Pop Culture

'Toy Story,' 'Nemo' feature some of scariest kid-movie scenes

Inspired by the gentle sweetness of "Winnie the Pooh," with nothing too scary for even the youngest moviegoer, we asked parents and caregivers to recall those movie scenes that really did frighten their children.

Yes, children's films have always had their scary moments. Bambi's mom dying, anyone? Old Yeller? Cruella De Vil wanting to make those poor little Dalmatians into coats? Scary scenes make the happy ending worthwhile, and most kids can handle some intense moments, especially if mom or dad is right close by.

But sometimes, parents felt that certain scenes came out of nowhere, like the incinerator scene in "Toy Story 3." That franchise has featured frightening moments before — remember Sid's mutant toys from the first film? But the incinerator scene was mentioned again and again, so if it gave your heart a jolt, or stressed out the toddler next to you, you're not alone.

Here are some of the movie moments you mentioned.

'Toy Story' terror

"My 4-year-old son had to be taken out of the theater when he saw the cymbal-clanging monkey in Toy Story 3. Even now, when my daughter (2) wants to watch the movie, he asks — even before I put the DVD in — if I will skip the monkey part. He's not a very frightful kid, but the monkey really scares him."  — Liz, Wash.

"Toy Story 3, hands down, was the creepiest "children's" film I have ever taken my children to. Lotso is such a dark character. The incinerator scene in Toy Story 3 scared ALL of my children. We watched the movie in the theater and even my oldest, at age 10, was crying. We have Toy Story and Toy Story 2 on DVD, but I refuse to purchase Toy Story 3."  — Jennifer, Minn.

What happened to 'Nemo's' mom?

"My 2 1/2 year old son is terrified of the opening scene in 'Finding Nemo,' where Marlin and Coral are attacked by that big fish and the fish eats Coral and all the fish eggs except Nemo. Even if we skip that scene, he refuses to watch that movie; he's convinced there will be a scary big fish in every scene. Strangely, this is the only movie scene he's terrified of — he didn't flinch at all at other movies ('Toy Story 3's' incinerator scene or anything in 'Cars 2,' both of which we saw in the theatres)."  — Nicole

Stop those 'Cars'

"I took my niece and nephew to watch 'Cars 2,' while the 1st movie was about friendship, the sequel stepped it up 5 notches. It was between a mix of 'Fast and the Furious' and 007 all in one. I was surprised to see so MANY guns in the movie. So many shoot outs, it was just too much for a 6 year old and a 3 yr old!"  — Alma, Georgia

'Ice Age 2,' 'Gremlins,' but not Darth Vader

"The flood in 'Ice Age 2 The Meltdown' had my 5 1/2 year old begging to leave the theater... 'Gremlins' actually scares both my boys, especially the 8 year old ! But not Darth Vader, who scared the heck out of me as a kid." — Kim, S.C.

I am your father ... you will love 'Star Wars'

'Ratatouille': Shoot those rats

"I asked a ToysRus employee what would be a good movie for my 3-yr-old. I told him that I didn't approve of guns and wanted something he could watch that did not contain ANY guns or violence. He recommended the Disney movie 'Ratatouille' to me. I brought it home and just to be sure, put it in while the kids were napping to check it out. Wham-bam first scene is of a grandmother-type woman pulling out a shotgun and shooting her whole house up trying to kill all of the rats!" — Sarah, Florida

'E.T.': Phone...aaaaaugh!

"I loved the movie 'E.T.' when I was a young child...  Because it was a great childhood memory of mine, I guess I assumed that my children would like the movie too. I was wrong... it terrified them! ... The very first scene that showed E.T.'s face put my kids WAY over the edge! They both jumped, started crying, and hid their faces in a blanket. I tried explaining to them that E.T. is 'nice' and 'cute' but had no luck at convincing them that he was anything other than a hideous monster from outer space!'" — Renee, Wisc.

'Coraline': Fake Mom needs a manicure

"The scene in 'Coraline' where the "Fake Mom" is chasing after Coraline and has extremely long nails, was way too much for my 7 year old. She hasn't watched the movie since." — Andrea, Utah

Murder in 'Mulan'

"There are several scenes in the cartoon 'Mulan' which were far too violent/disturbing for a child to see. I don't believe we should shelter our children as much as we should know what affects them; Disney should have known better. ... What Disney failed to recognize here was that Genghis Khan was a murderer of millions of people, and there are some subjects that shouldn't be taught to young children until they are old enough to understand."  — G., Calif.

'Lightning Thief': Not like the books

"I was seriously disappointed with the movie 'The Lightning Thief,' as my 10-year-old son was smitten with the series of books. We excitedly took him to see the movie, expecting a similar story of a 10-year-old who finds out he is the son of Poseidon. The opening scene was of a demonic teacher that flies down from the ceiling which is utterly terrifying (even for an adult)! ... The remainder of the movie was filled with nuances of drug abuse and inappropriate relationships by a 16-year-old boy and his friends. ... A very important lesson for me: Hollywood's version of a book is sadly, a very different interpretation."  — Casey, Tenn.

'Heidi': Even Shirley Temple movies can scare

"The 1937 movie, 'Heidi' starring Shirley Temple traumatized my daughter, Theresa when she was 4 years old. She trembled when Heidi's grumpy grandfather or Fräulein Rottenmeier, the mean and strict housekeeper were in the scenes! My daughter is now 20 years old and says it's one of the scariest movies ever!"  — Carol, Wash.

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