All Dogs Go to Heaven undoubtedly has to be Don Bluth's darkest film. It has relatively small "kid-friendly" scenes in between the controversial themes of gambling, first degree murder, theft, drinking, terrifying images of Hell and Satan, and the real clincher, killing the main protagonist at the end, which is unheard of in Western animation for children.
It doesn't really help that the movie is set in a time of racism and the one everyone is out to get happens to be a Native American...yeah let that sink in for a moment.
Anastasia is another one of Don Bluth's darkest and best films. There are moments of death, extreme violence, dark peril, Stuff Blowing Up very realistically, ghostly spirits and corpses, not to mention the death of Rasputin, involving him melting into a skeleton that crumbles into dust.
Speaking of Rasputin, do we have to mention that he literally sold his soul to kill Anastasia's family?
The 2007 animated film El Arca is a Spanish film. Which is a very loose animated film based on Noah's Arc. The film mostly focused on the animals on Noah's Arc. The film contained a sex scene, a strip club at the beginning. A big breasted panther named Panthy. And a fight scene which at one point shown blood. This film was a kid's film.
Where to begin with Fantastic Mr. Fox? Let's start with the fact that they manage to get away with saying "fuck" by simply exchanging it with "cuss" ("The cuss you are", "Clustercuss", "Scared the cuss out of me"). From there, it just gets better. Mr. Fox is a thief; the farmers want to kill Mr. Fox using switchblades and guns (which leads to Mr. Fox having his tail shot off), eventually leading to using excavators and explosives; there's incessant smoking from Mr. Bean, who makes alcoholic cider (and eventually goes batshit crazy); there are multiple injuries sustained by characters varying from scars to burns; Rat is electrocuted and killed by Mr. Fox; and the ending is of the bittersweet variety in which the animals homes have been destroyed and they now live in the sewers, even though they have a food supply that could last them for decades.
Frankenweenie, an Animated Adaptation of a short film that Tim Burton made back in the mid-80's, has some very horrifying, violent, and disturbing scenes. Yes, that is expected in a Tim Burton movie, but none of his other animated films are anywhere near as violent as this one (except for 9). And it got a PG rating from the MPAA, and is being marketed toward kids at Subway through mainly making it about A boy and his undead dog.
Frozen is a tale about a pair of orphaned sisters inheriting a kingdom, the oldest of which has ice powers which grow more and more out of control as her stress builds and deconstructs Disney's ideas about Love at First Sight and the One True Love by turning the "Prince Charming" into one of the most practical and sociopathic villains a Disney movie has ever seen.
The Land Before Time. You've got Littlefoot's mom getting a chunk of flesh bitten off of her by Sharptooth (it would've been more frightening without the Shadow Discretion Shot), the mega-quake that split Pangaea, and at one point, the heroes get stuck in a tar pit!
The Last Unicorn: Not only graphically adult content (such as a triple breasted harpy), but the emotional themes go way beyond a children's film.
Even though this is labelled as a kids film, Vitruvius is killed in cold blood by Lord Business by being decapitated made even worse by the fact that it comes as a complete shock to virtually everyone involved. Cue another Psychotic Smirk from Lord Business. Let's not also forget he planned on self-destructing the Think Tank with all the Master Builders in it whilst rubbing the apocalypse in Emmet's face before he went down with the others.
Mumfie's Quest was aimed at children ages 2-7, but it has a whale who's an ocean liner not getting any passengers on board because his slogan was misinterpreted for something sexual, an island that's been turned into a prison where a baby pig's mother is trapped and the main character himself gets trapped in, and The Secretary of Night, a scary antagonist who would scare a lot of kids in the target audience (which he did, according to people who watched this movie as kids).
Speaking of Mumfie, one of the original Katharine Tozer novels on which the series and movie were based on was about Mumfie in World War II. In said book, the child-aged Mumfie steals a pipe cigar from Winston Churchhill for Scarecrow (The show this movie later spawned even does a Continuity Nod to this in The Music Of Spring where Scarecrow's pipe flute looks like a pipe cigar-no wonder Britt Allcroft pulled it from circulation!), multiple ways of torturing prisoners are mentioned, Mumfie and Scarecrow use various ways to torture Hitler including puppets, a young girl telling Mumfie and Scarecrow to lock up a man and have him taken away and Jelly telling Hitler "Shut up!" and shoving a rag into his mouth. Wow, what a great novel for the youngins!
Not only that, in the earlier book "Here Comes Mumfie", Mumfie says whilst in a child's stocking "I is suffocating!", which may make some children concerned into thinking that Mumfie would die, considering the circumstances. Also, in "The Wanderings of Mumfie", Scarecrow is ruder than he is in Magic Adventures of Mumfie and an illustration has a train car with "SMOKING" printed on the window, meaning that Mumfie sat in the smoking section.
My Little Pony Equestria Girls is all cute and innocent like most episodes of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, but with teenage girls instead of ponies, but during the last 15 minutes, some scary things happen: Sunset Shimmer threatens to destroy the portal with a hammer, and then manages to get Twilight's crown, transforming her into a demon. She then turns Snips and Snails into demons, hypnotizes students at the school so she can take over Equestria, and tries to kill Twilight Sparkle with a fireball. Then again, some episodes from My Little Pony have been really dark, like A Canterlot Wedding.
One of the biggest reasons Roger Ebert loathed North was for featuring jokes that were completely inappropriate for young audiences, such as the governor of Hawaii joking about his wife being barren while she's standing right next to him.
This was a contributory factor to the American release of Robotech: The Movie not going any further than it did; midway through the film, a rape comes close to being depicted (to say nothing about the violence also present in the source material).
Rover Dangerfield was Rodney Dangerfield's attempt at making a movie for kids. It had Las Vegas showgirls, drug-dealing mobsters, and a comic relief character's onscreen death, for which the title character is framed and nearly shot.
The Secret Of NIMH. That film is scary no matter what age you are, but it's still marketed toward kids. It's been pretty amusing seeing cheap reprints of the DVD with nothing but cute and cuddly box art.
The original Toy Story got this reaction when we get to meet Sid, who tortures and mutilates toys, though that's nothing compared to Toy Story 3. Much of the humor is over young heads, and a lot of kids get frightened and often even leaving during the Monkey Scene (A few theorized the 11-year Sequel Gap helped Pixar aim for a Darker and Edgier route).
"WHERE'S YOUR KID NOW, SHERIFF?" These five words start up the scariest and most horrific scene in the film, the incinerator scene.
According to Word of God, Ralph Bakshi said that in an interview he had kids in mind when making the film Wizards; the film itself contains a lot of family unfriendly content such as swearing, graphic violence, innuendo, and partial nudity. The German version of the film has a 16+ rating.
This trope is likely to be invoked (usually by Media Watchdogs, Moral Guardians or both; some of the latter likely including "concerned parents", but also some regular viewers as well) anytime an animated movie is given anything other than a G rating (since live-action movies are more ambiguous in this respect). It has also been known to be invoked in G-rated movies as well (such as the The Secret Of NIMH).
Films — Live-Action
Remember the joy of watching Back to the Future when you were a kid? Remember the scene where the second lead is gunned down by Libyan terrorists? They sure don't make 'em like they used to. On the other hand, when Marty found himself in 1955, he made it a point to try and save Doc from his future fate... and succeeds; it was more of an extremely delayed Disney Death. There's also Marty's plan to get George and Lorraine together at the dance involved him faking a rape attempt on his own mother, which was then broken up by a real rape attempt from Biff.
"If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits 88 miles per hour, you're gonna see some serious shit!"
As such, it was refreshing to see that line appear in the Telltale video game intact.
The first sequel isn't much better, starting with a Groin Attack on Marty Junior. Of course, the cherry on top is the alternate 1985 where Biff is a Corrupt Corporate Executive who murdered George in cold blood, forced Lorraine into marriage and breast implants, sits in a jacuzzi with naked women, and has turned Hill Valley into a hellhole.
Part III has Buford hanging Marty, threatening Clara with rape, and attempting a slow death by bullet on Doc. Plus there's Doc's (implied) one night stand with Clara.
Amusingly, this trope was why Disney turned down the first film, as they thought it was too raunchy for them, whereas other studios thought it wasn't raunchy enough (this was the era of teen sex comedies such as Porky's and Revenge of the Nerds)
Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, the Darker and Edgier sequel to Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure. Take a lighthearted, family-friendly Totally Radical comedy and add lots of terror along with a Played for Laughs—yet still effectively morbid—Disney Death plotline, heavily ramped up profanity, sexual dialogue and incest references, and quite a few instances of Ho Yay as well, and you've got something that probably didn't sit nearly as well with the original film's target audience.
Camp Nowhere had talk of the titular camp being a former hippie commune, complete with a laughing mention of all that it entailed. The movie also had kids cursing, buying beer with an adult's help, lying to their parents and the authorities, and stealing money. In the end it never makes it clear what the lesson is, and the promotional posters were ridiculously risque compared to the movie proper.
The Live-Action Adaptation of The Cat in the Hat definitely qualifies: Despite it being based on a book meant for kids, the movie dealt with a lot of extremely crass humor (examples include the Cat calling a soil-covered gardening implement a "dirty hoe" and the original name of the S.L.O.W., the Super Hydraulic Instantaneous Transporter) and rather dirty things that should not be exposed to kids, to the extent that its almost as though the movie is actually missing a crap detection radar. Sadly, it was also a point of contention for Theodore Giesel's estate. The film was such a slap in the face to the original story that all plans on making live-action adaptations of the Dr. Seuss stories have been barred. The animated stuff, however, is still acceptable.
Cop Dog, described in its summary as "a heartfelt tale about a boy and his dog who set out to solve the death of the young boy's father." The cutesy cover and PG rating must signify that it's targeted to a younger audience, right? Well, turns out that not even a quarter of the way through the movie, the dog is run over by a car, and it's not one of those things where the kid comes home from school and the mother has to break the bad news to him, no. We actually get a chase scene in which the dog dies. That's right, the dog is dead for most of the movie, and the whole movie is about fulfilling the dog's final desire, which is solving his master's murder, so that he can cross over.
Amazon user Kathy: Heartwarming...yeah right. My daughter who is 10 freaked out when she saw Marlowe get hit by a car and killed - especially since that happened to one of our dogs a few years ago. THEN the dog is a ghost and there's some sort of time limit before something bad happens? Now she's freaking out again afraid she'll have nightmares. I didn't read very far into the plot synopsis so I didn't realize the dog got killed... Had I known that I would have never rented it. PG doesn't necessarily mean "good sense" or actually appropriate for sensitive kids! Motherfucker!
The Gamera films of the 1960s-1970s contained some of the most graphic "monster vs. monster" violence in movie history that's actually geared towards children. Yes, a film series that contained truly gruesome moments such as this was made for kids.
The Garbage Pail Kids Movie. While the film is rated PG, the titular Garbage Pail Kids are abominations who vomit on people, wet themselves, fart in people's faces, get into fights, steal and damage property, and one of them is even willing to threaten people with a switchblade. There is also a subplot of a young man who looks to be at least 12 being in a relationship with a young woman who is clearly in her 20s. It is filled with violence, profanity, near-nudity, and scatological scenes; and infamously contains a Broken Aesop that people should be judged on their behavior, not their appearance; despite all the Garbage Pail Kids hateful and near-criminal actions. The Moral Guardians of the time protested the film and successfully managed to get it pulled from theaters because of all this.
Not to mention ghost-on-man sex and/or blowjob. Also, Pecker has no dick.
The Golden Compass, the film adaptation of the first book of His Dark Materials trilogy was marketed to children, and is considered a family film. But despite the Disneyfication process that suffered the adaptation (like removing most of the hardcore atheist rants), it still had lot of dark elements, like a very violent polar bear fight, people being shot, lots of killings and many other things... Such as the extremely heartwarming and uplifting ending scene which was left off the theatrical release.
The Disney film Hocus Pocus, for reasons better stated on the page. However, if a hint of a reason is needed here, One Word repeated many times: "Virgin."
The Nostalgia Chick: The villains are three weird but assumedly child-friendly witches. And by that, I mean this movie was made for children.... [Skeptical Grimace] I think.
Likewise, Lucasfilm's Indiana Jones series received some criticism due to the level of violence in the movies (particuarly Temple of Doom, which, to be fair, features a guy getting a heart ripped from his chest), resulting in the creation of the PG-13 rating.
Labyrinth has frequently been cited as this. Three instances of the word "damn," the heroine almost getting killed by many sharp, rotating blades coming at her down a tunnel, beings that can (and do) gleefully dismantle themselves before trying to decapitate said heroine, "villain" twice the heroine's age trying to seduce her, and Bowie's Magic Pants, and you try to tell us it's for children?
The Lone Ranger is probably one of Disney's darker films, as the PG-13 is pushed pretty far in regards to the violence.
Brad Jones: I think this is the closest a Disney movie has come to being a Hard R; dude, I've seen R-rated movies this year that are not as graphic as this movie.
Over in Italy, Malèna is considered a family film. The uncut version has gratuitous female nudity in half the scenes, has plenty of scenes of the young boy masturbating, scenes of domestic violence, the 12-year-old protagonist sleeping with a prostitute twice his age and the climactic scene of the women in the town graphically beating up Malena in the street.
Matilda has a bunch of kids getting hammer-tossed out of windows, first-graders getting packed into a closet with rusty nails and adults downright insulting childrens' intelligence and calling them hurtful names. Then again this is Roald Dahl we're talking about. On the upside, the abuse isn't that severe and the protagonist does win in the end. On top of that, it's a family film, so the violence is mainly for the adults, no matter how cruel it may seem.
MirrorMask: Many people compare this film with Labyrinth: Being written by Neil Gaiman is not surprising that most of the story is a complete Mind Screw that even the adults will find confusing...Also it is filled with some creepy moments.
The Peanut Butter Solution is Canadian kids movie from the 1980s. Some of the plot points include the main character meeting the ghosts of neighbors who died in a fire, getting kidnapped and imprisoned by his art teacher, and a kid using hair growth solution to grow pubic hair.
Pirates of the Caribbean is a Disney franchise, and despite its subject matter, is generally considered family friendly, and isn't too violent or adult. Then there's that scene in the beginning of At World's End in which dozens of innocent people, including young children, are sentenced to death and hanged while singing mournfully. Sweet dreams, kids! Dead Man's Chest beat At World's End to the punch with the pirate prison scene, with the family-friendly image of a pirate screaming as a bird pecks his eye out.
Return to Oz is meant to be seen as a kids' adventure film, yet there are the infamous scenes such as shock therapy, Dorothy's friends Taken for Granite, and of course, the Nome King.note Return to Oz follows Baum's spelling of Nome. Ruth Plumly Thompson changed the spelling to Gnome in her Land of Oz novels.
George Lucas has maintained that Star Wars is intended for children. Some people point at the severed limbs, convoluted politics and economics, Techno Babble, bio-babble, and other kid-unfriendly aspects to counter those claims.
Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope even managed to get a U rating from the BBFC in the UK, despite having numerous on-screen deaths, a close-up of a bloodied and severed arm (admittedly a non-human character), a brief shot of burning corpses ( Luke's aunt and uncle), numerous on-screen deaths and even implied genocide when Alderaan gets blown up. Admittedly other countries' rating agencies tend to go higher.
Time Bandits, from Terry Gilliam, a adventure/fantasy flick starring a child. It features scenes of firing squads, a man getting crushed to death, nightmare creatures, and ends with the kid's parents exploding, all because they were idiots for touching the evil microwave and not listening to the child.
TRON itself came out before the PG-13 rating (1982), and while it was technically aimed at kids, it was much Darker and Edgier than the usual Disney fare. On its roster; brutal on-screen deaths (including a Boom, Headshot with some gibs), Electric Torture (Clu 1.0 is tortured to death, Dumont and the other Tower Guardians come close to it), overt religious themes (more blatant than the second film's), a brief flirtation with a Love Triangle (or Threesome Subtext), snarky innuendo and a Shirtless Scene... Then there's the Deleted Scene that was obstensibly cut for pacing, but was quite obviously sexual in nature.
We Bought a Zoo is perhaps the only PG-rated film since the 80s (when the PG-13 rating was introduced) to shoehorn in at least three uses of "shit" and one of "asshole". However, it was marketed as a light-hearted family film.
The Wizard was definitely made and marketed with Nintendo-loving kids in mind... but the scenes of upsetting family drama, the incestuous Accidental Innuendo in the hotel scene, and Haley's cry of "HE TOUCHED MY BREAST!" make one wonder.
In the same line of the last example, the live-action film of the anime Yatterman made by Takashi Miike, was aimed to kids in Japan, but it was filled with innuendo, sex-related humor, profanity and one scene where one female-shaped robot starts acting like it were having an orgasm
Infamously, Merlin's Shop of Mystical Wonders made the mistake of putting a crappy horror movie into a crappy children's movie package, and then forgetting to take out the horror. Thus we get a creepy monkey doll, a man's wife becoming his mother, and gratuitous violence in a movie supposedly meant for kids. Hilariously lampshaded:
Servo: (as the kid) No, Grandpa Borgnine, leave light and hope for me! Please!
Crow: (as Grandpa Borgnine) Get out from behind that cushion, Billy! It gets worse!
The Disney/Amblin co-production A Far Off Place was marketed as a PG-rated family-friendly adventure...featuring an orphaned girl and her friend trekking 1,000 miles through Africa with cold-blooded poachers hot on their trail for witnessing their massacre on her parents' reserve. And on top of that, a Roger Rabbit cartoon played before the movie in theaters! Never was there a more jarring case of Mood Whiplash than zany cartoon slapstick being followed by the horrific slaughter of a teen's parents.
To be fair though, the movie did have an alternate Walt Disney Pictures logo (with the words in a plain blue text on a black background) that was used to denote more serious fare, as well as a disclaimer at the beginning saying that all the violence was simulated.
Despite being muchDarker and Edgier than their animated counterparts, Disney movies such as Maleficent and Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland truly are marketed for general family viewing.