Part of the reason it took me so long to get started on this film is I had a difficult time deciding where to start. In fairness, the entire film could be considered one long disturbing moment. But since I had to start somewhere, I decided to go with something easy: Dragon, the unholy possessed demon cat owned by Farmer FitzGibbons.
The Secret of NIMH: Dragon’s first appearance (1982)
Dragon is the first antagonist introduced to the story, and the cat’s entrance is…memorable to say the least. In context, Mrs. Brisby is on her way home after receiving some medicine from Mr. Ages (also an escapee from NIMH, but she doesn’t know that yet) when she comes across a crazy crow (Dom DeLuise) tangled up in some yarn that he was trying to bring back to his nest. Being a nice mouse, Mrs. Brisby decides to help him get free, but when Jeremy (that’s the crow) starts singing about his future “Ms. Right”, she admonishes him to be quiet because “there’s a cat nearby.” And if you haven’t seen this movie before, you might be forgiven for thinking “Oh, it’s a cat, what’s so scary about a cat?”
Take a look at the picture below, and know that Don Bluth can turn ANYTHING into a disturbing terror (also observe Jeremy’s wide-eyed look of terror as he realizes he’s nose-to-nose with a cat):
Yes, THAT is a cat, but he sure doesn’t look like one does he? Here’s a slightly better view:
*points up* THIS is a CAT?!?
Dragon is a fat, seemingly mangy farm cat, blind in one eye (that’s the weird blue one, the yellow is his normal eye), and he has a vicious streak a mile wide. What really makes Dragon disturbing besides his appearance? He doesn’t even meow, when he first goes to attack Jeremy, he ROARS like some strange monster!!
This scene (like so many others) messed me up as a kid. It scared me because I’d see Dragon creeping closer and poor Jeremy is just oblivious and the tension build-up is almost unbearable.
I also have to give credit to Jerry Goldsmith’s incredible score (his first for an animated film) for helping to make this scene even more terrifying and disturbing, especially in the build-up to Jeremy coming face to face with Dragon.
While Dragon does appear later on in the film, this is his most menacing appearance by far. But this is nothing compared to other disturbing characters in this story (I’m not sure if I’ll cover The Great Owl next or start in on the rats, Jenner and Brutus are both getting their own sections).
Let me know your thoughts on Dragon, did he scare you when you were younger? Did he disturb you? Let me know in the comments below 🙂
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Disturbing Don Bluth #1: The Secret of NIMH (Overview and Trivia)
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