I'd like to take the topic off of stultifyingly terrible movies for just a moment, and concentrate on what instead are some of my all time favorite movie scenes. These being, truly and utterly horrifying scenes in what are otherwise pleasant, family approved films. So without further ado, here are what I consider the six most frightening of them.
#6 - Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: "The Child Catcher"
In this film, Dick Van Dyke plays an eccentric inventor in early 20th century england named Caractacus Potts, who invents a flying car that his family name Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, then, from what I can discern, some craziness ensues. Now, considering that the screenplay for this movie was written by the guy who wrote Willy Wonka and James and the Giant Peach and was adapted from a novel by the guy who invented James Bond, there's bound to be some pretty crazy shit in it. And, sure enough, here's the Child Catcher. A sinister mad man who kidnaps children so that he can, I assume, bring them into his lair, ripped them to pieces while they're still alive and feast on their raw flesh.
#5 - The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T: "The Singing Elevator Dungeon Master"
This is the only live action film to ever be written by Theodor Geisel (aka: Dr. Seuss), and as a result it's also quite bizarre. The production design is amazing, and there's a lot of great imagery, an example being two old men on roller skates connected by a single beard. The most frightening image though, is the hooded elevator operator/dungeon master who sings of the horrible torture devices as poor unfortunate souls descend into the deepest depths of Dr. T's dungeon. Truly the stuff of nightmares.
#4 - The Wizard of Oz: "The Flying Monkeys"
There are few other movie scenes that have scared as many children as the attack of the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz. Just look at them swarming like the dark messengers of death.
#3 - Return to Oz: "The Wheelers"
And from the Wizard of Oz's sort of sequel we have our next entry. Honestly, I'm kind of cheating here, because there's very little in this film which isn't scary. From the moaning heard in the insane asylum where Dorothy is brought at the beginning to the Witch Queen and her hall of screaming heads, this movie is right up there with The Exorcist and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Still, it's supposed to be a family picture, so I think this entry counts. And the wheelers are pretty fucking frightening.
#2 - Darby O'Gill and the Little People: "The Banshee"
This is a Disney film full of leprechauns, pots o' gold, and other fanciful Irish mythology. It also stars Sean Connery, which I figure just meant that the producers assumed that Americans wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a Scottish and an Irish accent. The real star of this film though, is the shrieking banshee.
(Start watching at 9:40 in)
#1 - Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: "The Boat Ride into Hell"
And my personal favorite, Willy Wonka's psychedelic boat ride! Is the grisly reaper mowing?