Kids' Movies as an Adult: Rikki Tikki Tavi

Recently, Jordan said something that sounded like he was saying "Toot Sweets." If you were a musical theater loving child like me, you would have (as I did) broken into the song "Toot Sweets," from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. If you're a musical theater loving person married to a person who is bewildered by musical theater, you can imagine Jordan's completely confused reaction. 

So I played him this videowhich then sent us down a rabbit hole of all things Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

You guys, that move is TERRIFYING. What the actual hell. 

SO, an idea was born: what if I started a series, similar to Bachelor recaps, complete with screenshots, of children's movies that are totally inappropriate/super scary to watch as an adult?

And what if we started with Rikki Tikki Tavi?  

Rikki Tikki Tavi
Or, The movie your 7th grade English teacher played when a substitute came.

If you haven't had the pleasure, this movie is on YouTube here. It's only about 23 minutes, but it's 23 minutes of film that will seep straight into your brain stem and never leave. I could probably review this movie without re-watching, although I'm definitely going to re-watch it. Right now. 


First of all, none of the human characters have pupils, which is just pretty damn upsetting right out of the gate. 

I do not like that. 

This little British (except for the son, who has a very suspicious American accent) family, living in India, rescues our hero Rikki Tikki Tavi from drowning in a big storm. By the way, the narration that runs through this movie is bone-chilling. The guy who's talking sounds like a mixture of Slugworth from Willy Wonka and Ernest Hemingway's ghost. 

We are then introduced to RTT's incredibly fast-moving ways, where he turns into a big long blob and then materializes at his destination. 

Fast little bugger, isn't he? Rikki is very winning. He's voiced by somebody who sounds very handsome and also sounds like Greg Kinnear. I am now going to IMDB and see whether I'm right.

Some fellow named Shep Menken. 

ORSON WELLS IS THE NARRATOR?! OH MY GOSH I really nailed it on the Hemingway's ghost thing.  

...why is his index finger black?? 

...why is his index finger black?? 

Anyway, sorry about that. Google is a dangerous place. 

So. Back to the story. 

RTT basically cozies up to this family who adores him. He even gets to sleep in bed with Teddy, the kid. The mom is not wild about this for obvious reasons (RABIES AND OTHER DISEASES), but the dad is all, "Stop being a hysterical woman and let this rat sleep on our kid's head. GOD CAROL YOU'RE SO DRAMATIC." 

Her name is not actually Carol.

RTT goes out in this family's extensive garden, because they are obviously #rich. I, as an adult, am extremely jealous of this very spacious house with all this square footage. Kids just don't appreciate that sort of thing. 

RTT goes out to make some friends and meets a bird couple who seem distressed for some reason. They explain that one of their babies fell out of the nest yesterday and got eaten by Nag. Just as Rikki asks who Nag is, we get introduced to this horrible thing, who speaks only in whispers. 

You really need to watch this part of the movie to get the full effect, including the freaky ass music the play and the whispering snake. It really is truly so disturbing. 

RTT freaks out for a moment, then remembers that he eats snakes for lunch (literally), so he starts to feel himself a little more. 

Go, Rikki, go, Rikki! 

Before long, Nag's nasty wife Nagaina (who is equally, if not more, terrifying than her spouse) tries to shank RTT from behind. Thankfully, the lady bird warns him in enough time for him to jump and escape sudden snake death. But now, Nagaina is PISSED. 

Rikki takes a little jaunt around the garden to figure out what to do about this cobra problem, and Teddy runs out to meet him, offering him a casual peanut from his pocket. But as soon as he holds it out, a snake rises up out of the dust and LITERALLY SAYS, "Be careful, I am death." 

Are you freaking kidding me. 

So yeah, this kid almost gets killed for what will not the only time in this movie, by the second-most venomous snake in the world: the Eastern brown snake (I looked it up). "I am death." Cool. Normal. In a kids' movie. 

Anyway, RTT just goes ahead and finishes this snake off, actually brushes his shoulders off and is like, "What, that? No big," much to the delight of the family. They're celebrating his bravery and hopefully lecturing their son about not just holding peanuts willy nilly in the damn yard. 

That night, Rikki patrols the house and meets the Chuchundra, the saddest bastard in all of India. 

Chuchundra is inexplicably crying and tells RTT to steer clear of the cobras. He also makes some weird veiled reference to something his rat cousin, Chua, told him, but we never figure out what that was. Real plot hole here, people.  

Rikki starts listening out for any danger, and thinks he hears the cobras in the house. The narrator describes this sound in the creepiest possible way if you're already imagining a snake slithering around: "The house was still, but he thought he could just catch the faintest scratch scratch in the world. A noise as faint as that of a wasp walking on a windowpane." 

HELL no.

RTT identifies this sound as the cobras slithering into one of the (many) bathrooms of the house. 

I'd like to pause here and tell you a quick story, if you'll allow it. 

A coworker told me a story recently about her fiancé, who was out mowing the lawn in Asheville one day and encountered a black snake that was about 5' long. (Are you freaking out yet?) 

He immediately left the lawn mower and went inside to shower the heebie jeebies off him. When he opened the shower door, the snake was CURLED UP ON HIS BATHMAT AT THE FOOT OF THE SHOWER. YES. THIS IS A REAL STORY. 

It had followed him inside. Real life. He left the screen door open. He had to JUMP OVER IT to get out of the bathroom and by the time he'd gotten someone to come and get it out, it had crawled up the wall of his bathroom and situated itself around the top of the shower. 

"But Mary Catherine, black snakes aren't pois --" I DON'T CARE IT'S THE SCARIEST STORY EVER. 

Now that we all have ants in our freakin' pants, let's return to the dead of night in India. 

Nag and Nagaina post up outside the house with a plot to murder the entire family in order to rid the house of people, and, by default, snake-killing mongooses. They're worried their brood of babies will be murdered by RTT if he lives. No people = no mongoose. 

Nag hatches a plan to curl up at the base of a giant vase and bite the dad when he comes in to take a bath the next morning. 

RTT knows it's dangerous, but he goes for it anyway. He and Nag scrap and scuffle, but in the end, the victory is RTT's. I wish I could describe to you the absolutely PAINFUL sensation of having your entire body covered in goosebumps at watching a fictional vermin and snake fight on your computer. Moongoosebumps. (Had to.) 

By the way, that last frame is how the movie communicates to us that Nag is dead. It's like a gang sign. BOOM. There's also a weird swell of the horn section at this part. I'm telling you, just go watch this movie. I feel like there's a snake somewhere in my house right now. 

So RTT, fresh off his victory, but not cocky enough to forget he's got another snake to settle with, peruses the garden the next morning. The male bird starts singing RTT a song he's written for him, but Rikki has no time for this foolishness. 

After the entirety of this original song, the bird finally helps RTT out and lets him know Nagaina is mourning Nag on the trash pile. Rikki is more concerned with destroying her eggs, so he forms a secret plan with the dumb bird's smart bird wife (man, Rudyard Kipling really believed in the sharp female spouses of the dumb male counterparts, didn't he?). 

Sensible female bird goes off to distract Nagaina by pretending her wing is broken. Nagaina pursues her because she was the one who kept Rikki from getting smoked early in the story by warning him of Nagaina's attack. 

"Indeed and truly, you've chosen a bad place to be lame in." Nagaina is SERIOUSLY hateful. 

Meanwhile, RTT is already in the melon bed making scrambled cobra eggs - all except one, which he steals to bait Nagaina.

Y'all seriously though, chillbumps watching this. Nagaina, knowing that revenge on a bird < revenge on the humans, who she *thinks* killed Nag. Bird Wife warns RTT, who goes running at the speed of sound, to find this HORRIFYING SCENE GOOD GOD. 

RTT temps Nagaina to fight him with the egg he stole. 

So she does. 

RTT chases Nagaina through the garden and eventually catches hold of her tail, but she pulls him down into her snake hole and we lose sight of him.

At this point, the bird, who like 2 minutes ago was celebrating Rikki as a hero, actually says out loud, "It's all over for Rikki. We must sing his death song." 


Maybe this bird needs to learn a little something about jumping to conclusions. If I was his wife, I would be shaking my damn head. 

Actually bowing her head in shame, bless her heart.&nbsp;

Actually bowing her head in shame, bless her heart. 

But what's that noise? RIKKI EMERGES VICTORIOUS!! 

Aaaaaaaand that bird is back to singing. I mean I'm talking something happens and seconds later this bird is singing a really presumptuous song about it. 

Rikki goes back to sleeping with Teddy and protecting the house, so that no snake "dares show its head inside the garden walls." 


Not inappropriate. Really fairly kid-friendly.


I don't care how comfortable you are with snakes - the music paired with the whispering cobras paired with the creepy imagery and scuttling sounds snakes make?! NO. I dare you to watch this movie free of goosebumps. 

Okay, pals. 'Til next time.