Nightmare Fuel: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a novel that has delighted and terrified readers for fifty years as of 2014. Between Roald Dahl's love for Black Comedy, the surrealism of the film adaptations, and the darker twists placed on the bad kids' fates in the 2013 stage musical, nightmare fuel is nigh inevitable in any telling of this story...if it's being told right!


  • The original draft of the book was much more violent, with children being burned to death FROM THE INSIDE OUT, ground to powder while screaming in agony, drowning, cut to ribbons, crushed, etc. In fact, Violet seemed to be the only survivor along with Charlie.
  • The possible fates of the naughty children and Wonka's cavalier attitude towards them (e.g. when Veruca falls down the garbage chute, he glibly points out that the incinerator is only turned on every other day). Rule of Funny allows these to be Amusing Injuries rather than horrific accidents and the children ultimately end up (mostly) unharmed, however, the whole situation seems to be rather macabre.
    • Especially frightening if you're claustrophobic, and don't know that the kids survive their punishments. This makes Augustus Gloop's and Veruca's dooms way scarier.
  • Veruca's scene is particularly nightmare-inducing if one thinks the scene over. She is forcibly held down (by squirrels), for quite some time, touched on shoulder and face while helpless, has her head patted to determine whether she is "good" (possibly with the knowledge that if yes, the squirels will attempt to crack her head), and then thrown down the chute. Does This Remind You of Anything? Little wonder that some adaptations change this — in '71 she simply stands on the chute door, and the 2013 stage musical has her confront giant squirrels (with Oompa-Loompa riders) who more drive, rather than carry, her to the chute after one small one manages to "test" her. As written, this is the only demise with such aggressive subtext.
    • It gets worse in the 2010 opera, which returns to the book's description but has human-sized squirrels played by the women of the chorus; one even temporarily gags her with a paw so she can be tested. If there were any men in that group, the Unfortunate Implications of an angry mob pawing and subduing her would shoot through the roof!

1971 film:

Has its own page!

2005 film:

  • The opening sequence of the factory's production line is oddly eerie, and the music downright sinister. The film is darker than the 1971 version, but it isn't a damn horror flick!
  • Johnny Depp's portrayal of Wonka as a reclusive, downright creepy Mad Scientist. Depp says it was partially inspired by the eccentric, unsettling nature of many a children's TV presenter; he wondered what it would be like if someone had those mannerisms all the time.
  • The puppets burning and melting before the kids enter the factory, not helped at all by the slowed-down soundtrack. The whole factory has horrific undertones in this version, really.
  • The fact that Wonka was very calm about all the other kids' trials, BUT NOT VIOLET'S. The fact that Willy Wonka was running and hiding for cover made it horrifying (plus all the build-up and new graphics that made it look insanely real), he even begged for Violet to stop chewing the gum- "Hah hah, yeah! Spit it out."
  • The squirrel scene.
  • Christopher Lee as a dentist.
  • Violet Beauregard being all floppy and boneless as they leave the factory is straight out of The Exorcist. Shiver.
    • Alternatively, it's Nightmare Retardant: the other kids just got humiliated, she got Rubber Man powers(and blue/purple skin).
    • Also, Violet's blueberry transformation was even bigger and more frightening than in the '71 version. And the Mike Teevee musical sequence (Shout-Out to Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" and all) is downright wild.
  • The running flashbacks to Willy Wonka's childhood, especially where his old house is concerned.
  • Violet's mother, especially during the press conference. Her wide, unblinking, permanent smile combined with her pink sports suit, blonde hair and excessive make up crosses into Uncanny Valley territory with how much she looks like a psycho Barbie doll.

2013 Stage Musical

  • Willy Wonka's "I Am" Song "Simply Second Nature" is one of the most touching songs in the show — in part because it invokes this trope in a few stray lines: "And though some nights I dread/All the voices in my head/I'd rather be this way than be a bore!" On the Original London Cast Recording, the second line isn't sung, but spoken in a broken voice. Others wonder about Mr. Wonka's sanity in all versions, but this Wonka is the only one who poses that question to himself. Cold and uncaring as he can be at times, he is self-aware of his extreme eccentricity and realizes that his incredible imagination and creative drive, which have brought so much happiness to others and himself, might in fact be a side effect of madness, and even if it isn't he suffers mental torment...It's a heartbreaking and frightening situation. (sniff)
  • With regards to the fates of Augustus, Violet, Veruca and her dad, four little words...potential Death by Adaptation. Hope you love Black Comedy, kids!
    • Especially how eager the Oompa-Loompas are to eat the "candied pork" that Augustus Gloop will be turned into!