Movie ratings are often a controversial thing. As strict as they are, the MPAA’s ratings committee can often be surprisingly lenient in the face of violence. The recent release of the MCU Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, for example, was surprisingly violent for what is supposed to be a film aimed at a family-centric audience.
However, shocking scenes stuck to the rating board aren’t just a new trend, as several movies have managed to get away with some truly gruesome death scenes while still getting a PG or even a G rating. These movies really test the limits of suitability for the “general public”, even to this day.
Planet Of The Apes – Failed Stasis Module
Planet of the Apes was a groundbreaking sci-fi film that’s still enjoyable today, but there were several scenes that pushed the limit of its G rating, including violence, profanity, and brief nudity. One of the film’s most unsettling moments comes early on, when the lead astronauts wake up from hibernation.
As the astronauts awaken from their long slumber, they find that one member of their team, Stewart, has died from an air leak in his capsule and is already heavily decomposed. While Stewart’s death itself was likely peaceful while she slept, the crew discovering her long, rotting body is no less disturbing.
Star Wars: A New Hope – The Fates of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru
While the star wars The franchise features occasional moments of surprise violence, for the most part the series sticks to a more tame level of PG action that the whole family can enjoy. That said, the original movie A new hope in 1977 exhibited an unusual level of cruelty in his first act.
Luke’s Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru were small parts of the movie, but they had practically been Luke’s parents for his entire life. When Luke returns from Old Ben’s, he finds the still-smoldering bodies of his aunt and uncle in the remains of their home. The actual deaths of Owen and Beru are off-screen, but the lingering shot of the charred corpses leaves little to the imagination.
Poltergeist – Showdown
To be fair, that iconic scene from Fighting spirit is not an actual death of a character, but an hallucination. That didn’t make it any less disturbing to watch, especially for younger viewers who went to watch the PG-rated horror flick.
When Marty, a parapsychologist brought in to investigate the strange happenings in the house, attempts to wash his face in the bathroom, he peels a small cut on his cheek. Peeling more and more, Marty slowly rips almost his entire face apart, leaving behind only a bloody skull. He may not actually die, but the scene is shocking and horrifying nonetheless.
Jaws – Shark Attack
The antagonistic shark in Jaws may actually make very few screen appearances, but when he does, he certainly makes his mark. The PG rated film features several bloody deaths, including a young child and a man whose leg is completely severed, but worse is the fate of shark hunter Quint.
As Quint, Hooper and Chief Brody chase the shark, their boat begins to sink. As Quint slides further into the water, the shark jumps on him. Quint struggles against the shark’s teeth for what seems like an eternity before it finally bites down around his waist with a sickening crack. The animatronics might look cheesy on a rewatch, but this death is still effective.
Tarzan – Vine Hanging
It’s a common trend in many Disney animated movies to have their villains die in order to avoid too much on-screen violence. Their adaptation of Tarzan however, gave its villain a decidedly chilling death for a Disney villain. At the film’s climax, Tarzan and the villainous Clayton face off high in the trees.
When Clayton becomes entangled in a mess of vines, he begins pruning them to free himself. Unfortunately for him, one of the vines gets stuck around his neck as he dives from the canopy. While at first it looks like he’s just fallen like many other Disney villains, a thunderclap briefly silhouettes Clayton’s body hanging like from the gallows.
The Black Cauldron – sucked into the cauldron
disney dark movies poster, The black cauldron was the first of the company’s animated films to receive a PG rating. The film was so dark and scary that it became a huge financial failure, although it has since seen a resurgence in appreciation.
The film’s pinnacle of goosebumps comes at the end, after the evil Horned King unleashes a zombified army. One of the film’s heroes sacrifices himself to the Cauldron, which begins to drag the Horned King into it. As he struggles, the king’s flesh is torn from his body before his skeleton bursts into flames. Needless to say, many felt the movie wasn’t quite kid-friendly.
Star Trek: The Movie – Transporter Malfunction
The long duration star trek The franchise has featured a few gruesome moments over the years, but few are as haunting as the transporter malfunction in the G-rated original. Star Trek: The Movie. At the start of the film, Commander Sonak and another officer are testing the new transporter.
As the two attempt to teleport from Starfleet, the transporter begins to malfunction. Kirk and the others frantically try to interrupt the transport as two misshapen bodies begin to form. The two drops appear to writhe in pain and leave a horrible digitized scream before being teleported back to Starfleet, which coldly tells Kirk “What we recovered didn’t last long. Thankfully.”
Watership Down – The movie in general
PG rated boat down is unquestionably one of the most disturbing animated children’s films ever made. A movie about rabbits, boat down featured enough terror and gore that some Reddit fans would consider it a horror movie.
The film is full of rabbits meeting their death in particularly unpleasant ways, including being mauled by a dog, gassed with poison in their dens, ripped off by hawks, or, in one case, having their throats ripped out by the film’s villain. boat down probably left a generation of children unable to look at rabbits the same way again.
Mission To Mars – Torn Apart by a Tornado
Despite a PG rating and likely inspired by a Disney World tour, Brian De Palma’s opening Mission to Mars is harsh. Centered on the first manned mission to the planet Mars, the opening scenes hold nothing back in sending the astronauts.
Nearly all are nastily killed, but one particularly unlucky astronaut is sucked into the center of a massive vortex. He is spun like a rag doll in a washing machine for several agonizing seconds until his whole body is violently torn apart with limbs and blood flying everywhere. The Disney World rides thankfully left that part out of the ride.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom – Human Sacrifice
As if the face melts at the end of The Raiders of the Lost Ark wasn’t nightmarish enough, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom pushed things even further with its disturbing images. A man is flattened by a rock crusher, children are tortured and, most infamously, there is a disturbing scene of human sacrifice.
After chaining a man in a cage, the villainous Mola Ram reaches into his chest and pulls out his still beating heart with his bare hands, before lowering him into a pit of fire, where he and the heart burst into flames. cursed temple and this scene, in particular, was so gruesome that it was the driving force behind the creation of the PG-13 rating soon after.
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