When thinking back to our childhoods, most of us fondly remember the films we watched as colorful and exciting, with plenty of important life lessons taught and learned along the way.
However, everyone has at least one so-called family film that genuinely disturbed or terrified them. The reason why isn’t exactly clear, either. Yes, children are sensitive, but when you watch back some of these classic movies they’re still every bit as horrifying now as they were then. Really, the question should be: how exactly did these titles get away with living rent-free in our heads all these years?
On a related note, it might be time to start a petition to have these films’ box office figures adjusted to reflect the amount of wet sheets and therapy they’ve caused over the years.
In the interest of holding these films accountable for their deeply unsettling subject matter, here are 9 of the most unexpectedly scary and disturbing moments in “family” movies.
9. Pink Elephants on Parade – Dumbo (1941)
Disney have been a staple of children’s entertainment since long before most of its audience were born, meaning that a staggering percentage of the population has at least some cursory knowledge of their animated classics.
One such classic is Dumbo, the tale of a circus elephant born a little different.
Like many early Disney titles, Dumbo hasn’t aged particularly well, but one scene in particular stands out as deeply disturbing. With Dumbo’s mother locked away (for having dared to defend her big-eared son), the little elephant finds himself sobbing so hard that he gets hiccups. Dumbo’s friend, Timothy Q. Mouse, proceeds to get Dumbo drunk on champagne, and what follows is the young elephant’s drunken hallucination of eyeless pink elephants playing their trunks like trumpets.
It’s not necessarily disturbing in the traditional sense, but it’s weird and incredibly confusing for young children – y’know, like the ones the film is aimed at – who won’t understand that Dumbo is having the Disney equivalent of a bad acid trip. It’s also not something that most parents want to explain to their children, which only adds to the confusion for the film’s young audience.