Anyone who’s been here before has probably picked up on my love of horror films. I’ve liked them as long as I can remember, and started watching them as a youngster. That said, there are a handful of films, apparently aimed at children, that I saw as a kid, and totally scared the crap out of me. In honour of Halloween, and in no particular order, the fear-inducing films in question are:
The Secret of NIMH
If you never saw this one, it’s basically about a widowed mouse who must save her children, including her sickly son Timmy, from the plough that will imminently dig up the field where they live. There’s also, a cheerful back-story about animal testing. Nice.
Ah, look, there’s a nice little cartoon on TV later about rabbits! No. No there isn’t. It’s Watership Down and it’s brutal, and sad and truly frightening. I’m not sure I could ever watch this story, about a group of rabbits fighting for survival in the wild, again. [Shudders]
I should however say that, it is actually very good with some wonderful voice performances from the living legend that is John Hurt (why doesn’t he have a knighthood yet, damn it?) and the late Richard Briars.
The Dark Crystal
IMDB summarises the plot like so: “On another planet in the distant past, a Gelfling embarks on a quest to find the missing shard of a magical crystal, and so restore order to his world.” It doesn’t sound that scary, and being that it was made by Jim Henson and Frank Oz, I’m not surprised this was deemed suitable viewing for a very small filmnerd, but, bloody hell this was scary!
Return to Oz
If you think about it, there are some pretty freaky bits in The Wizard of Oz, but this sequel really takes it to another level…
Following the events of the first story, Dorothy is now in a psychiatric hospital, receiving electro-shock therapy. So far, so cheerful. Once back in Oz there are myriad terrors, but the ones that haunted my childhood dreams were the oh so menacing wheelies and the extremely scary Mombi with her rows of sentient heads in glass cases.
1980s fantasy weirdness that seems like it must’ve been designed purely to scare the shit out of small children. If that was the aim, it succeeds.
The biggest baddie of them all, the lord of darkness, wants to plunge the world into darkness, naturally. The way to do this is apparently to kill the last of the unicorns or something. There are a bunch of strange and scary goblin creatures, too. And a very young Tom Cruise.
What other films scared the crap out of you when you were a kid…?