- The concept of a game that makes everything the cards, etc. say happen to the player—from crazy hunters to violent animals—and the fact that you have to finish the game to escape, or potentially be stuck in that nightmare forever. Made worse by the fact that at the end of at least the picture book, two kids who had been stated earlier to never finish games find the game...
- There was a real board game made some time after the movie. It seems to take place in the nether-realm of Jumanji itself, and loves to find new and terrible ways to murder the players (such as spontaneous vaporization, encounters with venomous snakes and spiders, and running afoul of Van Pelt). The kicker: under certain conditions, cards are placed on the spaces marked on one side of the board. The final space contains a carnivorous plant.
- Evidently, the whole damn point of the game.
- The opening of the film, with the two kids who had played the game before burying it. Most notable is one of the kids falls into the hole they're digging and screams that the game "is after him" when the drums start beating louder, and then when the deed is done the kid asks the other about the possibility of someone else digging it up. The reply? "May God have mercy on his soul." Said with a thunder-clap.
- Alan getting sucked into the game.
- This exchange before it, when Alan accidentally drops the dice, is very creepy.
Alan: Oh no... the game thinks I rolled.
Sarah: ...What do you mean "the game thinks"?
- This exchange before it, when Alan accidentally drops the dice, is very creepy.
- Alan's monologue after Peter tries reverse psychology to get him to play: "There are things that hunt you, in the night. Then something screams. And you hear them eat. And you hope to God that you're not dessert. Afraid? You don't even know what afraid is."
- The ominous thumping noise of drums that comes from the game when it's buried.
- Those mosquitoes...
- Their effect on people. We see one of their victims, the realtor who sold Alan's house. She seems catatonic and according to a paramedic, she is suffering symptoms that resemble a heart attack. Think of how much blood a mosquito that size would be able to draw.
- Not to mention the diseases they could carry. At the very least it was known then that mosquitoes carried malaria.
- Their size is mentioned in the Junior Novel: "Mosquitos the size of pigeons. With stingers like knives."
- That giant yellow plant that tried to eat Peter.
- The innocuous purple flower that shoots a barb into Judy's neck. It's so pretty and small, and it actually kills her. Worse still is Judy's death, as she collapses and spends several seconds convulsing on the ground as the poison kills her, before falling still.
- The lion's entrance. Peter senses someone...or someTHING... in the room with the two. Then, the lion's massive paws menacingly step on the keys of a piano...
- Jumanji's animals are all nightmarish versions of real world creatures; it's a little hard to explain, but something just looks... off about the lion's face. They don't get that big, either; Jumanji's lion was about twice the size of a real adult lion.
- Van. Pelt. Imagine it: a very good marksman who is interested in hunting you in particular. Let your guard down for even one moment, and you die. Alan has lived through that. He should be the one in therapy.
- A little extra: Van Pelt is described as a hunter from the darkest wild, who'll make you feel just like a child. Who rolls the dice and thus the sole target of Van Pelt? Alan. Who makes Alan feel like a child the most? His dad. And Van Pelt looks just like Alan's dad. What if that's the way it works for everyone? With the game's own form of reality, what if when someone gets the The Hunter, Van Pelt looks like whoever makes the person feel weak, scared, and helpless. A brother or sister? A parent, like Alan? A spouse? An abuser? One's own child? Brr...
- Van Pelt didn't just make Alan feel like a child. He was possibly hunting Alan SINCE Alan was a child. And who knows if Van Pelt ages? He could maintain that level of skill in hunting over the years, against an aging prey.
- Also the fact that said hunter is indestructible. He did have a shelf of large paint tins fall on him and lived after all.
- The junior novel makes it even more ominous: "As he [Bentley] drove out of the store, a hand reached out from the pile of paint cans. Slowly Van Pelt clawed his way out. He was dazed and half-conscious. And he was very, very angry."
- Maybe the true source of the threat of Van Pelt is that he's not merely a living human being at all, but a robot or fantasy concept powered by magic; he's unstoppable because nothing like him is known to the real world.
- Van Pelt's entrance is an Establishing Character Moment for Hunting the Most Dangerous Game. The first thing that enters the scene isn't the man himself, but one of his bullets: he's trying to kill Alan before he even comes on-screen for the first time!
Van Pelt: You miserable coward! Come back here and face me like a man!
- If you have arachnophobia, spiders the size of medium sized dogs will send you over the edge. The fact that they're rather pathetic puppets helps surprisingly little.
- All of the discord and turmoil that the whole city goes through, just because of one roll of the dice sealing up Alan! By all accounts, that one factory was the major source of income in the whole town, and once his father went off the deep end and let it go under, the town's economy collapsed.
- Nearly all of the animals unleashed by the game are darker, scarier versions of real life creatures. Mosquitos are enormous and their bite make you ill very quickly. Monkeys are deliberately malicious and dangerous, throwing knives at people. Lions are larger and fiercer than in reality. Even the plants try to shoot venomous barbs at you on purpose. Only the herbivores like the elephants and rhinos seemed less destructive, though just like their real life counterparts they can be aggressive and extremely dangerous; for example, Elephants and Hippos kill more people in Africa than lions and crocodiles.
- In the animal stampede through the city, some of the elephants take their sweet time in crushing the car that Peter takes shelter in.
- A pelican was purposely trying to stop Alan from finishing the game, and it looked like it was ready to bite off Alan's hand.
- Peter turning into a monkey, which may seem a little funny—the riddle implied he was becoming more wild than any of the vicious monkeys we saw.
- There are those who think the face Van Pelt makes when we last see him is hilarious. To others, it's a final bit of Nightmare Fuel that the darn game couldn't resist.
- Just imagine what poor Sarah went through. Seeing her friend get sucked into a board game, being chased by a swarm of bats, and being bounced around from therapist to therapist who kept telling her she made it all up, and the whole town treats her as an outcast well into her adulthood. Is it any wonder she tried to get the hell out of dodge when Judy and Peter pulled out the game? It ruined her whole life.
- A bit of Fridge Horror: She spent 2000 hours in therapy, trying to convince herself that what she saw wasn't real, it was only her mind dealing with the trauma. What trauma? Seeing Alan murdered and chopped up by his father! She and her therapist spent 26 years trying to convince her that she had seen something even more horrifying than what she actually saw!
- Thoroughly lampshaded by Roger Ebert in his review of the film with Gene Siskel, who found the amount of Nightmare Fuel in this to be so much he feared for any kids who might've gone to see it.
- In the junior novel's prologue, we have this line:
"And no one, not a single soul, has ever played it twice."
- When Alan is being sucked into the game and therefore Jumanji itself, he desperately calls out for Sarah to roll the dice on the chance that she will roll a five or an eight and immediately set him free. Instead, she runs away when a group of bats envelope her, and Alan is then trapped in Jumanji for twenty six years.
Alan: "Roooooll the Diiiiice!!!"
The Cartoon Series
- The Stalker (see above). A demonic Grim Reaper-like figure, implied to be at least the avatar for whatever sentience controls Jumanji (expanded material explicitly describes him as both Jumanji's protector and a "Game Over" demon). In the episode "No Dice", he wants those dice and is a total Implacable Man. He continues to follow Alan, wanting to kill him and restore the game, chasing him deep into the clockwork that makes up the game.
- His first appearance in the episode "No Dice" has him riding out of a tunnel with a fiery light behind him. It makes it look like he's coming out of hell.
- In addition to being technologically adept like the other villains, the Stalker also has supernatural powers. In addition to a form of in-game invulnerability (like Van Pelt below), the Stalker is implied to have a Touch of Death. When he encounters Van Pelt he's holding the (now dead) jaguar that Van Pelt was hunting. After he grabs Peter's foot and Peter slips out of the shoe the Stalker grabbed, the shoe melts in the Stalker's grip.
- The Stalker appears in several other episodes as well. He doesn't get any less scary. Not at all. The scariest part about the Stalker is that everything else in the game is terrified of him (a Manji warrior ran away screaming as soon as he saw the Stalker). When he recruits other villains, they are flat-out horrified that he showed up, including Van Pelt and Professor Ibsen. Also, he's able to make those villains, who do not like each other and have worked against each other in the past, team up.
- While the Fridge and Headscratchers pages argue that in the movie, Jumanji actually bends the rules to avoid killing its players and giving them a chance, that is explicitly not the case here. The very first episode has Alan explain that most of his toys are the only things left of other kids who found the game and rolled the dice.
Van Pelt: Jumanji IS NOT A GAME!
- Van Pelt is explicitly an Axe-Crazy psycho in this depiction, who lives to kill anything he can find. In one episode, the kids have to sneak around in his house to steal his hat and accidentally wake him up while he's sleeping. They initially send him back to sleep by claiming to be the maid, but then he bolts upright and reminds himself that he shot the maid yesterday.
- In episode 4, right before aunt Nora escapes from Van Pelt you can see heads of children mounted on his wall. He later tried to do the same to Nora and the kids.
- The reveal that the game requires that there must always be a Hunter, so if you kill Van Pelt, you immediately take his place. Which means that Van Pelt might not be the first, but may just be an unlucky previous player.
- Worse in that the above nearly happens to Peter, before Alan and Judy figure a way to bring Van Pelt back.
- Professor Ibsen is an exceptionally terrifying case of a mad scientist since he creates all sorts of deadly creatures for Jumanji simply because the game tells him to and that he sees himself as above any responsibility his creations do when killing the players. In his first appearance, he uses a laptop taken from the real world to take over the world of Jumanji and essentially declare himself "Jumanji" (effectively God). He becomes more vengeful and dangerous after the kids foil his plans.
- In Episode 7 of Season 2, he captured and replaced Alan with a robot duplicate and did the same with Peter. He planned to send his robot version of Peter into the real world to lure more children into Jumanji to provide the jungle with more victims. Meanwhile, Ibsen would repopulate the real world with more of his automatons until eventually he would replace everyone and basically kill off all the real people in favor of his automatons. He says all this with a giddy glee.
- Even the opening itself is quite creepy, showing several animals with huge sharp teeth and empty blank eyes, many of which roar or even downright jump at the screen, all set to dark backgrounds and omnious music. Heck, even the antelope looks like it's about to eat you !
- The scary theme that plays every time the protagonist are trying to survive in Jumanji is hauntingly ominous. Especially when you consider it is the same theme that played in Courage the Cowardly Dog when King Ramses first appeared.