Children Movies with Dark Themes

Posted on 1 Nov 00:00


Over the years, we have seen a lot of classic movies that were supposed to entertain youngsters and toddlers, but instead portrayed dark themes that will make grown-ups cower in fear. In fact, some of these out to print DVDs seem to be more appropriate for the older generation than the infants and toddlers. It’s hard to tell whether or not the movie producers and scriptwriters of these movies scripted them intentionally to both instill fear and educate youngsters. On the other hand, we cannot deny the message of heroism and bravery that these classic films depict to the younger generation.

If you are looking for classic movies with dark themes, for children; that are also appropriate for grown-ups, you can consider the following movies for your collection. These classic movies have all the attributes of great and inspiring movies. Without a doubt, you and your kids will have a great time watching these out of print movies. With no further ado, here are 10 of the most renowned dark-themed classic children films of all time.

  1. Finding Nemo (2003)

Finding Nemo is one the many out of print movies that you’ll come to love for the strong message of bravery and heroism that it portrays. The movie tells the story of a clownfish, Marlin (Albert Brooks) and his son Nemo (Alexander Gould). Marlin's son, Nemo, has a foreshortened fin and cannot protect himself like others. Marlin won't take any chances with his delicate son, and so becomes overprotective of Nemo; becoming over protective of Nemo, and not wanting him to go anywhere near the water's surface. Nemo, on the other hand, wants to prove his worth to his father, so, of course, he swims towards the surface. Tragedy strikes when Nemo, is caught by a deep-sea diver. Away from his father and the beautiful world that lies beneath the sea, Nemo plans his escape out of his fish tank confinement, located in a dentist’s office. While Nemo plans his escape, Marlin and Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), a blue reef fish with poor memory, do all they could to fight off sea monsters including sharks and a horde of jellyfish.

The Dark: Marlin and his wife were enjoying the comfort of their lovely home when a barracuda attacks and kills his wife and children, only Nemo and Marlin survive.

  1. Bambi (1942)

Bambi is one of those rare movies produced by Walt Disney, with three Academy Award nominations to its name. The movie focuses on a mule deer, Bambi, who is befriended by a high-spirited rabbit, Thumper and a young skunk named Flower. As a young deer living in the woodland, Bambi has to rely on the people closest to him to teach him how to relate with the outside world. Bambi’s father, The Great Prince of the Forest, and his loving and affectionate mother warn him about the outside world and the dangers that lie beyond the meadow. They tell him a hunter named 'Man' roams the forest looking for wandering animals to kill. Bambi falls in love with a doe named Faline, and they had twins together.

The Dark: Shot by the hunter, Bambi’s mother suffered a sorrowful death, in front of her beloved son.

  1. The Secret To NIHM (1982)

This is another dark fantasy children's film, and out of print DVD that you and your family might enjoy in the comfort of your home.  This classic movie will illicit in everyone, feeling all over the spectrum of feelings. This movie centers on a widowed mouse, Mrs. Brisby (Elizabeth Hartman) and her family. They live in a cinder block in a farmer's field.  As the dangerous plowing season is fast approaching, Mrs. Brisby has to seek out new accommodations for her and her family. But she can't leave because of her son’s ill health. As she strives to get her family away from imminent danger, she seeks the help of highly intelligent lab rats. The leader and elder of the rats, Nicodemus (Derek Jacobi) give Mrs. Brisby an unexpected gift, “The Stone” amulet. Eventually, Mrs. Brisby gets caught up in a violent dispute among the lab rats, that ultimately endangers her entire family.

The Dark: This epic dark fantasy movie portrays the horrors associated with animal experiments, torture, politics, and murder.

  1. Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

Who framed Roger Rabbit is one of those rare movies of the 1980s that has has stayed relevant to this very day. The movie is about Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins), a private eye detective who is down on his luck. Then, R.K Maroon, a cartoon producer, hires Eddie to determine why Toontown's biggest star, Roger Rabbit (Charles Fleischer), is giving poor performances and seems distracted.  Eddie uncovers what appears to be an adulterous scandal between Roger Rabbit's bombshell wife, Jessica Rabbit (Kathleen Turner) and Marvin Acme (Stubby Kaye), a businessman who owns Toontown. Ultimately, Marvin is found dead, and Roger Rabbit is framed for the murder.  More trouble ensues when the heinous and much feared Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd), vows to apprehend and annihilate Roger Rabbit for the murder.

The dark: A drunk and self-destructive detective solves a series of homicides committed by a vicious maniac. Scary stuff for young ones.

  1. Casper (1995)

In a house, haunted by Casper, a kind young ghost and fellow ghost, apparition expert James Harvey (Bill Pullman) and his daughter Kat (Christina Ricci), must to deal with the antics of many mischievous spirits. Quickly, the tender and sweet Casper, falls in love with  Kat. But their newfound love is interrupted by Casper’s provocative apparition uncles and their roguish tricks. Also, Casper’s transparent state complicates things. Casper’s selflessness as a ghost has him in the good graces of the angel Amelia, who transforms Casper to a living boy. In his temporal human body, he is finally able to kiss Kat.

The dark: The movie is about a dead child!

  1. The Fox and the Hound (1981)

Another epic movie for die-hard movie buffs. The plot portrays the story of a fox. Tod (Mickey Rooney), who is adopted by a generous widow, Tweed (Jeanette Nolan), after losing his mother.  Tod became friends with Copper (Kurt Russell), a hound dog kept by Tweed’s neighbor. But the friendship can't last. The rivalry between their masters did not only poses a problem to their friendship, but nature has also wired them differently to be mortal enemies. Now separated, they grew into fearful beasts. Cooper becomes a ferocious hunting dog and Tod a wild fox. To save their friendship, they have to go against their natural killer instincts.

The Dark: The message portrayed in this movie revolves around how individual differences can put a wedge between friends.

  1. Dumbo (1941)

Dumbo, a young circus elephant with huge comical ears, is the butt of all the jokes for kids who visit his circus. When he was ridiculed for his ears, it drives his mother into a frenzy, and the circus directors puts  her in confinement. Meanwhile, Dumbo's ears gets him into many unfortunate situations. One, situation gets many elephants in the circus injured.  As retribution for his sins, Dumbo is made to perform daring stunts, in a clown dress. Dumbo gets his big break when his gigantic ears give him the ability to fly, and with his new talent, Dumbo wows the audience.

The Dark: The moral of this movie is that physical differences can get you ostracized from your peers.

These are just a few examples of children movies with dark themes which may have a lasting effect on children, as well as on adult viewers.  These movies give life lessons and realizations far beyond the surface of cute characters and adventure packed story-lines, providing poignant insights spanning everything from religion to mental health, gender issues and even death. Pretty heavy stuff for children.

Other Notable Family Films With Dark Themes:
1)  The Kidnappers (1953)
2)  Sammy Going South (1963)
3)  A Little Princess (1995)
4)  Whistle Down the Wind (1961)
5)  Halloween is Grinch Night (1977)


Movie Buffs Forever stocks classic movies on DVD from the 1940's to the early 2000's. Browse our vast collection of old, rare and out of print classic movies on DVD.

Why We Still Love DVDs