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10 Disney movies that are darker than you remember

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Ah, Disney. For nearly 100 years, they’ve been sheltering us from the horrors of the world with tales of princesses, singing animals and happy endings. No matter how bad things get, Disney is there to remind us it’s not all bad.

Or so we thought. It turns out Disney movies are full of dark and nasty stuff, the kind of nightmare fuel that not even a chirpy song about love and friendship can counteract. Prepare to have your childhood memories shattered…


The Lion King

How you remember it

A young lion flees the animal kingdom after his father is murdered by his uncle. He returns to free his friends and take his rightful place as feline monarch with the help of some kooky sidekicks, some happy music and a Yoda-like baboon.

What it’s actually like

Like all the bits you remember, except way more violent. The Lion King is basically a Tarantino movie with animals.

To kick things off, Scar kills Mufasa by digging his claws into his paws and throwing him off a cliff. If Mufasa survived the fall, he would have been crushed by a million hooves instead.

Simba is so traumatised by this event that he runs off, leaving his mother and friends to live under the Scar regime. It doesn’t look like a fun place to live, so we can assume that Simba’s mum and girlfriend live in misery while he’s gone.

The most brutal moment belongs to Simba, however. Thirsty for revenge, he throws his uncle off Pride Rock and lets a group of hyenas tear his uncle limb-from-limb. Cue happy song!


The Black Cauldron

How you remember it

That movie where Disney randomly went dark and intense, like a teenager who’s just discovered Marilyn Manson for the first time.

What it’s actually like

As you remember, except worse. The Black Cauldron was so dark that it received a *gasp* PG rating, the first Disney film to do so.

It’s not hard to see why, to be honest. The plot is more Evil Dead than Pocahontas, with a nasty fellow called The Horned King (who looks like a mix of Skeletor and Satan) planning to raise an army of the undead to take over the world. Only a chap called Taran can stop him.

It’s grim, but not as grim as it could have been. Apparently, Disney had to cut 10 minutes of footage to get it down to a PG, including one scene where a character’s throat is slit and another where someone’s flesh is dissolved from their bones.


Cinderella

How you remember it

A young woman sticks it to her evil stepmother and ugly sisters by bagging Prince Charming, with a little help from her fairy godmother.

What it’s actually like

The abuse poor Cinderella is subjected to pre-Prince Charming would have the authorities banging down the door faster than you can say ‘glass slipper’.

Cinderella is basically a slave after her father dies, forced into a life of servitude under the rule of a woman who has no qualms about beating her physically and mentally. If it was in the modern day, the evil stepmother’s actions would be headline news.

It clearly has an effect on Cinderella’s mental state too, as she spends most of her days talking to animals. Later, she hallucinates that a fairy godmother comes to help her prepare for a ball and, in a sure sign of madness, leaves the house wearing glass shoes. Luckily, it all works out in the end.


Beauty and the Beast

How you remember it

Love conquers all when a beautiful girl and a weird lion-bear hybrid transcend the boundaries of appearance and enter into a relationship. There’s talking furniture too!

What it’s actually like

While the moral of Beauty and the Beast is lovely, the Beast’s courtship of Belle is dodgy to say the least.

The two meet when Belle agrees to live there in exchange for her father’s freedom. Her father did nothing wrong, by the way; the Beast is just the kind of guy who likes to imprison people who enter his house indefinitely.

Although she agrees to live with the Beast and eventually falls in love, she’s a hostage by any definition and so their relationship is likely a result of Stockholm Syndrome.

It’s not like Belle is the only hostage Beast keeps either. His army of conscious cutlery and furniture are capable of thoughts and feelings, yet are forced into a life of servitude under a terrifying master. No matter how you look at it, the Beast is an evil dude.


The Hunchback of Notre Dame

How you remember it

A lovable hunchback saves Paris from an evil villain and gets the girl. There are some cool singing gargoyles too!

What it’s actually like

That’s more or less it, except it’s easy to forget just how evil Judge Claude Frollo is. He’s the kind of bloke whose actions would make the Joker wince and wonder if he’s taken it too far.

We don’t even know where to start with this guy. How about killing Quasimodo’s mum on screen? Or planning to drown Quasimodo until he’s caught in the act, then taking a leaf from the Disney Book of Bad Parenting and locking him in a tower?

Did we mention he hates gypsies too? Or that he lusts over Esmeralda, who is quite a lot younger than he is? Or that he burns down half of Paris, presumably killing thousands in the process?

Yeah, this guy is messed up.


Toy Story 3

How you remember it

A beautiful tale of nostalgia and growing up, a final farewell to a childhood we’ll never forget and lots and lots of tears. Oh, and Spanish Buzz Lightyear.

What it’s actually like

Toy Story 3 has one of the most dread-inducing scenes of all time, when it looks like our beloved toy friends – the ones some of us grew up – will face their demise in the fires of an incinerator.

The scene doesn’t let up until the last minute, with Buzz and Woody’s story seemingly about to end in the most intense and depressing way possible. Thankfully, everything turns out fine. For a minute, though, we were ready to go and live in a cave and cry forever.


The Black Hole

How you remember it

Disney’s big budget attempt to capitalise on the Star Wars craze that wasn’t quite as good, but isn’t that bad. It has cute robots in it.

What it’s actually like

We don’t know what was going through Disney’s head when they made The Black Hole, because it has more in common with Event Horizon than George Lucas’ saga.

Things start off innocently enough when the crew of a ship stumble across another ship at the edge of a black hole. When they board the ship, they find a single captain and a gang of robots.

The captain apparently told his human crew to go home. That’s not true, though: he killed them all and turned them into zombie robots instead. He then goes ahead and kills the main character (who is played by the same chap who played Norman Bates, because why not make the film even more scary?).

The crew eventually venture into the black hole, which turns out to be literal Hell. In short: don’t put this one on when you’re babysitting.


Wall-E

How you remember it

A cute little robot tidies up the Earth but discovers the universe with the help of his more advanced girlfriend. There’s no dialogue in the first half and it’s wonderful.

What it’s actually like

You probably remember Wall-E’s nightmarish vision of humanity’s future, but it doesn’t make it any less terrifying.

Humanity has completely trashed the earth and abandoned it. Everything we love, from historical monuments to the cities we live, has been left to rot.

Humanity miraculously escapes to space, where they exist as near-formless blobs capable only of eating and blobbing around in hovering chairs. When adversity strikes, humans are literally useless. It’s like Pixar tried to warn us about something.


Up

How you remember it

A grumpy old bloke and a boy scout go on holiday together, but not in a weird way. They look for Adventure Falls, where said old bloke and his wife (*cue tears*) wanted to visit, and meet a lovable dog and bird on the way.

What it’s actually like

The first half of Up is so good that it’s easy to forget that Carl gets his heart broken twice.

The second time is when he meets Charles Muntz, an explorer who happens to be Carl’s hero. He also turns out to be a complete psychopath.

Muntz will do anything to get his hands on Kevin the Bird, including trying to shoot Carl, enslaving an army of dogs to do his bidding and trying to murder an innocent child. He’s easily one of Disney’s most despicable villains.

Saddest of all, though, is the moment Carl realises the chap he and his late wife idolised their whole lives is evil incarnate. Poor guy :'(


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