10 Movie Scenes That Traumatised Us As Children

During the 1980s we most definitely weren’t short of terror-inducing movie scenes in family-friendly movies, and below we’ve selected 10 that still haunt us to this very day. How many of the following scenes do you remember being scared of and traumatised by as a child? And which horrifying movie moment should we have included?


10. Pink elephants on parade (Dumbo)

As children we of course never took illegal substances, but the pink elephants on parade section of Dumbo gave us a taste of what it might be like to sample LSD.

We haven’t seen Tim Burton’s recent live action Dumbo remake, but we can still be confident in saying that the pink elephants section simply cannot be anything like as traumatic as it was in the legendary animated version.

9. Flying monkeys (The Wizard of Oz)

Modern day movies have computer-generated effects that, whilst often extremely realistic looking, don’t normally induce the kind of terror that more traditional practical effects did.

A great example of this is the horrifying flying monkeys from 1939’s The Wizard of Oz, creatures that make us want to run to the hills screaming, even as fully grown adults!

8. The tunnel (Watership Down)

The scene featuring a tunnel in the original (and best) Watership Down is one of the most terrifying things we can remember watching as a kid. It featured a rabbit staring down a dark tunnel, listening to a heartbeat that gets louder and louder, whilst at the same time hearing another rabbit tell a story of how the tunnels got destroyed by diggers.

In fact, Watership Down is a fairly traumatic film from start to finish, and one that’s guaranteed to upset us every time we watch it. It may be animated, but having to watch the rabbits suffer in the way they do is definitely extremely upsetting!

7. Donkey transformation (Pinocchio)

Pinocchio may not be the first movie you think of when you’re trying to recall scenes that traumatised you as a child, but how about the moment when Lampwick turns into a donkey?

If you remember, the poor child starts screaming “Mama! Mama!'” whilst at the same time making some horrible donkey sounds and destroying the room around him. Poor little animated child.

6. Kitchen destruction (Gremlins)

Gremlins is fairly dark throughout for a ‘family’ movie, but if there was one scene that terrified us more than the others, it was the one where they get microwaved, processed, and stabbed in the family kitchen.

Believe it or not though, the original Gremlins script was even darker than we saw in the final film. The script included a scene where Billy’s mum dies and her head is thrown down the stairs when Billy arrives. There were also scenes showing the gremlins eat Billy’s dog and one where they attack a McDonald’s, eating customers rather than Big Macs!

5. The Tunnel of Terror (Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory)

Proving once and for all that they don’t make ‘em like they used to, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, released all the way back in 1971, features one of the most bizarre, scary and off the wall scenes we can ever recall seeing as children.

Do you remember the tunnel of terror scene? It includes strobe lighting, as well as footage of a worm crawling over a dead man’s face and a live chicken having its head cut off with a meat cleaver. One for the kids then!

4. Judge Doom (Who Framed Roger Rabbit)

Judge Doom was pretty scary throughout the whole of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but the scene that sticks in our memory is the one where he kills a lovely cute squeaking shoe by slowly lowering him into a bath of acid.

It could have been worse though, because Tim Curry, of Pennywise fame, originally auditioned for the role of Judge Doom, but producers considered him to be too scary for the role!

3. Dinosaur death (The Land Before Time)

We bet that many of you Eighties Kids were traumatised by The Land Before Time, which as well as being a brilliant movie, also features some traumatic dinosaur fighting, as well as the death of Littlefoot’s mum.

We saw this as a very young child, and the trauma is definitely still with us to the point where we can barely think about it even now!

2. The ‘helping hands’ (Labyrinth)

Labyrinth was of course a fairly dark film throughout, but one of the darkest scenes involved the ‘helping hands,’ which held Sarah hostage, a moment that still gives us the creeps even as adults.

Filming the scene involved Jennifer Connelly being on a harness 40 feet up, with nothing to hold on to. She was also told that if she tried to touch the back of the shaft, her fingers would be chopped off by the hinges!

1. Artax dies (The Neverending Story)

We end with the one. The scene that surely caused us Eighties Kids the most trauma when we were children. Watching Artax the horse slowly sink into the swamp of sadness is one of the defining nightmarish memories of our childhood, and it’s an image we’ll never be able to shake.

Interestingly, the scene itself took a long time to film, mainly because it took trainers seven weeks to teach the horse to stand still on the moving platform without trying to escape!