Walt Disney's Scary Side

With Halloween nearly here, store shelves and TV lineups are stacked with gore-gushing epics of terror -- Saw, Halloween, The Exorcist, etc. But for a truly sleep-disturbing, check-in-the-closet fright, Disney does (or at least did) it best. Remember the chilling classics of our childhoods (well, childhood for some of us)? With plots that read like a primetime news reel -- kidnapped children, murderous stepmothers ...

Whatever was on Walt's mind then, it must have been something dark -- very dark.

Something Wicked This Way Comes


Ray Bradbury and a bucket of popcorn do not equal a good night's sleep at any age ...

In this sinister tale, a traveling carnival preys on the vanity and misery of small town folk, enticing them to ride on an age-reversing carousel so they can join the carnie freaks -- forever.

Scary stuff: The Dust Witch uses devilish sorcery to slow the beating of janitor Charles Halloway's heart until it nearly stops.

Child of Glass

Alexander and his family move into an old Louisiana mansion where the spirit of little Creole girl Inez haunts him until he finds the mysterious "child of glass" that will break the curse that dooms her to roam the plantation for eternity.

Scary stuff: In a nightmarish flashback montage, a greedy riverboat captain murders Inez and damns her to an afterlife without her parents.

The Rescuers

Yet another tale of blood diamonds and illegal child labor. The Rescue Aid Society (mice that sound like Eva Gabor and Bob Newhart) attempts to free Penny, an orphan kidnapped and forced to mine jewels.

Scary stuff: "Auntie" Medusa kicks the tearful waif into a bucket, steals her Teddy, drops her into a cave, and won't let her up -- even when the tide rises and she's nearly drowned -- without the Devil's Eye diamond.

Dumbo's Pink Elephant Parade

Dumbo and Timothy Mouse get drunk (or more likely get into some bad -- or very good -- LSD) and have psychedelic visions of evil-eyed pink elephants parading.

Scary stuff: Look deep into the black, empty eye sockets and souls of these pink pachyderms, and shudder.

Darby O'Gill and the Little People

Who knew 007 could sing? A wily leprechaun king battles wits with wily Irishman Darby O'Gill. Meanwhile, Sean Connery woos his daughter Katie with song.

Scary stuff: Magical shenanigans turn into supernatural specters when a wailing banshee summons a flying death coach to claim Katie's body and soul.

Escape to Witch Mountain

Paranormally powered alien teen siblings Tony and Tia flee from those who want to exploit their gifts.

Scary stuff: Eerie memories of the children thrashing about in a churning ocean at night. A harmonica tune that turns a coat, hat and broom into a ghoulish goon that attacks a terrified sheriff.
New and improved: Disney's recent remake, starring The Rock -- Race to Witch Mountain.

Snow White

A vain Queen orders a hit on her young stepdaughter Snow White with the mercilessness of a drug lord. Take her into the woods, cut out her heart and bring it back to me. Fortunately the huntsman fakes her death and she assumes a new identity as dwarf homemaker.

Scary stuff: The queen morphs from conniving cougar to mad, wart-nosed hag. (An equally chilling makeover -- Sleeping Beauty's Maleficent going from irate witch to flame-breathing dragon.)

Is it all coming back to you now? Got goosebumps? Well Disney certainly doesn't make them quite like it used to. A bit unsettling to a child's mind, perhaps, but lifetime film favorites nonetheless.