1985’s THE BLACK CAULDRON represents Disney at its nadir as an animation studio, resulting in a box office failure and years of obscurity. It’s first PG-rated animated feature struggled to find an audience clamoring for its dark and violent tones. However, it has garnered a significant cult following over the years, with its tales of swords, sorcerers, and black magic-infused battles brought to life with stunning visuals that incorporate the studios first forays into computer-generated elements into its hand-drawn animated cels. Does it deserve obscurity, or is it about time to reappraise a hidden gem in Disney’s vast and storied filmography?
Disney collaborated with Paramount Pictures to make a fairly adventure for audiences that were a bit older in DRAGONSLAYER, a rousing but somewhat brutally dark tale of a sorcerer’s apprentice who must undertake the treacherous journey of slaying a dragon that regularly consumes the women of a nearby village as a peace offering. Adventure and one amazing dragon, perhaps the best ever put to film, make this a notable entry for lovers of 1980s fantasy flicks.
Set in France during the Middle Ages, Philippe ‘The Mouse’ Gaston, a convicted pickpocket escapes from a castle dungeon only to get involved in a bitter feud between the powerful, scheming Bishop of Aquila and two lovers, a former captain of the guard named Etienne of Navarre and a lady named Isabeau d’Anjou, who were cursed with dark magic when the Bishop, who also fancies Isabeau, finds out of their union. The spell transforms the knight into a wolf by night, and the lady into hawk by day, and they can only see each other briefly in human form at dawn or dusk.