45 dark movies made for young audiences

Published: Thursday, March 22 2012 10:53 a.m. MDT

Deseret News Archive

“Ender’s Game,” “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” are set to hit the silver screen this holiday season, all of which are popular young adult novel adaptations.

The books have sold millions of copies and have resonated with audiences around the world. But with such dark subject matter, the excitement among young moviegoers has some wondering if its good for young audiences.

Time Magazine’s Christopher J. Ferguson weighed in on the subject, saying, “Parents are free, of course, to use their moral compass to decide which media is appropriate for their families, but some of my own research suggests that the best option is for parents to consume violent-themed entertainment alongside their children rather than to either shield kids from it or leave them on their own.”

Others feel that children can wait. Referring to the first Hunger Games film, Deseret News columnist Carmen Rasmusen Herbert wrote, “Because of the extreme graphic descriptions of some of the tributes’ deaths in the story, I would say that any tween or young teen that has a hard time with watching or reading about violent acts would be haunted by these disturbing images for weeks.”

But these aren’t the first controversial movies aimed at youths. Shows such as “The Wizard of Oz,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas” are well known for pushing the envelope in the area of dark material for young audiences. Here are 45 movies that parents have been talking about for years — or will be.

  • Oldest first
  • Newest first
  • Most recommended
Idaho Falls, Idaho

Do you really think I'm gonna click "next" 45 times? I don't consider myself a cynic, but can't these lists please be put on a page or two?

Christmas Carole

I suppose that different words hold different 'flavors' for everyone...I personally don't consider any of the "Lord of the Rings" movies as 'dark'. I haven't seen any of the "Hobbit"
movies yet. I feel movies like these distinctly portray good and evil, virtue and vice, etc. to me these show addiction results strongly. I feel there is way too much of the violent fighting in them...too extended.

Guess I must be one of the few who don't care for, appreciate, enjoy, or 'get' the "Hunger Games"...I think the whole theme and idea is SICK...far more than just'dark'to me!!

Christmas Carole

P.S.I haven't read the whole list either BUT I don't feel nor will ever feel "Wizard of Oz" to be 'dark'...GOOD GRIEF!

However, thank you for the time and research you have apparently invested..as is said..."different strokes for different folks"!

Provo, UT

point taken. Hollywood has produced a lot of stuff that can put young kids and kids onto the therapist's couch for years.

The Solution
Dayton, OH

Christmas Carole
The Hunger Games "theme" is not sick. It is very complicated as it comprises multiple mature concepts. The several themes include but are not limited to:

- Hoarding resources at the expense of others without any compasion for those whom you are causing to suffer is inhumane
- Being consumed with carnal desires debases humanity leaving mankind undistinguished from animals
- Love your adversaries; enemy is a false concept forced by circumstance and perception
- Beauty can be found in darkness; there is always hope

...there are too many. The series is excellently written, and the concept while not presented as a satire, is still a poignant exageration of our current state-of-being. There is much to be gained in learning from those books.


@ Deseret News: MUGS is right. You do this waaaaay too often. I would much prefer to scroll than do the "next" thing. Sheesh!

Cynical Optimist

Also annoyed by the list format, my complaint, however, is why does no one know what the word "penultimate" means. Page 39 Deathly Hallows part 2 is the final movie in the series. Journalists and others often want to use a $5 word to separate from the common person i suppose. I can accept pompous self-aggrandizing but at least know what the word means when you use it.

Orem, UT

As well as having a click-through list, why not add a simple list of titles to the article? I'm one of those who finds the click-through pretty annoying. And since you show *all* of the Harry Potter, Twilight, etc., films, I'd prefer not listing them separately: just say "Harry Potter", "Indiana Jones", etc. That way you could either shorten the list, or add a few more to it.

I admit most of the ones you mention are among the more frightening shows, but Witches, for instance, is on a par with Willy Wonka; I think it belongs on this list. Bambi is infamous for frightening young children, and I was more terrified as a child by Disney's Snow White (which at the same time I loved) than by The Wizard of Oz.

I agree that many children shouldn't see some of these films till they're older--and always with parents present; it partly depends on the child. At the same time, many movies on the list serve the same purpose as fairy tales: catharsis, and dealing with the dangers of the world in a protected environment.


I agree with Mugs. These lists are designed to suck up our time and give us umpteen pages of advertising and reporting our interests to Google, Yahoo, etc, etc... never mind NSA

Movie Buff
Salt Lake City, UT

Just came across this. It is pretty silly having to click 45 times. There is not even a PRINT option (to see it on one page). What makes that even more curious is that other articles on this site DO have print options. That being said, it appears that the mobile version of this page, at least when viewed on a desktop and not a mobile device, does have all 45 films on one page....There are always multiple ways to skin a fox.

Bullfrog, UT

I stay away from Pixar & Dreamworks. Way too whitewashed, hand-holding, pun-intensive. When I was a kid, we had things like Problem Child, The Secret of Nimh, The Land Before Time, Watcher in the Woods, Return to Oz, The Dark Crystal, The Never Ending Story, Labyrinth, etc. I can't believe how watered-down kids shows have become. Makes me sick.

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