Pop quiz: What’s the scariest movie of all time?
It’s not Dawn of the Dead, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or any of the Saw flicks. No, the most hair-raising, scrotum-shrinking, crap-your-pants-frightening film ever made is…Walt Disney’s Pinocchio. I’m specifically thinking of the Pleasure Island sequence when Lil’ P-Noc watches one of his friends sprout donkey ears and a long tail as his horrified screams turn into to loud brays. That scene traumatized me as s a kid, and to this day, if Pinocchio comes on TV, I have to leave the room immediately.
Actually, all of the early Disney films are filled with some really freaky sequences. Thanks to those pink elephants in Dumbo, I barely touched a drop of alcohol until I reached college, and I still can’t eat oysters without thinking of that scene in Alice in Wonderland when the walrus gobbles up all the little baby mollusks. And don’t even get me started on Bambi‘s mom! You just don’t see moments like that in the animated movies made today. Even the most extreme Japanese anime tends to be more gross than scary. For example, all that hardcore tentacle penetration in Legend of the Overfiend makes me want to vomit, not hide under my bed.
That said, there is one cartoon that opened on February 6 that recalls those dark Disney classics: director Henry Selick’s Coraline. Based on a story penned by beloved comic book writer Neil Gaiman, the movie is about a young girl living in a creaky old house. She discovers a doorway to a creepy parallel universe where everyone has buttons for eyes. Beautifully animated, wonderfully witty and occasionally downright chilling, Coraline might give nightmares to a whole new generation of kids. Unlike Pinocchio, though, it’s a movie I’ll actually be able to watch again without screaming like a little girl.
Watch the donkey transformation clip from Pinocchio below…if you dare.