"Babe: Pig in the City"

image via
The original Babe movie was a charming fable replete with singing mice, a gallant piglet, and fluffy sheepdogs, all bathed in sunny, sweet light.  Then there came the sequel, Babe: Pig in the City, which, despite its ostensible G rating, is essentially a David Lynch film set in a Tim Burton world with a cast of Tod Browning freaks.

The following is a list of the Five Most Terrifying Scenes Ever in a Live-Action G-Rated Film:

* The kind farmer Hoggett plunges to the bottom of a dank well, smashes his fingers, and is severely injured by a falling engine.  

* A paraplegic terrier is hurled into the street from under the wheels of a truck, and the wheels of his wheelchair still spin as he lies prostrate in the middle of the road.

* An infant chimpanzee clings to a frayed, still-sparking electrical cord thirty feet above the floor, then loses his grasp as his mother looks on in horror.

* An elderly Mickey Rooney, dressed and made up as the world's saddest clown, has a nasty fall and accidentally sets fire to the children's ward of a hospital.  His performing animals barely escape the leaping flames; the clown himself eventually dies.

* A convulsing bull terrier dangles helplessly from a chain wrapped around his hind leg, the only thing preventing him from plunging headfirst into a river and drowning.

Not to mention how the clothed primates will hit you right in the uncanny valley, and then there's the strip search of Mrs. Hoggett, the firing squad that shoots at the duck, the poodle that seems to be a former hooker, and all the pig-nosed people that keep popping up... sheer horror, I tell you.

Lesson learned:
Bah, ram... ew.

Babe: Pig in the City.  Dir. George Miller.  Perf. Magda Szubanski, James Cromwell, Mary Stein.  Universal, 1998.
Babe: Pig in the City


"Love You Forever"

image via
Any book with a toilet on the front cover is already signalling that the content inside it is going to be slightly off-kilter.  But nothing can truly prepare you for this story.

In the beginning, a woman has a baby.  This mother initially reveals her mental instability by repeatedly saying, to no one in particular, that "This kid is driving me CRAZY."  Remember this foreshadowing.

At night, the mother likes to crawl over to her child, pick him up (but only when he is sleeping) and rock him and sing a song reminding him that "as long as I'm living my baby you'll be."  This seems like a threat, particularly when the mother is berating her offspring for causing her mental illness during the day.  She also threatens to sell him to a zoo (!)  Luckily, her son grows up and moves out of this psychologically damaging environment and away from his mother who still has been compulsively rocking him even once he is a sleeping teenager.

But even after that... "sometimes, on dark nights," (shudder) "the mother would drive across town" and, "if all the lights at her son's house were out," she would creep through his bedroom window and covertly rock this unconscious adult man.

This is not cute, not sweet, not heartwarming.  This is a mania, and her son needs to get a security system and possibly a restraining order.  Imagine how this story would sound if it were a female asleep in her bed and someone was creeping into her bedroom at night out of "love" to watch her sleep?  That would be horrifying, wouldn't it?  (Or, you know, Twilight.)

Then, her manipulation grows worse-- she calls her son and warns, "You'd better come see me, because I'm very old and sick."  Having grown accustomed to this type of emotional blackmail, he complies, and then is compelled to rock her and sing the song.  When he returns home, he continues the cycle of emotional abuse by rocking and singing to his own daughter, poor thing.  How he managed to ever produce a daughter with his mother creeping into his bedroom every night, I can't imagine.

Lesson learned:
In the words of Norman Bates, a boy's best friend is his mother.

Munsch, Robert.  Love You Forever.  New York: Firefly, 1986.
Love You Forever


"Benji the Hunted"

image via
Most kids have a fascination with animals, which is why we use lovable, furry critters so often in children's stories... and then kill them off, one by one.

Benji the Hunted wouldn't be made today; it's unlikely to hold the fleeting interest of the MTV-short-attention-span generation.  There is very little dialogue, no CGI, and no famous actors.  The only star power here is our protagonist Benji, the scruffy mutt with a heart of gold.

Benji is lost in the woods and witnesses a mother cougar get shot and killed by a hunter, leaving behind four adorable orphaned cubs.  The death of the mother, as in Bambi, should elicit enough pathos to carry the rest of the film, but no.  Next thing you know, the cubs themselves are in peril from a hungry wolf, and Benji is caught and tethered by a trapper, and then an eagle swoops down and carries off one of the cubs who is never seen again, and then the wolf is back again after Benji this time, and by the time you see that wolf plunging off a cliff to his doom, you're bawling in rage and horror, wondering who will die next in this movie that sets out to define what Tennyson meant by "nature red in tooth and claw."

Lesson learned:
"For by the hearth the children sit / Cold in that atmosphere of Death, / And scarce endure to draw the breath, / Or like to noiseless phantoms flit"

Benji the Hunted.  Dir. Joe Camp.  Perf. Benjean, Frank Inn, Red Steagall.  Walt Disney, 1987.
Watch the trailer on YouTube here.
Benji: The Hunted