featuring frightening gems like Willow, Beetlejuice and Fern Gully. And, just to warn you, the Number One is a film I hadn’t seen as a kid but attempted to watch Wednesday in the service of ethical journalism. I could only watch part of it, then I had to drive home from work, get my puppy and bring her back to the office so she could sit on my lap and keep me from crying in the stairwell.
10. Ghostbusters 1984
This was not technically a childrens’ movie, but I’m sure many gen-x-and-y-er’s watched it as kids. The demi-god-in-the-fridge scene may be hilarious now, but it wasn’t back then.
9. Beetlejuice 1988
One of Tim Burton’s earliest works, this 1988 film about two ghosts waiting to move on and the freakish con-man who worms his way into their house showcased plenty of terrifying moments, most notably the snake scene, below.
8. The Peanut Butter Solution 1985
Child labor, sweat shops, ghosts, homelessness—sounds like a kids’ movie! The trailer presents the 1985 film as one sweet basket of fun, but the fan-made preview below it shows the whole truth.
7. Rikki-Tikki-Tavi 1975
Based on the Kipling story, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi was made into a short f.h.e. film directed by Chuck Jones, featuring a plethora of demonic, whispering snakes.
6. Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland, 1989
The Japanese animated film had it all: nightmares, goblins, clowns and trains that chase you.
5. The Witches 1990
Adapted from the Rhoald-Dahl novel of the same name, this 1990 film features a scene in which a room full of beautiful women remove their elaborate face-masks to reveal the withered crones beneath.
4. Pinocchio 1940
The 1940 film was all kinds of sweet and innocent—talking crickets, fatherly puppet makers, beautiful fairies. And then there was Pleasure Island.
3. Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest 1992
Tim Curry’s skeleton/snake/oil villain Hexxus is probably half the reason the environmental movement took off—no one wanted that thing loose in the non-animated world.
2. Willow, 1988
The Ron Howard-directed, George Lucas-produced fantasy about a stolen baby and an apiring sorcerer named Willow was deemed “too dark for children” by Roger Ebert. And it really was:
1. The Adventures of Mark Twain 1985
Oh God. Watch at your own risk.