Animation has always been a media that has always been traditionally geared towards a younger audience. After several initial episodes of grainy black and white adventures of a mouse traveling up and down rivers on a boat, Walt Disney decided to up the ante a little with 1940’s Pinocchio. What would normally be a rather simple tale of a puppet becoming a boy takes a turn into madness from a subplot involving an island populated by nothing but mischievous boys who are tricked and transformed into animals and sold into slavery. After noticing that traumatizing children was a smart business decision that equated directly into dollar signs, Disney again chose to go the same route with 1941’s Dumbo. Most of the film was relatively tame, with a few subtle moments of racism peppered in throughout the story. The film’s two main characters accidentally get drunk one night, and take a trip into Elephant Hell. This segment was embedded in the center of the story purely as a cautionary tale to prove to kids that drinking is both bad and/or equivalent to huffing paint thinner. What’s the best way to make a kaleidoscope of melting pink elephants drive that particular point home? With a really creepy bassoon-heavy musical number! Sleep tight, kids!
Fast forward to the Eighties, an entire generation after these films came out. Parents that grew up with the scarring cartoons of the 40’s assumed they stopped putting that sort of thing in animated features. Any kids in the 80’s with a working Betamax player and lots of unsupervised alone time would often pull out seemingly innocent tapes that seemed kid-friendly, but had these wonderful disturbing moments hidden within them. These scenes gave us all something interesting to tell our therapists about twenty years in the future. Here are the eight best terror-filled excerpts from beloved children’s films that were created and unleashed on the public during the 70’s and 80’s.
8. Dot and the Kangaroo (1977)
This film is about a child in a far away foreign country who gets separated from her home and forms a friendship with a wild kangaroo. The kangaroo has lost her child somewhere in the woods and they both set out to find both Dot’s home and the kangaroo’s baby, aptly named “Kajagoogoo”. Dot and her kangaroo enjoy all of wonders of nature that Australia has to offer- venomous coral snakes, scorpions, spiders, and Paul Hogans.
The Pants-Shitter Moment: That Fucking Bunyip
After lots of fun adventuring through the wilds of Australia riding shotgun in the pouch of her kangaroo friend, nightfall eventually comes. Once the outback is coated in darkness, the Australian Boogeyman comes out to hunt you in the woods to skin you and eat you. The overlaid shitty animation over stock footage of nature scenes in a night setting gives this premise a foothold in reality. The scene feels like a low-budget Roger Rabbit meets Blair Witch but with less blatantly exaggerated cleavage.
The Moral of This Scene: If it’s night in Australia, you are Hellraiser food.
7. The Last Unicorn (1982)
This film is about the struggle for survival of the last unicorn in the world, voiced by a woman who willingly had sex with Woody Allen. The unicorn befriends a wizard who is shittier at performing magic than Criss Angel and they travel the countryside evading a red fiery bull. The bull is a mythical creature that looks like a hybrid of an angry tomato and a hemmorroid that has an unquenchable penchant for delicious unicorn meat.
The Pants-Shitter Moment: Breast Asphyxiation.
The terrible magician screws up for the tenth time in five minutes, and gets tied up to a large tree in the forest as punishment. While trying to remember the spell to unbind himself, he accidentally casts a spell that brings the tree itself to life as a buxom woman, with him clenched tightly within her heaving chest. As he struggles to escape, the Last Unicorn appears and enrages the tree woman, and she slowly starts morphing into an angry Satan. This makes the tree clutch the magician even more tightly than he already was, making the situation worse. There is nothing in this world that is more embarrassing than being strangled to death by Satan’s tits.
The Moral of this Scene: Female anatomy can be used as a murder weapon.
6. Raggedy Ann and Andy – A Musical Aventure (1977)
This film is a tale of childhood dolls that come to life and become sentient once they are left alone to their own devices. The child receives a sexier new toy, who immediately gets kidnapped by a horny pirate and Raggedy Ann and Andy go on an adventure to rescue her. Lots of bizarre musical numbers make this feel like Grease! on peyote. My best guess is that being an animator in the Seventies was the best job in the world because you got lots of free drugs.
The Pants-Shitter Moment: The Greedy
After the dolls leave the familiar settings behind, they befriend a blue camel that serves as their primary mode of transportation. The camel starts lamenting about being alone and begins hallucinating as it runs into the night. As the camel continues to chase invisible creatures around, it manages to run directly into a Sarlacc Pit designed by John Wayne Gacy. This pit is known as The Greedy, a creature made of caramel syrup that warps itself into grotesque versions of Honey Boo-Boo. After singing a long musical number about being unloved, attempts to Mola Ram the protagonists by cutting their hearts out.
The Moral of this Scene: Eating all the McDonald’s on the planet feels great, but all the Big Macs in the world aren’t going to make you any more fuckable.
5. The Black Cauldron (1985)
This film is pretty dark for a Disney film. The story revolves around a creepy version of Mumm-Ra who is searching for a magic cauldron that will give him his own Army of Darkness. After he gets it, green fog emits over every frame of animation and skeletal and zombie soldiers begin to arise and do his bidding. It’s a lot like the Care Bears Movie.
The Pants-Shitter Moment: One Ring To Rule Them All
The main characters are freed from captivity by
Jar-Jar Gurgi, and the magical power of the cauldron can only be stoped by a sacrifice by one who is “pure of heart”. The pig farmer kid climbs up on the precipice to do it, but is halted by Gurgi who says he deserves to be the sacrifice because nobody likes him. Before anybody can protest this, he does his best Gollum impression, shouts “Hail Hydra!” and leaps into the cauldron with a loud fiery explosion.
The Moral of this Scene: If you have no friends, the answer is always “go kill yourself”.
4. Animalypics (1980)
Originally made to be a cross-promotion with the 1980 Olympic games (the ones that the U.S. boycotted), this is a movie about anthropomorphic animals that compete against each other in sports. There are a couple of messy interwoven plots, but it’s mostly composed of just three things: animals, sports, and a bad-ass bitchin’ soundtrack.
The Pants-Shitter Moment: Kit Mambo’s Ass
It’s sad that animators in the 70’s did a better job of animating bouncing cash n’ prizes than current video game designers can, thirty years later.
The Moral of this Scene: Thanks Animalypics, for all those weird boners.
3. Watership Down (1978)
This film is about herds of bunnies that keep getting displaced by humans building new Starbucks locations. As the animals search for new homes, they are at constant odds against humanity, bigger animals and other tribes of rabbits who have a taste for blood. This is not the best film pick to watch on Easter morning.
The Pants-Shitter Moment: The Bunny Grim Reaper
This entire movie is filled with gruesome rabbit death scenes, from hawk dismemberment to entire colonies being buried alive. All of these are pretty awful, but the rabbit version of the Grim Reaper is the worst. He appears only for moments as the rabbits pass on from this world, and is personified as a dark shadow with haunting blood red eyes. In the above clip, it morphs into its true form for a split-second (0:29ish) which makes the effect even more unsettling. The bunny version of Death can go fuck right off already.
The Moral of this Scene: Getting buried alive? IT GETS WORSE!
2.The Plague Dogs (1982)
Geared more towards adult viewers, The Plague Dogs is basically just Watership Down with dogs instead of bunnies. The dogs escape a cosmetic testing lab and travel the countryside and get attacked by everything they come across, because they appear to be rabid. The dogs are seriously fucked up from all the scientific testing that has been done to them but this is used as “character development”. One is a nutcase and the other one is physically broken which is always the best premise for a lighthearted comedic adventure.
The Pants-Shitting Moment: Dog Bites Man
When out in the world, the dogs are noticed by a hunter who lines them up in his gun sights. After realizing that they are canines and not whatever he was out hunting, he puts his gun down and calls out to them to come get some hugs and some Snausages. The dogs happily run to him and as one jumps up on him, the dog’s rear paw lands on the trigger of the gun, blasting the hunter directly in the fucking face, to the opening theme of Unsolved Mysteries.
The Moral of this Scene: The dog from Duck Hunt will get his revenge the moment you let your guard down.
1. The Mouse and His Child (1977)
Another “toys that come to life when humans are gone” type of story, revolves around a wind-up mouse who is permanently attached to his son at the hands. After they fall from the shelf in the toy store, they are immediately thrown into a dumpster, enslaved, and eaten several times by various fauna. The whole time these events are happening, the child continues to tell the parent mouse that he’s scared, and the parent continues to say “I’m sure we’ll be fine. It’s an adddvvventure!” as they are kidnapped by hobos.
The Pants Shitting Moment: Dog Food Infinity; Cold-Blooded Murder
The whole length of this movie is one depressing situation after another, but it really hits it’s stride at the 50:00 minute mark. After being eaten and rejected, the mice are spit out by a bird into a lake and they sink slowly and sadly to the bottom.
Child: “Papa, I’m scared”
Father: “Well, we are in our watery grave. Goodnight, son”
They escape again by staring into infinity in a label affixed to a can of dog food. As soon as they get to land and are reunited with the only other toys that did not treat them like shit, a rat pushes his way through and bludgeons them to death. Fuck this movie.
Moral of This Whole Film: Life is a never-ending cycle of shit, and just when it can’t get any worse, you get senselessly murdered.
I have no issues with cartoons addressing serious topics, but I think they should have been handled a little less graphically, with just a little more sugar coating.
Well, if I’ve brought you down too much, click on the antidote: