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.
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!
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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