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Nightmare Fuel / The Black Cauldron

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While The Black Cauldron may be related to its innocuous, light-hearted Disney cousins, it subverts them by being full of Nightmare Fuel beyond most children's comprehension. In fact, it was Executive Meddling that saved it from being too scary!


  • Taran's face being smashed into the ground by the Gwythaints, causing his mouth to bleed for a shot. A deleted shot reveals he was cut by one of their wings.
  • Elmer Bernstein made a number of terrifying soundtracks for this movie. Some are Crowning Music of Awesome, while others are not, such as the Horned King's theme.
  • One of the most effective Jump Scares of all time: when Taran is sneaking around a guard... he is caught by the guard's dog, who barks extremely loudly and out of nowhere in a silent scene.
  • Henwen almost has an Eye Scream moment when Creeper wants to burn her eye out with a lump of coal and then her head is nearly cut off by an axe.
  • Another Jump Scare happens after Taran finds the magic sword. As he's looking for Eilonwy—again, in a quiet scene—a guard leaps out of nowhere with a roar and tries to cut his head off.
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  • Fflewdddur gets turned into a frog. It's mentioned that the witches could possibly eat him.
  • When the Horned King puts a cauldron-born skeleton into the cauldron, it starts to leak blood. Not only that, a skeleton face shows up at the top.
  • The Horned King is telling his warriors to become "messengers of death" and the screen makes a close up of his face, and we get the lovely image pictured above. It almost looks like an example of The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You.
  • In order to stop the cauldron, someone living has to jump into it and die themselves.
  • The Horned King's army of the dead: Sweet dreams.
    • The last few parts of the film where the cauldron-born attack a group of soldiers. It is heavily implied that they have killed them. One could be forgiven for thinking the skeletons ate the soldiers, zombie-style. Several deleted shots show an additional undead warrior jumping out and a man’s skin being dissolved by the green mist with a pained expression and multiple boils on his face until there is nothing left of him but a skeleton.
      • To quote website Topless Robot, here's one more of the scenes that Disney cut out of the movie:
        In one of these missing shots, an undead warrior spawned by the title cauldron gorily slices through an unsuspecting villager.
  • The Horned King himself. He's an undead sorcerer with No Sense of Humor who wants to raise an army of dead warriors to destroy everyone in order to be worshipped as a mortal by the few remaining living people or the undead that have completely overtaken the land. A definite contrast to the usual Laughably Evil Rogues Gallery of the Disney lineup.
    • He is one of the most horrific Disney villains, being a skull-faced, brown-robed nightmare with horns and the menacing voice of John Hurt. But then you add the warrior skeletons reanimated by the Black Cauldron, the Cauldron Born, who lurch out of the cauldron, attacking anyone in the way. They shamble inexorably from the Horned King's castle to slaughter all in their path, and boy, do they not skimp on the slaughter and death in this movie. It ended up needing several cuts to avoid an R rating, and that still left in some of the blood.
    • Even though it's played for Black Comedy, the fact that the Horned King constantly strangles Creeper for any setback or for being annoying. It gets to the point that Creeper felt compelled to strangle himself when the Horned King beckoned him over for the latest failure he did. Even though Creeper is an evil creature, he's essentially in a very abusive relationship with a tyrannical Bad Boss.
    • The King's Villainous Breakdown when the heroes shut off the Cauldron with Gurgi's sacrifice, leading to his army of undead falling apart. He loses all his cool temperament, and his normally pitch-black eyes turn into Red Eyes, Take Warning.
      Horned King: Get up you fools!! KILL!!
  • The Horned King's death by having his flesh stripped from his bones and then burn up.


  • In the climax of the "Cinderella Castle Mystery Tour" attraction at Tokyo Disneyland that operated from 1986 to 2006, guests faced the Horned King and got to watch him as he raises the skeletons lying on the battlefield in front of you as Cauldron Born. And it took place inside a dark cavern. With realistic audio-animatronics. It was as terrifying as it sounds. Defunctland provided more details.