Nightmare Fuel / The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The original novel:
- Clopin running through the crowd in the final battle scene with a HUGE SCYTHE, hacking at the horses and guards until he is surrounded by severed limbs. He dies shortly afterwards.
"And He shall smite the wicked..."
The Disney film:
The Disney adaptation of Victor Hugo's classic novel (which is hardly light reading in itself) is one of the darkest films ever produced by the studio
, featuring adult content like infanticide, the outright racist treatment and mass genocide of the gypsies, the abuse of religious power and creepy lust displayed by one of the most vile and frighteningly realistic villains in the history of animated films, and on-screen deaths for heroes and villains alike. As a result, it has more than enough frightening moments and concepts to go around for the whole family
. With all of this and the heavy adult themes present in the picture, its startling to realize that the film somehow got a G-Rating from the MPAA...
- The gargoyle◊ that randomly comes to life just to finish off Frollo.
- The statues of the saints looking down at Frollo, and of the Virgin Mother's eyes opening as the lightning flashes in the prologue.
- Also this one◊ seems to be staring at the viewer instead of Frollo
- Quasimodo tied to a spinning platform as the crowd throws eggs and vegetables at him is terrifying. Fortunately, Esmeralda's intervention cuts the scene short.
- Ironically, it's a bowdlerized version of a similar scene in the book, where he's whipped and mocked by the crowd.
- For some it is worse in this version because of how unprovoked that was. At least in the book, he was guilty of attempted kidnapping and nobody knew that the true culprit was Frollo.
- Judge Claude Frollo himself.
- Tony Jay's voice for Frollo counts, making his song more frightening.
- Most of the other Disney villains were terrifying and evil in their own right, but Frollo trumps a majority of them due to being very, very normal and realistic. It gets better. The chances of you personally getting attacked by a sea witch, a sorcerer, or an evil queen are slim to none. Are there genocidal racists out there who use religion to justify their beliefs and actions, and convince other people to follow them? Oh, yes.
- His very introduction applies. As the Gypsies are surrounded by soldiers, a huge shadow casts itself over the wall, revealed to be Frollo on his Bruiser of a horse. The pure terror in the male Gypsy's voice is as if he has come face to face with the devil itself; a textbook Oh, Crap! reaction.
- During the opening sequence, Frollo looks positively demonic as he chases down and ultimately kills Quasimodo's poor mother, a Gypsy he thinks has stolen something. There's no discretion either—you get to see Frollo kill her on-screen. And if not for the Archdeacon's intervention, this guy would very well have murdered baby Quasimodo himself as well. And what's worse is that Frollo thinks he is guiltless and in the right!
- Heck, the way he talks about it with the Archdeacon. He's very much treating the whole situation as if it's just any other day for him, just another part of his job. That someone could be so casual about killing a woman and then trying to drown her child, "monster" or not, is chilling.
- His obsession with Esmeralda is quite creepy indeed, and not at all subtle.
- The Villain Song, "Hellfire". Fabulous singer, though.
- When he says "Let her taste the fires of hell," you can actually hear the faint screaming of a woman being burned alive! Chills.
- Cant forget the hellish monk choir draped in red robes who provides the chorus of Mea Culpa. (Translates to "my fault, my fault, my most grievous fault")
- It's a blink-and-you'll-miss moment, but when Frollo rushes through the monk choir, watch the direction of their unseen gaze. Their heads turn toward Frollo, as though their invisible eyes are laser-guided to follow him
- Frollo is interrupted mid-song by one of his minions, who's telling him that Esmeralda has disappeared from the Cathedral. What makes this moment truly disturbing is that Frollo, for one moment, looks like he's forgotten where he is, and what he's doing.
Soldier: Minister Frollo, the gypsy has escaped!
Soldier: She's nowhere in the cathedral. She's gone.
Frollo: But how?! I- nevermind...get out, you idiot! I'll find her. I'LL FIND HER IF I HAVE TO BURN DOWN ALL OF PARIS!!
- In the Italian version, he sings I'm waiting for you in Hell instead of just Choose me or your pyre. He knows this obsession'll damn him but it's got him too tight. That's a sign that he's really losing it, in a horrifying way.
- Frollo looks very much like the bastard spawn of Lex Luthor and The Joker when he grins, and his cold glare is equally as frightening.
- When confronting Quasimodo for helping Esmeralda escape Notre Dame, Frollo goes from his usually polite and cold tone to flat-out Unstoppable Rage as he shouts at Quasimodo and destroys his model replica of Paris. Quasimodo is lying on the floor, looking like a frightened child. Makes one wonder if this was the first time Frollo ever shouted at Quasimodo like that.
- The scene where he confronts Esmeralda while she's about to be burned telling her to "Choose me or the fire". Rather than fear, Esmeralda looks at him with visible disgust.
- He makes this chilling remark during his last encounter with the Archdeacon:
Frollo: The hunchback and I have unfinished business to attend to. And this time you will not interfere.
- In the following scene, Frollo attempts to stab Quasimodo, but the latter manages to fight back and grab the knife. What follows is Quasimodo being covered in red light and wearing a Death Glare as he advances on Frollo and raises the knife, and Frollo himself is terrified as this sudden show of violence, when Quasimodo gives a "The Reason You Suck" Speech and throws the knife away instead. While Frollo would have had it coming, the fact that the protagonist of a Disney movie briefly considered stabbing someone to death is beyond creepy.
- His final scene is the image above for a reason. While watching it, notice the color of his eyes and teeth. They're white like Esmeralda's and Quasi's, until he climbs the gargoyle to decapitate the Gypsy, then they turn yellow.
- The Swedish version manages to be very unnerving with his laugh now sounding not only deranged like in the original, but also like it comes from the very pits of hell itself.
- Imagine for a moment you are one of the soldiers under Frollo's command. Specifically, one of those attacking the Cathedral. You've stuck by the Judge through all of his monstrosities. The city is in revolt, the Cathedral is throwing beams, stone and molten lead at you. All of this is explainable. Then the birds attack, and everything is put into perspective. The Cathedral isn't attacking you. God is, and now the Devil has a claim on your soul. Pious or not, that would be terrifying.
- The last twenty-five seconds of "Paris Burning" is the embodiment of fear and terror itself. In the film, it's played over a clip looking over the skyline of Paris, glowing bright red from all the fire and the smoke filling the sky, as though Frollo really has brought Hellfire to Earth.
- The chorus of "Kyrie Eleison" (meaning "Lord, have mercy") make both nightmarish and heartbreaking as well.
- And if you listen to the scene with headphones, as Frollo contemplates Esmeralda's escape, you can hear the muffled screams and cries of the townspeople - men, women, and children.
- The scene where Frollo explains his viewpoint of the Romani people to Phoebus. Hello, blatant genocide metaphor in a family-friendly movie. (Especially bad for those of us whose relatives were, and continue to be, oppressed by anti-Romani sentiment. It never ends...)
I have been...taking care
of the Gypsies. (crushes some ants under a finger with each word
Yet, for all my success, they have thrived
! *pulls off a tile to reveal an ants nest* I believe that they have a safe haven within the walls of this very city...a nest
if you will. They call it the (incredulous scoff
) "Court of Miracles"...
Phoebus: What are we going to do about it, sir?
Frollo: *smirks and smashes the tile back down, crushing every last ant under it*
Phoebus: ...you make your point quite vividly, sir.
- Can't forget Phoebus first meeting Judge Frollo, in the castle torture chamber, where you get to hear the sound of the previous captain of the guard being tortured to death. Frollo even advices the Torture Technician to whip his victim slower, because doing it too fast will make the new pain drown out the old one (which he speaks of in the most eerily casual manner possible). Oh, and WHAT was the captain's crime? "Disappointing" Frollo.
- In the Finnish dub, Frollo's tone of voice when he says "This is an unholy demon. I'm sending it back to Hell where it belongs." is as if he's discussing the weather.
- If you interpret the gargoyles strictly as part of Quasi's imagination, not to mention how he behaves around Frollo, it really puts into perspective how much psychological damage has been done to this poor boy in his 20 years in isolation.
- Clopin giving a Slasher Smile when he was about to execute Quasimodo and Phoebus as spies. Thankfully Esmeralda stopped him before it was too late.
- The burning of the miller's house just because he and his family were supposedly hiding gypsies. Said family included at least one child and a baby. Frollo even tries to make Phoebus carry out the evil deed (which he very understandably refuses to do), and then tries to execute him when he rescues the people involved.
- At the end of the stage version, when Quasimodo is about to throw Frollo to his death, Frollo cries out "You don't want to hurt me!" The gargoyles/chorus whisper to Quasimodo, "Yes you do."
- It's taken Up to Eleven in the Paper Mills Playhouse version as you see Quasimodo's final grasp of sanity slip, ensures Frollo can't escape and hurls him off the roof.
- Even worse is the Paper Mills version. In the German version, only one gargoyle says the line. In Paper Mills, it's the entire chorus. The effect is both chilling and awesome.
- If you really think about it, that line has a horrifically heartbreaking amount of weight behind it...yes, Quasi does want to hurt Frollo. He always has...
- Frollo being scared for the first time in his life. Those statues seem to be staring into his very soul, and one can't help but shake the feeling that they really are. Especially when it focuses on the Virgin Mary....
- "Sanctuary (Reprise)" in the stage version. Taken Up to Eleven in the American production, in which Frollo corners Esmeralda in her cell and forces himself on her. The claustrophobia of the prison cell set as Esmeralda tries to crawl towards the bars and call for help despite knowing the cell is locked and nobody will free her just sells her helplessness and the discomfort of the scene.
Esmeralda: No— no! A demon! Help! Help, please!