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If you were a child growing up who was easily frightened, this list might bring up repressed memories. Before Pixar and Disney ruled the film world, children in the '80s and '90s watched movies that had a shocking amount of frightening content. Cover your eyes! This might get scary.


The Secret of NIMH

Based on the children’s book, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, the 1982 film follows a widowed field mouse as she tries to save her home. While the animation and stylization are gorgeous, the film has a very dark and ominous tone throughout. Mrs. Frisby finds herself in peril numerous times after she agrees to help a group of escaped lab rats. Death, torture, and murder are all present in this "kid" movie.


Return to Oz

This sequel to the beloved Wizard of Oz film finds Dorothy traveling back to Oz. When she arrives, she finds the land has changed from merry and bright to dark and scary. Did we mention the witch that wants to cut off Dorothy’s head? Or the creepy men with rollerblades for arms?! This movie is not for the faint of heart.


Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland

With such a charming name, who would guess that this 1989 film would end up giving children nightmares? What starts out as a silly adventure flick with Nemo arriving in Slumberland quickly takes a turn into darkness. With a protagonist called the Nightmare King, you better believe we will be watching this film with the lights on!


The Witches

Based on the book by beloved children’s author, Roald Dahl, The Witches is a clear departure from the Dahl’s usually light tales. When a young boy discovers that the resort he is vacationing at is also being attended by a convention of witches, he tries to stop their evil plans. The witches in this film are horrifying! After this film you will never look at chocolate (or Anjelica Houston) the same again.


The Dark Crystal

What do you get when you add scary buzzard looking creatures, slavery, and torture? A Jim Henson movie, obviously! Set on an alien world, a young Gelfing named Jen must go on a quest to fix a mysterious broken crystal. This dark fantasy flick was geared toward a younger audience with the use of puppets. However, we aren’t sure even adults are brave enough to watch this scary classic.

Quirk Tested. Reader Approved.

Sandra Gisi's picture

Sandra Gisi

Sandra Gisi is a book nerd/writer from Austin, Texas. She is the creator of the YouTube series Reader Vs Reader , and book blog What Lovely Books. When she isn't planning world domination, she likes to hangout with her husband and two dogs.