“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (1937)
First Snow White gets lured into the woods by a huntsman who wants to kill her, but he shows mercy. However, the scary moments aren’t over as she walks through the terrifying forest, which becomes hostile towards her. Obviously, the whole Evil Queen thing is incredibly dark and sinister as well, as she tries to poison Snow White out of jealousy.
Well, Pinocchio’s punishment for being a bad boy is to be turned partially into a donkey, or a literal jackass. Also, his father got swallowed by a gigantic whale so Pinocchio goes to rescue him and also dives into Monstro’s mouth.
“Fantasia” sets itself apart from all other Disney movies as it mashes together animation and famous classical music. However, at one point, a demon named Chernabog sits on top of a mountain and sends ghosts and unearthly creatures to the village below. Horrifying.
We all know this tear-jerker scene, in which Bambi goes on a stroll with his mother when she senses a hunter nearby. Her instincts prove correct, and soon shots ring out, killing the mother and leaving Bambi to call out for his mom.
“Alice in Wonderland” (1951)
Many theorists have claimed that Alice’s journey to Wonderland actually represents a trip on acid, and many have theorized that the movie is about drugs. Whatever the truth is, all the characters she meets are downright dark and scary, especially the Queen of Hearts.
“Escape to Witch Mountain” (1975)
Two orphans who have psychic/telekinetic powers get chased by a millionaire, forcing them to go to Witch Mountain to find their “true” family. Scary stuff for young or sensitive kids. There’s even a flashback in which someone drowns.
“Return to Oz” (1985)
This film was actually criticized for being too dark and terrifying for children. The fantasy film has Dorothy getting electroshock therapy at the beginning, and the characters of the mental institution present themselves in the World of Oz. All in all, Dorothy explores some scary places.
“The Black Cauldron” (1985)
This movie became the first Disney animated film to receive a PG rating. An evil Horned King seeks to obtain a magical Black Cauldron in the hope to enslave the rest of the world — the King himself is a figure with a skeletal body, glowing red eyes and a terrifying voice.
“The Jungle Book” (1994)
This first attempt to bring a live action Mowgli to the screen featured Cary Elwes getting devoured by a giant python.
“The Lion King” (1994)
One of the most famous moments in Disney history is when Scar kills Mufasa while Simba is watching. The most heartbreaking moment, however, is when Simba gets to Mufasa’s lifeless body and starts tugging at his fur, only to start crying and cuddling up against the corpse of his dead father.
“The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1996)
Lots and lots of dark moments here: From a deformed boy being locked up in a cathedral, to being ridiculed in public, to the way gypsies are portrayed in the film, “The Hunchback” is one of Disney’s darker offerings. And Frollo’s thoughts about Esmeralda evoke Catholic guilt and he decides he would rather burn down Paris than let anyone else have her.
Filled with ancient monsters and the God of the Underworld, “Hercules” is another dark movie as the female lead, Meg, literally sells her soul to Hades and spends the rest of her life hating the concept of love.
“Finding Nemo” (2003)
Yes, “Finding Nemo” is on the list. At the start of the movie, an entire clown fish population is devoured by a vicious barracuda. During Marlin’s quest to find his son, Nemo (after he goes missing during a school day), he encounters dangerous-looking sea creatures and swims through shipwrecks and minefields.