Compared to family movies made today, '90s family flicks were considerably edgier, more mature and sometimes even disturbing. However, they still managed to be goofy, funny and amusing to take some of the edge off. The six features below were once darker than their finished project cuts-although, their content was changed to either appeal to children or cut back on time. Warning, some spoilers follow, so read at your own risk.
6. We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story
This film about a group of dinosaurs who traveled to the future to help kids' wishes come true was mostly family friendly. The dinosaurs were colorful and interactive, there's a musical sequence and bright animation. However, when we reached Professor Screweyes' circus the sun set, and the moon rose. The character of Professor Screweyes came off as creepy to kids; the children in the movie used their blood to sign contracts and the visual of Screweyes being devoured by crows was pretty chilling. However, it was almost darker, as shown by a couple of deleted scenes which revealed Screweyes' demented origin story (his eye was pecked out by a crow) and showed the dinosaurs being locked up. This scene was removed because they thought it'd be too intense for children. Below is the first deleted scene I mentioned, and Screweyes here was voiced by none other than Jon Malcovich.
5. Quest for Camelot
Quest for Camelot had everything a kid could want; action, romance, magic, Eric Idle and Don Rickles singing an ear bleeding duet (okay, maybe not that). With the exception of Kayley's father dying, and a few frightful images,the movie was generally a non-threatening flick. Although, when the film was in production, there were plans to make it more faithful to the book it was inspired by-The King's Damosel. In The King's Damosel, Lynette (Kayley) was raped by her mentor/father's friend and is afraid her new husband will shame her because she's not a virgin. So, yeah, it could've been QUITE a different film.
4. The Lion King
Everyone knows The Lion King, right? Well, if you don't, it's basically an animal version of Hamlet. The Lion King was about a pride whose leader Mufasa was overthrown by his jealous(, but fabulous) brother Scar. Scar managed to trick Mufasa's son Simba into believing he was responsible for his father's death and ran off. Simba later returned to face his past and take his place as king. Now, besides the fact there's a farting warthog, this movie had some adult themes. There was death (they showed Mufasa's corpse and Simba trying to wake him up), repression (Simba bottled up his demons) and resolution (Simba at last felt at peace) . However, things almost became a little more adult. In a deleted sequence, Scar approached the adult Nala about becoming his queen and bearing him cubs. He sung about mating with her, and seductively brushed up against and cornered her till she scratched him. This scene was later removed because the filmmakers thought it was too inappropriate.
Rock-A-Doodle was a trip. It made little to no sense; random incidents happened and it was perplexing. Explaining this movie is a headache, but the gist of it was a little boy turned into a kitten and he and some farm animals traveled to the city to retrieve Chanticleer (a rooster) so he could make the sun rise again with his crowing, and get rid of the Grand Duke (a villainous owl who despises sunlight). Despite being psychedelic, Rock-A-Doodle suited and (I guess) entertained younger kids. However, there was a scene that showed the Grand Duke baking a baby skunk into a pie. This wasn't ommitted because it was morbid, but because the studio received notes that most child abuse cases happened in the kitchen.
2. The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride
The successor to The Lion King was a standard straight to video Disney sequel. Nothing much happened, save for a couple of intense moments and a brutal death scene. The Lion King II: Simba's Pride was basically an animal version of Romeo and Juliet where Simba's daughter Kiara fell for Kovu (a member of a pride that was banished from the Pridelands to the Outlands). Zira (Kovu's mom and leader of the Outlands) was the movie's main villainess and she manipulated her son into trying to kill Simba. Zira's death was initially more grim, as she was hanging off a cliff and Kiara offered to pull her up. Zira declined and then let go, plunging into the river. This was thought to be too gruesome and was canned.
1. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Hunchback of Notre Dame is known as one of the darkest Disney movies of all time. This story is based on the Victor Hugo book of the same name, and was about a bell ringer/hunchback named Quasimodo who yearned to see the outside world. However, his master Frollo isolated him due to his deformed appearance, but Quasi eventually snuck out and met the gypsy Esmeralda. She defended him when he was attacked, and helped turn his life around. Besides Frollo dying at the end, Quasi was almost a casualty. They planned for Frollo to stab him, and Esmeralda would try to rescue him, but she would be too late. Quasi would then express his wish to ring the bells one last time and Esmeralda and Phoebus would help him before he died. Needless to say, this wasn't included.
Now, if these changes were kept, would they have been too much even for '90s kids? Well, I believe We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story, The Lion King, and The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride would've been fine. The first movie's deleted scenes weren't that far off from its cheerful, but slightly disturbing tone, and it would have actually offered an explanation on Screweyes' fear and motivation in the movie. The Lion King's deleted content (while risque) would've still served as an interesting plot point, and its sequel's suicide wouldn't have been that grisly anyway. The others (although it'd depend on their execution) would've been too adult (Quest for Camelot), cruel (Rock-A-Doodle) or depressing (The Hunchback of Notre Dame).