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Traumafessions :: Reader Dan G. on Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland

October 6th, 2009 by aunt john · 9 Comments

I’m shocked, frankly, that no one has posted anything on this epic kindertraumatizer yet. Of all the animated horror that wreaked havoc upon my childhood, including FERN GULLY, FANTASIA and SNOW WHITE, none was as terrifying as LITTLE NEMO: ADVENTURES IN SLUMBERLAND, the 1992 American release of a 1989 Japanese cartoon film. This movie scared the hell out of me.

LITTLE NEMO is the story of Nemo, a nightmare-plagued little boy, much as I was at the time, who is chosen to become heir of a magical dream kingdom called Slumberland. Once given an ounce of responsibility, Nemo abuses his power and opens the forbidden door to nightmare land, putting himself, and everyone else in the kingdom, in some really deep shit. This includes getting King Morpheus of Slumberland captured by the evil Nightmare King. Way to go, Nemo, you putz.

Now, for starters, let’s just ignore what kind of presently scary lessons this movie might teach kids like a)It’s always O.K. to accept possibly drug-laced cookies from bearded, bespectacled child-molester types who come through your window at night, or b) it’s a great idea to pick fights with policemen, as long as you have the help of a cigar-smoking criminal hobo voiced by MICKEY ROONEY, and let’s concentrate on the stuff that really made you piss the bed.

For one thing: the fucked up nightmares. I think it seems natural that, when animation depicts a helpless boy being whisked away in a flying bed through the clouds to a creepy decrepit city, being betrayed by said bed (which is supposed to represent safety to small children) and dropped like 5,000 feet into some insane vortex that turns into a tunnel where he almost gets run down by an evil choo-choo train, maybe the viewing five-year-olds might not ever want to go to bed again. I mean, seriously, what the hell?!

And those creepy, slimy looking, black, smoky-type nightmare monsters with the red eyes who flood out of evil looking doors in caves? Can you say scared shitless? Even the supposedly “good goblins” were scary as hell. I don’t give a damn how funny or cute you are supposed to think they are, they still have claws and fangs and beady little eyes. And those guys don’t even go away when you wake up! They come out from under your fucking bed!! That’s messed up.

Not to forget the poisoned cherry on top of this horrific sundae, last but not least, is the Nightmare King himself. Giant horns, big claws, glowing red eyes, oh, and did I mention he’s like 50 stories tall? He bears close resemblance to another animated frightener, that big mountaintop Satan guy from the end of FANTASIA (on which I also intend to make a submission, since he scared the living piss out of me too) except instead of just grinning evilly and conjuring up weird skeletal warriors and little naked sprites to play around with, he imprisons your friends in funky little tubes where they’re frozen in odd positions and he shocks them for fun. Combine all that with an impressive basso voice (complete with a slight hint of a theatrical mock-British accent) a lava pit, and claws that can pop up anywhere, you’ve got one wicked, creepy motherfucker who lives in a weird spirally castle and makes you piss the bed for a week.

All in all, we have here a genuine kindertraumatizer that will screw with your mind and keep you up and shaking way past your bedtime. And if you can eventually get to sleep without being convinced that the Nightmare King is in your closet, as soon as you doze off your bed is going to fly out the window and drop you in the ocean. Yeah, that’s right, go jump in bed with mommy and daddy.

On a final note, I can tell you exactly why this movie is screwed up the way it is: because the man who adapted the screenplay is a sicko who’s been frightening grownups for decades. Fucking RAY BRADBURY.

Yours in childhood trauma,

Dan G.

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Tags: Traumafessions

9 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Andre DumasNo Gravatar // Oct 6, 2009 at 9:20 am

    haha Oh man I definitely had this video game for good ol NES. I could only ever get to like the 3rd level and I remember Nemo turned into different animals and such…ahh memories.

  • 2 LaDraculNo Gravatar // Oct 6, 2009 at 9:29 am

    Apparently, the original comic strip was nightmarish, too.
    Although maybe Ghibli should’ve been more involved…”Spirited Away” is a little disturbing as well, but as they ruined “Howl’s Moving Castle” and “Earthsea”, I’m not sure if they’d do a good job keeping it in tact.

  • 3 MattNo Gravatar // Oct 6, 2009 at 10:33 am

    Looks like Andre beat me to the punch but yeah, the NES video game was awesome!Ā  Where can I get my hands on this movie?Ā  I’d love to see it.

  • 4 LaDraculNo Gravatar // Oct 6, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    It was released on DVD last year. šŸ™‚

  • 5 thewarfreakNo Gravatar // Oct 6, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    For some reason I always linked this movie to A Nightmare on Elm St. 5: The Dream Child and so watching the trailer kind of freaked me out when I was a kid. Weird, I know.

  • 6 unkle lanciferNo Gravatar // Oct 6, 2009 at 9:12 pm


  • 7 katieintheburgNo Gravatar // Dec 3, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    I have been telling people about this movie for years where a kid keeps trying to wake up from a dream only to find he is still in a dream and EVERYONE thought I was crazy. I finally figured out it was this movie! I was about 5-6 when I saw this movie and the memory has stuck with me. I found this movie to be very scary. More scary than some of the episodes of Are You Afraid of the Dark (Original show)…

    If I had known what the movie was called I would have definitely mentioned it!


  • 8 scaredycatNo Gravatar // Feb 15, 2013 at 1:16 am

    The first movie I saw in the theater was Gremlins. Wtf, mom? I was like 4 years old. I am now a 28 year old mom of an autistic 5 year old boy. I saw a clip for Little Nemo and thought to myself “well this is pleasantly animated. What a cute little boy who goes on a dreamlike adventure. He looks just like my little boy if only he had blonde hair.” I was debating on whether I should get this movie for my son when I found the full length version on Youtube. I watched it and rather enjoyed it, but I would not let my 5 year old see this, no way! He loves trains. His trains and their tracks cover the whole house! This movie is much too terrifying for any young child under age 7-9. Especially when it comes to comprehending reality and make-believe. I will let my 5 year old watch Spirited Away. It’s a bit gentler than Little Nemo. And make damn sure he doesn’t see Gremlins. It scared the shit outta me.

  • 9 Eric EddyNo Gravatar // Apr 18, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    My friend has a collection of some Nemo comic strips from 1900-1910. The artwork is amazing in those old strips!

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