We at Hazy Dell Press have always been drawn to creepy things. Although our first three books (Monster ABC, Goodnight Krampus and Get Dressed, Sasquatch!) aren’t creepy at all, our stories include elements and characters that can be and have been repurposed in scarier formats. As we’ve mentioned before, our goal isn’t to scare anyone—it’s to playfully recast the monsters of our youth in humorous, friendly contexts.
To honor the movies that inspired our love for the eerie and off-kilter, we present this series of blog posts sharing our top 10 “creepy” movies for kids. Creepiness is like a spice, and far too many movies overwhelm their sauce with overwhelming and unearned jump scares and gratuitous gore. On the other (disembodied) hand, the movies in our list earn their weirdness through character development, setting, cinematography and all the other elements that must fall into place for a movie to be enjoyable and rewatchable. This alchemy is hard enough to get right for adult movies, and it’s even harder to get right for stories intended for children.
All of this is subjective of course, and, depending on tolerance and taste, some children may find some of these titles too scary to handle. So please use discretion if sharing with young ones. For our money, though, these movies are perfect for children who enjoy being creeped out, as they more than earn their creepy stripes through expert storytelling, mood-setting and imaginative prowess.
10. The Brave Little Toaster (1987)
The first movie on our list was never marketed as a creepy movie, nor is it primarily remembered as one. However, there is no question that The Brave Little Toaster is one of the eeriest Disney movies ever made.
Like the Toy Story films, this movie features a cast of inanimate household objects (in this case, appliances and electronics) that come alive when humans aren’t around. They, like the Toy Story toys, base their emotional lives around the love of their human overlords who don’t know they’re alive. While Toy Story for the most apart avoids exploring the creepier possibilities of sentient inanimate objects, TBLT marinates in the eerie melancholy of this arrangement.
At various points, appliances in TBLT die, they have mental health breakdowns, they have portentous encounters with dying flowers, and they have terrifying nightmares. The latter scene, Toaster's nightmare, features an evil clown firefighter, and may be the most unsettling scene ever featured in a Disney movie.
The similar premises of TBLT and Toy Story isn’t a coincidence—TBLT is the first computer-animated picture that John Lasseter pitched to Disney. While the studio balked on financing it as a major feature release, let alone its first computer-animated film, they set it up as a scrappy independent production. While this meant it wouldn’t receive the full backing and resources of the studio (the animation isn’t great), it also meant the filmmakers would be able to take risks and explore potentially off-putting psychological depths that mainstream Disney movies tend to avoid.
Both TBLT and the Toy Story films skillfully imbue these inanimate objects with deep longing and pathos. While not necessarily a better movie than any of the Toy Story installments, TBTL is unique in that it doesn’t shy away from the dark nuances of these strange and lonely lives.
Stay tuned for the remaining installments in our series on the best creepy movies for kids.