‘Wild Things’ indeed
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Too creepy for kids?

‘Wild Things’ indeed
By Denise Martin, Patrick Kevin Day and Jevon Phillips, Times Staff Writers

There were only 10 lines of text in Maurice Sendak’s classic “Where the Wild Things Are” book, but it is still one of the most beloved children’s tales ever. There was, though, always a tinge of menace to the creatures that Max tamed by looking into their yellow eyes.

As imaginative kids, we didn’t need much to get the mind racing, but everything is hyped up when it hits the big screen. That was the case with “Wild Things” as the flicker of fear the monsters introduce in the book is brought to life. What follows are other kiddie adventures that left some of us scarred. (Matt Nettheim / Warner Bros.)
It’s fun and exciting when a portal to another world opens up and 11-year-old Coraline Jones finds her fun “other” mother and father give her the attention she craves. The only catch: She’s gotta sew big black buttons over her eyes. With needle and thread!

Certainly enough to give “Coraline’s” littlest viewers nightmares. (LAIKA Entertainment)
‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’
The hero of this stop-motion animated film? Only a skeleton who plots to abduct Santa Claus and wants Halloween to stage a hostile takeover of Christmas. And then things get weird -- and spooky -- when a boogeyman-like monster starts torturing the man in red. Oh, and there’s also a really cute dog named Zero, a dog that happens to be dead. (Disney Enterprises)
Oh you think Gizmo is cute and cuddly, but then you accidentally spill some water on him, or turn the light on, and boom! He’s spawned a bunch of slimy, cackling, murderous gargoyles that make you want to cry for mommy. (Warner Bros.)
Four words: “Night on Bald Mountain.” When we were little, we didn’t understand why we were being subjected to the arty kids’ movie “Fantasia,” which near its end, featured Modest Mussorgsky ‘s haunting score set to images of Chernabog and his dancing demons. Years later, we’re still disturbed. (Disney Enterprises)
‘Return to Oz’
What’s so scary? Headless queen, Wheelers

If you think you’re familiar enough with Oz thanks to the classic musical, beware this sequel drenched in hardcore ‘80s dread. This Disney production was intended for kids, but between the horrifying encounter with the headless queen and the threatened violence of the Wheelers, it ended up sending more kids to the therapist than the library. It should come as no surprise that the director, Walter Murch, had previously worked on such Francis Ford Coppola films as “The Godfather” and “Apocalypse Now.” The horror. (Disney)
E.T. went from wrinkled-looking hobbit to the equivalent of a walking stuffed animal. It was easy to fall for the Reese’s Pieces-loving alien who just wanted to phone home. Then came the discovery of the little guy’s sickly body by the river. And even that was not as horrifying as seeing him in the bathtub all white and dying. (Associated Press)
‘Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory’
Gene Wilder, start to finish, is more the mad hatter than chocolate factory tour guide. The worst was the psychedelic boat ride on the river of chocolate. Trippy and traumatizing. That worm on the man’s lip? Wonka’s scary lullaby? Are the fires of hell a glowing? Is the grizzly reaper mowing? Yes! The danger must be growing for the rowers keep on rowing, and they’re certainly not showing any signs that they are slowing! (Warner Bros.)
‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’
Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd) starts off modestly enough: an all-black ensemble including hat, cane, cape and shades. He carts around a boiling cauldron of Dip, a concoction that melts naughty cartoons away into a bloody red mess. (Remember the poor, whimpering toon shoe Doom used to demonstrate the Dip’s power? Awww.) But when Roger really ticks Doom, he starts screeching, those bulging bullet eyes pop out, and we still go running for the exit. (Touchstone Pictures)
‘The Dark Crystal’
What’s so scary? -- Skeksis

Muppet-man Jim Henson was mostly famous for singing frogs and joke-telling bears when he used his artistic clout to create this all-puppet fantasy film intended for kids. But anyone who went in expecting Muppet-style wackiness got a cold shock in the opening moments when the death of a puppet that resembled a past-its-prime chicken took this fantasy from harmless fun to a felt-covered phantasmagoria of childhood-scarring images. (Columbia TriStar Home Video / Amazon)
‘The Neverending Story’
The magical tale in the book of “The Neverending Story” and the fantastic creatures were a visual feast: luck dragons, rock biters and the ever-looming threat of The Nothing. But the Gmork, a ravenous wolf-like creature, was fearsome to all. (Warner Home Video / Amazon)
‘The Goonies’
One of the most beloved kids adventure movie ever made, “The Goonies” had lots of moments of suspense and action, but the appearance of Sloth, after building his menace for a few scenes, was a pretty shocking experience. (Handout photo / Lochte / AP)
‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’
What’s so scary? The Child Catcher

James Bond’s daddy Ian Fleming wrote the original novel this musical fantasy was based on, but noted childhood nightmare-inducer Roald Dahl worked on the screenplay, cutting the bouncy plot with an icy dread in the form of the Child Catcher. Classically trained dancer Robert Helpmann imbued this child-hating government employee with a sense of movement and a way with words -- “Lolli-pops, children!” -- that’s not easily forgotten. (MGM / UA)