The Make Mine Magic Podcast: The Black Cauldron

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Usually every Friday at this time Biff Bam Pop! presents the newest episode of The GAR! Podcast, the Glenn Walker and Ray Cornwall weekly podcast where they talk unrehearsed about whatever happens to come to mind, an audio-zine for your mind, a nerd exploration of a nerd world. This week however, GAR! is on a short hiatus due to personal reasons. In its place we’re featuring another member of the GAR! family, The Make Mine Magic Podcast, with an episode focusing on one of Disney’s most notorious animated films – The Black Cauldron. See and hear more after the jump.

The Make Mine Magic Podcast features Jenn and Glenn Walker talking about Disney, parks, movies, travel advice, characters, if it’s Disney, it’s fair game. In Episode 44 of The Make Mine Magic Podcast, we’re talking about The Black Cauldron, its origins, what it did for Disney animation, why it scared the crap outta kids of the time, and some of the cast. All this and more, including John Carter and the Wannabe Princess Dating Service, right here.

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“Oh come on, what did I do now?”

Disney’s The Black Cauldron from 1985 signaled a jump from the Don Bluth era at the company to the more accessible and successful Little Mermaid and beyond era. For a while there, they didn’t know what to do with the animation department, so they did this, and it almost killed animation at Disney.

The Black Cauldron is based on the “Chronicles of Prydain” by Lloyd Alexander, loosely based, if you will, specifically on the first two books but pulling in details from the entire series. There’s this fantasy weapon of mass destruction called the Black Cauldron that the big bad, the Horned King, wants. With it he can raise an army of the undead to conquer the world. And there’s a pig, an oracular pig, who can find it for him. Guarding the pig is Taran, a little bit like Wart from Sword in the Stone, he’s a kid and wannabe hero. King seeks pig, hilarity ensues, quests abound, companions gather, eventually good guys win – you know the drill.

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All things considered, this is not a good film. When I saw it back in the day when it was in theaters, I remember the hubbub about it being too scary and not for kids, and the outrage about how dare Disney put out such a movie. Granted, they were trying for something a bit darker, a bit edgier, but man oh man, this was over the top. By today’s standards the Horned King might be too scary. He is perhaps the most frightening Disney villain ever. We are talking definitely a baddie of the effed up “The Walking Dead” zombie monster type. Yeah, I can just imagine this gave some kids nightmares.

There’s some blood, some violence, and no end to disturbing images. It’s more adult than usual (there are even boob jokes), and it’s just not a pretty animated film. Even comic relief characters like Creeper, the villain’s jester-like underling is a little scary. The animation is a cross between Don Bluth and Ralph Bakshi after a night of drunken excess. Very blurry, moody, and it seems like it’s always nighttime. I think there was more daylight in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy.

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We watched this film in anticipation of podcasting about it. I gotta say when you start riffing on a flick MST3k style just a few minutes in, it’s not a good sign. The Black Cauldron is an interesting if dated time capsule of what Disney did wrong, before they did it right, worth seeing at least once. And if you want hear more of my thoughts, and my lovely wife’s, please check out the special Black Cauldron episode of The Make Mine Magic Podcast. You can check it all out here, also available on iTunes, and don’t forget to ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

You can check out the complete show notes and listen to the episode onsite here. We’d love to hear your thoughts and comments, either below or on the GAR! Podcast or the Make Mine Magic Podcast websites, so please let us know what’s on your mind! Welcome to Episode 44 of The Make Mine Magic Podcast!

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