Hidden Nightmares: 25 Shocking Moments That Haunted Family-Friendly Movies

Apparently, to some movie makers, a family-friendly film is incomplete without a sprinkle of trauma for everyone. One moment, you're a perfectly happy kid; the next, you are stuck with nightmares from a scene you will never forget. Take it from a girl who adored all the “kid-friendly” movies such as Coraline and every Tim Burton movie I could get my hands on for as long as I can remember: there are some scenes that had no reason to be as horrifying as they were in these movies.

Perhaps in a way to share the trauma with one another, an online film forum shared the 25 most disturbing scenes in what was otherwise a family-friendly film.

1. When Artax Dies in The NeverEnding Story

Image Credit: 1984 Warner Bros. Ent.

Watching this heartbreaking scene as a child literally ruined parts of our lives. The poor, amazing horse drowns in the Swamp of Sadness, which sounds brutal… but watching it is even more brutal. He was Atreyu's best friend and we just had to watch him get stuck in the swamp with no way of helping. 

Even as an adult, this scene still brings back terrible, horrible memories.

2. Who Framed Roger Rabbit Melting Scene

Who Framed Roger Rabbit Christopher Lloyd, Charles Fleischer
Image Credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution.

With its bright colors, wacky cartoon animation, and silly classic characters, it may be surprising that Who Framed Roger Rabbit actually gets pretty dark at times. The darkest of these scenes center around the cartoon melting chemical, Dip. At the end of the movie, Christopher Lloyd's character, and main villain, Judge Doom, melts into nothing after the toon falls into a pool of Dip.

I remember watching the scene and being able to see (what I interpret as) the life leaving his eyes and thinking how messed up it was! There was some discourse in the forum, however. While some believe Judge Doom's gruesome end was the most traumatizing, others see Dip's introduction as more so.

In the scene, Doom demonstrates his creation by grabbing an innocent, sentient cartoon shoe and placing it in a drum of Dip, effectively melting it as it speaks to be saved.

3. Large Marge From Pee-Wee's Big Adventure

Pee-wee's Big Adventure Alice Nunn
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Many of us who have watched Pee-wee's Big Adventure will never forget “The Worst Accident I ever seen.” Large Marge comes entirely out of left field for this otherwise fun and silly film. Not only is the character of Large Marge creepy with her sinister expression and creepy story but she also jumpscares the viewer and Pee-wee with a scary face.

4. Indiana Jones and The Raiders of The Lost Ark Face Melting

Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark Ronald Lacey
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

I guess melting people is a favorite method of causing horror to families for filmmakers. With scenes that include mincing via airplane propeller and spike trap victims, it's hard to argue with them.

Of course, none of them hold a candle (candles melt, get it?) to the horror of watching people scream and laugh hysterically as their faces melt off their skulls.

5. The Pleasure Island in Disney's Pinocchio

Pinocchio Charles Judels
Image Credit: RKO Radio Pictures.

Pleasure Island it certainly is not. Though, I suppose Goosebumps has already taken the name “Horrorland,” and Nightmareland isn't as catchy.

Honestly, the whole sequence of scenes starting from the creepy-faced coach driver to Pinocchio's eventual escape after watching Lampwick's terrifying transformation into a donkey, is all one big horror show. Even before the truth of the island is exposed, there's something creepy about the park (I'm looking at you, creepy talking clownhead)!

6. The Dark Crystal's Podling Soul Stealing Scene

The Dark Crystal Steve Whitmire
Image Credit: Universal Pictures and Associated Film Distribution.

Well, dark is in the name of this one, and dark it certainly is. It centers around a poor, innocent creature called a podling getting its “vital essence drained and put in a bottle for the Emperor of the Skeksis to drink and remain young. The scene goes through all the steps on how the Skeksis use the Dark Crystal to drain the soul out of their victims. Meanwhile, the poor podling has a horrified expression, and we have to watch long shots of its life draining from its eyes and is left white and soulless from the process.

7. The Adventures of Mark Twain's Mysterious Stranger

The Adventures of Mark Twain Gary Krug, Michele Mariana, Chris Ritchie, James Whitmore, Wilbur Vincent
Image Credit: Clubhouse Pictures.

As the name of the film implies, The Adventures of Mark Twain centers around many of the famous author's writings. One such story is “The Mysterious Stranger.” Any guess on who that stranger might be? If you said Satan, you're right!

Mix the existential dread with Satan's terrifying character design of an old, shapeshifting mask, headless body, and creepy voice, and you've got a recipe for family horror.

8. Tarzan Hanging Scene

Tarzan Brian Blessed, Minnie Driver, Nigel Hawthorne
Image Credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution.

That's right, ladies and gentlemen, Disney's Tarzan! Be it crushed by a giant rock, falling into pits of molten lava, or being thrown off a castle, Disney has been known to give their villains quite horrible ways to go out. Though Tarzan's main antagonist, Clayton's demise is not as dramatic as others, it certainly left quite the impact on viewers. Clayton fights Tarzan in a mess of vines and eventually gets himself tangled.

Furious, he cuts himself free and begins to fall with one bunch of vines still around his neck. I'm sure you see where this is going. We do not even see the villain directly die, only the implication. The vines that were around Clayton suddenly go thought as he falls, the machete he used to slice the vines has been released from his hands, and we see it stab the ground, and lightning strikes as Tarzan lands on the ground showing us a silhouette of Clayton's limp body swaying from side-to-side.

Two words: messed up.

9. Toy Story 3 Incinerator Scene

Toy Story 3 Tom Hanks, Joan Cusack, Tim Allen
Image Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Toy Story 3 tugged at people's heartstrings and a variety of ways. Even my dad teared up at the end when Andy gave his childhood toys to the young Bonnie to take care of and left for college. But the garbage dump incinerator scene wrecked everyone in a different way. We watch the toys attempt to climb out of an endless stream of falling trash, trying not to fall into a pit of fire.

Eventually, one by one, the toys accept what they see as the inevitable and stop climbing, deciding to go out together hand-in-hand. The last to stop struggling to escape is Woody, desperately fighting against his mortality until he sees the others and realizes what they all have as well. He takes their hands, and they all close their eyes, bracing for the end.

They get out, thankfully, but man, does that scene hit so hard with no words exchanged.

10. The Clown Nightmare in The Brave Little Toaster

The Brave Little Toaster
Image Credit: Hyperion Pictures.

You'd think a cute animated movie about sentient appliances going on an adventure to find their owner wouldn't have demon-clown nightmare fuel. Well, it's on the list, so I guess I thought wrong. Being a nightmare, it makes sense that there are some spooky visuals. A wave of forks and falling into a bathtub make sense to be scary for a toaster. But did it really need to have a giant, frightening firefighter clown with a grin filled with irregular teeth and smoke coming out of its mouth?

11. Superman III Cyborg Transformation

Superman III Annie Ross
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Though short, this scene in 1983's Superman III has left an impact on those who've seen it. Those in the forum tried to pinpoint what was so scary about this scene for them and ended up with one conclusion: actually seeing the woman transform. There is absolutely nothing pleasant about watching this woman get metal parts and wires stabbed into her as she yells and begs for help. 

12. The Fireys In Labyrinth

Labyrinth Charles Augins, Ron Mueck, Karen Prell
Image Credit: Tri-Star Pictures.

Jim Henson certainly knew what he was doing when it came to dark fantasy. These creatures may seem fun and silly initially, but then comes the body horror. These orange furry guys like to do one big thing for fun: take off their body parts.

At first, it's their hands, then whole arms, and even their heads! They also like to kick their heads around and play games with them, acting as the ball. Creepy enough, yeah? Well, it gets worse. Soon, the Fireys decide that the main character, Sarah's head needs to come off, too! What's that? Her head doesn't, and isn't supposed to, come off?

Well, that doesn't matter, it still needs to come off to play, and they won't take no for an answer!

13. The Death of The Skeksis Emperor

The Dark Crystal
Image Credit: Universal Pictures and Associated Film Distribution.

The Skeksis are a scary lot, and I think we can all agree to that. The most terrifying of all the Skeksis would have to be their emperor, who we see die of old age in the first few minutes of the movie. The Emperor looks as if he was hit five too many times with the ugly stick, and that's saying something when you're talking about the Skeksis.

As he lay dying, The Chamberlain attempts to take his scepter, only for everyone, including the audience, to be hit with a jumpscare of the Emperor yelling out, “MINE!” his sharp teeth, pale skin, and cloudy eyes only adding to the horror. Then, after he does pass, he crumbles into dust. That's one way to start a movie.

14. Charlie's Nightmare in All Dogs Go to Heaven

All Dogs Go to Heaven Burt Reynolds, Dom DeLuise
Image Credit: United Artists/MGM/UA Communications Co.

Nothing quite like watching a loveable character be tormented, is there? All Dogs Go to Heaven has a scene in which Charlie, the dog, has a nightmare that he is sucked into the underworld, where he is to be tormented for all eternity.

There are so many wonderful visuals to fill your nightmares in this scene, including a terrifying skeletal ferryman who takes Charlie over a lake of lava, a dragon-dog hybrid devil, and Charlie trying his hardest to avoid falling into lava as a bunch of little dog demons are biting him.

15. A Boy Gets His Head Ripped off in Little Monsters (1989)

Little Monsters Fred Savage
Image Credit: United Artists.

The title “Little Monsters” makes me think of a cute kids' show or book with mischievous monsters having fun, not child decapitation. A beast named Snik begins to torment a little boy by listing more and more horrible things that he could do to him. Suddenly he rips the boy's head off, throws it into a basket, and laughs. There isn't any blood, but that doesn't make the scene any less horrifying.

16. Captain Carter's Death Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Hayley Atwell
Image Credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Multiverse of Madness was very dark and creepy, I will admit that, and with it came some quite scarring deaths. Of such death is that of Captain Carter, an alternate reality version of Agent Margaret “Peggy” Carter. During a fight with Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch, Captain Carter throws her shield only for it to be caught midair by Wanda's magic and launched back before she even has time to finish the motion of throwing the shield.

In that split second, we zoom in on Carter's face as we hear the shield make contact with her body. The shield hits a nearby wall, stained in blood, and though it is out of focus and only a split second, we see Captain Carter's body fall in two.

17. The Jumanji (1995) Spiders and Quicksand Scene

Jumanji Robin Williams, Bonnie Hunt
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.

Nothing is more family-friendly than a board game that conjures up nightmarish aspects of a jungle, all of which try to kill you. Of course, if I were just here to write about all the horrors of Jumanji, I'd be here all day. So, instead, we will focus on just one: the quicksand and spider scene.

Alan Parrish has just finished rolling the dice for his turn, and the board makes him sink into the floor like quicksand. As the other three players try different ways to get him out, his old friend Sarah Whittle also gets her arms stuck.

They eventually stop the two from sinking, but now they can't move. Peter is up next, and the board brings giant spiders to attack them. Peter runs to fetch an ax, but Sarah and Alan are at the spider's mercy, and they don't have any.

18. Young Sherlock Holmes’s Wax Sacrifice

Young Sherlock Holmes Alan Cox, Nicholas Rowe
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Young Sherlock Holmes sure knew how to leave an impression on a person. With its chanting, lighting, and overall sense of dread, a sacrifice scene melded itself into the psyches of many like melted wax dripping into cracks. The scene surrounds a young, unconscious girl in the midst of being prepared as a ritual sacrifice. She is wrapped like a mummy and placed in an open sarcophagus where hot wax is poured onto her. The girl awakes and begins to struggle and scream before the ritual is interrupted by the young Sherlock.

19. Anakin Gets Burned Alive in Revenge of the Sith

Star Wars Episode III - Revenge of the Sith Hayden Christensen
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

Family members, young and old, love Star Wars, but that doesn't mean it isn't always sunshine and rainbows. Exhibit A: Anakin on Mustafar. After Obi-Wan defeats Anakin in Revenge of the Sith, Anakin is left only with one of his arms as he claws his way up a steep hill in an attempt to avoid a flow of lava. He fails, getting so close that he catches fire and is burned within an inch of his life, leading to the iconic suit as Darth Vader.

20. Jurassic Park's Arm in The Power Shed

Jurassic Park Sam Neill, Ariana Richards, Joseph Mazzello
Image Credit: Universal Pictures.

Everybody loves dinosaurs until they try to eat you at every turn. The whole section in Jurassic Park where Ellie Sattler is trying to turn the power back on could be considered terrifying, especially the part where Tim gets electrocuted by the fence when the power comes back on. Still, for now, we will focus on one scene in particular: The reveal of John Arnold's death.

Ellie has just restored power and feels the relief that comes with it. All of a sudden, a raptor reveals itself and attacks her. She locks it into the caged breaker panel area and backs up against some piping when an arm comes down and touches her shoulder. She sighs in relief and grabs the hand, thinking she's found Mr. Arnold. The only trouble is the arm isn't attached to anything but a stump.

It is clear to see absolute horror as she comes to the realization, and then she backs back into the raptor.

21. Ernest Scared Stupid's Troll in The Bed

Ernest Scared Stupid Jim Varney, Barkley
Image Credit: Buena Vista Pictures Distribution.

An individual on the forum made an excellent observation about this unusual scene for a comedy. If the scene were cut from the movie and looked at purely on its own, you'd be left with this terrifying monster on the bed. I, along with other participants, can't help but agree that this is terrifying.

22. The Witches (1990) “Remove Your Wigs!”

The Witches Anjelica Huston
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Again, family-friendly movies with some serious body horror! As The young boy Luke spies on a witch convention at the hotel, he is staying at. In doing so, he gets to see how their quite impressive disguises come off. When the Grand High Witch permits the others to remove their wigs, she removes far more.

The Grand High Witch struggles to peel off her regular, human-looking face and reals the horror underneath. Once again, we can thank the extraordinary Jim Henson for this nightmare!

23. The Wheelers in Return to Oz

Return to Oz
Image Credit: Buena Vista Distribution.

Another movie considered family-friendly but filled to the brim with the stuff of nightmares, especially the wheelers. The wheelers have quite the introductions in Return to Oz. Dorthy has returned to the Emerald City to find it in reunion, and its people, including the Cowardly Lion and Tin Man, have been turned to stone. As she begins to mourn her friend, she hears a high-pitched squeaking sound, and the wheelers' nightmarish faces/helmets are revealed.

The creatures have long limbs with wheels instead of arms and feet, faces that only a mother could love, and strange echoey voices. They chase after the young girl and threaten to tear her to pieces. Delightful.

24. G'mork From The Neverending Story

The NeverEnding Story
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

I never thought I would get an existential crisis from a giant talking wolf, but weirder things have happened. G'mork is the helper to The Nothing. He appears as a giant, black wolf with too many teeth and glowing green eyes, and, in my opinion, talks like Voldemort from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

Visually, he is pretty creepy, but his horror shines in the ideas he presents. He talks of people losing their ability to hope and dream, making them easier to control, but the way he talks about it makes it relate all too much to adulthood and the loss of childhood wonder.

25. Spider-Man 2's Hospital Massacre

Spiderman II Alfred Molina
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Releasing.

Am I surprised that Sam Raimi, director of the Evil Dead franchise, put scenes in this movie that have horrifying implications? I wish the answer was no. The scene starts with a team of surgeons preparing to remove the large metal arms from an unconscious Doctor Otto Octavius's back. Suddenly, the arms come to life and wreak havoc in the room, grabbing, throwing, and even impaling the doctors.

After the massacre, Otto awakes and realizes what the arms have done and escapes the hospital. Despite no blood, the hospital scene is terrifying, with the doctors screaming and attempting to save themselves from the unstoppable force.

Raimi's experience in the world of horror truly shines through in this scene.

Source: Reddit