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Nightmare Fuel / Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

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Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a novel that has delighted and terrified readers for fifty-plus years. 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, cut to ribbons, crushed, etc. In fact, Violet seemed to be the only survivor along with Charlie.
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  • 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.
  • Veruca's scene in the 2017 Broadway Retool of the 2013 West End play is so, so much worse. She doesn't get shoved down a chute. Instead, she runs up a conveyer belt in a final attempt to escape from the squirrels, which have been surrounding her and trying to grab her. The scene turns red, the squirrels' eyes glow red, and they grab her. And then rip her to shreds. Even with how bratty she was, you can't help but feel bad for Veruca as she's torn limb from limb.
  • Every single one of the kids' punishments:
    • Augustus is stuck in a tube, which is not only going to be hard to breathe in, but it's going to HURT. Hope he's not claustrophobic at all!
    • Violet has her body horribly disfigured right in front of her eyes and there's nothing she can do about it. Afterwards, Wonka admits that time is of the essence and that she could easily die if they don't fix this in time. Let's sing a song while Violet is left completely helpless.
    • Veruca's was previously mentioned above.
    • And to top off the cycle of trauma, Mike is basically taken to a slightly nicer version of hell where, at least in the 2005 version, they repeatedly try to murder him. Afterwards, he is horribly mutilated by a taffy stretch, which, even in magical whimsical worlds, has got to hurt.


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.
    • There are a few short, though attention-grabbing scenes where Wonka's cheerful mask appears to slip entirely.
      • Watch his face as he notices the chocolate suction tube approaching Augustus Gloop. He realizes what's about to happen and almost seems pleased.
      • The icy stare he gives Mr. Salt as he casually turns the key to unlock the gate into the squirrel room is somewhat unsettling, too.
      • The near Slasher Smile he gives prior to the TV room, suggesting he's planning Mike's fate.
  • The singing ventriloquist-dummy-style animatronics burning and melting before the kids enter the factory, not helped at all by the slowed-down soundtrack, particularly at the end when the entire scene catches fire and the dummies melt, with a disturbing closeup of the eyes falling out of one. The whole factory has horrific undertones in this version, really. This being Burton, it was probably all intentional.
    • For many, the fact that the dolls are sent to a doll hospital "Burn Ward", which was made recently, doesn't make it any better.
  • The fact that Wonka was very calm about all the other kids' trials, BUT NOT VIOLET'S. He even begged for Violet to stop chewing the gum- "Yeah! Spit it out."
  • The squirrel scene. Veruca makes the mistake of trying to take one of the nut-sorting squirrels for herself, only to get swarmed and forced down onto the floor. Upon one of the squirrels "testing" her to see if she's a "bad nut", she is promptly dragged right down into the chute. Where Wonka notes that "bad nuts" get incinerated. Holy crap doesn't even begin to describe it.
  • 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), and she is positively ecstatic about it.
    • 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.
    • She's such a Competition Freak that she encourages Violet to keep chewing the gum despite Wonka's warnings, just so her daughter could be the first one who tried it. Her response after her daughter's transformation into a giant blueberry? "HOW IS SHE SUPPOSED TO COMPETE?!?"
  • Similarly to Wonka's calm apathy towards the children's trials, Mr Salt and Mike Teavee's comments about the convenience of the Oompa Loompa songs and how it seemed to be rehearsed and planned. It may have a reference to the dark fan theory about Wonka being a serial killer.

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 iself-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! And how Wonka's main concern is that he might have to pick bones out of his fudge! There's a nice little mental image for you...
      • In addition to that, the song sounds like a disturbing cuckoo clock song.
    • Poor Violet gets an entire number called "Juicy" in which she not only inflates like a balloon after trying out Wonka's gum, but outright EXPLODES onstage at the end. There's no way that this didn't result in her death. And Wonka's primary concern is retrieving Violet's pieces in the Juicing Vat and repairing her before she "ferments". Yikes!
  • The robotic voice that says “BAD NUT” at the beginning of the 2013 version of “Veruca’s Nutcracker Sweet” is pretty creepy.
    • The song as a whole is creepy. From the whispering at the beginning to the screaming orchestra swirls at the end.
      • Not to mention the squirrel puppets look rather unsettling due to their beady eyes and permanently smiling mouths.

2017 Stage Musical

"Veruca Salt was once en pointe, but watch as we dislocate each joint. Her ballet career is looking grim as we tear her apart from limb to LIMB!"

The 2017 Broadway production and the touring version do a very good job at creating one of the grimmest and most frightening adaptations of Charlie and co's adventures in the factory. If you're planning to take your kids, then you better beware: this show doesn't hesitate in showing things truly beyond nightmarish...

  • In the 2017 Broadway Retool, Veruca Salt is torn limb from limb by the squirrels onstage instead of tossed down the rubbish chute, meaning she is definitively killed. Reports from theatergoers suggest that audiences are genuinely shocked by this brutal demise, which fails to cross the line twice.
    • It’s heavily implied that even Willy Wonka didn’t see it coming. When the rest of the group enters the nut room and sees Veruca in the squirrels’ clutches, he lets out a sigh and starts to walk away, presumably thinking that they’re just going to toss her down the bad nut chute… only to do a Double Take at the line "Tear her apart from limb to limb". And after the song’s over, he’s left just as stunned speechless as everyone else.
    • These giant squirrels are much scarier than the adorable Oompa Loompa-mounted puppets from the London production. They're black, sharp-toothed, and have creepy glowing eyes that turn red when they go in for the kill. It doesn't help that Verucca's screaming in terror and begging for help as they manhandle her. Just imagine being a little girl and seeing these anthropomorphic monster squirrels come at you with the intent of ripping you to shreds. Sweet dreams!
    • Despite her head being completely severed, she was somehow still alive and able to scream for help. Whether this is better or worse is up to you.