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Posted at 10:41 AM ET, 09/18/2009

Friday List: Animated, Anthropomorphic Childhood Trauma

By Liz Kelly

In retrospect, I suppose I'm lucky for counting three animated films as some of the most traumatic events of my childhood. Sure, I had my share of bumps, scrapes and time spent hiding out under the dining room table on particularly contentious days around the Kelly household, but when I reach into the vulnerable pain that perhaps only kids under the age of 10 are capable of feeling, it is the faces of anthropomorphic animals I see. Anthropomorphic animals in severe emotional pain.

Based on a conversation that kicked off in yesterday's Celebritology Live discussion, today we'll lean on each other as we recall -- and maybe re-feel a bit -- the pop culture touchstones that bruised our little hearts as children. I'll start with the three that really got me but good, then ask you to share yours below.

>> I was all of seven years old when my mother decided to while away a rainy Saturday afternoon by taking me to see the big-screen adaptation of Richard Adams's "Watership Down." No sooner had I fallen in love with Big Wig, Thumper, Hazel and Fiver before they started getting picked off one by one -- by barbed wire, cats, each other -- in this parable for man's inhumanity to man (and Leporidae).

Maybe if we'd had in 1978 my mom could have read this warning: "Frightening and bloody in some scenes. Not recommended for young children." Oh well. Since the book itself was every bit as upsetting when I read it two years ago, maybe that warning should be extended to adults, too.

>> Forget the Dakota Fanning/Julia Roberts remake. The original 1973 animated "Charlotte's Web" was in pretty regular network rotation by the time I was big enough to register what I saw when plopped in front of the TV. And the film serves as a great example of the gut-wrenching musical sequence designed to break young hearts

>> Absurd as it is, the animated torture that practically laid my soul to waste was a simple little 1972 made-for-TV movie innocuously titled "Snoopy Come Home." Perhaps the intention wasn't to send five-year-olds into emotional shock, but when Snoopy abandoned Charlie Brown to return to his obviously neglectful and incompetent former owner -- a now-hospitalized little girl named Lila -- I lost it. As if that wasn't bad enough, Snoopy is stopped at every turn by forbidding "NO DOGS ALLOWED" signs, which were -- thankfully -- also eventually responsible for his return to Charlie Brown and his desertion of the self-absorbed condo-dwelling Lila and her new cat. As I said in Thursday's chat, I wasn't right for at least a week after watching this painful 80 minutes of childhood fare.

Okay. I've bared my (too fragile) soul. Your turn. What animated movies -- or books, TV shows or other pop culture experiences -- scarred your formative emotional well-being?

By Liz Kelly  | September 18, 2009; 10:41 AM ET
Categories:  Friday Lists, Pop Culture  
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Am I the only one who honestly liked these "traumatizing" films & books? They might have been sad but they at least had depth, which is more than I can say for most children's literature/movies of the 70s and 80s. Watership Down (both book and cartoon) were one of my all time favorites as a kid.

Then again, this might explain a few odd things about my adulthood.....

Posted by: DCCubefarm | September 18, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Oh man, "Snoopy Come Home" was the most heartbreaking movie for me as a child - especially Lila's song ("Do You Remember Me") and "It Changes."

And ditto on "Charlotte's Web" - anytime Charlotte sings is basically depressing.

I also remember crying when:

Dumbo's mom sing's "Baby Mine"

From the Rescuer's, the song "Someone's waiting for you" (When Penny is alone and crying)

Feivel and his father get separated by the big evil wave in "An American Tale"

Littlefoot's mom dying in "The Land Before Time"

The song "Not in Nottingham" from Robin Hood

Other traumatic movies:
"Follow that Bird" - Kidnapped Big Bird
"All Dogs go to Heaven" - murder and demons are just plain scary.
"Labyrinth" - It was just too bizarre
"Return to Oz" - the whole switching heads thing? WTF?!!

Also, I vaguely remember some movie from when I was little about a windup/clockwork mouse and his dad that totally creeped me out, but I can't remember the name of it, and imdb is blocked at my office. Does anyone know what movie I'm talking about?

Great list Liz. Now I need to go find some tissues and anti-depressants!

Posted by: starbuck13 | September 18, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

I second Charlotte's Web.

Also Bridge to Teribithia. We read it in the 5th grade and I think it was the first book we read where someone died. It was pretty upsetting, but like DCCubeFarm notes, it remains one of my all time favorite books.

Posted by: suzannepdc | September 18, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and also "The Secret of Nymh" frightened me. But I agree with you DCCubefarm, as much as they were traumatizing, I still loved them and, with the exception of "Return to Oz" were all my favorites growing up. And so much better than most of what is produced today.

Posted by: starbuck13 | September 18, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone remember Rikki Tikki Tavi and the cobra?

Posted by: kvs09 | September 18, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

The part in The Dark Crystal where they sucked the life-force out of the Muppets freaked me out!!

There was also this thing on Sesame Street that scared the heck outta me - it was this frog, where the only thing animated was his throat, and he kept blowing his throat up bigger & bigger & talking about how he was bigger than that rock, bigger than a dog, bigger than a cow, and then BOOM, he exploded. Does anyone else remember that? Nightmares!

Posted by: blahblah6b | September 18, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Ditto on all of Liz's picks, but I have to add The Velveteen Rabbit. Tossed into the trash to be burned because he might be contagious made this book/film too much for my five-year old brain to handle.

And during 6th grade, we were indoctrinated into the Holy Temple of Capitalism by being forced to watch an animated version of Animal Farm. The sequence where Boxer the old horse is forcibly removed from the farm and taken to the glue factory haunts me to this day.

Posted by: jelo97 | September 18, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

This pretty much says it all for me:

Posted by: wadejg | September 18, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

I'm gonna go to my safe-place now.

Posted by: jelo97 | September 18, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

The book "Stellaluna" made me cry aloud, and a blubbering 40-something woman is not a pleasant sight. I never saw the animated show, but apparently it's out there in its colorful glory.

I still am traumatized by the story:

A baby bat plummets from a scary height and nearly is killed herself when her mother is possibly killed. (I didn't see the mother bat on the corner of the subsequent pages through my tears.)

A helpless baby is alone and scared.

A baby bat doesn't fit in with her new family (because she's different).

A baby bat is chided and ridiculed by her new family (because she's not like them).

Stellaluna is praised only when she risks her life with the skills that were nearly shamed out of her.

She remains friends with those who treated her so badly -- and who now act like she's not all that bad because she's of use to them and performed a service for them.

And Bridge to Teribithia: many readers call that the "book most likely to be thrown against the wall" for its ending. I wouldn't see the movie.

I still can't discuss "Where the Red Fern Grows."

Posted by: cfow1 | September 18, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Not movies, but I remember weeping copious tears over Where the Red Fern Grows (Little Ann and Big Dan) and Old Yeller... I was mocked endlessly by my sisters for crying when ET went home, what made it even worse it was in front of my childhood playmate Brian...

I remember being upset at the boy in 'The Giving Tree' for being so careless with the tree's heart.

- True story, we (my three sisters and I) made our dad read the Giving Tree to us on Christmas Eve (only just a few years ago) and we were all teary eyed.

Posted by: LTL1 | September 18, 2009 11:23 AM | Report abuse

All Dogs Go to Heaven definitely traumatized me, especially the singing alligator. So hell is backwater Mississipi Delta? Sounds about right, now that I think about it.

The Princess Bride actually traumatized me for a long long time. When I first saw it, I was too young to understand the humor, and had recurring nightmares about the scene in the Pit of Despair.

Although I didn't see It or Poltergeist until I was in college, overhearing my much older sister give descriptions of these movies was enough to give me a phobia of clowns until I was about 17.

Posted by: eet7e | September 18, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Dumbo separated from his mother gets me every time, intertwining trunks and all.

Inexplicably I get choked up -- now! -- at "When Somebody Loved Me" in "Toy Story 2" when Jesse the Cowgirl talks about when her owner outgrows her and -- the callous cow! -- dumps Jesse in a cardboard box by the side of the road. I have to fast forward through the scene when I watch this movie with my kids.

(I'll spare you my rant about why animated movies always feature either dead parents or one who buys the farm during the opening credits. Makes me crazy.)

Posted by: td_in_baltimore | September 18, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

All excellent choices - but two more -
While not animated, "E.T." was incredibly scarring. I was crying so hard leaving the theatre, strangers were asking my mother if I was okay. I read the companion story book and cried.
Also, there was some Garfield Christmas special where Garfield and Odie get lost somehow and wind up in the animal shelter and they may be euthanized and then Jon shows up to save them. I cried for two hours. Yeah, I'm a sap. And don't even get me started on the Pepsi Christmas commericial with the bunny who thinks he's going to be left behind for new toys.

Posted by: phanieb | September 18, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Does anyone else remember the Muppets Take Manhattan? The song Saying Goodbye from that movie, still makes me cry. Plus Kermit gets hit by a car!!

And The Fox and the Hound. First the old lady has to let the fox free, and then its best friend the hound has to hunt it. Such a sad movie.

Posted by: MidwestTransplant | September 18, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Oh God, cfow1, not Stellaluna! The owl attack! The baby hanging for hours waiting for mom who NEVER COMES BACK! AAAAAAAAAA. I need another Kleenex now.

(Don't bother with the animated version, by the way. They added a weird subplot with new characters to stretch out the story. Save your time/money.)

Posted by: td_in_baltimore | September 18, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Good lord, are we a bunch of pathetic saps or what?!

Posted by: jelo97 | September 18, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and as cheesey looking as I realize it is now, the Wolf in "The NeverEnding Story" completely scared me - for the longest time I couldn't look at the TV during his scenes.

Posted by: starbuck13 | September 18, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Follow that Bird was traumatizing. Big bird was kicked off Sesame Street, runs away from the other Big Birds, is kidnapped, dyed blue! For toddlers, no way!

Dumbo I still can't watch.
I couldn't watch Princess Bride without fastforwarding the big rat thing until I was in my late 20s.

When Lady is kicked out in Lady and the Tramp.

Even the land of Misfit Toys gets to me in Rudolph

The Rainbow Connection always makes me cry.

Posted by: mdem929 | September 18, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Jelo I'm with you on Velveteen Rabbit. I was convinced my stuffed animals would turn into real animals if only I loved them enough.

And I read A Taste of Blackberries as a kid, and the protagonist loses his best friend when he dies in front of him from a bee sting. I was CONVINCED that was going to happen to me. Yeah, I had/have issues.

Posted by: RiverCityVA | September 18, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Starbuck13, I'm with you on the wolf from Neverending Story....and yet I still loved that movie. Oliver and Company always made me sad because I hated the thought of all those animals without homes. I remember reading the book Secret of Nymh, but don't remember much of it or the movie. The Dark Crystal freaked me the hell out and I saw it when I was in 6th grade! Now the mother of all freak-me-out-and-scar-me-for-life movies is...Aracnophobia(no, it's not animated). My mom rented it for my 10th birthday party and even since I have been irrationally afraid of spiders, to the point of hysterics sometimes.

Posted by: IrishFox | September 18, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Starbuck13--the most traumatizing part of
The Neverending Story was when Artax the horse sank into The Swamps of Sadness, leaving Atreyu weeping in despair.

Posted by: jelo97 | September 18, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Not animated but The Wizard of Oz and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory both freaked me out. I never watched Willy Wonka again but The Wizard of Oz got better as I got older. Never liked Bambi because the Mother dies. My kids have never seen Nemo..Mom and sibs die then he gets taken away from his Dad. Tried to watch once with my son but the nervous nelly Dad just freaked him out. We rented Elmo in Grouchland when my oldest was about 2 or 3 years old. It scared him to death.

Posted by: Vienna8425 | September 18, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Peter Pan with Cyril Ritchard as Captain Hook. I was a tiny child, and I was sure he was lurking around every corner, waiting to sink that hook into me.

Posted by: lafred | September 18, 2009 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Anyone remember "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe," animated version circa 1981? The scene with Susan and Lucy are weeping, watching Aslan being sacrificed, was too much for me. I was 10.

kvs09 - "Riki Tiki Tavi" oh man, I LOVED that animated movie, cobras and all!

And, don't get me started about "The Wizard of Oz." I know it's not animated, but it started a huge Dorothy/blue gingham dress/ruby slipper complex and the tornado in the beginning scared the bejezus out of me.

Posted by: CentreOfNowhere1 | September 18, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Oh also remember vaguely a story about a swan that had no voice... Oh yes and the velveteen rabbit - sniffle sniffle...

Am glad I never read Animal Farm or saw the awful movie. Joining Jelo in our safe place...

Would a good list be movies that can move you to tears just thinking about them.

There are two that just tear my heart out. This movie called Dads - with of all people Ted Danson and Jack Lemmon. The dad (Lemmon) has always been terrified of dying of cancer - major phobia. Sure enough he starts acting a little funny and goes in for tests. Well doctor pulls aside the son (Danson) and tells him it is cancer. Son begs doctor to let him be the one to tell Dad - Doctor being cold bureaucrat says 'he can't'. Well, the dad up and disappears. They can't find him anywhere.

After hours of searching the Son goes home sits on the parents bed, the picture of weary desolation (slumped, shoulders down, etc.). He hears a noise coming from under the bed only to find his father curled up in the fetal postion crying like a child.

I was blubbering like a baby.

That and Awakenings - ugh...

Posted by: LTL1 | September 18, 2009 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Good call on the Willy Wonka boatride. I still hate that part of the movie.

Posted by: suzannepdc | September 18, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

-Frosty the Snowman being lured into the greenhouse, where he MELTS!
-I second "Fox & the Hound" and I won't watch "Dumbo" with my kids.
-And a big yes to Willy Wonka's tunnel ride!

Other pop culture memories:

-The evil man who cuts off Alec's life jacket as the ship is sinking in "The Black Stallion". Who would do that?!
-When Elliott finds an ashen E.T. in the ravine.
-Darth Vader telling Luke he is his father -- this scene STILL gets me! The horror!

Posted by: ethanandcathy | September 18, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Oh geeze, LTL1: "Terms of Endearment."

Posted by: CentreOfNowhere1 | September 18, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Oh gosh -- I totally forgot about the Aslan killing scene, I was 10 too! So cruel!

Posted by: ethanandcathy | September 18, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Mdem929: Who wants a water pistol...that shoots jelly?!

Posted by: ethanandcathy | September 18, 2009 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Not to bash Disney animated films but..."Fantasia" just about undid me when I was five. The horned devil in the graveyard scene is forever burned into my brain! As is "Bambi" loosing his Mother...and Dumbo being ripped apart from his about causing an anxious childhood!!! Thanks Uncle Walt...

Posted by: Veranda | September 18, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

I believe that the tale of the swan with no voice was The Trumpet of the Swan, written by E.B. White, who also gave us Charlotte's Web, Stuart Little, and The Elements of Style, which was co-written with R. Strunk.

disclaimer: I'm a librarian, in part due to all the wonderful, if sometimes traumatic, childrens literature that is mentioned here.

Posted by: jelo97 | September 18, 2009 12:23 PM | Report abuse

1. Disney World used to have this totally creepy movie (can't remember the name) but it had a creepy song and was very 70's.

2. The Peanut Butter Solution

Posted by: misc1997 | September 18, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Puff the Magic Dragon did it for me. My MIL just bought it for our 8yo claiming it was my hubby's favorite, which he doesn't remember. I reacquainted him with the plot...and we subsequently got rid of it! We've told the MIL she loved it....
(Plot: boy abandons his imagination in the form of Puff and leaves the poor thing to wither away in a cave on the shore somewhere never to be visited again....or that's how I remember it.)

Ditto on the Bridge to Terabithia thing - ugh!

We have recently watched the beloved Charlie Brown Christmas special again - we were both horrified! What a moment in time packaged and animated for future preservation - neurotic children acting out neurotic dilemmas all fresh from 1979! Remember this is the comic that coined the term "security blanket" - why was I thinking nostalgia? Every one of those characters is on the fast track to therapy, and one of them already is a 'child psychologist!' No more CB in our house thankyouverymuch!

On another note, it's nice to see a handful of newer movies (Pixar's "Cars" for example) that are focusing on things other than death for their drama. And there are some truly great shows on PBS - "Zula Patrol" is a shining example - that have redeemed cartoons for me as more than just the advertising vehicles of my youth.

So as a parent of an impressionable young tv/movie viewer...yeah, basically most of popular culture is my nemesis. (Let's keep this little blog between us, shall we!) ;)

Posted by: rachelt2 | September 18, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

The Peanut Butter Solution

Posted by: misc1997 | September 18, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

I used to cry my eyes out when Frosty melted.

Fast forward years later and I remember weeping my eyes out at the end of Edward Scissorhands. These things still get me.

A few years ago, when Shreck was shown on TV, I had to physically remove my 3 year old son from the room during the dragon scene. We nicknamed the movie, "Shriek."

But since then, I keep waiting for my kids to cry during tender moments in "Curious George" or scary moments in "Coraline" but I get nothing. I'm sitting there wiping my eyes during "Panyo" and my kids are going, "Wow, Mom. Did you see that wave?"

Posted by: mdreader01 | September 18, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Definitely "Charlotte's Web" -- the book, not the movie. Also, to this day, I can't listen to "Puff (The Magic Dragon)"; it always makes me cry, and I'm 52!

Then there was some book about a little outcast dinosaur that rendered me inconsolable when I was about 6 or 7.

Posted by: kjohnson3 | September 18, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Also - we absolutely love "Avatar: The Last Airbender" in our house, but we bought the dvds so we didn't have to watch it on Nickelodeon. Great tv with a cool plot and awesome anti-hero - main character is a 12yo bald monk who is a vegetarian and who wants to triumph over the baddie in a peaceful way (as in doesn't-want-to-kill-him-even-though-everyone-says-he-has-to).

M. Night Shamalamadingdong is doing a live action movie to be out next summer. Liz if you're still keeping tabs on ComicCon as pre-pre-pre-Hollywood, then this is old news (I can't remember if you've gone again). I'm kinda geeking out about it. As a mature, responsible parent, of course...*ahem*....

Posted by: rachelt2 | September 18, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

OK...we've strayed from the animated movies, so I present to you the two biggest tearjerkers of my childhood.

1. "Gigot" starring Jackie Gleason and directed by Gene Kelly.

2. "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" 1939, starring Charles Laughton. The remakes pale. Accept no substitute.

"Why was I not made of stone -- like thee?"

Posted by: mdreader01 | September 18, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I've heard Coraline is scary for little ones.

Posted by: rachelt2 | September 18, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was the first thing that came to my mine. The scene where the creepy guy with the long nose would go around capturing children and putting them in cages. Gives me chills.

I remember being moved by the Garfield/Odie one as well -- I think it was the music that accompanied the scene.

Posted by: DC311 | September 18, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Let's talk about Pinocchio, shall we? Man makes wooden boy. Boy comes alive AND is promptly sent off to go to school ALONE. Boy is accosted and easily convinced to wander elsewhere, eventually taking a boat to a far-off island.

Where Boy plays cards (!) and smokes (?!) with OTHER children before they all TURN INTO DONKEYS. And that's just the first half of the movie.

I hadn't remembered much of this (beyond boy-comes-alive and his growing nose from lying) before showing the movie to my kids. Big mistake!

Posted by: td_in_baltimore | September 18, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

The Fox and the Hound. I vividly remember how excited my friend and I were on the way to see the movie. The beginning and middle were great - Todd and Copper playing and being cute. Kate and I whispered during the movie that they were best friends, just like we were. Then, by the end, they couldn't be friends anymore. Todd sits up on a hill looking down at Copper. To this day Kate and I are still appalled by the ending. We were certain that our parents were going to tell us we couldn't be friends when we grew up!

Posted by: boredinbham | September 18, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Oh the kiddie catcher who uses an icecream truck to lure the kids in..

Ditto on Hunchback 'she gave me water'...

I used to be terrified of the TV show Fantasy Island when I was a kid... Right after the very safe and comforting Love Boat...

As an adult I was so terrified of the book "IT" yet compelled to finish it that I had to hide it in my drawer in between readings so as to preclude a night of nightmares...

Posted by: LTL1 | September 18, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Dumbo KILLED me when I was 10. I'm still not over it. To this day, I will not watch movies that even hint at little person heartbreak: no ET, no Free Willy, no Lion King, none of it.

I suppose it's incumbent upon me as a parent to allow my child to experience this pain but I don't know how I'm going to get through it. We need a support group.

Posted by: MrsDre | September 18, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Old Yeller and the original Incredible Journey. When they remade the latter with talking animals, it lost all of its poignancy and scary-sadness. The scene when Bodger the old bull terrier finally makes it home, after everyone thinks he must be dead, was a complete tearjerker.

Posted by: mat00 | September 18, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

OK -- I just remembered this -- how many of you saw "The Black Hole"? Was that Disney? It had that maroon killing machine of a robot ("Maximillian"?) and one of the little robots (B.O.B.?) sacrifices himself at some point...don't have a clear memory for the plot but I do remember those rotating blades! Terrifying.

@Mdreader01: My children laugh at my tears, whether it be a movie or a book. Last night reading dePaola's "Clown of God" almost pushed me over the edge, but I was able to hold back!I did cry at the end of "Monster House" last week though.

Posted by: ethanandcathy | September 18, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

I just remembered I was really distressed by The Flintstones when I was young and decided to stop watching it!

They would always do something they shouldn't and get into trouble, and it really bothered me! I clearly remember choosing not to watch it anymore.

Posted by: rachelt2 | September 18, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse this was the year of Coraline and Panyo--two movies with scary moments where the child protagonists must face a tough situation without their parents.

The difference between a five-year-old and a six-year-old is that last year, my five year old wanted me to sit with him and hold his hand during the scary parts in "The Incredibles." This year, he ate popcorn through the scences and hardly winced.

Posted by: mdreader01 | September 18, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

First off, I'm like, your parents' age, so cut me some slack.

My older brother still gives me crap about how I broke out crying in the theater when Bambi's mother ended up as venison stew. I, of course counter that its more disturbing that he did not.

Not animated, but my all time most traumatic movie experience was when I was six & my parents brought me to see 'Judgement at Nuremberg' - I can only assume they didn't know about the concentration camp footage beforehand.

Posted by: nonsensical2001 | September 18, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

I wasn't allowed to watch Bambi as a kid because it had so traumatized my own mother when she saw it as a child; still haven't seen it.

I think I must have been kept from seeing a lot of films when I was a kid, because I don't remember being traumatized by any. (Although I just plain didn't like ET.) I did read a lot, and I remember being disturbed by Aslan's death in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Enjoyed Bridge to Terabithia, although yeah, it's pretty somber.

Probably the one book that scarred me the most as a kid was The Color Purple. I read it as an 11-year-old, and graphic sexual violence really, really upset me. Horrified is not too strong a word. Now, when people go on and on about how it's such a wonderful book, I just think to myself, are you out of your mind?!?

Posted by: northgs | September 18, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

On the other hand, I really loved some cartoons as a child that I would never let my child watch!

G-Force and later Voltron (dating myself as a child of the early 80s here) were violent and creepy and I loved them!! I still remembered them fondly until I watched both again recently on the youtubes ...and all I could think was "Where was my mother when I was watching this?"

G-Force was a crazy violent Japanese cartoon, cleaned up and dubbed in English. Later on Voltron came out as a higher-end more cleaned-up version of G-force, but the uncut, undubbed versions that were aired in Japan were ridiculously awful - lots of blood and high body counts.

Really - these baddies put any wicked Disney queen to shame. And I loved this stuff.

Yeah so the violent cartoons were not nearly as traumatic to me as the family movies (*sniff* abandoning Puff) - figure that one out.

Posted by: rachelt2 | September 18, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Oh, god, my friend made me watch Poltergeist when I was like 9! I was terrified for weeks! I was so scared I slept in my brother's room with him rather than sleep alone - and I HATED my brother!

Posted by: blahblah6b | September 18, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Your mom got caught on Watership Down too? Still traumatized now over that experience. Mom thought it was a story about cute little bunnies so she took me to see it. AAAUUUUUGGGHHHH.

Posted by: epjd | September 18, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Pete's Dragon makes me weepy just thinking about it.

mdreader01, my 2 year old loves The Incredibles, she isn't scared a bit. She also will watch Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings! I am amazed.

Posted by: stefs624 | September 18, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

E.T. was a very traumatic movie for a kid growing up in Southern California, in a house identical to the one in the movie. And my sister to this day will not watch Pinocchio because of the Pleasure Island segment...

Posted by: etd9 | September 18, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Let's talk about Pinocchio, shall we? Man makes wooden boy. Boy comes alive AND is promptly sent off to go to school ALONE. Boy is accosted and easily convinced to wander elsewhere, eventually taking a boat to a far-off island. Where Boy plays cards (!) and smokes (?!) with OTHER children before they all TURN INTO DONKEYS. And that's just the first half of the movie.
Posted by: td_in_baltimore | September 18, 2009 12:41 PM

You think that's bad, Baltimore, you should read the original book that the movie's based on... in which Pinocchio is HANGED!!!! (For reals!)

Posted by: PQSully | September 18, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

I don't think I was ever traumatized by anything to never want to watch it ever again. Yeah, Bambi was sad, but my family hunts so maybe I was just used to it. The Lion King kind of chokes me up still.

On a side note, I read Watership Down about a year and a half ago and loved it. I then promptly gave it to my youngest cousin to read. I hope she enjoyed it.

Posted by: DorkusMaximus1 | September 18, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

The 70s cartoon version of "Jack and the Beanstalk" is my all time scariest movie. I was scarred for life by the wedding scene where the girl has to marry a giant. The song in that scene is so creepy that over the years, I still remember it.

I recent found it on YouTube and showed it to my kids. The wedding scene STILL creeps me out, which my kids think is beyond funny. They'll walk up behind me and sing "Are you happpeeee?" just to watch my reaction.

Posted by: No1UKnow | September 18, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Anyone ever see The Last Unicorn? There is a song in it where all the unicorns are driven into the sea and god is it sad!

Having older siblings by 7 and 9 years, I also watched some scary movie way before I should have that had dolls that came to life and ate people. I still cannot look at a doll without being utterly frightened.

Posted by: Osteph | September 18, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

I just remembered "The Last Unicorn"!! The red bull, the harpie, and of course the evil wizard and his mass slaughtering of unicorns, combined with that sad music - it may have been a cartoon but was in no way a children's movie!!

Posted by: starbuck13 | September 18, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

ethanandcathy I feel so bad for all those lonely toys that nobody loves. Same for the toys in the neighbor's room in Toy Story.

Posted by: mdem929 | September 18, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

For me the three were:

"Bambi" To this day I can't stand the thought of hunting and killing deer.

"Snow White" I was terrified when the dwarves chased the wicked stepmother through the rain.

"Dumbo" As an introvert, I knew all about being an outsider.

Posted by: wanderer1 | September 18, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe no one has mentioned the flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz. We were forced to watch it every Thanksgiving at my grandparents house. Man, they scared the bejeezus out of me.

Posted by: badgerfan1 | September 18, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

the worst one for me was a winnie the pooh home video. The first time I saw it I sobbed. It was called "Find Her Keep Her." I think it was the leaving home stuff that got me when I was little. Good thing I got over that before I went to college.

Posted by: Swimmer24 | September 18, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

So many sad movies. Last Unicorn, the death scene in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, ET, Frosty Melting.

I went to see HP and the Half-Blood Prince with a friend. During the Dumbledore tribute scene, he looks over at me and says "Are you crying?" I just stuck my finger in his face and said "NOt a word, not a single word" as I had tears running down my face.

All these movies, I am amazed we aren't all curled up into little balls with our thumbs in our mouths.

Posted by: epjd | September 18, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

My younger sister sobbed as if her heart would break every time Chilly Willy floated away on his ice flow crying ice cube tears.

Posted by: kbockl | September 18, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Disney's THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW scared the beejesus out of me when I saw it at school. That was back in the day when teachers rolled out actual film projectors and canisters chock full of celluloid goodness for us to watch in class.

I could barely wait for the Headless Horsemen's appearance towards the end, when I sat spellbound, scared out of my wits and thrilled at the same time. I snagged this on DVD a few years back and now my sons dig it too, though with chapters they skip right to the Horseman and ignore the "boring parts."

In the fall in far south Texas along the Border there were no deep dark scary woods like in the movie. Instead we scared the crap out of each other with tales of La Llorona howling along the banks of the river looking for her dead children.

Man, THOSE were the days!

Posted by: spotter_tx | September 18, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

There were a few movies that really got to me as a child - The Last Unicorn (the Red Bull was just atrocious), Time Bandits, the Dark Crystal, and Labyrinth (which I've never seen all the way through and I'm pretty sure I'm better for it). But honestly, one of the worst was Puff the Magic Dragon. I cried and cried and cried when that was on, and when I asked my parents to turn it off, they wouldn't.

I still can't hear that song without feeling like a terrified five-year-old.

The weird thing is that I was pretty much forced to sit through all of these, but I wasn't allowed to watch the Dukes of Hazard because my parents felt they were "jerks."

Posted by: lclemme1 | September 18, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

jelo, I cried when I read a book report my brother wrote on the Velveteen Rabbit when I was in junior high. Then my oldest asked me to read the book. I cried. So future readings would require her to bring the book to me, along with a box of kleenex.


(I also cried during Bambi and Dumbo too.)

Posted by: anonymouslurker | September 18, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Holy Cow, I'm late today and do not have time to read all of the comments on this non-celeb related subject. But I read through half of them and no one mentioned the death of Bambi's mother. I remember seeing it in the movie theatre and refusing to let go of my mom's hand the rest of the day. I was about 6 or 7.
And Midwest transplant, agree with you on Fox and Hound. That was a favorite movie of my own kids. But what endeared me most was my 4 yr old son who had trouble pronouncing H's so all of them came out very deliberately as in "Mommy, I want to watch the Fox 'n HAA-ound."

Posted by: hodie | September 18, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Wow, you guys have compiled a fantastic list of movies here--I'm with you on nearly every single one of them. And yes, I'm a total sap.

I loved Rikki Tikki Tavi so much I named my beautiful ruddy Somali cat Tavi after him--the mongoose motto "run, and find out!" is so apt for a cat! We have a great animation cel from it of Rikki and Nagina (him leaping in the air and her zooming under him when she tried a sneak attack from behind--foiled by the warning from Darcy's wife!). It's on YouTube if anyone wants to revisit!

Posted by: sorcerers_cat | September 18, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: DCCubefarm | September 18, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

I actually had to leave the room when Drusilla died in I, Claudius. I was a pre-teen, and was avidly watching that series on BBC. I had no problem with Messalina's death, but somehow that scream, the bloody fake beard, and the Claudius' look of horror just put me right over the edge.

But since this was never meant for kids anyway, it doesn't really count.

Posted by: DCCubefarm | September 18, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe I forgot the Last Unicorn... sheesh and the fox and the hound...

Posted by: LTL1 | September 18, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

The original muppet movie. Seriously, the entire plot of the movie is to catch Kermit, kill him and eat his legs. I was 7 and told my mother it was not a movie for childern and made her take me out.

Posted by: wkingindc | September 18, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

OK, I'm caught up. I see several have mentioned Bambi's mom.

Oh, and ep, I too had tears at the last HP movie for which my husband still teases me relentlessly. "oh, boo, hoo, hoo, Dumbledore is dead, woe's me, boohoo". Shut up Mr. Hodie, at least I have feelings.

Posted by: hodie | September 18, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

You guys are not alone, Hodie and ep--best friend and I both wiping tears during that sequence. Didn't have kleenex, either.

Posted by: sorcerers_cat | September 18, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Sleeping Beauty...the witch terrified me.
101 Dalmations -- Cruella DeVille.

Bambi, and then Bambi meets Godzilla.

Non-animated -- Old Yeller.

Posted by: memphis1 | September 18, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Movie witches scared me as a kid: Snow White, Wizard of Oz, even Witchy Poo from that trippy tv show.

Also I second or third the nominations of the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the Willy Wonka boat ride. Yikes!

Jaws came to movie theatres when I was about 10. I am still afraid to go in the water (don't get me started about recent news reports of Great Whites off Cape Cod!)

I saw Poltergeist as a teenager and it scared the living daylights out of me. When I was that kid's age, I always imagined scary faces in things like shadows of tree branches outside my window. When the tree comes alive and reaches into the room to grab him, it is like my worst childhood nightmare come true.

Posted by: newengland1 | September 18, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Mine have already been listed:

Those flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz.

Puff the Magic Dragon. I STILL cry if I hear the song.

Posted by: atb2 | September 18, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Oh, good God, and Lady Elaine on Mr. Rogers. I was TERRIFIED of her.

Posted by: atb2 | September 18, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Pop culture reference: The beginning to the Thriller video where MJ turns into a werewolf had me hiding behind a chair as a 6-year-old.

I still cry at movies today whenever someone dies, so go figure that hasn't changed. I do remember Old Yeller being the first one where I cried that hard. I also watched "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" that same summer as an eight-year-old. I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn't go back to sleep. I think that was the most scared I have ever been in my life.

Posted by: aludholtz | September 18, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for reminding me about Cruella De Vil - how could I have forgotten her! I refused to look at the screen when she was on.

Posted by: mat00 | September 18, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

I agree with The Last Unicorn, and add Flight of Dragons - both are linked for me, and equally sad.
But the only movie I never finished watching was Return to Oz - my mom rented it for my cousin and me since we liked The Wizard of Oz, and I don't think we made it past the room with the heads. Seriously the most disturbing movie I have ever (attempted) to see.

Posted by: Jshaden | September 18, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

I'm so glad someone mentioned "The Last Unicorn." Good God. I don't remember the plot . . . just unicorns going into the ocean, and then this princess-type character with a creepy red mark on her forehead because she used to be a UNICORN . . . walking around a castle looking totally suicidal.

I can still hear the chant: "No dogs allowed!" It used to bother me how much those movies affected me. I felt like I was giving into something.

Willy Wonka used to freak me out, now I love it (well, love Gene Wilder anyway). Wizard of Oz is still freaky, you have to be raised on it to like it.

I out-and-out refused to read those books about dead dogs, etc. I was adamantly opposed to tear-jerker emotionally manipulative stuff, and even used to swear I would not read "To Kill a Mockingbird" because I assumed that it was more of the same. (Now it's my favorite book, I reconsidered.)

There's a kid's book called "No More Dead Dogs" on this subject . . .

Posted by: JGini | September 18, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

I still freak out when Wile E. Coyote talks. "Allow me to introduce myself: Wile E. Coyote, Super-Genius."

Posted by: byoolin1 | September 18, 2009 5:28 PM | Report abuse

I, too, was scarred by "Watership Down". Loved, loved the book, though.

I think folks here have already hit the high points (the death of Bambi's mom is of course on the very top of that list). Does anyone remember "Mickey's Christmas Carol"? I loved it as a kid (and still do as an adult), but there's a scene in there that I'm pretty sure was responsible for my childhood fear of graveyards. It's where Scrooge meets the Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come (the bad guy Pete) at his own tombstone; Pete shoves him into his open grave, and Scrooge is dangling desperately over a fiery pit. And then Scrooge's casket opens up and starts belching flame at him, and demonic laughter fills the air as Scrooge falls into hell...

...Be right back, hiding under the covers.

Posted by: Bawlmer51 | September 18, 2009 5:47 PM | Report abuse

And I've specifically never watched Old Yeller BECAUSE I was warned the dog would die at the end. Even as an adult, I don't think I'd handle that any better. (I had a book called "Real Animal Heroes" as a kid, and my mother, God bless her, went through and marked the ones where the animal died at the end so I would know not to read them. Mom, you're the best.)

Posted by: Bawlmer51 | September 18, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

The husband and I were both bawling five minutes into "Up." You could see where it was going, and we were already devastated. It's now in my top 3 of Pixar movies, but I probably won't ever be able to watch it again. And Monsters, Inc. always makes me cry when Boo goes home.

Posted by: whatrocks9 | September 18, 2009 7:30 PM | Report abuse

Oh my, Watership Down traumatized me for years. When I saw it was on my summer reading list back in 7th I was actually very upset and left it for last because I never got over what I remember as the burning bunnies movie. I actually ended up loving the book, though. I also had an odd loathing for that old Rankin/Bass Rudolph. I'm actually a little creeped out by both right now just remembering them.

Posted by: lauramaer | September 18, 2009 8:09 PM | Report abuse

I was absolutely raised on Disney movies (totally explains my extreme optimism as an adult) and I don't feel like many of them scarred me for life, but I do remember Flight of the Navigator. Not animated, but I was always SO sad when I watched it. I felt so bad that he went for a walk and lost his family! In addition, there was this Bugs Bunny/Elmer Fudd cartoon movie where they were doing opera "Kill the Wabbit! Kill the Wabbit!" and that scene freaked me out! How was it OK to create cartoon after cartoon where they were trying to kill the beloved main character?!?

Posted by: flutterbyjen | September 19, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

My mother inadvertently served ham the night that I finished Charlotte's Web. I didn't eat for days after that.

Where the Red Fern Grows and Bridge to Terabithia freaked me out as well, but so did The Great Gilly Hopkins. Abandonment, you know. And Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret instilled paranoia about my body that I am still trying to get over at the age of 40.

I still can't watch Wizard of Oz or ANY live action animal movie. I have been warned not to watch Eight Below or March of the Penguins. I refuse to watch anyone die or get eaten.

Posted by: renselaas | September 20, 2009 12:39 AM | Report abuse

I agree with so many -Come Home Snoopy, Bambi, Dumbo, Bridge to Teribithia and Where the Red Fern Grows (awful, scary death scene that was horrifying). I also was totally depressed by A Boy Named Charlie Brown - spelling bees always get me - and The Snowman. It's like Frosty, where he spends the whole night playing with this boy and other snowmen, and then he just melts at the end. Waaaaah!! I actually really liked the Neverending Story and Labryinth, even though they were both super weird, the horse dying was awful, and David Bowie in tights wanting to marry 16-year old Jennifer Connelly was creepy.

Posted by: amytruck | September 20, 2009 2:00 AM | Report abuse

Old Yeller. They ate the mule? Old Yeller got rabies and was shot? And, The Red Pony. I feel like crying just thinking about it.

Posted by: suester | September 20, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

I seem to remember watching Dumbo one time and just bawling. But I think I still watched it again after that.
I'm told that I loved Pete's Dragon, but I don't remember it at all and I'm quite all right with that.
My favorite as a child was Sleeping Beauty. I would rewind and watch the "don't touch anything" scene over and over again. Strangely, I don't watch scary movies as an adult. You'd think that I would love them based on my fascination with that one scene.

Posted by: dragnchic9 | September 21, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

There's a story that Radio City Music Hall had to be reupholstered after the original run of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Something about the scariness of the evil Queen and over hydrated children. The items that haunt me still from way back and perhaps endanger my sofa are:
1. "All Alone in the World" from Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol. Kryptonite to me, no matter how old I am. Sniff. Saddest song ever.
2.The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh. It was a series broadcast on the Walt Disney Show that came to mind after the death of Patrick McGoohan. The Scarecrows were the good guys but still could give you nightmares.
3.Der Struwwelpeter. Somehow my elementary school acquired a English translation of this book. I was attracted to the illustrations at first glance but as I got into it more and it's stories of how if naughty children suck their thumbs a skinny guy with scissors will de-thumb you, got to me. Once you see it you can't unsee it.

Posted by: stillsad | September 21, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Old Yeller and Bambi.

Posted by: frieda406 | September 21, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

and The Yearling.

Posted by: frieda406 | September 21, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone remember the Garfield Halloween special? That freaked me out so much as a kid. I realize this isn't animated, but my friends still tease me for getting scared of Beetlejuice at a sleepover in elementary school. The scene where they open the closet door and see all the scary ghosts floating... freaky!

Posted by: pearlcat | September 21, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

so... my poor mother took me as a young'n to see Poltergeist thinking she was taking me to see E.T. In her mind it was some kind of weird movie name that was supposed to be the best family film ever! why she didn't take me out I'll never know (I was 9). Slept with my closet light on for 2 years.

Posted by: gorilla_monsoon72 | September 22, 2009 12:08 AM | Report abuse

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