Disney is a place of great charm, magic, and whimsy. But for every one of those moments, there is another dark, horrifying, and haunting moment that runs through the minds of youngsters even today. This article takes a look at the best of them. Note: None of these are ranked in any particular order.
1. The death of Bambi’s Mom-Bambi
Life is happy as Bambi and his mother chew on grass in a meadow. Suddenly it takes an odd turn as the mother senses a hunter nearby and the two flee in terror to safety but not before we hear a loud gunshot. Even though we don’t see the mother actually die it was still shocking and it’s cemented through the heavy scene of Bambi calling out for a mother that will never reply. It is appreciative for Disney to talk to youngsters about difficult concepts such as this but this is still a very distressing scene.
2. The death of Mufasa-The Lion King
Just the scene before this we were seeing Mufasa and Simba happily playing and talking about the future. Next thing you know we see Mufasa being overwhelmed by a wildebeest stampede in trying to save Simba. For a moment it seems like Mufasa has made it as he uses his might to make it to the top of the cliff. Scar’s taunt of “Long live the king” is not only delivered with a sense of dread from Scar but is driven home with Mufasa’s horrified realization of his brother’s intentions before he falls to his death in front of his son. Up until this point Disney had never specifically said a character was dead. And it just gets even more devastating as Simba sees his now dead father’s body and begs him to get up before it dawns on him as to what’s happened. To make matters worse Scar in the midst of this scene, ultimately convinces a grieving Simba it was his fault. Even after all these years, there are still people who can’t sit through this entire scene.
3. Hellfire-Hunchback of Notre Dame
Hunchback of Notre Dame does not talk down to its audience with themes of religion and lust and nowhere is that clearer than this scene. Frollo already established himself as a despicable villain by murdering baby Quasimodo’s mother before trying to do the same for him. After seeing Esmeralda perform a seductive dance at a festival Frollo finds himself driven by a repressed sexual urge that he cannot fully resolve due to being a man of god. And this all culminates through the lyrics of the Hellfire song with him basically fearing hell due to his lust and it drives him to ravage all of Paris to find her and offer her either him or death.
4. The incinerator scene-Toy Story 3
The toys fight relentlessly to escape the trash compactor but despite their best efforts ultimately wind up nearing the incinerator. As they near closer and closer towards, there’s no dialogue as the toys just hold each other’s hands and accept their fate. Both Buzz and Woody throughout all the movies have been bold through so many perils and seeing these two admit defeat with dignity is nothing short of heavy. The flames throughout this scene really make it feel like the toys are going to hell and each character we’ve grown to love go through this is powerful and even after they are saved just leaves an unsettling aftertaste.
5. The death of Clayton-Tarzan
In his fight against Tarzan, Clayton pursues Tarzan with a machete becoming consumed with rage in the process. He is so blinded by his anger that he fails to notice the tightened vines around his neck before he loses his balance and falls. Even though we know what just happened the moment is truly solidified by the haunting silhouette of Clayton’s lifeless and hung corpse.
6. The charred village-Mulan
The soldiers are happily singing a war melody and suddenly the next thing we know they are walking upon the remains of a burned village. Not only were the villagers massacred but also the army led by Shang’s father. Mulan finds an abandoned doll among the devastation, which signifies that children also died in the whole thing. To cap it off, we actually see the dead bodies on the ground. It’s a dark scene handled with grace and handled with the right emotion and grief that helps send a powerful message to the audience.
7. Night on Bald Mountain
This final segment of the movie instills fear through the most bone chilling imagery Disney has ever shown (and probably will ever show) as the devilish Chernabog raises spirits from the dead and have them prey upon the inhabitants of the village and happily destroy them afterwards by throwing them into the fires of hell or turn these horrifying demons far more repulsive. Even though he is shown up by the Ave Maria at the end of it all it does not take away the impression this creature has left upon his audience.
8. The Mob Song-Beauty and the Beast
This is something not so much scary through its imagery but rather its lyrics. The rage the mob has to follow Gaston and kill the Beast for no other reason than that they don’t like and are scared by what they don’t understand is quite timeless and terrifying in just how much it carries over to reality.
9. The end of dinosaurs-Fantasia
Yes I know I already discussed one on Fantasia but let’s face it: It’s easily Disney’s most adult film. Even though it’s quite artistic it is quite horrifying seeing the dinosaurs slowly die due to dehydration and starvation one by one. And it’s followed by the image of a valley littered with their remains. It’ is nothing short of devastating seeing these once powerful kings of Earth fall to nature.
10. The donkey transformation-Pinocchio
We see Pleasure Island as a child’s dream come true with games, candy, cigarettes, drinks, and so on. We soon find out that an English Coachman spiked the children’s drinks resulting in them being stripped of their humanity and sold into slavery forever as punishment for their misbehaviors. Candlewick’s transformation as he realizes what’s happening and breaks down begging Pinocchio to save him is particularly disturbing as we actually see him transform and lose his ability to speak up close. Even though Pinocchio gets off the island safely, the Coachman is never seen defeated and other boys are still donkeys possibly never found nor are they able to be changed back.
Are there any other dark, bleak, or scary moments for Disney not here? Are there any you agree or disagree with? Well leave your thoughts in the comments below.