The 12 Scariest Classic Disney Movie Moments

The 12 Scariest Classic Disney Movie Moments

While Warner Bros. animation may have cornered the market on the irreverent and the zany, Disney has always been the best at thrilling audiences with legitimately frightening scenes. Thus, we thought we’d delve into the first five decades of Disney’s history and present a list of The 12 Scariest Classic Disney Movie Moments, which you can check out in the gallery below!

What makes these scenes so terrifying? It varies from scene to scene, but the constant in all of them is the animators’ willingness to build up real atmosphere and dread. It also helps to have a few terrifying monsters, which you will also find in our selections.

At the end of the day, so many children grew up on classic Disney films, and some of the scariest scenes still hold power over those who were so traumatized by them as children. And that’s what makes them great!

Which of these scary Disney scenes frightened you the most as a child? Let us know in the comments below!

Disney's Oscar-winning short film may have been a "Silly Symphony," but it's no laughing matter. This was Walt's attempt to tell a story using real animal behavior and naturalistic surroundings, aided by the multiplane camera. The result is a harrowing 9 minutes in which a small community of animals holed up in a mill during a lightning storm come close to death.

The climactic scene of the animated version of Carlo Collodi's cherished fable features Pinocchio, Geppetto, Figaro the cat and Cleo the goldfish escaping the maw of a ravenous whale in a raft. The scene's terrifying imagery is aided by the gorgeous paint work done by animators to create the torrents of water that propel the action.

The final segment of this classical music animated omnibus is built around Modest Mussorgsky's "Night on Bald Mountain," and portrays the mountainous demon Chernabog as he summons evil spirits from their graves. Dracula actor Bela Lugosi was used as a model for the demon's movements.

For the second segment in this double feature of classic tales, the Disney animators brought Washington Irving's classic Halloween tale "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" to life, with the depiction of the Headless Horseman's pursuit of schoolteacher Ichabod Crane being particularly harrowing. The shot of the flaming pumpkin being thrown across the bridge is particularly iconic, and was referenced in Tim Burton's own Sleepy Hollow.

The first feature-length Disney film distributed by Disney's Buena Vista, and one of the studio's earliest live-action efforts, adapted Jules Verne's sci-fi tome about the murderous Captain Nemo and his incredible submarine The Nautilus. One of the novel's most famous scenes, the giant squid attack, was accomplished through startling model work that still holds up today and may still prove scary to youngsters.

When the evil sorceress Maleficent surrounds the castle with thorns it proves a formidable obstacle for Prince Phillip, but when she transforms into a giant dragon in order to stop him she becomes downright petrifying.

With a screenplay by John Whedon, grandfather of Joss Whedon, this is a lesser-known Jules Verne-esque adventure film based on the novel "The Lost Ones" by Ian Cameron. It follows a group of early 20th century adventurers who use an advanced airship to discover a lost civilization of Vikings living on an uncharted island. At one point they are taken captive and brought to a cavernous gathering of the Vikings where their fanatic leader Godi nearly burns them alive.

Known as the company's attempt to cash in on the success of Star Wars, The Black Hole has its fair share of scary moments, particularly when a molten asteroid crashes into the giant spaceship Cygnus and comes barreling down on our heroes as they attempt to cross a bridge.

Part of the company's attempt to age-up and target young adult audiences in the early eighties, this is the closest the company every got to a full-on horror flick. Directed by John Hough (The Legend of Hell House), it tells the tale of a young girl who moves into an English manor where the woods outside are haunted by a sinister presence. The flashback to a séance performed on a blindfolded little girl is a standout fright.

This big budget adaptation of Ray Bradbury's masterwork (with a screenplay by the master himself) features an infamous nightmare sequence in which the child protagonist Will Halloway (Vidal Peterson) is graphically decapitated by a guillotine. It's a scene the likes of which were never seen (and haven't been scene since) in a Disney-branded film.

A kind of Disney take on the Tolkien mythos, this older-skewing animated fantasy is based on the series "The Chronicles of Prydain" by Lloyd Alexander, and was originally an attempt to skew older with their animation. However, when children fled test screenings terrified, 12 minutes of scary footage was removed, leaving the effectiveness of the film dulled. Nevertheless, the site of the Horned King and his undead minions is still eerie stuff for Disney.

After Belle flees the castle and attempts to navigate the snowy woods on horseback, she encounters a pack of snarling wolves that attempt to devour her. They're pretty scary in and of themselves, but when The Beast intervenes to save her he's at his most feral and is legit frightening himself.