CHASE 'EM AWAY...CHASE 'EM AWAY...
"I am not the type to faint, when things are odd or things are quaint,
but seeing things you know that ain't can certainly give you an awful fright!
What a sight!"
- The infamous "Pink Elephants On Parade" sequence. This, children, is why we do not take hallucinogens (though "pink elephants" are more associated with someone being drunk rather than high). Consider the following facts:
- Dumbo is actually hallucinating because he is drunk. An adult understands this immediately, but most children don't, since they've never been intoxicated. This aspect makes it even worse, because children are usually afraid of things they don't understand! If they are able to relate to it all it might be because Dumbo's hallucinations are similar to fever nightmares. In fact, most people to this day are afraid for this reason because it is unknown if it was meant to be enjoyable fun, the animators were high or genuine Nightmare Fuel.
- What makes this scarier is that Dumbo was merely making funny shapes with bubbles, which then leads to one bubble turning into a pink elephant and the madness begins...
- All the elephants are varied in color (but are mostly pink), but all have no pupils (and sometimes no eyes at all, like eyeless masks), causing them to resemble ghosts. Especially since the background is pitch black, like the night.
- In addition, the elephants take on all kinds of bizarre and physically impossible shapes. Hopping over each other, walking into each other, changing color, growing and shrinking, floating in the air, walking upside down, growing extra heads, changing into cars and other vehicles... A Trope Codifier of Deranged Animation. One of them is a Combining Mecha made of nothing but elephant heads who walks towards the viewer (pictured above). Many kids have jumped away in fear when they saw that thing coming near. The scariest thing is when the yellow head and its two blue shoulder heads zoom in to cover the screen, first with the latter shoving the yellow head in the back and finally ending with former emerging with a wide smile. Oh and did we mention that the eyes of these elephant heads have no eyeballs?
- The scene where the elephants walk upside down on the ceiling, while another elephant sees them from his bed and then hides himself beneath the blanket from fear. This is one thing many kids did after watching this movie.
- When the lyrics come in for the first time, behind the prancing elephants a large pink rectangle can be seen in the background. Closer inspection reveal this rectangle is actually some kind of doorway with an unbroken tide of pink elephants swarming through it. Not only are the elephants terrifying, there's hundreds of them!
- After the belly dancing elephant dissolves a disturbingly realistic eye appears in the middle of the screen, staring back at you. It's the only non-elephant appearing on screen in the entire segment other than a snake that changes into the belly dancer which dissolves into the eye. (The snake in question—a rearing cobra!)
- The music is very creepy as well. But the lyrics, oh boy: "Chase 'em away! Chase 'em away! I'm afraid! Need your aid! Pink Elephants on Parade!"
- The climax! The music for the ballet sequence has an eerie calm, but shifts gears abruptly to Latin jazz as the dancing couple suddenly turns into dozens of identical couples - and then the elephants decide to change to change into vehicles (with sound effects of whirring motors, ringing bells, and so forth) and the black scene flashes pink as they rush like mad, leading to an explosive conclusion leading to the second to last scene.
- And being a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment, it has no relevance to the plot and is never mentioned again, leading to a calmer scene where Dumbo wakes up in a tree, learns to fly and get back at the circus. The insanity dissipates as quickly as it came, but leaves even stronger impact than even the ending resolution.
- You think "Pink Elephants on Parade" is scary enough? The Spanish version is named "The Spirits of Terror" ("Las Ánimas del terror"). The lyrics "They're here and there. Pink elephants ev'rywhere" somehow translated to "They are perhaps, relatives of Satan" ("seran quizas, parientes de Satanás"). Below is a translation of the Spanish lyrics, which many find even more sinister than the original version.
Who is it? Who comes?
They start to march, theyll soon be here.
Look at how they jump.
Theyre here. Straight to your bed they go, upside down, like acrobats.
What terror they give me! They want to drive me mad!
What will I do? I dont know!
Ill never get drunk again.
He who abuses alcohol, a vision will appear to him
of elephants in color that frighten and give terror.
I, who challenged the Devil and ripped off his tail
These tri-color pachyderms have made me lose my great courage.
(Oh, the horror!)
Leave me alone! I cant take it anymore!
Theyre leaving now
Theyre leaving now
the Spirits of Terror. The spirits
- And if all that didn't scare you, just imagine the Tim Burton remake.
- Wait, never mind, its just a pretty complex bubble act in the remake. That being said, it's still pretty damn unsettling, as the music was now amped up a bit courtesy of Danny Elfman.
- The close-up of Casey Junior saying 'All aboard, let's go'. That grating voice from the "talking-whistle" effect can be more than a little unnerving. Similarly when he chants 'I Think I Can I Think I Can I Think I Can' while climbing up the hill. This goes to a lesser extent in some dubs, though, such as the Spanish one.
- Mrs. Jumbo going red-eyed and berserk because she was understandably upset when Dumbo was taken from her after just spending a single moment of playing with her calf causing her to go into an Unstoppable Rage, spanking the brat that played with Dumbo's ears, tossing circus folk and finally dunking the Ringmaster into a barrel of water. In a Real Life situation, Mrs. Jumbo would likely have killed anyone for even getting close to Dumbo.
- Took years to understand the justice of the humans' reaction. Actual enraged elephants have been known to accidentally trample their own young. Just before he's taken away, Dumbo can be seen stepping and 'dancing' a little to avoid her stamping feet.
- This is why one of the trainers takes Dumbo away from his mother. While it can be considered cruel, it's actually a Pet the Dog moment since it was for Dumbo's safety.
- The disastrous end to the elephants' pyramid routine. The matriarch screams "OUT OF MY WAY, ASSASSIN!" as she chases Dumbo with all the other elephants on top of her. Dumbo trips and we zoom into the matriarch's Oh, Crap! reaction before the elephants knock over the tightrope and tent. Earlier during that same scene, a crowd of silhouetted people in the foreground all scream like a chorus of banshees as they scatter like roaches to escape the oncoming elephants. As the scene cuts to the outside of the tent as it collapses, the crowd is pouring out of the entrances in a solid mass.
- For younger viewers, the humor of the clown scene may go over their heads, and it's just weird enough that it comes off as rather creepy.
- Briefly before the "Subconscious" scene, Timothy is framed (off-screen) as casting a shadow over the Ringmaster not unlike Orlok from Nosferatu. The creepy violin that goes along with it does not help matters.
- A very minor one but during the "Baby Mine" sequence when the hyena pups and their mother are shown sleeping, they briefly laugh in the middle of their sleep, all while making no sound at all. It's bizarrely creepy enough, but what really adds to the creep factor is noticeable in older printings when the mother's mouth is shown as she's doing this, while the rest of her body is mostly bathed in shadow.