Tag Archives: The Secret of NIMH

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

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):

Jeremy-NIMH

Yes, THAT is a cat, but he sure doesn’t look like one does he? Here’s a slightly better view:

Dragon_the_cat

*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 🙂

See also:

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

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

I can’t help but feel that I need to apologize for taking so long with this, even though I promised ages ago that it would be starting soon (life has been a little crazy since then). Nevertheless, here I go with a brief overview of the first film in this sister series to Disturbing Disney: The Secret of NIMH (1982)

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The film was based on the 1971 children’s book Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, by Robert C. O’Brien. In broad strokes the plot is largely the same as the film: the widowed mother of a family of mice must figure out how to keep her home safe from the farmer’s plow while her youngest son recovers from pneumonia. She is advised to ask for help from a colony of rats living in the nearby rosebush and discover that they (along with her late husband Jonathan) are actually escaped laboratory rats experimented on by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

For the movie, Mrs. Frisby becomes Mrs. Brisby to avoid being sued by Wham-O (the company who makes Frisbees) over a similar sounding name. The thing is, by the time the decision was made to change the name to Brisby, all of the actors had already recorded their lines. So…the editors manually edited the voice track to make it sound like Brisby and not Frisby. However, it is not completely perfect: listen closely to The Great Owl’s lines, you can almost hear the original pronunciation of the name.

The voice cast contains some acting greats. The previously mentioned Great Owl was voiced by the legendary actor John Carradine (the father of David, Keith and Robert Carradine). The cranky Auntie Shrew was voiced by Hermione Baddely, better known as Madame in The Aristocats (1970). Derek Jacobi (whose film accomplishments are too many to count) is the voice of Nicodemus, the elderly leader of the rats. Dom DeLuise (aka Tiger the cat in An American Tail) is Jeremy the crow. Wil Wheaton (in his film debut) plays Martin, Mrs. Brisby’s oldest son. And Shannen Doherty (of Charmed fame) is also making her debut as the voice of Teresa, the oldest daughter.

This series will break down the more disturbing scenes (and characters) in the film, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you.

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