Family films are fun to watch but they must be a total bore to write. Kid becomes chosen one. Silly man says funny thing. Cartoon dog goes woof. Sod that: how about SEX and MURDER and MELTING FACES? Kids love that sort of stuff, right? You know what else kids love, thanks to these 10 family movies that went too far? Therapy in later life.
Boat ride from Hell – ‘Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory’ (1971)
If you ever stop to think about the concept of Roald Dahl’s wonderful novel, it’s basically about a sugared-up chocolate magnate who lures a bunch of schoolchildren to his slave factory to kill them in increasingly ironic fashion while displaying no remorse whatsoever. The 1971 movie version makes Wonka’s psychotic tendencies crystal clear when the cocoa pusher takes the kids on an LSD-inspired boat ride, brainwashing them with images so disturbing that even Guantanamo would consider them 'a bit much’ (for example, a huge insect crawling across someone’s face, see below). There are definitely tiny corpses in Wonka’s chocolate mines and they’re not from Oompah-Loompas. Call the police.
Rabbit bloodbath – 'Watership Down’ (1978)
The tagline for 'Watership Down’ should have tipped us off that it wasn’t to be a cutesy animated bunny adventure (“All the world will be your enemy, Prince with a Thousand Enemies, and when they catch you they will kill you…”) but nothing could have prepared our childhood selves for the buckets of claret spilled during the movie. Biting! Claws! Bleeding! So much bleeding! Why are the rabbits red, mummy? Why is the rabbit foaming at the mouth, mummy? Why has the other rabbit stopped moving, mummy? Why does he have a hole in him? Why? Why? Why?
Lea Thompson wants the d(uck) – 'Howard The Duck’ (1986)
Many kids’ movies feature inter-species relationships that barely raise an eyebrow, due to one obvious and simple rule: don’t ever show the characters making out or getting it on. Howard the Duck, however, was a new breed of hero, it says here, so the relationship between the full-sized feathered duck and panty-wearing human paramour Lea Thompson was explored in queasy detail thanks to executive producer George Lucas, displaying his famed knack for touching screen romance. Childhood innocence died this day.
Lady parts – 'The Rescuers’ (1977)
The reason Disney have a strange and unwarranted reputation for peddling filth to children is this bona fide jaw-dropper. In 1999, Disney announced a recall of 'The Rescuers’ on home video after it was discovered that an amateur Tyler Durden involved in the post-production of the movie had inserted two frames of a topless woman into a chase scene (which we had to blur out, above) – and that these images had been present since its release over 20 years prior. Aha! So that explains literally all the psycho-sexual problems we’ve ever had! Prepare to be sued, Mickey!
Jareth the Goblin King doesn’t do jeans – 'Labyrinth’ (1986)
The late, great David Bowie never did quite confirm to social norms, but few of us knew the Thin White Duke would squeeze the undeniable mass of his pop genius into a pair of such tight stretchy pants for Jim Henson’s 1986 adventure – you could practically see his Hoggle. And that’s before you even get on to the fact that Bowie was basically playing a musically gifted version of The Child Catcher, preying on young girls like it was going out of fash-fash-fash-fash-fashion. Entire nations of children became listless and withdrawn in the weeks following its release, visibly recoiling at the sight of nearby muppets.
Leia kisses Luke – 'Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back’ (1980)
Oh sure, at the time, it was just an act of oneupmanship – or oneupwomanship – on behalf of Princess Leia, determined to get one over on Han in their tumultuous courtship. But watched back with the full knowledge of the Skywalker family tree gleaned from 'Return Of The Jedi’, this smooch between brother and sister falls firmly in the 'Angelina Jolie’ catergory of familial fondness. There wasn’t a pair of male/female siblings in all the galaxy that didn’t share a shudder when that particular revelation was revealed.
Ray gets spooky loving – 'Ghostbusters’ (1984)
'Ghostbusters’ was rated PG on release in 1984, which feels oddly lenient given just how terrifying some of the ghosts in the movie actually are (that means you, Library Ghost). Spookiness is subjective, we guess, but there’s no debating the utter inappropriateness of the moment in which Dan Akyroyd’s Ray Stantz lies back on his bed while a ghostly apparition undoes his belt, takes down his trousers and… well, judging from Ray’s comedic eye-cross, you can guess what happened next. Ghost sex. PG. What the hell.
Nazi face melt – 'Raiders Of The Lost Ark’ (1980)
Steven Spielberg must have the MPAA wrapped around his little finger: how else could you explain the original ratings for 'Jaws’ (PG), 'Jurassic Park’ (PG) and 'Poltergeist’ (PG)? 'Raiders Of The Lost Ark’ cools it with the floating heads, savaged corpses and tree demons, but it does feature a face-melting scene so horrifying and graphic that it was enough to put you off joining the Nazi Party for good. Did there have to be quite so much… face melting? We look forward to Steven Spielberg’s new movie, 'Bloodbath XII: The Gashening’, which is rated U and will have its trailer run in front of 'Kung Fu Panda 3’.
Bang! A deer. A female deer – 'Bambi’ (1941)
On the surface, Disney run a smiley operation that’s all pixie dust and dancing mice: the happiest place on Earth! (Exclamation mark mandatory). But Uncle Walt and the Mouse House have been mining the misery of parental loss for decades, starting with the sudden and, let’s face it, totally unnecessary death of Bambi’s mother via hot lead. Cue an entire generation having to learn about guns, bloodlust and grief before the movie about the cute cartoon deer is even halfway over.
The Dip – 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ (1988)
The skin still crawls when one thinks of the finale of 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit’, a movie that was too adult by half for the kids who thought they were in for some mild, bunny-based larks (what is it with rabbits?). First, there was the sphincter-clenching sound of Judge Doom’s frightening high-pitched laugh, which still sends a shudder down the spine. Then there was the small matter of the vat of acidic 'Dip’, into which Doom dunks a happy cartoon shoe, who gaily jumps and honks until it realises it’s about to be dissolved, before fighting and struggling and he’s not actually going to kill it is he OH GOD everything is awful. It almost makes you want to go and cuddle your shoes.