Monday, October 29, 2012
3 Family Films that Terrify Audiences
There are rosy-cheeked children's films, and then there are children's films so filled with terror that they could possibly moonlight as a cheap horror flick. And there are few things worse than a scary movie that tricks you with its rated G disclaimer. These are just three of those main offenders that mask their chills with happy faces and fantasy soundtracks:
The Wizard of Oz (1939): It's the epitome of a great family film--a sweet little girl, her completely harmless (and useless) friends, and a tidy little lesson at the end. Except that there's this pesky witch who has it in her Dorothy (the "girl" in question) and nearly scares the bejesus out of her--and the audience--with her pea green face, scary wardrobe and one particular threat that still manages to bring shivers down your spine: " I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!" It wasn't bad enough that this girl is lost and only has her nitwit friends by her side, but this crazy witch is going to try to come after her...and do something to her dog too??? That little Toto couldn't weigh more than 2 pounds and he's all she's got! With the ominous music timed perfectly with the witch's declaration, this line still remains one of the most horrifying ever, in a movie with talking tin cans and men made out of hay. You know it's true.
The Little Mermaid (1989): This is easily one of the best animated films ever, with a soundtrack budding singers can take to Julliard auditions. But just when the audience is singing along with a talking crab (who could forget Sebastian?) and dancing in step with Ariel, a mermaid desperate for legs to meet her Prince Charming, we meet a voluptuous octopus who steals Ariel's perfect voice--in exchange for her legs. Leading the film's most frightening scenes is Ursula, the wicked multiple-tentacle ocean-bound creature with a severe mean streak. She keeps all her now withered past victims, her "poor unfortunate souls," tightly locked up in shells like souvenirs as she violently sashays around them, cheering on her victories. Not only is she terrifying, she's clearly a maniac with a voice best described as something out of Louise Jefferson and Lauren Bacall's worst nightmares. You can't tell me you weren't horrified by this clip:
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966): Green seems to not only be the color of envy but also the color of pure and utter guile in children's movies. It's slime, it's filth, it's a symbol of dastard practices to come. And the Grinch was the embodiment of all of that. Audiences uncomfortably followed his insidious actions as the lead character in this classic family horror film. He was like the anti-Santa Claus, like Saint Nicholas gone awry. The Grinch managed to poo on every child's dream of what's supposed to be the happiest day of the year in a grand scheme to snatch their gifts and taint their joy. It is just vile. And his slinky, worm-like body further repelled any sense of normality in a perfect world. Christmas wasn't supposed to be the scariest time of the year, and this fun family flick was also not supposed to horrify audiences. But it did.