Welcome to my liveblog of Golden Films version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Now, Hunchback is not a happy story by any means. Even Disney's version was much darker than most of their films, despite the added happy ending. Now, I love Disney's Hunchback, I really had no problems with it. Hell, I even liked the gargoyles! So really, if I could put up with them, what can't I put up with?
Enter Golden Films.
Golden Films was one of the reigning champs of The Mockbuster. You probably remember these videos, just not by name. They were bizarro Disney films that you saw at the supermarket, the ones that adapted various classic tales like The Little Mermaid, but weren't by Disney, just in their style. The kind of movies that parents or grandparents would buy by mistake, thinking these were quality.
Well, they're not quality at all. Not in any way.
To demonstrate the atrocity that is Golden Films, I'm going to review their version of Hunchback, which can be found on Dailymotion and Hulu (as of my writing this, at least). It's only about 45 minutes long, so it can't be that bad, right? Right?
We open with a Standard Snipped of the "can-can" music, which makes sense, because we're in Paris, even if it's a little cheap. A little man welcomes us to Paris in song, accompanied by actual can-can dancers (never mind what I said about this being "a little" cheap. It's really cheap). They also go "ooh-la-la, it's the city of lights!" This reminds me a lot of the Don Bluth version of Anastasia with the "Paris Holds the Key to Your Heart" song, which is cute, if not a tad on the annoying side. So now they're ripping two movies off, I suppose.
We get a glimpse of Esmeralda with her Non Human Sidekicks (Golden Films loves this trope), a group of musical instruments. More on them later. Or not. Golden Films also loves to introduce characters that have no bearing on the plot, and it's been a while since I've seen this so maybe the instruments don't do a thing.
The can-can music returns halfway through the Crowd Song opener. I'm only 55 seconds into this and already I'm fed up. The song goes on for a while, and the lyrics are mildly clever, I suppose, but I'm probably being generous. At the end of a song, some kid runs by wearing a backwards baseball cap. I've got nothin'.
We then jerkily transition to Notre Dame, where Quaimodo is ringing the bells. A group of talking bats (accompanied by a jazz piano them for some reason) crack what I think are supposed to be jokes, except I can't really find the funny. Then they all randomly laugh. I swear, it's like when you dream something that you find hilarious, then you wake up and realize that it wasn't funny at all.
A Gaston-type character yells for Pierre (the Frenchest name in the world). The little guy from the beginning shows up (the one who led the fairly awful song about Paris), and I guess he's Pierre. You can tell he's supposed to be the annoying comic releif from his shrill voice and lisp.
Not!Gaston gives us some exposition by yelling at Pierre for letting the townspeople sing and dance in the streets, which he has outlawed. Pierre asks if magic is outlawed, since a certain gypsy woman's instruments are alive.
"Zat is definitely against ze law," mutters Not!Gaston. Well, he sounds like he's muttering, but his animation looks like he's shouting. A lot of the time the animation does not match the voice acting at all.
Not!Gaston outrages that his father, the Baron (who just sits around, eating and babbling in pesudo-French) will not tolerate such disobedience. What's your deal, Not!Gaston? Even Frollo allowed singing and stuff. He didn't like it, but he at least allowed it. Look what you're doing to me, Not!Gaston! You just made me kind-of-sort-of defend Frollo!
Actually, Not!Gaston does have a reason—if the people are not working, they won't pay taxes. Whatever. He tells Pierre to saddle the horses, but the sidekick isn't listening to Not!Gaston, he's listening to a Spanish-sounding trumpet outside. Maybe Not!Gaston actually has a point.
We fade to that night where we see a Gypsy girl dancing, who I assume is Esmeralda. Quasimodo, WHO DOES NOT LOOK UGLY AT ALL, climbs a tree to get a better look at her. I mean it, he looks perfectly decent. Yes, he has a hunchback, but that's about it.
The bats from the tower look on, with their mouths gaping open as the voice actors ramble about Quasimodo not feeding them and the animators not making any effort to have their lips move.
Not!Gaston and Pierre arrive, accompanied by some public domain stock music, which shows up a lot in these movies. Not!Gaston is revealed to be named Jean-Claude. Again, a very French name. Jean-Claude laughs at the trembling townspeople, and his horse grumbles to himself, because I guess the horse can talk, too or something.
Jean-Claude approaches Esmeralda and sprays himself with some deodorant. A British talking tamborine urges "Melody" (I guess she's not Esmeralda) to get the hell outta there. The German accordion says something, but his accent is so thick and fake, I can't understand it. Click and Clack, a pair of Brooklyn-sounding castanets, try to bite Jean-Claude, but fail. Jean-Claude then randomly sticks his finger in Melody's mouth, managing to nearly out-creep Frollo.
Jean-Claude then struts around and informs her that she's breaking the law. The bats laugh for some reason, and I'm growing to hate them more and more. Jean-Claude threatens Melody with a ton of jailtime (324 years, to be exact). A violin laughs at him (what's with all this laughing) for no reason, and then Jeanny-boy offers Melody a dinner with him instead of le slammer.
Melody flat-out rejects him and there's a brief bit of Abbot and Castello-style banter where Jean-Claude can't figure out if she said "no" or "yes" that's actually kind of amusing, which is a first. Jean-Claude decides that if he can't get a date with her, he'll flat-out kill her with a guillotine. That escalated quickly.
Quasimodo barrels in to save the day! Jean-Claude is mostly unfazed and banishes the "monster" back to his tower. Melody, her mother, and the instruments run away, chattering all the while. No one knows how to shut up in these movies.
Jean-Claude threatens to end Melody's life when he finds her and the baron nearly has an orgasm over some cheese.
See you in Part 2!