Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Dark Detail In Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory No One Noticed

There are a lot of scary things about 1971's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, but one subtle detail might be the darkest of all. If you've always suspected that Wonka was more of a villain than a charming and eccentric showman, this revelation is for you. This is definitive proof that the chocolatier never intended for his young guests to make it to the end of the tour.

Consider how Wonka occasionally takes the children and their chaperones from place to place in wacky modes of transportation — first the Wonkatania boat, then the carbonation-powered Wonkamobile, and finally the glass elevator. Get this: the number of seats on each transport gets smaller every time and just happens to fit the number of children and parents left. That's a little too convenient for comfort. Ten guests enter the Chocolate Room, eight guests leave... and the Wonkatania that arrives to pick them up and sail them through that horrifying tunnel to the Inventing Room only has eight seats — besides Wonka's, that is. It's almost like he knew Augustus Gloop was going to fall in that river. 

They're going fast

"Grab a seat, they're goin' fast!" Wonka implores his guests in a line that takes on a darker connotation if you're paying attention. When you look at his tour with a critical (and maybe slightly cynical) eye, what seems like a bit of carnival barker fun suddenly becomes an incredibly spooky piece of foreshadowing. These kids were being set up to fail — and the seats are going fast because the children are. Wonka reveals by the end of the film that the factory tour was always about finding one special child to inherit everything. That's all well and good, but what did he intend to happen to the losers of the contest? It's a question that's especially haunting when you consider that — unlike Roald Dahl's original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory book or the 2005 Tim Burton version — the 1971 film never shows the young victims again at the end of the story.

Maybe, just maybe, this vehicle situation was a mistake or a choice made by the production for the sake of convenience. Maybe the team designing these vehicles just made enough seats for the actors who were going to be in each scene, and didn't think about the fact that Wonka's tour was supposed to accommodate more people. We could say that's what happened. We could also suspend our disbelief a little further, and pretend that Wonka has either the magic or advanced technology for his cars and boats to adapt to his needs. Maybe he has cars and boats in multiple sizes and the Oompa Loompas only send along exactly what he needs in the moment. Wonka is a perfectionist, that is made very clear by the way he runs his chocolate factory.

But isn't it way more fun to tell yourself that these "accidents" were all premeditated? That Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is secretly a horror movie, a proto-slasher about children who are invited to a chocolate factory and picked off, one by one? It's not just the trippy visuals and Wonka's sadistic asides that make this kids' movie secretly terrifying — it's everything down to the smallest detail.