Disturbing Disney #3: Escaping Monstro from Pinocchio (1940)

This will be the final entry for Pinocchio and it involves a moment that deeply disturbed me the older I got. But before I get there, I need to tell you how Pinocchio and company get into this mess in the first place.

Searching for (and escaping from) Monstro, Pinocchio (1940)

So….while Pinocchio is off getting into all kinds of trouble (i.e. Stromboli and Pleasure Island), poor Geppetto has been waiting and waiting (along with Figaro the cat and Cleo the goldfish). Finally, he packs up and goes looking for his wayward son, eventually ending up far out at sea, where his ship is swallowed by Monstro the whale (all of this is relayed to Pinocchio by a message from the Blue Fairy).


Yup…that’s Monstro (I had to be reassured as a kid that most whales weren’t like this)

Monstro IS a pretty disturbing character if you think about it. He’s a cross between a sperm whale (hence the teeth) and a blue whale (overall size) and possesses a vile temper to boot. Even little Jiminy Cricket has heard of this monster and it’s all bad news: Monstro swallows “entire ships” and is not to be trifled with. Nevertheless, Pinocchio wants his father back, so off the pair goes to take a stroll on the ocean floor in search of Monstro (the very mention of the name sends any and all sea life fleeing for their lives). Since Pinocchio is made of wood, he doesn’t have to worry about breathing underwater (as to why Jiminy can do it, being a cricket and all, well, it IS a Disney movie, so anything is possible).


Side note: the animator who created these fish is still alive at the ripe old age of 103

After much searching, Pinocchio is reunited with Geppetto when Monstro pursues a school of tuna for a meal, bringing along Pinocchio in the process (but not Jiminy, he’s stuck outside!). It’s a happy reunion, except for the awkward moment when Geppetto finds his son has grown donkey ears and a tail, but since they’re together again, all is forgiven. Pinocchio wants to escape, but even when Geppetto patiently explains that “nothings comes out” once Monstro has eaten, that determined puppet isn’t giving up. He plans to make the whale sneeze by creating lots of smoke, and the sneeze should force out the small raft that Geppetto built a while back.

The plan works!!! Monstro lets out a mighty sneeze and the raft is sent way out into the ocean, but now the great whale is furious (and I do mean FURIOUS!!) that prey has managed to escape him, so he sets off in hot pursuit. The only hope Geppetto, Pinocchio and company have now is to reach the safety of the rocks on shore before Monstro smashes them all to pieces. They nearly make it, but Monstro smashes the raft, forcing Pinocchio to frantically swim the rest of the way, dragging Geppetto along so he doesn’t drown.


Giant whale incoming: AHHHHHHH!!!!!!

This is the first disturbing moment: in the last part of the chase, Monstro becomes truly frightening (even more so than before), and when you see this shot up above, how can anyone not be terrified, especially if you’re a little kid?

At any rate, Pinocchio makes it to the edge of the rocks mere moments before Monstro comes barrelling in like a freight train, smashing the rocks to pieces and sending everyone flying in separate directions.

Geppetto, Figaro, Cleo and even Jiminy are all shown on the beach, but where is Pinocchio? Well…the answer is what made me add this to the Disturbing list. Jiminy is searching for Pinocchio when suddenly we hear this terrible gasp and see THIS:


Now I know technically Pinocchio hasn’t drowned (he’s made of wood and all that) and it was the force of Monstro’s impact that likely killed him but COME ON DISNEY!!! This is a disturbing, horrifying image. Granted it only lasts for a moment, but this image has been permanently burned into my brain. It is messed up that they would show a kid (wooden or not) dead like this. And it’s a pretty major shift considering in the previous animated film, when Snow White falls “dead” we only see her arm as she collapses to the floor.

Of course I should mention that we do get our happy ending shortly thereafter. The Blue Fairy determines that Pinocchio has done very well and brings him back to life, but this time as a real flesh and blood human boy, to the overwhelming joy of Geppetto, Jiminy and everyone else.

Despite the happy ending, the entire encounter with Monstro is very disturbing and rightly deserves to be included on this list. Let me know what you think about this scene in the comments below, did you find it disturbing as well?


For more Disturbing Disney, see also:

Disturbing Disney #1: The Coachman in Pinocchio (1940)

Disturbing Disney #2: The truth of Pleasure Island in Pinocchio (1940)

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9 thoughts on “Disturbing Disney #3: Escaping Monstro from Pinocchio (1940)

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  6. stevopunkdude182

    Yes I did , I was only six years old when my parents got the video of this movie for me and I remember watching it for the first time and feeling quite creeped out by the time it got to the pleasure island scene but by the time of this scene I was absolutely petrified and was freaking out and I tell you what it did not get easier on the second or third viewing . My sister was only three and because of what sisters do to elder siblings she would always request to watch Pinocchio ( No – yo ) as she called it and she used to get great pleasure at seeing me cower behind the sofa and bury my head in cushions but my parents thought I was being ridiculous and forced me on many occasions to watch it , A few times I would try and find ways to escape that scene by going to the bathroom right before the search for the whale comes so is what I’d do is drink a whole pint of juice or soda as the film was starting and hold it in until after the pleasure island scene and go to the bath room and stay in there for about 20 mins – half an hour but that only worked for a couple of times as my parents would pause it and keep it on hold until I got back and then my mom just grabbed me by the ear and said “ YOU ARE GOING TO SIT THERE AND YOU ARE GOING TO WATCH THIS RIGHT THROUGH UNTIL THE VERY END WITH NO FUSS “ I could just not take it I kept on freaking out . Other relatives tried to reassure me as you said , that all whales are no like that and he’s not going to get you he’s stuck in the TV screen and he won’t hurt you but that made no difference . My parents continued to forced me to watch it until I was about 9 and the fact I was getting older made no difference whatsoever & if anything I found it more terrifying and the only reason it lasted until age 9 was because that was the year I got my own TV & VCR in my Bedroom and my sister was into something else and the fun had worn thin for her but I remained on my guard ever since in case she decided she wanted to watch it again and try to put me through that again . The last time I was forced to watch it was February of 1991 and even then I’d tried to refuse to watch it but they put it o during meal time and dragged the meal out so I couldn’t just scoff my food down at breakneck speed and then run up stairs and watch whatever I was into ( I think The Simpsons had just made it over to the UK and was showing on Sky TV and my folks got sky in the very early 90’s and I used to tape episodes to watch upstairs so I put the headphones in and stayed up there for an hour and a half just to be sure that Pinocchio had finished .I haven’t watched Pinocchio or that scene in nearly 30 years and that is the way I intend to keep it I said never again 27 years ago and I meant it . My sister now has a little boy whose just turned one years old and I’m pretty sure that when he’s of an age where he can sit though a full length feature film that Pinocchio is one that he’ll be exposed to no doubt at age four or five and if she’ll put it on while I’m over there visiting her and her family but there is a possibility that the little one will find it as petrifying as I did and it’ll be the same thing with him all over again but I will find an excuse NOT to sit through it and relive horrifying childhood trauma . When we got back from a trip to Disneyland in Paris France in 1999 when I was 16 it got them all in the mood and for a couple of weeks they decided that they were going to watch a Disney film every night until it gets to the Pixar era which non of them liked , they’re very closed minded and were like “ give me the hand drawn Disney films any day , non of this computer generated rubbish for me . I was very rebellious at 16 and point blank flat out refused to sit and watch any of the Disney films so spent the majority of time in my bedroom when not at school / college blasting music that I knew my parents hated & disapproved of , Eminem , Blink 182 , Limp Bizkit & The Offspring just to name a few and refused to come out of my room until I knew that they had finished . I said if they made me watch Pinocchio ever again I would F***ing destroy the Video / DVD or whatever medium it was on but I wouldn’t do that now I would just refuse to visit them at their home .

    Liked by 1 person

  7. stevopunkdude182

    They always used to use it as a threat to me if I misbehaved or they thought I was about to misbehaved and so it was commonly used as Punishment, they would confiscate and forbid me to watch / listen to what I did enjoy and forced me to watch Pinocchio instead but all it’s done is traumatised me for life and given me a raging deep, deep hatred of the film , reading your post was difficult enough because the memories were coming back but obviously not as bad as sitting and watching it and of course it’d be a lot more intensely frightening now what with the 55 inch HD TV and on Blu ray as opposed to the 19 inch analogue CRT TV and VCR . Others have said because everyone who knows my parents and still knows me knows and remembers this and they have suggested that now I’m an adult I re watch the film and I’ll see that it’s not so scary through 30 + year old eyes as opposed to 6 – 9 year olds but I would not like to chance it as I feel it’d just be like opening up old wounds and all the horror and trauma would just come flooding back at me . I am still adamant that I will NEVER sit in front of Pinocchio ever again. I am autistic and was strongly believed to have been back then but since there was no diagnosis it wasn’t taken seriously anyway my point is that with Autism as I know from experience of others I know and the support I receive that with Autism Irrational fears is one of the many common traits and they just weren’t understanding it at all I’m starting therapy next week for 16 sessions and one of the many things that will be going into is my childhood and am wondering if it is worth bringing this up and speaking about my fear and trauma from that film . Thanks for your reply Becky

    Liked by 1 person


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