There’s something uniquely disturbing about scary animated movies. Perhaps it’s precisely because we think of them as being only for children that they have the ability to terrify us so deeply as adults.
In truth, animated features can terrify no matter your age. Here are eight of the creepiest animated flicks out there. Don’t bring the kids.
Paranorman is emotionally-charged, heartfelt and harrowing all at once. In this classic outsider/misfit tale, young Norman is shunned by his peers and his family—because he can communicate with the dead. Family trauma, visions of terrifying specters and poltergeists, and a lynch-mob storyline make Paranorman a movie best appreciated and enjoyed by an older set.
2. Watership Down
In this horrifying 1978 film, that will scare you to the core, a group of the most violent rabbits in cinema history attempt to establish a new colony. This film is more violent than most real-life action movies, perhaps rivaling only Quentin Tarantino in its level of blood and gore. You will never look at rabbits the same away again.
3. The Nightmare Before Christmas
Have you ever stopped to think about just how dark this Tim Burton masterpiece is? The citizens of Halloween Town, while beautifully rendered in stop-motion, are seriously creepy. Sally, the rag doll, is imprisoned in a dungeon by the mad scientist; Jack becomes obsessed with abducting Santa and usurping his power; and Santa is eventually held captive by a gambling-addict boogeyman. If you haven’t seen The Nightmare Before Christmas in a while, re-watch it. You’ll be shocked anew by the disturbing material.
4. Spirited Away
This. Movie. Is. Terrifying. Seriously. In the vein of and , protagonist Chihiro is transported to a bizarre, otherworldly dimension, where she must work in a bathhouse run by a terrifying witch. Myriad creatures, both beautiful and horrifying, populate this spirit world, from which Chihiro must escape, or become trapped forever. A commentary on capitalism, environmental pollution and greed,—remember when Chihiro’s parents are horrifically transformed into pigs?—Spirited Away is a masterful and disturbing film, the intricacies of which can only be thoroughly appreciated by adults.
5. Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
This part cartoon-part live-action classic sets out to answer the eponymous question. And answer it it does, while introducing viewers to a whole set of seedy, crime-world underbelly characters, some animated, some not. Certain scenes have long stayed with us, like Jessica Rabbit seducing Bob Hoskins’ character, leading to one of the classic lines in cinema history: “I’m not bad. I’m just drawn that way.” Furthermore, the final reveal of Christopher Lloyd as the villain (see above) is an image that has been forever burned into our memories. Seriously spooky.
6. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Please look above, and tell me that witch is not one of the most terrifying villains you have ever come across.
Related: The Dark Side of Walt Disney
You think your parents are bad? Just be thankful you’re not Coraline, who finds out, the hard way, that if you think you’ve found the perfect mother, she’s probably too good to be true. Despairing of her busy parents and her new home, Coraline enters the “Other World,” where she meets “Other Mother,” who looks just like her own mother, but with buttons sewn over her eyes. It turns out Other Mother is actually a hideous arachnid monster, who kidnaps children and imprisons them behind a mirror. This beautifully-crafted film is seriously, seriously terrifying.
8. Monster House
This is a movie about a possessed house that eats people. What more do you need to know?
Feature Still from "Watership Down" via Duncan Studio