Warning: These films may feature violence, blood, death and other triggering content.
They sure don’t make them like they used to, and maybe that’s a good thing. Between the dark animation or complex, haunting themes, these “kid” films never should have been marketed to children in the first place. These bad boys gave us nightmares well into our teen years; however, they still somehow managed to linger in our hearts (and dreams) years later. From Tim Burton to Hayao Miyazaki, here are the 25 films that absolutely wrecked our innocence.
Directed by Henry Selick, this stop-motion had all of the right ingredients to make one of the most lovable nightmares of all time. Creating another world that taught viewers that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, Coraline’s ghastly aura and plot had us waking up at three in the morning to double check that our mother didn’t have buttons for eyes…just in case.
Watership Down (1978)
Marketed as a “fun and cute adventure film about bunnies,”Watership Down features a warren of rabbits literally ripping each other’s throats out. Based on the best-selling novel by Richard Adams, the film was rated “U,” which is equivalent to a U.S. “G.” We call bullshit. Additionally, the film contains themes relating to communism, anti-semitism, religion and the afterlife—that’s a lot for a kid to digest. Sure, this film gave us nightmares as kids, but its impeccable animation and storyline make Watership Down a mature classic worthy of so much more than its dark reputation.
The NeverEnding Story (1984)
The NeverEnding Story did NOT have to go that hard, but it did. Setting all of the creepy characters and suspenseful storyline to the side, this film was downright heart-wrenching. We aren’t going to say anything about that “one scene” with that “one horse,” but we can still feel it over 20 years later.
Grave Of The Fireflies (1988)
OK, this one is clearly not a children’s film, but if you were a die-hard anime kid you probably ventured out and immediately regretted watching this devastating movie. Discussing themes pertaining to the havoc of war and loss, Grave Of The Fireflies could leave you feeling empty and downright awful for weeks.
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
This classic made its way into our little emo hearts and never left. A co-creation from Tim Burton and Henry Selick, The Nightmare Before Christmas either left you terrified of Santa or in love with an animated skeleton. There was no in-between.
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
This alien archetype was one of the pioneering kid’s films of the ’80s. That doesn’t make it any less creepy, though.
The Brave Little Toaster (1987)
What could be so scary about a film about house appliances that come to life in search of their missing owner? Literally nothing, right? Right? Wrong. This movie has a suicidal air conditioner, for crying out loud. How did that get past multiple administrators and higher-ups? This shit may be the darkest Disney movie of all time, and it should absolutely be regarded as such.
The Plague Dogs (1982)
From the same author and animation studio that brought you the magic of Watership Down comes The Plague Dogs. This inspirational storyline follows the adventure of two dogs that escape an animal testing ward and are believed to be infected with the black plague. With the U.S. military hot on their trail, the dogs find solitude in each other. What could possibly go wrong? Everything. Literally everything goes wrong in this movie.
The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008)
Based on the best-selling series by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi, The Spiderwick Chronicles had just enough creepy undertones to send kids into a mythical world of spooky happenstance.
From beloved director Tim Burton, Beetlejuice quickly became an all-time classic. This ghost story sparked dozens of sleepless sleepovers and daunting double dares. We never once admitted we were scared shitless to say “Beetlejuice” three times in the mirror, though.
Corpse Bride (2005)
Another quintessential Tim Burton film, The Corpse Bride was every goth kid’s picture-perfect vision of love in the mid-2000s. To everyone else, however, it was nothing short of macabre.
The Wizard Of Oz (1939)
You would think that the first color movie of all time would pick a little more light-hearted subject matter. Instead, this chaotic film gave us flying monkeys and the Wicked Witch of the West. While attributing more than a few cruel production qualities, the film additionally garnered many dark conspiracy theories—all of which don’t make The Wizard Of Oz any less grim.