The Black Cauldron
January 29, 2019
(The Channel Awesome logo and the title sequence play; open on a shot of a brick wall with a flyer on it reading "Welcome Survivors of 80s Kids Films")
(Cut to inside. NC's crew is seen standing around and chatting, some drinking from a punch bowl nearby)
Guy dressed like Atreyu (Jim): Well, thanks to the Swamps of Sadness, I found out he has a crippling depression.
NC: Oh, wow.
Atreyu: Yeah, but, thankfully, an apple filled with Prozac and literally drowning in his own despair cleared him right up.
Dorothy: Well, after being chased by a woman with a decapitated head through a hallway with screaming faces, I think I'd prefer the shock therapy.
NC: Man, this is so crazy! I had no idea there were so many survivors of '80s kids films! Thanks for inviting me to this, Malcolm.
Malcolm: Well, you know, I had an invite.
NC: Yeah, I was gonna ask, what's that for?
(Suddenly, the sound of applause gets their attention. On a stage, a strange creature (an Urzah from The Dark Crystal) walks up to the podium on the stage)
NC: Ooh, one of those Koopas from Dark Crystal!
Urzah (voiced by Doug): Greetings, survivors of the dark and colorful time known as the '80s. (Everyone laughs) It is time to hand out our awards. The winner of "Smallest Survivor in a Scary-as-Shit '80s Kids Film" is... a tie between Mrs. Brisby and Fievel.
(Everyone applauds as Mrs. Brisby (in cartoon form, a la Who Framed Roger Rabbit) steps up to the podium)
Mrs. Brisby (voiced by Tamara): Thank you all so much. I know Fievel would also love to accept this award, but he seems to have mysteriously disappeared for the night.
(As Brisby continues, Malcolm taps NC on the shoulder to get his attention, then points down to the ground. NC notices that he has crushed Fievel (also in cartoon form) under his foot by mistake. Malcolm also brings his foot down on Fievel's body as they look around, trying to act nonchalantly)
Mrs. Brisby: I dedicate this award to Don Bluth's disturbing phobia of cats. I mean, seriously, who names their feline Dragon? Thank you.
Urzah: And now, the winner of the "Most Inanimate Survivor"... The Brave Little Toaster.
(Everyone applauds again as the Brave Little Toaster, represented by a real toaster (labeled "Professional Series") with an Annoying Orange-esque face on it, appears on the podium)
Someone in the crowd (Rob): Bravo!
Toaster: Thanks, everybody. I just hope this brings awareness to the dangers of clown firemen and also Peter Lorre-sounding lamps.
NC: (to Malcolm, sotto voice) How racially insensitive.
Urzah: And now, the honorary award for the only black person in any of these dark kids' fantasy movies...
(Cut to a shot of said black person...)
Urzah (vo): ...the Cairon from Neverending Story.
Urzah: Here to accept this award in light of his passing, his grandson, Malcolm Ray.
NC: (to Malcolm) I didn't know you were related!
(Malcolm shrugs, then takes the podium)
Malcolm: Um... thank you all for being a bunch of racist crackers. (holds up award)
(Everyone applauds and Malcolm leaves the stage)
Urzah: And finally, the award for "Bravest Survivor" goes to... whatever the name of that kid was from The Witches.
(The character that is played by Rob is Luke Eveshim, and he squeals in joy in NC's face (accidentally splashing his punch on him) and runs to the podium as everybody applauds)
Dorothy: I want to see it this year.
Luke: (holding the award) Thank you. It's, uh, no secret that this film inflicted great psychological damage on my psyche.
Everybody: (smiling) Whose film didn't? (They laugh)
Luke: Yeah, right. But knowing that the damage done was inflicted tenfold on millions of children across the nation just... warms my heart.
(Suddenly, a young boy played by Walter appears in the doorway, wielding a plastic dagger)
Boy: (speaking in a thick accent) Wait a minute! I deserve to win that award!
(Malcolm, Dorothy and Atreyu roll their eyes in frustration)
Atreyu: Oh, no.
Dorothy: It's Taran. (pronounces it "TEAR-en")
Malcolm: From The Black Cauldron. He's an (makes "finger quotes") "honorary mention".
Taran: (runs on the stage) Is this to be my life? Never winning this award? I'm a warrior!
Dorothy: He thinks he's on the same level as us other 80s dark movies, but he's...he's special.
Taran: I'm not a little boy anymore! I should be doing heroic deeds for Prydain! ("fights" the mic with his dagger) I'm a warrior!
NC: I guess Black Cauldron isn't the most liked movie, huh?
(Everybody gasps in shock)
Malcolm: Did you dare say you didn't like Black Cauldron?!
NC: Well, yeah! I mean, no. I mean... (stammers) That's what you were all acting like!
Dorothy: Well, nobody likes Black Cauldron, but that doesn't mean you don't... like... Black Cauldron...!
NC: What the hell does that mean?!
Malcolm: It's... complicated.
(The title for this movie is shown, followed by clips)
Malcolm (vo): Developed in the '70s, Black Cauldron went through a lot of reworking until its premiere in 1985. Apparently, it was passed from creative team to creative team, constantly ate up money, being the most expensive animated film at the time, and was heavily edited down because Jeffrey Katzenberg freaked when he saw kids running out of pre-screenings due to how scary it was.
NC: Wow, this film sounds kind of badass!
Malcolm: (hesitates) It is...
Taran: (addressing somebody offscreen) There you are! His Majesty, the Horned King! Ho-ho-ho-ho-ho-ho!
(He runs off, flailing his arms, and the crashing sounds are heard)
Malcolm: ...to an extent.
Malcolm (vo): When it came out, it was not very well received by critics or audiences. In fact, it lost to (poster of...) The Care Bears Movie. (beat) That had already been out. For several months.
(Cut to a clip from The Princess Bride)
Count Rugen: I think that's the worst thing I've ever heard.
Malcolm (vo): It was often referred to as the film that almost destroyed Disney. Over the years, though, it's grown a cult following, being praised by fans of dark '80s movies, and cheering it for being the black sheep of Disney cinema.
Atreyu: Yeah! People were great understanding it was too dark for their brainwashed Disney minds.
Taran: (shows up in the crowd) Did you challenge me?! Run, you coward!
(Not saying anything, Dorothy picks up some punch from NC's bowl and splashes it in Taran's face. The latter reacts overdramatically)
Taran: Prydain's finest warrior...draws his last breath.
(He falls on the floor. Everybody just stares, and Dorothy flat out leaves)
Taran: This will take minutes to wash out.
Atreyu: Yeah, a few things can be fixed.
NC: (puts down drink) Wait, I don't get it. Is Black Cauldron, like, this lost dark masterpiece, or is it just an awkward, forgettable mess?
Malcolm: It's complicated. I'll tell you what. (gives NC his phone) Why don't you watch it on my phone and decide for yourself, while we...
Taran: (offscreen) I'm a warrior! (Sound of glass breaking is heard)
Malcolm: ...tend to Frodo Bastard here.
NC: Good luck.
(NC sits in his chair in the corner of the room)
NC: Well, let's see if it's worth the praise it's gotten or the hate it's gotten. This is Black Cauldron.
(The movie starts with showing the titular object out of the fog in close-up)
NC (vo): The film opens solid enough with the description of what the Black Cauldron is.
Narrator (John Huston): There was once a king so cruel and so evil, that even the gods feared him.
NC: Man, everyone was freaked out by those BK ads then. (An image of the Burger King mascot appears)
NC (vo): A black cauldron was made to conceal the king's evil, and whoever possessed it could raise an army of the dead. So obviously, this evil king is the bad guy, right–
(Fade to a small, peaceful farm of Caer Dallben, home of Dallben the Enchanter)
NC (vo): Nope, never mentioned again. Kind of odd they were building him up so much.
(Cut to a clip from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, with Gandalf the Grey showing the One Ring to Frodo Baggins)
NC (vo): If, in Lord of the Rings, would it add up, if they were like...
Gandalf: The spirit of Sauron endured. Sauron has returned.
NC (vo; as Gandalf): Well, let's see what the White Witch is up to.
(A clip of the White Witch stabbing Aslan to death from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is shown)
White Witch: DIIIIE!
(Now cut to Return of the King: Gandalf the White showing up with everybody else)
NC (vo; as Gandalf): Eh, she's fine.
(The clip is quickly reversed as the horde is running away; cut back to The Black Cauldron)
NC (vo): We then cut to a cottage where a wizard maybe man named Dallben looks after a boy named Taran. Wait, with an American accent, is TERR-an or TAR-an? I'm just gonna call him "Tearin'", 'cause his voice is tearing through my earlobes...
(Cut to a shot of the Monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey)
NC (vo): ...like a Monolith of annoyance.
(Cut back to The Black Cauldron again, where Taran is reluctantly feeding a pig, Hen Wen, something)
Taran (Grant Bardsley): Is this to be my life? Pampering a pig? I'm a warrior!
NC: Taran, I'm 100% convinced, is the lost Disney princess.
NC (vo): Now, I know that doesn't sound right, seeing how there's technically a Disney princess in this later, but she doesn't have as many Disney Princess traits as he does. For example, he's very delicate and fey.
Taran: (reaching to touch a boiling pot) But I'm not afraid. (withdraws his hand when he burns it) Ouch! (shakes hand)
NC (vo): He lives in a cottage, is unhappy with his life, has no mother, and yearns for more.
Taran: Dallben doesn't understand. I'm not a little boy anymore. I should be doing heroic deeds for Prydain.
NC (vo): Even his design is very Disney Princess-esque.
(Shots of Taran and Princess Eilonwy are shown back-to-back, and their hair is switched)
NC (vo): Look at him. If you just switch the hair, it's pretty damn close! You're ahead of your time, man! You're breaking down barriers you don't even know you're breaking down. There is (sighs) the minor issue, though, that the yearning part I was talking about is actually more...whining. If you replace "actually more" with "ear-fistingly obsessive".
Taran: (various scenes) I'm a warrior! / Hen Wen, Hen Wen. It's always Hen Wen. / I'm a warrior! / Won't I ever be anything but an assistant pig keeper? / I'm a warrior! / And I could be a famous warrior. (Starting from this moment, the intense music starts playing and the shots are zooming closer and closer) / I'm a warrior! / All I need is...is a chance. / I'm a warrior! / You'd better eat it. / I'm a warrior! / Look at me, Hen! I can do it! / I'm a warrior! / Do you challenge me? / I'm a warrior! / Run, you cowards! / I'm a warrior! / Hen Wen got dirty.
(NC isn't amused. The image of Cornelius Evazan from Star Wars: A New Hope slides from the right)
Cornelius Evazan (voiced by Doug): It doesn't like you.
NC (vo): I know the idea is to show he's cocky and not ready for the world he's about to enter, but there's a difference between (images of...) Peter Parker cocky and Howard the Duck cocky. One has charm in how naive he is, and the other is Howard the Duck. (The iconic "I Want You for U.S. Army" poster is shown, but with Howard the Duck's face edited in, and the caption...) Don't be like Howard the Duck.
Dallben (Freddie Jones): (petting Hen Wen) She's a special pig, Taran.
NC (vo): He looks after a pig named Hen Wen, who they only keep around because a spider said she was cool...it was weird... (The shot from Charlotte's Web (2006) is shown briefly, showing the word "Terrific" written in a spider web) ...when she suddenly sees something so terrible, she can't contain it.
(Taran is bathing Hen Wen. The latter's eyes slowly widen as she becomes worried. For a split second, the poster for the movie Detective Pikachu appears. Frightened, Hen Wen starts squealing)
Taran: Hen, what's the matter? Calm down, Hen!
(It is later shown that if Hen Wen lowers her face into the water, she can see into the future, the images of which appear in the water)
NC (vo): So the pig has magical powers. When you put her face in water, she can predict the future. (Beat) Cool.
NC: When my hamster puts his balls in Kool-Aid, he can watch Gilligan's Island. What the hell kind of power is that?!
NC (vo): I mean, come on. (The illustration for The Hobbit, or There and Back Again is shown) A map in the moonlight reveals hidden letters. (Mr. Tumnus from The Chronicles of Narnia, as played by James McAvoy, is shown) Playing a flute over fire can summon magic imagery. Shoving a pig's face in a toilet can get you lottery numbers. It just doesn't seem particularly whimsical.
(The image shown in the water is a silhouette of somebody riding a horse. To show that this is a reused animation from Fantasia (the ghost horseman from "Night on the Bald Mountain" segment), this exact clip is shown below)
NC (vo): Fantasia? She's showing us better Disney films! Eh, best leave out some of the racier centaur scenes.
Dallben: The Horned King.
(The silhouette of Hen Wen running appears next)
Taran: That's Hen Wen.
Dallben: He knows. (Cut to him packing some food for Taran) Only I knew the secret of Hen Wen's power, but now, the Horned King has discovered it.
NC: (shifts eyes) We're not really sure...how he discovered it. Oh, it must have been...
(The shot of Hen Wen with lips painted red is shown as an Instagram picture of a user named "Taran", with the description reading "Darn, they're right! She is still a pig! Oh BTW she can TOTALLY predict the future!")
NC (vo): ...that drunken Instagram post. Yeah, that makes sense.
Taran: I'm not afraid of the Horned King.
Dallben: Then you are a very foolish lad.
NC: Really? That was the tipping point for you?
Dallben: Take Hen Wen to the hidden cottage at the edge of the forbidden forest.
Taran: (embraces Dallben) Goodbye, Dallben. I won't fail you.
NC (vo; as Dallben): Eh, he's totally gonna fail me.
(Taran leaves with Hen Wen)
Dallben: So much, so soon...
NC: (as Taran) But, Dallben, why don't you come with me? (as Dallben) Oh, well, well, well... The cats, and the boots, and, uh...uh, I still send out from physical Netflix DVDs. Yes, I'm the one.
(The gloomy castle of the Horned King is first shown)
NC (vo): We then cut to the castle of the Horned King, beautifully accompanied by Elmer Bernstein's recycled Gozer theme.
(As the Horned King slowly walks down the starts, it's shown to the brass and string sections of the music. Next, we hear the similar soundtrack from Ghostbusters, made by the same composer, which was playing during the awakening of Gozer)
NC (vo): The Horned King is voiced by a legendary actor John Hurt, who offers a pretty chilling read, with the exception of when he's rushed here and there.
Horned King: Soon, the Black Cauldron will be mine. / (speaking slightly faster) Yes, oh, yes. Then you will worship ME!
NC: It's like he was doing so good, and then he found out he didn't put money in his parking meter.
NC (vo; as John Hurt voicing the King): Soon, the Black Cauldron will be mine. (speaks faster) Yes, oh, yes. And then, you shall worship me- (breaks character, no echo) Oh, come on, I paid through the hour!! (The sound of the door slamming is heard)
(Meanwhile, Taran and Hen Wen come near a pond, and Taran continues picturing himself as a warrior)
NC (vo): Taran is so aware of his important mission to keep Hen Wen safe, that he stops right in the middle of it to fantasize about himself being a hero, thus losing her.
(Taran sees his reflection in the water as a muscular knight in shiny armor)
Male Announcer: The greatest warrior in all Prydain!
Taran: Thank you, thank you. Thank you all.
NC: (as Taran) Oh, no, my fantasies of...
(The image of a girl in the Big Bird costume floats through the shot)
NC (vo; as Taran): ...sexy Big Bird are getting in the way of my fantasies of heroism!
NC: (as Taran) Oh, real knights don't have to stay focused, do they?
Taran: But without the help of my pig Hen Wen here, I- (realizes she's gone) Hen Wen? (sounds more annoyed than worried) Oh, no! (leaves)
NC: (poker-faced) That was really the best take you had?
Taran: Oh, no!
NC: (as Taran, takes out French Toast Crunch) I'm going to have my favorite cereal. (looks at it) Oh, no! This isn't my favorite cereal! Oh, well, I'll still put it in the bowl. Oh, no! We're out of bowls! Oh, well, I'll still get the toy that's inside. (puts his hand in the cereal box and searches inside for some seconds) Oh, no-
NC (vo): But just when you think our leads couldn't get any more annoying...
(An apple falls on Taran's head, and after that, an animal-like creature named Gurgi chases after the apple)
Gurgi (John Byner): (speaking in a Gollum-esque voice) Ooh, great prince! Give poor, starving Gurgi munchings and crunchings!
NC: (forced smile) This is Gurgi.
NC (vo): Gurgi is if the Shaggy Dog's ass farted Jar Jar Binks' voice, no matter how often you asked him to stop.
Gurgi: Oh, poor, miserable Gurgi deserves fierce smackings and whackings on his poor, tender head.
NC: (nodding) And yes, dear viewer, he's in a lot of the movie.
Gurgi: (different scenes) Forgive poor Gurgi. / Always left with no munchings and crunchings. / Fat piggy? Big snout? / Clever, sharp-eyed Gurgi saw the piggy run.
(As this montage continues, with a nervous smile, NC slowly raises the card with a simple word "Stop.")
Gurgi: Now Gurgi remembers! Yes, yes! / Right through the forest! / Come! Gurgi will find the lost piggy.
(Even more nervous, NC raises another card with a bigger message: "Please, GOD, STOP!")
Gurgi: Good prince. Good apple. Oh, boy, what a juicy apple. / Uh-uh. Gurgi not know where the a- (An apple falls out from under him) Uh-oh.
NC: Oh, I get it! Someone was like, "I bet..."
NC (vo): "...you can't trick Disney animators into drawing Wilford Brimley's armpit hair on the Pokemon doll of Mark Twain with the death rattle of Donald Duck."
NC: And some say this bastard was like, "WATCH ME!!"
Taran: Hey! You seem making fun of Gurgi?
(The audience silently and frantically motions for NC to not do the wrong thing)
NC: Yes! Yes, I am! I find him very annoying!
Taran: How dare you! I'm gonna show you that he's the best friend alive!
Everybody except NC: No! No, no, no...!
Taran: Come in here, Gurgi!
(Taran is joined by Gurgi, played by Doug with a foil mustage and silver wig. Gurgi waves and speaks gibberish, which makes the audience facepalm. Gurgi juggles some apples (unsuccessfully) and laughs annoyingly. NC squints, realizing why he shouldn't have done that)
Taran: Hey, Gurgi! Let's tell a joke.
Gurgi: Okay! Knock-knock!
Taran: Who's there?
Taran: "The Spanish Inquisition" who?
(Gurgi speaks some flim-flam again. Taran laughs at this. The audience looks irritates, while NC just stares)
Taran: There, you see? Gurgi and Taran, the greatest of heroes!
(Taran goes on laughing and hitting the podium with his dagger while Gurgi speaks balderdash and gestures. NC looks at the audience sheepishly)
NC: How'd he never get a Disneyland ride?
(Taran and Gurgi see Hen Wen being grabbed by a black dragon that looks like Maleficent's dragon form from Sleeping Beauty)
NC (vo): Hen Wen is found too late, though, as she's grabbed by the Satanic colder figment and taken to the Horned King. And on such a lovely rotoscope day, too.
(Frustrated by Gurgi, Taran leaves him alone and walks in the direction of the dragon)
Gurgi: If great lord go into evil castle, poor Gurgi will never see his friend again. Nope. Never.
NC: If Gurgi say one more thing like Gollum's wife queefing, we're never gonna see Gurgi again either!
NC (vo): Taran goes to the Horned King's castle with such good security, he can climb right up the walls, and such good architecture that he goes through a door that leads to beams on the ceiling.
NC: (as the King) My designer did the Winchester House. It was either to confuse the spirits or because he was drunk.
(We are shown the Horned King's henchmen rejoicing and drinking. The busty and really expressively animated Gypsy dancer jumps on the table)
NC (vo): Whoa! Esmeralda's been taking some liberties with her branding!
NC: Shit. Now I'm just thinking of a funnier version of "Hellfire".
(The famous song number is shown, but with the Gypsy woman in the fire)
NC (vo; singing as Claude Frollo): I feel her, I see her! / The sun called in the craven Hell! / Don't shame me, it's my thing I just love; arouse!