Tag Archives: animated film

Disturbing Bluth #7: Charlie Dreams of Hell in All Dogs Go to Heaven

Oh boy….let’s talk about this shall we?

I’ve made no secret of the fact that Don Bluth’s animated films have given birth to some of my worst childhood nightmares, and All Dogs Go to Heaven is a prime example. Aside from Charlie being brutally murdered in the film’s opening act, the most disturbing part of this entire film is a sequence that takes place mid-film, when Charlie has a nightmare about falling into Hell. It’s a very real prospect, since Charlie’s impulsive act in winding up a certain watch and escaping Heaven means he’s forbidden from returning there, meaning Hell is the only place he can go when he dies.

The sequence starts ominously, with the faint voice of Annabelle (the dog who welcomed Charlie to Heaven) repeating “You can never come back, you can never come back…” before suddenly Charlie is thrown headlong into a nightmarish landscape that quickly opens up to reveal the mouth of Hell.

And then it gets worse.

After being dragged into the mouth of Hell, Charlie falls into a demonic boat surrounded by lava, fire, and brimstone. It’s a nightmarish image, and the ominous music certainly doesn’t help. Oh yes, and there’s also a skeletal monster onboard that lunges and snaps at Charlie. But then comes the worst of all: from out of the flames and lava comes what can only be described as a terrifying Hellbeast, one that breathes fire and causes other, smaller demons to appear and torment Charlie.

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This creature is terrifying, horrifying, the last thing you’d expect to see in a children’s movie (which All Dogs Go to Heaven is supposed to be don’t forget). The thing is…I think this isn’t the only time we see this creature. Look at the picture of the Hellbeast again and notice the reddish fur/skin and the jutting chin. Look at all familiar? If it does, it’s because that’s awfully similar to Red, the demonic villain of All Dogs Go to Heaven 2. I admit Red isn’t nearly as demonic in appearance, but I have a theory that this appearance in Hell is how Red really looks while his appearance in the sequel is the appearance he chooses to wear while on Earth.

Thankfully, the nightmare comes to an end as the boat sinks back into the lava, trying to take Charlie with it. The sequence barely lasts two minutes but it makes quite the impression. For years this scene scared me out of my mind, and to this day I don’t understand why anyone would think a little kid could handle something like this. On the one hand, I do get that Bluth was trying to get across how scared Charlie is of going to Hell (hence why he’s so protective of that watch), but surely there was another way to do it that didn’t involve…this. I can’t overstate how messed up this entire scene is. I’ve wanted to write about this one for a while, and I hope my words did justice to how disturbing it all is.

Let me know what you think about Charlie’s nightmare of Hell in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Disturbing Bluth #1: The Secret of NIMH (Overview and Trivia)

Disturbing Bluth #2: The Secret of NIMH: Dragon the (Demon) Cat

Disturbing Bluth #3: The Great Owl in The Secret of NIMH (1982)

Disturbing Bluth #4: Jenner in The Secret of NIMH (1982)

Disturbing Bluth #5: The House is Sinking in The Secret of NIMH (1982)

Disturbing Bluth #6: Meeting Brutus in The Secret of NIMH (1982)

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FernGully: The Last Rainforest “Toxic Love” (1992)

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FernGully: The Last Rainforest “Toxic Love” (1992)

It’s a shame that FernGully: The Last Rainforest is such an underrated film today because it features one of the more terrifying animated villains of the 90s: Hexxus, the spirit of destruction. Hexxus is voiced by Tim Curry (and I don’t think any actor could have done it better) and was originally sealed away in a tree by Magi many thousands of years ago. However, when that tree is cut down by humans, Hexxus escapes as a literal ball of slime and slips into the Leveler machine to regain his strength. Once inside, the dark spirit feeds off the pollution the machine gives off until he regains his form as an oily, black spirit. He’s so delighted with the Leveler that he sings about how this can help him get revenge at last.

Hit me one time!
Hit me twice!
Oh, aaah!
Ooohh
That’s rather nice!

Oil and grime
Poison sludge
Diesel clouds and
Noxious muck
Slime beneath me
Slime up above
Ooh, you’ll love my
(Ah-ah-ah)
Toxic love

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I see the world
And all the creatures in it
(All the creatures in it)
I suck ’em dry
And spit ’em out like spinach

‘Cause greedy human beings
Will always lend a hand
With the destruction of this
Worthless jungle land
And what a beautiful machine
They have provided
To slice a path of doom!
With my sweet breath to guide it

Filthy, brown
Acid rain
Pouring down like
Egg chow mein
Slime beneath me
Slime up above
Ooh, you’ll love my 
(Ah-ah-ah)
Toxic love

Now while Hexxus, in his spirit form, comes off as this suave (but thoroughly evil) being, let’s not forget that he initially manifests as a skeleton (a form he returns to at the climax of the film). Hexxus is the personification of destruction and pollution and he hates all living and growing things. If he had his way, the Earth would be reduced to a lifeless wasteland. It’s a scary thought and “Toxic Love” is a scary song. It’s a reminder that if we continue to build destructive machines, we in turn can release destructive forces that cannot be controlled upon the world.

What do you think about “Toxic Love”? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

FernGully: The Last Rainforest “Spirit of the Trees” (1992)

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

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Thumbelina “Let Me Be Your Wings” (1994)

In one of Don Bluth’s last animated ventures (the studio closed the following year), Thumbelina follows the titular character as she lives a relatively happy life with her mother in the countryside. The one thing that makes Thumbelina unhappy, however, is the apparent reality that she is the only person her size (she’s only as big as a thumb after all). All of this changes one night when Thumbelina meets the fairy prince Cornelius, who is enchanted by her singing. The pair go for a whirlwind ride on the prince’s bumblebee where he proceeds to woo her with “Let Me Be Your Wings.”

 

Let me be your wings
Let me be your only love
Let me take you far beyond the stars

Let me be your wings
Let me lift you high above
Everything we’re dreaming of will soon be ours

Anything that you desire
Anything at all
Everyday I’ll take you higher
And I’ll never let you fall

Let me be your wings
Leave behind the world you know
For another world of wondrous things
We’ll see the universe and dance on Saturn’s rings
Fly with me and I will be your wings

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“Let Me Be Your Wings” is the quintessential romance song. As Thumbelina has no wings of her own, Cornelius vows he’ll be her “wings” instead and give her everything she ever wanted. Of course, this song does suffer from the flaw found in a lot of pre-2000 animated films in which we have a hero (Cornelius) professing love to a heroine (Thumbelina) that he’s only just met. Of course you can be attracted to someone right away, but professing eternal love and wanting to marry right away? It’s not exactly a realistic depiction of love is it? However, putting that aside, it’s easy to feel happy for Thumbelina as Cornelius shows her a night to remember. Given what happens next though, I’ve always found myself wishing that Cornelius had just whisked her away to the fairy kingdom then and there (which would have avoided so many problems).

What do you think of “Let Me Be Your Wings”? Let me know your thoughts about the song in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Thumbelina “Marry the Mole” (1994)

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

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Thumbelina “Marry the Mole” (1994)

Despite earning a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Original Song (the only award Thumbelina picked up), I really like the song “Marry the Mole.” As the title implies, the song features Mrs. Fieldmouse (Carol Channing) convincing Thumbelina (Jodi Benson) as to why she should marry Mr. Mole (who is admittedly very wealthy but also cynical and blind as a bat). From Mrs. Fieldmouse’s point of view, love is highly overrated and it is far better to marry someone who can take care of you financially. I think Mrs. Fieldmouse really believes she wants the best for Thumbelina (even if she does call her stupid more or less later in the song) but it’s still depressing to think of a life where you marry someone ONLY for their money. After all, what’s the good of being fabulously rich if you’re locked up in a dark hole way underground?

 

Ms. Fieldmouse: Love? Love is what we read about in books, my dear.

“Here Comes the Bride” is a lovely little ditty

But marrying for love is a foolish thing to do

‘Cause love won’t pay the mortgage or put porridge in your bowl

Dearie, Marry the Mole!

True, it’s a fact, that he’s not exactly witty

He’s blinder than a bat, but at least his eyes are blue

His breath may be alarming, but he’s charming, for a troll

Dearie, Marry the Mole!

Romeo and Juliet

Were very much in love when they were wed

They honored every vow; so where are they now?

They’re dead, dead! Very, very dead!

Poor Thumbelina, your brain’s so itty bitty!

I hate to seem a pest, but I know what’s best for you

Just think of all the ways that you can decorate a hole!

Take my advice; I’ll bring the rice!

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Dearie, Marry the Mole!

Marry the Mole!

Mar-ry that Mole!

M is for money!

Thumbelina: Oh!

Ms. Fieldmouse: L-E!

I both love and hate that Mrs. Fieldmouse uses Romeo and Juliet as an example of why you shouldn’t marry for love. On the one hand, as soon as she mentions the couple you know where that verse is going (the lovers wind up dead). But then again, Romeo and Juliet is about the worst example of “love” you can possibly choose. Allegedly, Romeo and Juliet meet and fall in love in a matter of days (and that’s being generous), get married and promptly kill themselves (that’s an oversimplification but more or less accurate). They barely knew each other so it’s doubtful they truly loved each other (but then again one could also make that argument about Thumbelina and Cornelius’s love since they’ve only met once but that’s besides the point).

What do you think about “Marry the Mole”? Let me know your thoughts about this song in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

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My Thoughts On: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018)

*note: To be fair I’m trying to keep spoilers to a minimum

I have a confession to make: while I’ve seen the original Spider-Man trilogy and I enjoy Tom Holland’s performance in the MCU, I’m actually not the biggest fan of Spider-Man (not sure why, it’s just not my first choice when it comes to picking a superhero movie to watch). On that basis, I was nervous going into the theater, because despite the critical acclaim surrounding the film, I wasn’t sure I was going to like it. Now after having seen it, I can definitely say that I *do* like, love and enjoy Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, but it took me a little bit to get into the film.

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I’m convinced that I must suffer from secondary embarrassment (feeling someone else’s embarrassment/awkwardness as if it were my own), because without fail, every time I see a superhero go through that awkward phase where they’re trying to figure out what’s happened to them (like what happens with Miles), instead of finding it funny (which I think we’re supposed to), I find it all very awkward and hard to watch. Happily, the film doesn’t linger on this part for too long. But before I move on to what I loved about this film, I have to make it clear that I found the sequence (after Gwen loses some of her hair) where Miles is overwhelmed by the fact that the entire school knows what happened and is laughing at him to be very triggering for me (having gone through extensive bullying and isolation during grade school). Again, I’m happy and relieved that the film didn’t linger on this aspect.

Now for what I loved, which is quite a lot: first, I love the animation style of this film, especially after Miles is bit by the spider. Once Miles begins to change, the film resembles an actual comic book, down to thought-bubbles and commentary boxes. It’s incredible to watch and for the first time I felt like a studio had actually succeeded in bringing a comic book to life.

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Second, I’m in LOVE with the other Spider-People. To be honest, apart from Spider-Gwen, I didn’t really know anything about these other versions of Spider-Man but I loved all of them. Seeing Spider-Gwen in action makes me really excited for the Spider-Women spin off (which will include Gwen, Spider-Woman and Silk). I loved Spider-Ham a lot more than I thought I would (especially when he whips out the anvil and mallet during the final fight). I’d never heard of Peni Parker but it was cool to see a character drawn in an anime style

Third, the film certainly does not lack for surprises. In hindsight, I should’ve seen the outcome of that first Spider-Man fight coming. Anytime you hear a character say “No matter what happens, I always manage to get back up” that should tell you something bad is coming. I also was not expecting Liv to be revealed as Dr. Octopus (to be honest, that was the first moment I really began to enjoy the film). But the surprise that got me the most was the reveal of the Prowler’s identity. Composer Daniel Pemberton wrote a heart-wrenching piece of music for this moment that makes it just so devastating.

 

A full-length review of Into the Spider-Verse‘s score will have to wait until I have a chance to listen to it again, but I can say the score is amazing. Daniel Pemberton did a fantastic job creating a score that is engaging and keeps you engrossed in the story. I also like that the score includes rap and hip-hop songs (meant to represent the music Miles would listen to).

In conclusion, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is a fantastic film, and I can see why it’s being called the greatest Spider-Man film ever made. Let me know what you think of this film in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Animated Film Reviews

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The Aristocats “The Aristocats” (1970)

I often feel like the animated Disney films made during the 1970s get overlooked far too often as they’re made after the passing of Walt Disney and before the Disney Renaissance began. However, there were several animated gems made during this era and The Aristocats is one of them (it also has the distinction of being the last film project approved by Disney himself before his death in 1966). Set in Paris in the year 1910, The Aristocats follows a family of high-class felines that live with Madame, a retired opera singer. When Edgar, the family butler, learns that the cats will inherit the estate before he does, the disgruntled servant kidnaps the cats and abandons them in the French countryside, leading the cats into an adventure to get back to Paris and their home.

The titular song was performed by Maurice Chevalier, a legendary French singer and performer, who was actually talked out of retirement to do the song (his final contribution to the film industry as he died in 1972). The song describes all the advantages “aristocats” possess (‘aristocat’ being an obvious play on aristocrat) over ‘common’ cats and ends with the cats out with Madame on a carriage ride.

Which pet’s address
Is the finest in Paris?
Which pets possess
The longest pedigree?
Which pets get
To sleep on velvet mats?
Naturellement! The aristocats!

Which pets are blessed
With the fairest forms and faces?
Which pets know best
All the gentle social graces?
Which pets live
On cream and loving fats?
Naturellement! The aristocats!

The song plays out while we’re treated to the opening credits, as well as animations of the cats that will appear later in the film.

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They show aristocratic bearing
When they’re seen
Upon an airing
And aristocratic flair
In what they do
And what they say!
Aristocats are never found
In alleyways or hanging around
The garbage cans where
Common kitties play, oh no!
Which pets are known
To never show their claws?
Which pets are prone
To hardly any flaws?
To which pets
Do the others tip their hats?
Naturellement! The aristocats!

I’ve always found it interesting that the film points out the year as 1910, as there aren’t many Disney films that specify a year. Perhaps I’m being morbid, but every time I see that date, I always remember that it was only a few years before the start of World War I, when the glitz and glamour of the 19th century disappeared. The year is also a reminder that this is a time of great change (even before the war began). For instance, while Madame is riding in a carriage, her lawyer drives up in a car (albeit a primitive one).

Also, fun piece of trivia: Hermione Baddeley, the voice of Madame, is also the voice of Auntie Shrew in The Secret of NIMH (1982) (another Disney credit includes Ellen in Mary Poppins (1964)).

I like “The Aristocats,” it’s a fun little song that provides a good opening to the film and I hope you enjoy listening to it. Let me know what you think of this song in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Disney/Dreamworks/Pixar/etc. Soundtracks A-Z

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Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

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Disturbing Bluth #6: Meeting Brutus in The Secret of NIMH (1982)

I couldn’t leave The Secret of NIMH without talking about this one moment in particular. To this day it never fails to make me jump in surprise (though thankfully not in fear like it used to), and that is the moment when Mrs. Brisby encounters Brutus the rat.

The Secret of NIMH (1982)- Into the Rosebush/Brutus

Up until this point, Brisby’s journey through the rose bush has only been mildly scary, but nothing close to disturbing (no mouse eating spiders this time). I’m still surprised that she got as far as she did without encountering any rats, but given we later learn that the rats are in a special meeting, it makes sense.

What makes the run-in with Brutus even more disturbing is, right before it happens, Mrs. Brisby discovers a beautiful garden (with awestruck music to highlight the moment). There are flowers everywhere and what looks like a jeweled brooch leading into the next part of the bush. But here is where Mrs. Brisby’s luck finally runs out. Just as she’s leaving this area, all the flowers around her close up and I’ve always taken this as a clue that something is about to happen because out of nowhere (literally, it’s a textbook jump scare) comes Brutus, a huge rat with a scary looking pike (that emits electricity when banged against the ground).

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It doesn’t help any that the moment Brutus appears the background turns dark and red. Even worse, Brutus doesn’t say a word to the terrified mouse, even when she plainly states her purpose is to see Nicodemus and that the Great Owl sent her. If anything, the words seem to provoke Brutus into striking out with the pike again. It’s terrifying, disturbing, and for many years I did not watch this film because of this moment. The house sinking couldn’t keep me away, Jenner or the Great Owl couldn’t either, but Brutus? Oh yes, he scared me plenty, even though a closer examination of the scene reveals that the rat is only chasing her away and not actually trying to kill her.

The one thing about this scene that has always bothered me (besides its disturbing nature) is, why did Brutus stop chasing Mrs. Brisby? If he really wanted to make sure she was leaving, he should have chased her all the way back to the entrance. Instead he just…stopped. It just feels weird to me, especially since on the way back in with Mr. Ages, the pair of mice don’t encounter Brutus again (or if they do it’s not shown, but you’d think there’d be a scene where the older mouse would tell the rat “She’s with me.”)

That issue aside, what do you think of the scene where Mrs. Brisby encounters Brutus? Did it disturb you? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

Check out the YouTube channel (and consider hitting the subscribe button)

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Disturbing Bluth #1: The Secret of NIMH (Overview and Trivia)

Disturbing Bluth #2: The Secret of NIMH: Dragon the (Demon) Cat

Disturbing Bluth #3: The Great Owl in The Secret of NIMH (1982)

Disturbing Bluth #4: Jenner in The Secret of NIMH (1982)

Disturbing Bluth #5: The House is Sinking in The Secret of NIMH (1982)

Disturbing Bluth #5: The House is Sinking in The Secret of NIMH (1982)

*If you know anything about The Secret of NIMH then you KNEW this scene was going to be talked about eventually*

By far the most disturbing moment in The Secret of NIMH comes at the end of the film, though you don’t see it coming at first. This is because it appears that the big climax of the film has already happened: Jenner and Justin have just fought a huge duel that ended with Jenner dead (along with his associate Sullivan). With the rats now warned that NIMH is coming, Mrs. Brisby naturally heads back to the fallen house (which smacked into the ground rather hard when the machinery collapsed). The children are alright (WHY the rats didn’t take them out of the house before they started moving it I don’t know) and it seems like we’ve dodged a massive bullet….and then the music starts. This scene is a grade A example of why I study film music: even before the house starts sinking into the mud, the ominous suspenseful tone should tell you that something very bad is about to happen. Jerry Goldsmith, the composer for this film, put all his talents to work here and he did not disappoint.

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The Secret of NIMH (1982): The House Sinking Scene

I should note, this was actually foreshadowed earlier in the film. When the rats and Mrs. Brisby are traveling on the boat, it’s revealed that much of the ground under the farm is hollow, with Justin muttering that it’s all going to collapse someday. The implication then, is that the force of the Brisby home smacking into the ground caused a partial collapse underground which is why the house is now sinking.

As the realization dawns that the house (with the children inside!!!) is sinking into the mud, the music rises quickly into a turmoil that reflects the panic of Mrs. Brisby and the surviving rats. After all, given the esteem they have for Jonathan Brisby, they couldn’t live with themselves if they let his children die. There’s a frantic race on to attach the house (built into a cement block) to any number of lines and stop it from sinking completely. Meanwhile, we actually get a look inside the house as it’s filling up with mud. There’s no sign of Timothy (who, I remind you, is bedridden) and the other children are shrieking “Get us out of here!!” This in itself is disturbing as you don’t normally see children (in animation or live-action) put into such direct peril. Oh it’s been implied before (such as the huntsman nearly stabbing Snow White) but it’s never been so immediate a danger as what we see now.

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The worst moment of the scene comes when the final line keeping the block up snaps and the home is pulled down into a whirlpool of mud while Mrs. Brisby is hauled to safety by Justin. The implications are downright macabre: according to what we just saw, all the children (and Auntie Shrew she’s still inside remember) are dead and Mrs. Brisby has now lost her entire family. It’s heart-wrenching, disturbing and once I fully grasped what was going on, this scene screwed me up in the head for years. Now, even though this is set right less than a minute later (in a spectacular piece of animation I might add), that doesn’t change the fact that we the audience had to go through this first.

This scene is the perfect example of Bluth’s belief that children can take just about anything so long as there is a happy ending afterward. Given my experience however, I don’t think this is true. But what do you think? Is the scene any less disturbing with the happy ending that follows? Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Disturbing Bluth #1: The Secret of NIMH (Overview and Trivia)

Disturbing Bluth #2: The Secret of NIMH: Dragon the (Demon) Cat

Disturbing Bluth #3: The Great Owl in The Secret of NIMH (1982)

Disturbing Bluth #4: Jenner in The Secret of NIMH (1982)

Become a Patron of the blog at patreon.com/musicgamer460

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Disturbing Bluth #4: Jenner in The Secret of NIMH (1982)

Given that The Secret of NIMH is 36 years old, I sometimes get the feeling that people have forgotten just how disturbing Jenner (the primary rat antagonist) really is. From the moment Mrs. Brisby arrives in the rats’ secret home under the rose bush, she hears about Jenner and how he keeps challenging Nicodemus for leadership of the rats. But there’s so much more to the villain that makes him deeply and truly disturbing.

 

The Secret of NIMH (1982): Jenner before the Council

For starters, look at the picture above: this is when Jenner is putting on his ‘nice’ facade for Mrs. Brisby. Even when he’s trying to appear good he looks terrifying. Second, Paul Shenar, Jenner’s voice actor, gives the character a rich, deep voice. This makes Jenner a good speaker and also serves to partially hide how savage he can be. Part of what makes Jenner so disturbing is that he genuinely has no sense of long term consequences and his empathy is non-existent (making him something of a sociopath).

Even when confronted with the news that NIMH is coming to the rose bush in the morning (and deep down Jenner has to know there’s no reason for Mrs. Brisby to lie), Jenner decries her news as lies simply because it ruins his plans to stay in the rose bush. Third, Jenner is a master manipulator as can be seen in his interactions with Sullivan, a not-so-smart rat who finds himself roped into Jenner’s plans. Jenner openly mocks Sullivan, which is in itself cruel but not disturbing. He convinces the weak-willed rat to go along with him and that everything will be better once Nicodemus and Justin are dead (it’s implied that Jenner will kill the latter as well).

The Secret of NIMH (1982): Jenner’s Plan

Jenner: With Nicodemus out of the way, what’s to stop us from taking over?

Sullivan: Jenner, you can’t kill Nicodemus.

Jenner: No taste for blood, eh? They’ve taken the animal out of you.

The disturbing part comes at the climax of the film when the Brisby home is being relocated by the rats using complex machinery. Jenner wants to sabotage the equipment so that Nicodemus will be killed in the ensuing collapse but Sullivan doesn’t want to do it. This prompts Jenner to hold Sullivan at sword point, implying that if he doesn’t go through with it, he’ll kill him.

Jenner: [Holding a sword to Sullivan’s throat] Don’t get any ideas, my friend. You’re in this up to your neck.

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The Secret of NIMH (1982): Jenner vs Justin

Despite this threat, it’s genuinely shocking when Jenner actually goes through with it in brutal fashion, slicing Sullivan’s throat with his sword when he throws Justin (Jenner’s rival) a weapon to defend himself. It’s one of the most graphic things I’ve ever seen happen to an animated character, but the best is saved for Jenner himself. After a lengthy sword fight, Jenner is wounded in the stomach by Justin, but not fatally. As Justin mobilizes the rats to get ready to leave, Jenner sneaks up from behind to deliver a killing blow…only to be literally stabbed in the back by a dying Sullivan, falling to his death in the mud.

Jenner is a character that gave me nightmares for years and he still remains one of the more disturbing aspects of The Secret of NIMH. What do you think of Jenner? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Disturbing Bluth #1: The Secret of NIMH (Overview and Trivia)

Disturbing Bluth #2: The Secret of NIMH: Dragon the (Demon) Cat

Disturbing Bluth #3: The Great Owl in The Secret of NIMH (1982)

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Disturbing Bluth #3: The Great Owl in The Secret of NIMH (1982)

Early on in the story, the plot centers on Mrs. Brisby’s quest to speak to the Great Owl about how to keep her family safe from the farmer’s plow. Normally the family simply relocates, but the youngest son Timmy is sick with pneumonia and can’t go outside. Mrs. Brisby eventually agrees to be flown to the Great Owl’s tree by Jeremy (the talkative crow that she saved from Dragon).

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The Great Owl in The Secret of NIMH (1982)

From the outset there’s already a minor level of disturbing to this scene. Even though the music is happy (as Jeremy is flying), the sky is bright red behind them (that’s not ominous at all). And the forest they approach doesn’t exactly look friendly either. Then there’s the matter of the owl’s tree itself. Go to the video of this scene and check out the entrance: it’s a dark, spooky tunnel filled with cobwebs (that image alone gave me nightmares) and then it gets worse! Just as Jeremy assumes there’s nobody home, you hear this unearthly sound come from inside, a loud rustling and then the deepest, most ominous voice intones “Step inside my house.” (I should mention the Great Owl was voiced by the legendary John Carradine). All of this is disturbing enough, the Great Owl doesn’t sound at all welcoming and, as Mrs. Brisby has pointed out several times, “owls EAT mice!”

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Regardless of her fear, Mrs. Brisby enters the tree and we swiftly come to the second most disturbing portion of this scene. As she unwittingly approaches the Great Owl (whom you can see on the right hand side if you look closely at a long shot of the inside of the tree), a terrifying spider descends behind her. As a lifelong arachnophobe, this moment has traumatized me for years (the ominous music doesn’t help in the slightest). But just as Mrs. Brisby notices the spider, out of nowhere a clawed foot reaches out and crushes it into a pile of goo. And that’s when you realize the owl is right there and he is TERRIFYING. His eyes are two glowing orbs and there’s a sickening moment when you realize his head is crooked upside down and he slowly wrenches it upright. Also he’s covered in cobwebs, which always spooked me for some reason.

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Thankfully, as the scene progresses from here the level of disturbing falls dramatically as it comes out that the owl, for all his scariness, isn’t that bad (and he does give the best advice he can). That doesn’t change the fact that this scene with The Great Owl is highly disturbing (and there are worse examples to come in this film!)

What do you think of the Great Owl in The Secret of NIMH? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below and have a great day!

See also:

Disturbing Bluth #1: The Secret of NIMH (Overview and Trivia)

Disturbing Bluth #2: The Secret of NIMH: Dragon the (Demon) Cat

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