When I was a little girl, we had to watch the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie in school. While most of my classmates sat on the library floor pin straight and smiling, rapt with attention, mouths watering from all that candy on the screen; I was hunched over in a ball, eyes intently studying my fingers, tears on my cheeks, praying for the bell to ring.
The truth of the matter was, everything about this movie frightened me. To me, the Oompa Loompas looked like demonic oranges thirsting for blood . . .
. . . or, perhaps, the cast of MTV’s Jersey Shore, whichever you prefer.
(“Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid.”)
And Gene Wilder had the same wild and crazy eyes Jack Nicholson had in The Shining, not exactly the ideal babysitter, if you know what I mean. Not to mention what the “kindly” Willy Wonka did to the kids. I mean, I get that this movie was based on a Roald Dahl novel that was supposed to be a cautionary tale against childhood misbehavior. But, seriously, did the harsh punishments really fit the crimes here?
At the end of the original film, Wonka assures Charlie that all of the other kids will be returned to their normal selves. And yet, after each child met his or her respective fate, we never saw any of them again. As a child, I truly believed that Willy Wonka killed them all. After all, isn’t that exactly what adults told kids when someone or something died – that they just “went away?”
Sound crazy to you? Look at the evidence. Violet Beauregard eats a piece of gum that she isn’t supposed to eat, and, as a result becomes instantly and morbidly obese. What kind of message is that for young girls? Not only does she become obese, her skin becomes blue, as in, suffocation blue. That girl was a coronary waiting to happen, if you ask me.
Augustus Gloop served as another threat against the dangers of overeating. (You might as well call this movie Jenny Craig for Kids.)
(“Come on, boys and girls . . . They have Chicken Fettucini . . FETTUCINI!!!!!”)
Augustus gets sucked into a chocolate fudge pipe and dumped into a chocolate fudge river. Now, I’m no science buff, so I’m not quite an expert on the buoyancy properties of fudge. However, I know it’s not meant for swimming. And to me, it kind of looked like the poor kid drowned . . .
The spoiled Veruca Salt gets attacked by rabid squirrels (Note: I’m from New Jersey, so all squirrels are rabid, as far as I’m concerned.) She then gets dropped down a high shoot, with nothing to pad her fall. Couch potato Mike Teevee is shrunk to teeny weeny size, and, the way I saw it, probably ended up stepped on and squashed like a bug.
In 2005, Tim Burton remade the film in such a way that you actually saw the “bad kids” exiting the factory at the end of the movie, alive and well. And yet, while not quite as traumatic (I was also a bit older by this point), this version still creeped me out. That inexplicable back story Tim Burton added made Johnny Depp’s Willy Wonka look like a pedophile who was definitively abused and possibly molested as a child. And that dentist chair scene? I get chills just thinking about it . . .
(“I’ve been waiting for you . . . little Clarice.”)
So, as you can see, when it comes to Willy Wonka, I’m simply not a fan. Please don’t hate me!