"Where the Wild Things Are" isn’t the only movie adaptation of a popular children’s book that has provoked shrieks of fright rather than squeals of delight from young moviegoers.
Here are some kids movies that turned out darker than their source material.
"The Black Cauldron" (Walt Disney, 1985): Based on Lloyd Alexander’s “Chronicles of Prydain” trilogy, this Disney animated feature was so violent that the studio was forced to make cuts to keep it from being branded with an R rating. The box-office bomb told the rather bleak story of a peasant boy’s efforts to prevent an evil king from releasing an army of undead warriors. "Beauty and the Beast," it ain’t.
"Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" (Warner Bros., 1971): Sure, the Oompa-Loompas looked cute, but remember that trippy boat trip down the chocolate river and Gene Wilder’s creepy incantations? And let’s not forget Tim Burton’s 2005 reprise.
"Old Yeller" (Walt Disney, 1957): The popular children’s book by Fred Gipson packs an emotional wallop when transferred to celluloid. Watching “man’s best friend” get euthanized after a losing battle with rabies leaves some scars.
"The Witches" (Warner Bros., 1990): This Anjelica Huston starrer kicks off with the death of the child protagonist’s parents and closes with some of the scariest puppets Jim Henson ever created. Funnily enough, the book’s author, Roald Dahl, thought the movie’s ending was too happy.
"The Secret of NIMH" (MGM/UA, 1982): The film’s climax centers on a violent palace coup and the destruction of the rat heroes’ utopian community, and two of its more endearing characters meet violent ends. Here, Robert C. O’Brien’s book itself was plenty dark, too. Disney took a pass on it because they felt it wasn’t family-friendly enough.
"The Wizard of Oz" (MGM, 1939): The songs may be sugary sweet, but those flying monkeys and Margaret Hamilton’s cackles as the Wicked Witch of the West are the stuff of nightmares.