On this edition of Creations of Chaos, I explain how The Care Bears Movie sparked my lifelong interest in murderers and serial killers.
When I was a kid, everyone had a Care Bear, everyone that is, but me. In my house, magic was forbidden. It was explained to me that the beams the Care Bears shot from their tummies was magic. The bears were part of a clever conspiracy to lure children into being cool with the occult. I spent years enviously looking on, as all of my friends snuggled their devil bears.
In spite of the prohibition, I have strong memories of seeing The Care Bears Movie in the theater, as well as watching the movie on VHS, so at some point, someone, though I don’t remember who, took pity on a poor Care Bear-less child.
Nicholas, a young magician’s apprentice, feels uncared for and alone. After stumbling upon a book of black magic, the book convinces Nicholas to seek revenge on those who have neglected him, by spreading uncaring, first throughout his town, then throughout the entire world.
Unfortunately, his plans for uncaring domination are thwarted by two children, Kim and Jason, who refuse to stop caring.
Kim and Jason, who start out as uncaring children, are convinced that love is the answer, after spending time with The Care Bears in their home, Care-a-Lot.
Pursued by Nicholas’ dark, shape-shifting hench-cloud, Kim and Jason, along with the Care Bears and Care Bear Cousins, seek to give Nicholas a big ol’ dose of caring, before he destroys the world.
Making of a Murderer
Up until 1985, my movie watching life consisted of villains who showed up on the scene already villainous. There were no elaborate backstories, and often only a hint of a motive as to why a character was so dastardly.
Then there was Nicholas.
I still remember sitting in my theater seat in disbelief. Here was a good boy. A nice boy, who merely felt sad and lonely. Kids laughed at him, just like kids laughed at me. He wanted people to like him. I wanted people to like me.
Nicholas starts out by simply wanting someone to care about him. The evil book manipulates Nicholas’s emotions until he becomes a vengeful monster.
Nicholas’ life spirals out of control.
The spiral fascinated me.
Act 1: Nicholas is good, but confused.
Act 2: The magic starts to take a toll on Nicholas. Though his need for revenge is strong, and he has no problems conjuring up spells, he still struggles internally between the nice boy he was and the bad boy he is becoming.
Act 3: Finally, fully enveloped by hate, Nicholas becomes an evil villain, complete with crazed eyes, creepy glowing aura, and killer laser finger.
As an extremely deep-thinking child, I was in awe. Were all people only a few steps away from depravity? Could I eventually become a villain if I chose to be? Do all bad people start out as good people? How do people go from being good to being so bad?
I continued pondering these questions throughout my childhood, and became interested in murderers, especially serial killers. It’s not their crimes that interest me. I’m captivated by how someone who is born into the world as we all are, encounters life experiences that eventually cause them to take another’s life. I still owe this fascination to my first encounters with The Care Bear Movie’s Nicholas.
Caring or Cult?
As I re-watched The Care Bears Movie, I almost forgot about the Care Bears. To me, this has always been Nicholas’ film, with the bears as secondary characters. Of course, in reality, there are plenty of scenes starring the overly sappy bears and their animal cousins.
The dialogue is painfully cheerful. I consider myself to be a pretty happy, positive, enthusiastic person, but I think the Care Bears could easily drive even me to the brink of insanity.
I realized, watching the film now as an adult, that if you took the dialogue and re-shot scenes with human adults, preferably dressed in some sort of uniform, The Care Bears Movie could be a movie about a potentially dangerous, eccentric cult.
How Caring were the Filmmakers?
The animation in the film is not bad. The onslaught of bright happy colors is eye catching, especially for the kids.
I did spot one egregious mistake. For one frame, while fighting the evil tree, Lion Heart has a tummy symbol, even though the cousins don’t receive their tummy symbols until the end of the film. I can’t imagine that the animators somehow missed the error while screening the movie, so it begs to question if the animators, like the people in the film, just did not care?
Despite collaborating with Carole King on two of the songs, the music is cringe worthy. Yet, it was with great horror, that I automatically started to sing along with several of the songs, even though it has been decades since I’ve seen the movie. So, the songs might be terrible, but they are catchy little ear worms.
Faults aside, I still think The Care Bears Movie is a great villain story, one that I can thank for cultivating my interest in the true crime documentaries, books, and podcasts, I voraciously consume, and perhaps, I still get a rebellious thrill, from watching my forbidden, childhood, devil bears.
So if you have loving memories of hugging your Care Bear, you might enjoy taking a stroll down a rainbow-colored nostalgia lane, by watching The Care Bears Movie.