Scared Straight

So here’s another random post for you to chew on. I promise that once I get these out of my system that there will be a rhyme and reason to all of this. But until then… let’s discuss something that’s been weighing on my mind since I caught the end of the animated film, 9 the other night. First of all, having not even seen the rest of the movie, it was still obvious by the time the credits rolled that its subject matter was no lighthearted affair. Judging by the apocalyptic-themed previews and PG-13 rating, I also wasn’t surprised.

But it got me thinking.

The MPAA’s rating system has come a long way since its primitive beginnings as a 4-category scale in 1930. Today, movie ratings are much more in tune with what the average person would understand or even agree with. Film content descriptions even assist in tipping viewers off to exactly what they should prepare to see on-screen.

“Rated PG for sexual innuendo and cartoonish violence”

So improvements in the system have greatly empowered parents in controlling a little better what their kids are watching on today’s big screen. But what about us 80’s babies who were born right as the PG-13 label came into existence? What about us kids who were virtual guinea pigs to a new rating system that had not had time to be thoroughly tried by the film industry? I’m convinced that growing up, my generation may have witnessed a good number of scenes from children’s movies with content that slipped through the cracks of  critical judgment!

I mean…I at least speak for myself in saying that to this day, I still can’t erase some of these images from my mind.

God help me, let’s revisit them.

My top picks for scariest moments from children’s films:

  • The Brave Little Toaster (1987) –  “Imagine if Your Toaster Went on a Journey of its Own!”

Right. A great film about forgotten appliances who band together to track their college-bound master down. Faced with obstacles like self-doubt, steep rockface climbs, and violently pessimistic air conditioning units, the brave little toaster and his friends stop at nothing until they are claimed by their rightful owner once again.

Remember when I mentioned the violently pessimistic air conditioner?! Who wrote this character’s lines? Absolutely terrifying.

This scene includes one of my favorite musical numbers from an animated film… but it really was overwhelmingly depressing. That compactor is so relentless… those cars so defeated…

  • Watership Down (1978) – “All the world will be your enemy, Prince with a Thousand Enemies, and when they catch you, they will kill you… but first they must catch you.”

To be fair, this isn’t really a “children’s movie” at heart–although it was originally given a PG rating. Plus, it’s about a family of lovable bunnies who are escaping their doomed countryside warren to take refuge in Watership Down. But in its defense, the book  that it is based on was received almost universally as an allegory. Critics praised the film because it dealt with issues like “tyranny and freedom, reason and blind emotion, and the individual and the corporate state.”

The scary part about this film is everything. From the gruesomely animated violence to the artistic detail given to each woodland creature…

  • Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) – “It’s everybody’s non-pollutionary, anti-institutionary, pro-confectionery factory of fun!”

And horror. You know the story. A poor young boy with a golden heart wins a golden ticket and also a tour of Willy Wonka’s wonder-filled chocolate factory. He impresses Wonka with his honesty and humility and is granted ownership of the factory, where he is also able to house his entire family.

A lot of people have seemed to agree in their later years that this movie was a little bit creepier than it “should” have been. The 2005 adaptation seemed to capitalize on some of the creep factors, but nothing, in my opinion can shake the memory of seeing Willy Wonka’s rage towards the end of the film for the first time as a child.

And not to mention this boat ride through Hell.

  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1974) – “Chubby Little Cubby all Stuffed with Fluff”

This is a collection of animated shorts about Pooh, a dimwitted but lovable little bear, and his friends from the Hundred Acre Wood as they tackle life’s many mysteries–like how to play pooh sticks, find honey, and bounce. Or hallucinate.

Hallucinations are never pleasant. This scene, featuring an unconscious Pooh’s trip through his own imagination get me every time. Heffalumps and Woozles. Scary and scarier.

  • Neverending Story (1984) – “A boy who needs a friend finds a world that needs a hero in a land beyond imagination!”

And beyond anything I would have liked to imagine. This movie is based on a Germany fantasy novel about a troubled young boy who finds an escape from his daily persecution by bullies in a book called “The Neverending Story.” Along his quest to save the world of Fantasia, he encounters both dangerous and magical creatures that lead him down a heroic path.

The horror here lies in the existence of a flying dog-snake called Falkor the luckdragon. He is friendly and helpful, but far from fun to look at. This monster took my breath away every time I saw it.

Bonus Clip: Somebody created a montage of scenes from Watership Down with Marylin Manson’s Sweet Dreams playing in the background. Don’t worry, the music is the least disturbing part of this video.

Are there any scenes from movies that haunted your childhood? Comment. Comment. Comment.



8 Responses to “Scared Straight”

  1. January 25, 2010 at 3:19 am

    This is super scary but the most disturbing on is definitely the clips of the bunny movie with marylyn manson music I couldn’t even finish watching it. Oh and Alice and Wonderland is pretty effed up too and I’m surprised you didn’t include the famous Bambi scene where his mom got shot, that ceases to leave my mind to this day.

    • January 25, 2010 at 3:28 am

      You’re absolutely right. The Bambi scene is like a nightmare on screen. Definitely one of the scariest visuals that Disney has ever cooked up for children to witness. And Alice in Wonderland? The whole concept was crazy. The cheshire cat was like a striped purple demon.

  2. January 25, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    Hi Magul,

    I’ve never seen your blog before but it looks diverting. I may well lose a few hours trawling through your archive! Thanks for blogrolling me 🙂 Come and comment… 😉

    I completely agree with you about Watership Down, it’s horrifying. It’s still rated PG in the UK and when video shops stock it, it’s always in the Children’s/Family section. I think Bambi is tame in comparison honestly.

    I’m cooking up a rambling rumination on the natures of the BBFC and the MPAA so look out for that soon. I’ll link you.

    • January 27, 2010 at 2:14 pm

      Solo. Thanks for commenting! I’ll be sure to do the same. I really only got a chance to glimpse through some of your posts the other day but I was drawn right to the one about Watership Down. I like your take on cinema–Definitely worth the read. I’ll keep up with you if as long as you keep up that work.

  3. 5 krhymes
    January 27, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Turner, all I can say is whisky tengo foxtrot…

  4. January 29, 2010 at 3:00 am

    Thanks Magul, I’ll have a little flurry of posts gogin up over the weekend which will hopefully be of interest.

    I don’t know about scary, but one really disturbing children’s film is Fire and Ice which comes from the eighties, when American animation just went a bit wrong…

    Watch from 03:00-05:20. Writhing, leggy princess, rapey, ponytailed kidnapper. Wrongness.

  5. 7 Miss Kris
    February 6, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    1. In brave little toaster also – when the vacuum cleaner starts choking on its chord. terrifying.

    2. The Velveteen Rabbit – they set those poor stuffed animals on fire. I was really scared for the tabbit.

    3.Riki tiki Tavi – the fight between the snake and the mongoose. suspenseful stuff.

    4. Santa bear- the mere difference in countenance between Santa Bear and the evil twin. The imposter has black eyes, aka, no soul.

    5. When they describe Shere Khan in the Jungle Book. Going into the village and eating kids and all. Maybe that part’s in my imagination. Oh well, still scary.

    6. The Secret of Nimh: the entire movie. nightmarish.

    • February 10, 2010 at 4:58 pm

      I only recently overcame my fear of running over the vacuum chord. My experience revealed that, in all actuality, no harm comes to the vacuum this way. However, the vacuum did seem to resist as I wheeled it towards the chord. My conclusion is that vacuums are just as insecure about this situation as we, their owners are, and we should be kind enough to help them avoid such a predicament at all costs.

      As far as your other comments… I didn’t find any of these other movies particularly frightening… It must have been hard being such a nervous wreck of a child. I’m assuming you’ve overcome your fears?

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