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 Rob): 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 (voiced by Heather): 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 subtle 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? Nah, 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): He 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 (1973) 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.
(An 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 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.
(A 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 cat, and the books, and, uh...uh, I still send out for 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. Then cut to a similar soundtrack from Ghostbusters, made by the same composer, which is played during the awakening of Gozer)
NC (vo): The Horned King is voiced by 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 a door slamming is heard)
(Meanwhile, Taran and Hen Wen come near a pond, and Taran continues visualizing 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...
(An image of a girl in a 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-
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 sadist bastard was like, "WATCH ME!!"
Taran: Hey! Is he making fun of Gurgi?
(The audience silently and frantically motions for NC to deny it)
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 irritated towards NC, while NC slowly looks towards them)
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?*
- NOTE: There actually was some acknowledgement of the movie in some of the Disney theme parks. Gurgi's definition of the word "food", "Munchings and Crunchings", was the name of a quick service eatery at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom until 1993, while the Horned King was featured as the last villain encountered in the Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour in Tokyo Disneyland, which closed in 2006.
(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 rotoscoped 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. A 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 caught in her raven hair! / Don't shame me, it's my thing I just love; her rolls!
(The Horned King scares his henchmen by entering the hall quite dramatically, with red smoke coming out of the doorway)
NC: (as the henchman) Yeah, we always have to look amazed every time he comes in. Even though this is, like, the millionth room he's entered. Oh, he's going to the kitchen. Aaaah! (With each "aaaah", cut to the King's entrance) He comes in to do the laundry. Aaaah! He enters the bathroom. Aaaah!
NC (vo; as the henchman): It wouldn't be so bad if this explosive demon flatulence didn't follow him in every entrance.
NC: (as the henchman; waves off around his face) Seriously, it smells like Ganon's ass in here!
(The King's right-hand man...or rather, goblin named Creeper sweeps the dust before his master)
Creeper (Phil Fondacaro): Welcome, Your Majesty.
NC (vo): We then come across shaved Gurgi, who's the Horned King's assistant named Creeper, who brings in the captured Hen Wen. They can't get her to show where the Black Cauldron is, but thankfully, it's raining fops.
(Horrified by seeing Hen Wen being forced to see the future, Taran falls off from the ceiling right in front of the King)
King: I presume, my boy, you are the keeper of this oracular pig.
NC: (snickers) You know...there's some words that just can't be made creepy, even with John Hurt's amazing voice. I'm convinced "pig" is one of them.
NC (vo): I mean, come on. (imitates the King) You're the owner of this animal. The owner of this creature. The owner of this...pig.
NC: I just keep expecting to see him in Babe, like...
(Cut to the image of the King "speaking" with this movie's titular character)
King: That'll do, pig. That'll do. (Beat) Now die.
(Babe explodes. Back to the film, Creeper drags Hen Wen to the executioner. The scene is paused on Hen Wen closing her eyes and squealing helplessly)
NC (vo): Actually, I'm not too far off, as they threaten to chop her head off if he doesn't show them how to get the visions. And man, was this an awkward image when I paused it while reviewing!
Taran: I'll make her tell you.
King: That's better.
NC (vo): He agrees to say the magic words, and that shows them the Black Cauldron's location.
Taran: ...knowledge that lies beyond my reach. (As he says this, the water starts glowing, and Hen Wen's eyes become hypnotic when she's in water)
NC: Okay, that pig's...
NC (vo): ..."tripping balls" face is one of the funniest things I've ever seen. (as Hen Wen, drowsily) What if it's not all, folks? What if it's just the beginning, folks?
(The King reaches for the image of the Cauldron, which scares Taran, and he runs away, stepping into the water bowl and splashing the hot water)
NC (vo): But Taran trips, spilling the water into the King's face.
(The King screams in pain)
NC (vo; as the King): I'm melting! I'm melt- Wait, why does this hurt me?
NC: (as the King) Oh, of course. When pigs tell the future in water, it instantly becomes toxic. Who wrote this?
(Taran carries Hen Wen outside and locks the door. As the King's henchmen try to break it down, Taran picks Hen Wen up)
Taran: Come...on, Hen.
(Hen Wen jumps from great height and into the water surrounding the castle)
NC (vo): You know, I gotta say, Miss Piggy's origin story is a lot more aggressive than I thought it'd be.
(Creeper grabs Taran by his legs just before he can jump as well)
King: Throw the boy to the dungeon!
NC (vo; as the King): Then throw the dungeon in the dungeon! Then throw the dungeon in the boy! (normal) So they lock Taran away, and he's all alone to think about his thoughts.
(Looking very saddened, Taran picks up a small boulder and hits the wall with it weakly)
NC (vo; as Taran): Well, my escape failed. I'll try again tomorrow.
(Taran then sees a girl coming from under the floor with a round source of light (a bauble, according to the film) floating around her)
NC (vo): But a girl sneaks into his cell and admits she's being held prisoner, too.
Eilonwy (Susan Sheridan): I'm Princess Eilonwy.
NC: (confused) Princess what?
Eilonwy: I'm Princess Eilonwy.
NC: Isn't anyone named Bob in this?!
(Dallben is shown)
NC (vo): Look! There's Heirekapwapwa! (The Horned King is shown) There's Gogobegill of Shapetypfepfe! (Gurgi is shown) Behold! Obnoxity of Shutup!
NC: Your names all sound like preservatives!
NC (vo): So Princess Elololonwy looks over the situation.
Eilonwy: Are you a lord or a warrior?
Taran: I-I'm an assistant pig keeper.
Eilonwy: (after a pause) Aw, what a pity.
NC (vo): Bitch, he's more of a princess than you'll ever be! Actually, there's some truth to that. There is absolutely no reason for her to be a princess. She never uses her authority, we never see her kingdom, there's no royal family members that enter the picture; it's completely pointless.
NC: I think she was just embarrassed to say what she really did for a living.
Taran: I-I'm an assistant pig keeper.
NC (vo; as Eilonwy): Well, I'm assistant shit clean- Uh, princess! Yes, that's it, princess! (as Taran) Really? Of what kingdom? (as Eilonwy) Shut-your-holes-ville. (as Taran) Sounds Norwegian.
(In the catacombs beneath the castle, Taran and Eilonwy discover the ancient burial chamber of a king)
NC (vo): Thank God the guards are on vacation, as they sneak easily through the place and find the tomb of the king who used to own the castle.
Taran: He must have been a great warrior.
NC (vo; imitating Indiana Jones): The shield! It's the second marker!
(Taran arms himself with the king's sword. He and Eilonwy hide to see one henchman carrying a cart with something heavy inside under Creeper's orders)
NC (vo): He graduates from pig-keeping to grave-robbing, as he steals the king's sword, and then they notice henchmen bringing in a ton of dead bodies.
Creeper: Don't stop, you weakling! Put some muscle into it.
NC: (as Taran) We should help him.
(Taran and Eilonwy see somebody else locked up in the third cell: a middle-aged bard named Fflewddur Fflam)
NC (vo): They also come across a minstrel who's being locked up for stealing designs from The Aristocats. (Image of Georges Hautecourt from this movie is shown)
Fflewddur: You seem an intelligent sort of chap to me. Eh? (He chuckles as the burly henchman who chained him looks at him with a dumbfounded face) I assure you, I had no idea who owned this castle.
NC: Boy, even by Disney dumb faces, that was a really dumb face.
NC (vo): Maybe he just saw John Malkovich in Bird Box and couldn't believe he couldn't stop making the "sucking on hummingbird's penis" face.
(The henchman's dumbfounded face is shown again with a montage of Douglas from Bird Box making weird faces as well to a guitar music)
Fflewddur: I shall sing of your...dastardly deed. I'm Fflewddur Fflam!
NC: (shakes head in confusion) His name is...?
Fflewddur: Fflewddur Fflam!
Fflewddur: Fflewddur Fflam!
Fflewddur: Fflewddur Fflam!
NC: (gives up) Pickles. I'm calling him Pickles.
(Taran frees Fflewddur. The trio encounter another henchman armed with an ax, who knocks Taran on the ground)
NC (vo): So Taran, Pickles and Princess Elololonwy band together to try and escape. But, oh, no. They come across a guard with an axe! Look out! He might use his hand!
(Taran shields himself with a sword)
NC (vo): Luckily, his sword (imitates Bugs Bunny) is a Singing Sword!
(Taran swings his sword at the henchman's axe, which it hits. The sword glows brightly and shatters the axe. Taran then uses his sword on a second henchman's sword, which shreds, and knocks this guard down a flight of stairs into the path of a group of other henchmen coming up, knocking them all down as well in a pile. Taran is impressed as the sword glows)
Eilonwy: (surprised) Taran! The sword!
NC: (as Taran, pretending to hold up a sword) Look here! It says: "Only the lamest shall wield me." Well, as long as I don't have to do any actual hero work...
Taran: (holding Eilonwy's hand) I'm gonna get you out of here!
(He pulls Eilonwy along, who yelps startedly as she is pulled, and they run through the castle, Taran jumping in the air at one point)
NC: Okay, seriously, did he just skip??
Henchman: (calling out from offscreen) There they are!
NC (vo; as the henchman): They're very merrily getting away!
(Taran and Eilonwy make for the castle entrance with the henchmen and Creeper close behind)
NC (vo): They get to the castle entrance, but find they're locked in, so the princess...hugs the door.
(As Eilonwy pushes against the door, the henchmen throw spears and axes at the escapees, while Taran raises his sword again)
Eilonwy: Taran, do something!
NC: (as Eilonwy) I can demand that you save us only for so long!
(Taran swings the sword at the chain holding up the drawbridge. Again, the sword glows as it hits the chain, breaking it and causing the drawbridge to drop open)
Taran: Run, princess!
(As Taran and Eilonwy run across the drawbridge, Fflewddur Fflam runs toward the open entrance as well, with a dog running after him)
Fflewddur: Make way!
(He jumps over Creeper and out the entrance as the castle gate comes crashing down just inches behind. He runs across the drawbridge to safety)
NC (vo; as a henchman): You know, the thought occurs to me we're really terrible at what we do. (as a bunch of other henchmen) Yeah, yeah... You can put that on my resume.
(A nervous Creeper enters the King's throne room)
NC (vo): Our heroes escape, as Creeper goes to tell the Horned King the bad news.
King: You bring news of the pig?
NC: (laughs) I'm sorry, it's still funny!
NC (vo): There's just some words that take you out of a threatening tone.
(Another montage is shown, showing NC dubbing over the Horned King's dialogue)
NC (vo; as the King): You bring news of the cookies? / You bring news of Walla Walla, Washington? / You bring news of the Nummy Muffin CooCool Butter?
NC: It can't be done!
NC (vo): He sends out his dragons to find them while our heroes take a minute to recoup.
(Eilonwy is sewing a patch in Fflewddur's pants, which have had a bite taken out of it from the dog that was chasing him earlier)
Eilonwy: They're almost finished, Fflewddur.
(She holds up the pants, but the thread holding the patch comes undone and the patch comes loose)
Eilonwy: Hmm, it's not too good, but it'll hold for a while.
NC: (as Fflewddur) Oh, just like my bowels!
Taran: I wasn't afraid!
Eilonwy: Why, we were running for our lives!
Taran: Well, I got us out of the castle, didn't I?
Eilonwy: You? I'd say it was the sword's magic.
NC: No need to point out how useless he is, film; he does it quite naturally on his own.
Taran: (glowering at Eilonwy) Ha! What does a girl know about swords anyway?!
Eilonwy: (offended) "Girl"? "Girl"?!
NC: (as Eilonwy) That is our word!
Eilonwy: At least I don't keep talking about it!
Fflewddur: Princess Eilonwy!
Eilonwy: (to Fflewddur) How dare you take his side!
Taran: (waving dismissively) Silly girl.
(Eilonwy looks like she's about to cry)
NC (vo; as Eilonwy): I hugged a door, which is more than the wood that you're offering!
Taran: (suddenly calmer) Thank you... for-for getting me out of the dungeon.
NC (vo): So, just as fast as they blow up at each other, they patch things up, as we also see the return of...
(Gurgi appears at the scene)
Gurgi: (hugging a confused Fflewddur) Gurgi's lucky day! Ho-ho-ho!
NC: (waving, deadpan tone) Yay...
Fflewddur: (waving Gurgi away) That's it. Toddle off, toddle off.
Gurgi: (angry) Hmph! Gurgi go! (turns to leave)
NC: (as Taran) Lock the door! Or...make a door so we can lock it!
Gurgi: Saw piggy's tracks.
Taran: You did?
Eilonwy: He just might know.
Gurgi: Pretty lady come, too?
Eilonwy: Well, I... (Gurgi dances around with her dress hem)
Gurgi: Yes, yes, yes!
NC: (frantically waves arms) NOOOOOO!!!
Taran: (on the stage) Not to worry. My little Ewok ballsack is in the rest of the movie!
(Gugri gleefully claps his hands as the audience breaks down in tears. They hug each other in despair)
Taran: Incidentally, did you know that we had a musical number in this scene?
Gurgi: Let's sing it!
(Gurgi leads Taran, Eilonwy and Fflewddur across the log bridge upon the sunset)
Taran and Gurgi (vo): (singing) We blow, we blow, / It's off to suck we go!
Taran and Gurgi: (singing) La-la-la-la, la-la-la-la! / We blow! We blow!
NC: (to the audience) Are you sure this is an underrated classic?...
Malcolm: (at the brink of despair, sobbing) IT'S COMPLICATED!!
(NC gives one grumpy look to Taran and Gurgi's side as they continue singing and he buries his face in his hands)
Taran and Gurgi: (singing) We blow, we blow, / It's off to suck we go! / La-la-la-la, la-la-la-la! / We blow! We blow!
Taran: I'm a warrior!
(And with that, we go to a commercial break. After returning, we're shown the gang floating in the whirlpool and into an underground kingdom of the Fair Folk, a group of colorful fairies)
NC (vo): So, our heroes fall down a whirlpool and come across these Smurf-Snork-Glo-Bugs that raise the question you know everyone's asking: director's kids' cameo or producer's kids' cameo?
(The young Fair Folk, voiced by children, see the heroes being sucked down the whirlpool from a distance)
Girl fairy (Lindsay Rich): How did they get in here? We better tell King Eidilleg.
Boy fairy (Brandon Call): No, silly!
Girl fairy: Uh-oh, we're all gonna be in trouble!
NC: Well, at least their performances are matched by...
NC (vo): ...their awkward-as-hell freeze frames.
(The camera zooms in on the girl fairy to prove his point)
NC: Seriously, you could start a photo playlist with these.
(Shots of Hen Wen, the girl fairy and Eilowny appear at the base of the screen, all with these awkward freezes)
King Eidilleg (Arthur Malet): (seeing the heroes) Uh, uh, hello, I'm King Eidilleg of the Fair Folk.
NC: (as Eidilleg) As the chubby, bearded guy in every fantasy, you'll fit right in...
NC (vo; as Eidilleg): ...farm boy in every fantasy, princess in every fantasy, and comic relief in every fantasy.
NC: Disney: We welcome new dreams and ideas as long as they've been done before.
(Suddenly, Hen Wen runs out)
Taran: Oh, Hen! (Hen Wen runs out into Taran's arms) Thank goodness you're back! (Hen Wen licks him)
NC (vo; as Eidilleg): We were about to sentence her to death for eating twelve of our people. It's only fitting you watch.
Eidilleg: (to Fflewddur) Tell me, is the burning and killing still going on up there?
NC: Well, Katzenberg is still in charge if that's what you mean.
(The four are led into the Marshes of Morva and enter the seemingly deserted tree cottage)
NC (vo): They tell them where they can find the Black Cauldron, and they plan to destroy it to stop the Horned King. They come across Mad Madam Mim's brothel and break in to see if they can find it.
Gurgi: (pulling on Taran's shirt excitedly) Oh, Master! Come quickly! (points to something) Gurgi found the wicked cauldron! Quick, quick, quick, follow Gurgi!
NC: You know, he's growing on me. Like a cyst.
(In the dark, the gang sees multiple empty pots inside the cottage)
NC (vo): They come across Winnie the Pooh's pot collection...
(The sound effect of audience booing is heard)
NC: (smiling) Joke's on you, I'm already ashamed of that one! (nods)
(The cottage's residents, three witches named Orddu, Orgoch and Orwen, corner the heroes)
NC (vo): But the prototypes for Hocus Pocus appear and threaten to turn them into frogs.
(Fflewddur is turned into a frog and falls into Orwen's breasts, being almost squished by them)
Orwen (Adele Malis-Morey): (looking for Fflewddur, with whom she had been flirting) Where'd he go? Yoo-hoo! Where are you? Don't go.
NC: ...Let's play "how many fetishes were created with this scene". (The number below NC quickly alternates between 5, 6 and 7) Do I hear 5, 5, 5? Do I hear 6, 6, 6, 6? Do I hear 7, 7, 7, 7? The answer is... (The word "Enough." pops up with a ding) ...enough.
Taran: (draws out sword) We've come for the Black Cauldron.
Orddu (Eda Reiss Merin): Perhaps I might interest you in...something else?
(She opens the door to a closet, out of which several cauldrons float)
NC (vo): Hockety-pockety-wockety-whack, abra-dabra-dabra-dack!
(The sword destroys all the cauldrons, not controlled by Taran)
NC (vo): The sword once again does all the work, and the witches agree to trade the Black Cauldron for it.
Eilonwy: No, Taran. No!
Taran: It's our only chance. (The sword glows blue)
Orddu: Is it your own choice, duckling? You could be the greatest of warriors.
Taran: I offer my dearest possession.
NC: (fingers on his right temple) You had that thing for a day. I mean, if I had a chance to trade the end of the world for a gun that never missed, it wouldn't be a big deal. (beat) I mean, I'd use on him [Gurgi] first, and then...
(The witches take the sword, and their cottage disappears into thin air. The Black Cauldron grows out from the ground)
NC (vo): The bargain is made, and the giant cauldron is revealed, destroying the house.
(The trio of witches appear in the sky as the projections in a purple cloud)
Orddu: What funny little ducklings. Don't they know the Black Cauldron is indestructible?
NC (vo; as Orddu): Oh, yeah. We're this thing now. For some reason, when the Black Cauldron rises, we turn to Frankenberry's fart. Fantasies. I don't know. (normal) They tell them that the Cauldron's evil can only be stopped if someone willingly sacrifices himself by jumping in.
NC: (shrugs) Cool. Put a piece of...
NC (vo): ...sugar in there and wait for a bug to fly in.
NC: (showing two fingers) Yeah, I thought of that in two seconds. These dumbasses...
(The four heroes sit around a campfire in the night, not knowing what to do next)
NC (vo): ...still spend the whole night trying to figure something out!
Taran: I let you down. Without my sword, I'm nothing.
Eilonwy: You are somebody. You must believe in yourself. (close-up of her smiling face) I believe in you.
NC: (as Eilonwy) I believe you want to toss yourself in that cauldron. I'll totally dedicate something to you.
(The Horned King's henchmen capture everyone and seize the Cauldron; Gurgi manages to escape, however)
NC (vo): But the villains find them and take them back to the castle, where the Horned King uses the Cauldron to bring a bunch of skeletons back to life.
(The King's army, the Cauldron-born, is slowly walking out of the castle, with a green and blurry effect on them)
King: My beloved warriors have come to life. All the dead of centuries past.
NC: (as the King) Please put on your 3D glasses so you will not get a headache. (turns to his right) What? No glasses? Just enjoy the headache.
King: Go forth, my deathless warriors!
NC (vo; singing as the choir): Yo-ho, yo-ho, a constantly altered ride for me...
(As this happens, a shot of the Disney theme park ride Pirates of the Caribbean is shown, with Jack Sparrow peeking out of the barrel)
NC (vo): But Gurgi finds them and sets them free.
Taran: (climbing up the wall) I must stop the Cauldron.
Taran: I'm sorry, Eilonwy. (climbs onto a ledge above the Cauldron)
Eilonwy: Please, Taran, no! You can't!
Taran: My mind is made up.
NC: (as Taran) This movie's a lost cause, and I want out!
(Gurgi stops Taran and sadly walks over to the edge)
NC (vo): But get this: Gurgi decides to sacrifice himself. (flatly) Oh, no, not Gurgi.
Taran: Gurgi, no! (Gurgi jumps into the Cauldron) NO! NOOO!!
(Fire erupts from the Cauldron when Gurgi lands in it)
Taran: Oh, no...
(Back to the stage)
Gurgi: Aw, this is the saddest part.
Taran: Yes, Gurgi. We all shed a tear when you gave your life for us. (looks out to audience) Didn't we, everybody?
(The audience stares at the two silently)
Taran: Didn't we, everybody?
(The audience continues to stare)
Taran: Didn't we, everybody?
(After staring more, the audience starts feeling uncomfortable and mumbles "Ohh, right", "Yeah, I guess", etc.)
Taran: You see, Gurgi? They all missed you. Now let's cry together.
(Taran and Gurgi bawl and hug each other. And even with this, Taran still swings his dagger)
Malcolm: (slightly annoyed, to NC) Could you put that away?
(NC is shown to be holding a champagne glass)
NC: Oh, is this not a champagne moment?
(Taran and Gurgi stop hugging and bawling)
Gurgi: Okay, let's cut it.
Taran: It's getting weird now.
(Back to the film. The King's undead army collapses on the drawbridge)
NC (vo): So the Horned King's army starts to fall.
Creeper: What is it, Sire? Th-They're dying!
King: It can't be...
NC (vo; as the King): Have you checked our Internet connection? It can be wonky sometimes.
(Threatening to throw Creeper into the Cauldron, the King spots Taran)
NC (vo): Taran almost gets sucked in, as the Horned King spots him.
NC: And, no joke, the entire climax of this movie is just him...
(The King tries to force Taran toward the Cauldron. However, its magic is out of control, and so Taran tries to cling to a wall to avoid getting sucked in)
NC (vo): ...holding on to the wall. Why is all the heroic action in this movie just clinging to architecture?
(As he says that, cut back to the scene of Eilonwy pushing against the door in fear. Then cut back to the climax again, as the King covers Taran's mouth with his skeletal hand, but Taran manages to break free)
NC (vo): Oh, and shoving. Clinging onto shit and shoving. The physical demands of fighting for bedsheets on a twin-size mattress.
(The Cauldron consumes the Horned King in a tornado of fire and blood, trapping him in the Cauldron as well as destroying the castle, using up all its powers forever)
NC (vo): So, through the bare minimum, our heroes save the day, (fake disappointment) but that still doesn't bring back Gurgi. (beat) Cry, I guess.
(The three witches appear in the cloud again to recover the now-inert Black Cauldron)
Orddu: He's got what he wanted, and he's still not satisfied.
NC (vo): The witches come to take the Cauldron back, which makes you wonder what they want with it or the sword, for that matter. You know, who are these people, anyw-? But Pickles decides to finally do something in this movie and bargain for it.
Fflewddur: Yes, madam, those old ears heard right.
Orwen: (flirtingly) I adore a forceful man.
NC: (disgusted) Ew.
Taran: The Cauldron...for Gurgi.
NC: (as Taran) I was hoping we could kill him again. Perhaps record it this time.
(The Cauldron is given to the witches, and Gurgi is brought back, seemingly dead at first, but comes back to life after a moment)
NC (vo): The witches agree, and... (flatly) Oh, boy, Gurgi's back.
Eilonwy: You clever little thing.
(She giggles as she, Taran and Gurgi all group-hug. Gurgi then pushes Taran and Eilonwy into a kiss and laughs sheepishly)
NC: (as Eilonwy) Well, you may be back, Gurgi, but...
NC (vo; as Eilonwy): ...once I report that on social media...
NC: (as Eilonwy) ...your gray ass is grass!
(The four friends then journey off, while Caer Dallben and Doli (Eidilleg's assistant) watch them in a vision created by Hen Wen)
NC (vo): Thus, we end on the film's final gripping line.
Dallben: You did well, my boy.
Doli (John Byner): Yep. (laughs)
NC: (nonplussed) ...Well, that was memorable.
Dallben: You did well, my boy.
NC (vo; as Dallben): In that, you made (shot of...) Kayley from Quest for Camelot look like friggin' Joan of Arc.
(The movie ends)
NC: And that was The Black Cauldron. Is it worth the praise or criticism that it's gotten over the years?
(He looks at Taran and Gurgi smiling widely and nodding at him on the stage)
NC: It's complicated.
(Film clips are shown one last time as NC gives his closing thoughts on it, one of the biggest in the history of his reviews)
NC (vo): The characters and story range from forgettably bland to frustratingly annoying, but, at the same time, it is an impressive film, given the time it was released and the company who released it. This is the closest Disney will ever get to (posters for...) a Watership Down or a Wizards; that strange combo of both cheap-looking and epic-looking while hovering over a dark style most parents would be afraid to show their kids.
NC: But with that said...it isn't really that dark.
(Chernabog from Fantasia, the "Hellfire" sequence from The Hunchback of Notre Dame and the Headless Horseman from The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad are shown, followed by Maleficent's goons from Sleeping Beauty (shown alongside Creeper) and concept art for this movie)
NC (vo): There's darker themes and ideas in other Disney properties, these creatures we've seen in other Disney movies, and even some of the wilder, more imaginative stuff, some of them designed by a young Tim Burton, weren't used because they were seen as too weird. So it doesn't even really have enough of an odd factor to make it that unique.
Malcolm: But it was edited down! Twelve minutes were cut from this film, and you know that would have saved the movie.
NC: (thinking briefly) Would it, though?
(Three cut shots from the movie are shown, featuring the Horned King's henchmen having their skin melted away and screaming)
NC (vo): Anything's possible. Apparently, there was a lot more gore and violence in the original cut that most likely would have resulted in an R rating. That does make the reputation for it more attractive, as we can just blame the close-minded pansies who weren't ready to venture too far from their fairy tales.
NC: But here's the thing: you'd still have...
NC (vo): ...these guys [Taran and Gurgi] as your main characters. Could the longer edit have added to their development? I suppose so, but it's kind of like saying there's an edit of Phantom Menace that made Jar Jar Binks work, or an edit of Son of the Mask that makes Jamie Kennedy work. Sure, it's possible, but it's very unlikely, especially given their performance and characteristics.
NC: But even taking all that into account, I get why a lot of people like this movie.
NC (vo): It is the most consistently dark-looking of the Disney films. Almost every environment is gray and swampy. It is an old-school retro feel that most people associate with dark '80s kids films. And while it still keeps some Disney tropes alive, it did attempt to take a few risks. And it is kind of cool that something this consistently gray and threatening is in Disney's hand-drawn library. Those elements, I think, make some people more forgiving of the standard characters and story, and good for them if it does. There's a lot to appreciate, from the animation, the backgrounds, the risks taken, and even the flawed production history. It's all interesting to look at. Whatever your thoughts, it's an interesting film to check out, particularly if you're a big fan of those dark '80s kids movies. Not because it always works, but because it's fascinating to see how and why it works in some areas and not in others, and then compare it to how similar films either succeeded or failed as well. It's a hot mess, but it's an interesting hot mess. And interesting always warrants a closer look.
Gurgi: Aw. Gurgi sad. Gurgi gonna go throw himself in cauldron. (goes offscreen)
Taran: No, Gurgi! That's the pot they use to boil the lobster!
(The sound of splashing is heard, and Gurgi is heard screaming. This makes NC facepalm and a frustrated Luke squeeze a balloon so hard that he ends up popping it)
Malcolm: I got an idea. (leaves)
Taran: Oh, great! Now look what you've done! I deserve better than this!
(Malcolm returns, pushing a young girl (Heather) in a white dress into the room)
Girl: Ohh, I deserve better than this! Someone take me away from this place!
(The girl and Taran exchange glances as romantic guitar music begins playing)
Taran: ...Who are you?
Girl: I'm Sarah, the whiny pain-in-the-ass from Labyrinth.
Taran: I'm Taran, the whiny pain-in-the-ass from The Black Cauldron.
Sarah: Do you constantly tell people about how awesome you are without ever actually doing anything?
Taran: I do! Do you blame everyone else for your problems and expect to be liked?
Sarah: (smiles) I do!
Malcolm: (rolls eyes) This is either love or Facebook.
Taran: Come, let us embark on a trippy-as-hell fantasy.
Sarah: Where the lessons learned are shaky at best?
Taran: Is there any other kind?
(Sarah laughs and runs to Taran, and Taran leaves the stage for Sarah as well)
NC: (shrugs) I'm the Nostalgia Critic, and I guess there's always an obnoxious tool for another obnoxious tool.
Gurgi: (offscreen) Even Gurgi?
NC: (not looking away) Except Gurgi.
Gurgi: (offscreen) Aww.
Channel Awesome tagline - Taran: I'm a warrior!
(The credits roll)