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Nightmare Fuel / The Secret of NIMH

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  • The plough scene, with the heavily rotoscoped tractor slowly creeping through the field and deliberately clashing with the rest of the film's Disneyesque style. And it all takes place from the perspective of the animals, turning a simple farming job into Armageddon as The Shrew runs through the field screaming "RUN!! THE PLOUGH IS HERE!! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!! RUN!! IT'S MOVING DAY!!"
    • Jerry Goldsmith's score for the scene, especially the Scare Chord to accompany the tractor turning over. And even before that is the distant, ominous sound of the farmer trying to start it, warning Mrs. Brisby and The Shrew of its looming threat.
    • And if that weren't bad enough, even as Mrs. Brisby rushes her children to safety, Timmy is left alone bedridden in the house, completely unaware of what's to come and far too sick to be moved. Mrs. Brisby is forced to do the unthinkable and try to sabotage the tractor before it can reach their home. It is only due to the intervention of Auntie Shrew that she and Timmy both survive the ordeal.
  • The Great Owl, from the perspective of a little field mouse like Mrs. Brisby, really is a Great Wyrm (minus the firebreathing). His opening act is messily crushing a spider right next to Mrs. Brisby and it gets worse from there. But perhaps the most shiver-inducing scene is before we ever see him. When Mrs. Brisby calls into the seemingly bottomless dark hole that is his lair, this drifts up almost lazily from within:
    The Great Owl: STEP INSIDE MY HOUSE.
    • The spider that he crushes is even more frightening.
    • Also, before he actually moves, and before the spider even appears, an eagle-eyed viewer can actually see his massive form waiting in the shadows behind Mrs. Brisby when she steps into his lair.
  • Jenner, for his actions, demeanor, and utter ruthlessness in getting what he wants. Especially notable is the scene where he tells Sullivan about his plan to kill Nicodemus.
    Jenner: With Nicodemus outta the way, what's to stop us from taking over?
    Sullivan: Jenner, you can't kill Nicodemus!
    Jenner: No taste for blood, huh? They've taken the animal out of you.
    Sullivan: What if we're discovered?
    Jenner: Ah! Listen. The Brisby house is a large cement block. In the moving, what if it should fall?
    Sullivan: An accident?
    Jenner: Of course! Cut the lines and the weight of it will crush his bones!
    Sullivan: (rubs his throat squeamishly) It's risky.
    Jenner: Once rid of Nicodemus, the plan will die! We can stay here as long as we like!
    Sullivan: But what about Justin?
    Jenner: Leave him to me. ("To me...To me." echos.)
  • Dragon, the farmer's massive cat. It's much worse than it sounds.
    • He was really scary! Especially when he was chasing Ms Brisby and the close ups of his nightmare face!
      • The chase scene wasn't even all that bad, at least compared to the buildup. There was a fakeout with the rabbit, and then a slow buildup of Dragon creeping up, the audience only able to watch as the cat got ever closer. He doesn't even sound like a cat. More like a Hellhound. While his few scenes in the novel aren't nearly so intense, it's stated that he's still just as terrifying: the Fitzgibbons' only named the kitten "Dragon" for a joke initially, but he grew up to be as fierce as the name. The scene where Mrs. Brisby accidentally awakens the drugged Dragon, and his eye visibly focuses on her helpless form, is true terror.
  • Mrs. Brisby's encounter with Brutus, who's seemingly hellbent on outright killing the frightened and defenseless mouse when she comes to seek out Nicodemus, and she just barely escapes his rampage.
    • His blank, expressionless eyes and dark visage make it all the more terrifying.
    • Not to mention his chosen weapon, an electrified halberd.
    • Becomes a little less nightmarish when you later realize that his purpose was to simply keep intruders out; he was putting on an extremely intimidating show, but Mrs. Brisby was never in any real danger.
  • The sequence describing the rats' experience at NIMH. Starts off with sad imagery of animals in too-small cages, then they show a rat being injected with God-knows-what and the Disney Acid Sequence begins.
    • The rats being shown bending over in agony while clutching their red-glowing abdomens as the drugs take effect, with the rising heartbeat sound, is horrifically visceral. If music hadn't been playing, the audience would obviously be hearing their screams.
      • For the most part the rats' eyes in this sequence are dark, like real rats' eyes, but later they're shown like this. The poor creature is obviously frightened and confused.
  • The scene where most of the mice (except Jonathan and Mr. Ages) are blown away in the air shaft during the escape.
    • Unlike the scene where the drugs begin to take effect, the music here is far too soft to hide the shrieks of the double-handful of terrified mice as they scrabble for purchase on the string, each other, and the walls of the air shaft, down into a deep, black abyss - all to fall silent a moment later with a muted, terribly final thump.
  • Mrs. Brisby getting caught by the humans and imprisoned in a cage. Her red robes are stripped off in a setting that's unsettlingly dehumanizing for a non-human animal. And when she tries to escape, she cuts herself and bleeds in a disturbingly lifelike fashion.
  • The expression on Jenner's face as he is killed by the knife Sullivan threw into his back. As well as that... sound he makes when Justin stabs him in the gut.
  • The thought of four children trapped with their house sinking into the mud is unsettling in itself. Even more so if you put yourself in Mrs. Brisby's situation.
    Cynthia: What's all that black stuff?