The Most Terrifying Children’s Movies

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When we think of children’s movies, we usually don’t consider them to be scary. They’re usually light-hearted, fun, and movies that make you feel good from start to finish. However, this doesn’t count for every children’s movie. Some seem deliberately designed to mentally scar our children in as many ways as possible, which leaves parents with a bit of a conundrum.

But since scary can be fun too, let’s take a look at some of the most terrifying children’s movies.

Beetlejuice (1988)

In typical Tim Burton fashion, this is a movie where you’d only let your kids watch it if you know they can handle a bit of eerie imagery. And while the movie is mostly a comedy, it has some truly scary scenes in it that give you a clear glimpse of Tim Burton’s disturbed, dark mind.

Beetlejuice | The Most Terrifying Children’s Movies | Zestradar

Coraline (2009)

First of all, it’s a stop motion movie, which is perfect to make anything look more eerie and disturbing. There’s also a severe build-up in this movie in terms of scariness, leading to the point where people with arachnophobia might want to switch it off after a good hour or so. 

Coraline | The Most Terrifying Children’s Movies | Zestradar

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)

It’s still a Disney movie with Johnny Depp at its best, so it’s not quite as scary as some of the other movies on this list, but it does have a fair share of undead pirates and zombies. It’s a bit spooky and definitely the scariest of all the Pirates movies.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl | The Most Terrifying Children’s Movies | Zestradar

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Yes, Burton again. This movie shines in the duality of tone it has: most scenes with Skellington are actually pretty light in nature, with lots of songs and musical numbers put into it. And then there are scenes with Oogie Boogie the Boogieman, where the typical Burton disturbed imagery takes center stage and scares the living bejeezus out of your children.

The Nightmare Before Christmas | The Most Terrifying Children’s Movies | Zestradarv

Ghostbusters (1984)

The most terrifying part in watching Ghostbusters today is how bad the CGI looks, but the monster design in that movie was something straight out of a nightmare. Not even Bill Murray’s ever-present light-heartedness could remove those images from my scarred retina.

Ghostbusters | The Most Terrifying Children’s Movies | Zestradar

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)

We’re not talking about the Netflix show here, but the slightly older movie version with Jim Carrey. And while this is once again a comedy movie at its core, the horrible ways in which the family members die to some unfortunate-but-very-deliberate events are just not something you’d usually associate with children’s movies. And no amount of Jim Carrey comedy can make you forget that people are being brutally murdered by a psychopath.

Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events  | The Most Terrifying Children’s Movies | Zestradar

Scooby-Doo On Zombie Island (1998)

While Scooby-Doo does thrive on the somewhat scary mystery shtick, this movie really turned it all up a notch. It’s the most unique Scooby-Doo movie in the sense that it doesn’t have many of the usual antics and twists (no masks to rip off, for example) that we all know from Scooby-Doo. It’s this break of form that adds to the scary factor, while also having the Louisiana Bayou as the perfect setting for a voodoo-filled mystery.

Scooby-Doo On Zombie Island  | The Most Terrifying Children’s Movies | Zestradar

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