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Subjects and Details Which Have Caused Fear Among Children

Henri Storck

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  Henri Storck (1907-1999), legendary filmmaker and co-founder of the Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique, was commissioned by UNESCO in 1950 to produce a book-length report on The Entertainment Film for Juvenile Audiences. He must have taken a Surrealistic delight in including, as an Appendix, this collage-poem of answers from "142 cinema managers organising children’s matinees" to the questions: "Are the children ever frightened by cartoons or during serials? If so, by what type of incident?"  



At times when a monster chases a victim or a repulsive close-up is screened.

Very young children do not like big ferocious faces brought up large on the screen.

Only by extremely gruesome or grotesque figures.

Spiders, bats, etc.


Gruesome effects.

Occasionally, as in Pluto’s Judgement Day.

Close-ups of grotesque animals with big teeth.

Sadistic and suffering sequences.

Insect cartoons occasionally frighten the very small child.

Ogre close-ups. Fantastic and frightening animals.

Thunder and lightning.

I have known some of the younger ones to be rather scared by some of the more terrifying Disney characters.

Only momentarily on the close-ups of the villains’ faces.

The usual gasps are heard when anything grotesque, such as an enormous spider, is shown.

Silly Symphonies: Dreamland, The Bogey Man. Horrific animals.

Scenes where bodily harm is threatened. Scenes of violence. On the other hand they revel in fights depicted in Westerns.

Running from wild animals or the victim being threatened by approaching danger in the form of an oncoming train, car or savages.

The fiercer type of shooting scenes, and scenes in which heroes or heroines suffer too obviously.

By the grotesque; anything gruesome such as grisly murders, or cruelty by the villain to child stars.

Only in cases of extreme knife incidents.

A gruesome type of villain sneaking up on someone.

For instance in Ace Drummond when a man was being crushed by the contraction of walls.

Villain in cloak, hood, etc. Little girls dislike rough men in dirty clothes and beards.

Horrific scenes and weird apparitions. Scenes of cruelty.

The younger type do not like trains seemingly rushing out upon them.

The Claymen in Flash Gordon’s Trip to Mars.

Chinese villains.

Fire-sprouting dragons, etc.

Only by over-accentuated horror.

I would not venture to say frightened so much as excited.

This happens when one person creeps up upon another. I have noticed children scream, bite fingers, etc.

Anything given a ghostly effect, such as an apparently disembodied hand appearing from the wall, as in The Clutching Hand.

Where suspense is over-emphasised and the hero or heroine is being trapped, especially in the dark.

Sudden explosions.

No matter what film is showing, some children sit out in the lounge. Some excuse themselves by saying that they don’t feel well; others frankly admit to fear. Incidents that frighten – noise, torture, fighting – the last is confined mostly to girls.

At times three or four younger members come out into the vestibule during shooting or killing scenes.

Careful observation shows no genuine fear, but many instances of ‘pretend’ fear, when hero is about to be shot, etc.

The ‘shots’ leading to the end of a part or episode.

Aerial duels.

Hero falling over cliff and such episodes affecting the hero. The smaller children are sometimes affected by shooting scenes, knife-throwing, etc.

Anything ghostly in any film will frighten younger children.

Scenes of torture.

Chasing with guns.

Death of animals. Gruesome incidents, such as branding or whipping.

Flash Gordon – prehistoric animal scenes. Soldiers flying with wings.

Particularly villainous make-ups. Close-ups of killings, such as knife stabs, etc.

Gigantic monsters of the type that appear in King Kong.

People trapped by fire.

By common firing, as in The Mounties are Coming.

Rifle or revolver fire does not worry them.

Hand-to-hand fighting or any eerie subject.

Usually the scene leading up to the climax on an episode ending.

Beating. Cruelty in any form. Shooting. Horrific animals.


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