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8 Movies That Aren’t Considered ‘Scary’ but Still Scare the Crap Out of Us

Photo Credit: Warner Bros. / MagisterYODA / MovieStillsDB and Walt Disney Pictures / Carlito / MovieStillsDB
Photo Credit: Warner Bros. / MagisterYODA / MovieStillsDB and Walt Disney Pictures / Carlito / MovieStillsDB

Placing films into their respective genres can sometimes be tricky. Many movies will be described as one thing but very much include other genres as well. In fact, there are plenty of movies out there that were never made to be horror films but are absolutely horror films. Here is a list of the ones that continue to haunt us to this day. Keep reading to see them all!

The Terminator (1984)

Arnold Schwarzenegger walking down a hallway as "The Terminator"
(Photo Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / spaniard / MovieStillsDB)

On paper, The Terminator is an action sci-fi film, but we are convinced it fits the horror genre as well. Sarah Connor (played by Linda Hamilton) was just a regular woman who ends up getting hunted by a futuristic robot assassin determined to kill her for a child she hasn’t even given birth to yet. That aside, being hunted down by someone as powerful-looking as Arnold Schwarzenegger is enough to give us the heebie-jeebies. 

Even just the idea of a futuristic world where humans become extinct at the figurative hands of an artificial intelligence character known as Skynet is enough to keep us up at night. While the film was originally released in 1984, with the rise of AI in today’s context, the plot of the film almost hits a little too close to home for our liking.

The NeverEnding Story (1984)

Atreyu and Falkor in "The Neverending Story"
(Photo Credit: Warner Bros. / Darcy / MovieStillsDB)

When we think back on The NeverEnding Story now, we are often stuck just humming the theme song in our heads. However, after sitting down and truly remembering the film, we realized it was actually super dark. A 10-year-old Atreyu (played by Noah Hathaway) is tasked with saving a crumbling fantasy world from disappearing into pure nothingness after the mass destruction of people’s hopes and dreams… talk about depressing!

But the one scene that really, really ruined our childhoods was the horse scene. Artax, Atreyu’s loyal steed and friend, gets swallowed alive by literal sadness in the form of a swamp. Atreyu fights to try and save Artax, crying his eyes out, and honestly, so were we. How this scene was allowed in a children’s film is beyond us.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)

Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka in "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory"
(Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures / MoviePics1001 / MovieStillsDB)

Now we all know Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is meant to teach children valuable lessons about behavior, greed, guilt, and more, but the way these lessons are taught is terrifying. Augustus Gloop almost drowns in chocolate, Violet Beauregard turns blue and blows up like a balloon, Veruca Salt disappears with all the other bad eggs, and Mike Tevee shrinks to a minuscule size.

And that’s not even mentioning the horrific boat ride that Willy Wonka takes them on during their tour. Not only has that scene haunted audiences for decades, but even the actors didn’t know what to expect (all but Gene Wilder). They had some idea of what the scene was going to entail, but as they acted it out, they watched in fear as their co-star believably went a bit insane, with the scared looks on their faces being genuine.

An honorary mention goes out to Arthur Slughorn too, who was just plain creepy.

The Wizard of Oz (1939)

The Wicked Witch of the West beside a flying monkey in "The Wizard of Oz"
(Photo Credit: Warner Bros. / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Timothy2 / MovieStillsDB)

While the The Wizard of Oz tells the story of a girl returning home to her family after a journey that teaches her important life lessons, the contrast of the bright, hopeful colors early in the film against the dark, dreary shades later on at the Witch’s castle make for a sweet movie turned horror film. Plus, a green lady with warts, long nails, and magical powers willing to take Dorothy out for some shoes is creepy in itself.

However, what really gets to us are the flying monkeys. The blue and red of their costumes make it clear that these guys are the Witch’s evil minions, but it’s the look on their faces that sends a shiver of fear down our backs. Dead eyes and permanently exaggerated smiles still haunt our nightmares.

Return to Oz (1985)

The cast in costume for "Return to Oz"
(Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures / Buena Vista Distribution / Carlito / MovieStillsDB)

Now this one might be the scariest of the bunch. We aren’t sure how Return to Oz can be classified as anything but a horror film. It opens with Dorothy, who is very much just a child, being admitted to an asylum for talking about Oz so much and getting set up for electroshock treatment. Escaping the asylum, she manages to make her way back to Oz, only to find that her friends have been turned to stone. 

But it is the new characters she comes across that are the really scary elements of this film. Princess Mombi has a room of cabinets filled with decapitated heads that she switches out with her own and threatens to take Dorothy’s head when she’s older. When Dorothy tries to quietly take something from the room, all the heads start screaming from their cabinets. This scene alone has scarred us for life.

Other notable terrifying mentions include the menacing Wheelers and the disturbing Gump.

The Dark Crystal (1982)

The puppets from "The Dark Crystal"
(Photo Credit: Universal Studios / MoviePics1001 / MovieStillsDB)

Now we know this film doesn’t involve any real actors, but that doesn’t make it any less scary. Jim Henson‘s Gelfling puppets are adorable, we must admit, but it’s the Skeksis puppets that really freak us out. With their bird-like bodies and faces, sharp teeth, and sagging skin, they are seriously unpleasant to look at. And not just them, there are plenty of other creepy looking characters throughout the film that, accompanied with the blue, purple, and brownish hues of the film, unsettle audiences.

Some of the most innocent-looking puppets in the film are the Podlings, and they were part of one of the scariest scenes of the entire film. The “mind-draining” scene shows one of the Podlings strapped to a chair, literally getting his brain power sucked out of him. The transition of the puppet from full-faced and bright-eyed to gaunt with white, empty eyes is enough to keep us up at night.

The Labyrinth (1986)

David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly in "The Labyrinth"
(Photo Credit: TriStar Pictures / Zayne / MovieStillsDB)

It seems Jim Henson was pretty good at scaring little kids. The Labyrinth starred equally as fantastical and scary puppets as The Dark Crystal, but they aren’t what gives us the creeps. The plot of the film is spooky in itself, centered around 16-year-old Sarah (played by Jennifer Connelly) accidentally wishing her baby brother to the Goblin King, Jareth (played by David Bowie).

Bowie’s performance as the Goblin King is both beautiful and haunting. He is clearly charming with excellent ballroom dance skills, but he is still the ruler of all the goblins, trying to keep her baby brother for himself. It’s clear that he has ulterior motives, with his friendliness masking his true hope that she will never solve the labyrinth he has set out for her. Also, we can’t be the only ones freaked out by the pseudo-romance between Sarah and Jareth, right?

The Brave Little Toaster (1987)

Promo poster for "The Brave Little Toaster"
(Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures / Hyperion Pictures / Sicoe_Vlad / MovieStillsDB)

Now this one might be up for debate, but we have good reason to get the creeps from The Brave Little Toaster. Yes, it is a cartoon movie, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be scary! In fact, there are multiple scenes that are absolutely terrifying. One of these is the clown scene, which saw Toaster having a nightmare about burning toast, being chased by an evil clown firefighter, and then falling to his death in a bathtub while still being plugged in. Super inappropriate for a children’s movie!

More from us: Roald Dahl Hated Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka

And that’s not even the worst of it. The compactor scene includes smashing cars into little cubes while the other cars sing about death on their way to be compacted themselves. The crane, with its evil-looking eyes, picks these cars up and drops them into the mouth of the sharp-toothed and menacing compactor. The whole thing still haunts us, and you cannot convince us this isn’t a horror film.

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Samantha Franco

Samantha Franco is a Freelance Content Writer who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Guelph, and her Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Western Ontario. Her research focused on Victorian, medical, and epidemiological history with a focus on childhood diseases. Stepping away from her academic career, Samantha previously worked as a Heritage Researcher and now writes content for multiple sites covering an array of historical topics.

In her spare time, Samantha enjoys reading, knitting, and hanging out with her dog, Chowder!