Thursday, January 31, 2013

Having Nightmares with Disney (or:10 Creepy Disney Moments) - Part 2

If you've missed the first part of this list, you can check it out here!

5. Pocahontas: “Savages”

Released in 95, Pocahontas was NOT the success Disney staff expected. And I know why.

Because Pocahontas and John Smith are BOOOOORIIIING. The raccoon Meeko, the hummingbird Flit and Percy the pug are way more interesting. The talking tree makes me yawn, and chief Powhatan leaves much to be desired in the "princess's father" category (Powhatan is not funny, with his "steady as the beating drum" talk. Snooze fest!). And Pocahontas' best friend is a bitch. An honorable mention is due to the young British settler Thomas, who is endearing and the only character in the movie to feel that genocide might be wrong. Also noteworthy: he was dubbed by none other than a young Christian Bale. 


But the visual and the soundtrack are very superior to the film. And the song “Savages”, in particular, that shows both British settlers and native Americans preparing themselves for war, is spectacular:

This sequence is great, the music is impressive, but singing about genocide is... dark; definitely not a movie to be watched around Thanksgiving, if you ask me!
Another thing that did not help the movie (for me) was Mel Gibson dubbing John Smith. You can hear the crazy in his voice!

"...and that's how the Jews killed Our Lord and Savior."

In the end, Disney makes settlers and native Americans happily helping each other.

4. The Princess and the Frog: Dr. Facilier's death

In 2004, Disney promised not to make any more traditionally animated movies – thank God they went back on their word and released The Princess and the Frog in 2009.

The film introduces the first-ever African-American Disney princess, and it takes place in New Orleans in the 20's, with lots of voodoo, jazz and Cajun accent.
When the villan, the voodoo witch doctor Facilier (love child of Cruella de Vil and Cap. Hook), fails to fulfill his part in the agreement he had with the voodoo powers that be, (his “friends on the other side”), punishment does not tardy:

“Pompompompompom ARE YOU REEAAADY?” Oh. Dear. God. Those little voodoo dolls coming out of the ground, Facilier's desperate face – printed forever on a pillar – plus the chanting all make for a real nightmare.
Once again: chanting never helps.

3. The Black Cauldron : The Horned King's death
Never heard of this movie or don't quite remember it? That's because Disney does not want you to remember this flop from 85.

Based on the book series The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander, the movie is about young “assistant pig-keeper” Taran, who must stop the Horned King (very Ring Wraith looking, by the way) from getting the Black Cauldron, which can give him a legion of undead soldiers. This film and The Hunchback of Notre Dame are considered to be Disney's darkest movies ever. Not to mention the story is, frankly, a mess.

And this movie was SO dark that drastic cuts had to be made before its release; one of the deleted scenes, for example, showed a man's flesh being dissolved by a deathly mist (not pretty, but if you want you can see it here), while another displayed one of the undead soldiers killing a man by slicing his neck and torso. Nice. These cuts were so abrupt that they even left a perceptible jump in the soundtrack.
But even after cutting the strongest scenes, the reception was not good, loosing at the box office to the likes of the first Care Bears movie. (!) 

Aaaaaaand here is the scene where the Horned King dies, sucked into the Black Cauldron.

 Lovely scene.

2. Fantasia: “Night on Bald Mountain”

Fantasia was a grand project, but not a lucrative one.
The timing for it was bad: releasing a movie in the midst of the Second World War (Fantasia was released in 1940) meant not being able to count on the European market; and as it had been a very expensive movie to make, the studio did not have the necessary profit to cover the expenses it'd had. The movie was said to be a  “remarkable nightmare”. One critic said it was “for adults and very nerdy kids”.

Since I've always been very nerdy, I LOVED Fantasia when I was a kid. Except for the “Night on Bald Mountain” segment. It shows the demon Chernabog summoning evil spirits and hellish beasts at midnight; they all dance and fly across the air, only stopping upon hearing some Ave Maria chanting in the distance, along with the sun rise.

Another item on my “fast-forward list”. It terrifies me to the very core of my soul until this day. And though I find it fascinating nowadays, it's so grotesque I think wouldn't let my kids watch it before they were, I don't know, 15.

1. The Hunchback of Notre Dame: “Hell Fire”

This 96 movie is, beyond the shadow of a doubt, a horrible adaptation of Victor Hugo's book The Hunchback of Notre Dame – but BOY is it an excellent film! 

The story is good if you don't think of the original book, the visual is dazzling, and the soundtrack basically told many other Disney songs they could suck it.
But Hunchback is too dark: Quasimodo is tortured by the Parisians, Esmeralda is way too sexy, the 15th century Catholicism is to heavy for a child to really understand, and even the vocabulary used might be beyond some children's grasp sometimes. No wonder they released Hercules the following year, a bunch of sparkly colorful nonsense.
But Judge Claude Frollo's moral dilemma, torn between his religious duty and devotion and his lust for Esmeralda, is the scariest aspect of the movie (starting at 0:42):

I must say: one doesn't understand what Frollo's actually going through here till after one's puberty. 
Frollo is guilty of religious hypocrisy, lust, attempted genocide, psychological oppression, murder and what has to be The Most Demented Disney Song Ever. 
Creepy lecherous old man.  


Ricademus said...

Wow, my friend, you really know your Disney. I knew you were a princess, but didn't realize you're a Disney Princess!!! :)

Rml said...

Hahahahaha, yeah, it's one of my (many) obsessions! ^^

Stephanie Cai said...

That segment in Fantasia made me hysterical in the movie theater. My Mom had to carry me out.

and I had no idea of the film Black Cauldron. It definitely sounds too dark for me!

Is there a part 3???

beanizer_05 said...

ok..still a Disney teacher..

Rml said...

Sorry Stephanie, no part 3 for now! I do intend to write other lists, though, and since I love talking about Disney related stuff, there's much more where this one came from! ^^

@bean: long time no see you around here, hon! =D