VIDEO: The Black Cauldron (1985)

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Special Bonus Video! The teaser for Critics Assemble featuring Joey Tedesco:

Joey finds out if this is really Disney’s worst animated film! With a reputation of being made when Disney was at its lowest point, The Black Cauldron is a fantasy adventure with obnoxious characters, cop-out endings, and archetypes we’ve seen done to death.

Bonus Video! Check out the teaser trailer to Critics Assemble, an upcoming movie featuring Joey! 

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  • Thomas Stockel

    I vaguely remember seeing this movie in the theater, but for the life of me I can’t recall anything about it.  It was not bad so much as completely forgettable.

    Anyway, good review.  I think you are right in that the film had potential judging from the source material, but yeah, using way too many Disney cliches was a big mistake.  Heck, I’m reading the synopsis of the book on Wikipedia and having the noble and peasant stuck together on a quest would have made for a very interesting dynamic

    • Tedzey71

      In all honesty it was a movie that would have worked better in live action rather than a traditional disney animated film. As mentioned above, I could see Jerry Bruckheimer turning this into a live action franchise like “Pirates of the Carribean.”

  • Cleggster

    Just to put in perspective, the Chonicles of Prydain were my absolute favorite books as a child.  Before I ever read anything Tolkien.  Read the whole series twice.  As a consequence of that, I NEVER went to see this movie.  The trailer just looked like it would disappoint me.  Looks like I was right.  That being said, the animation does not look bad.  You get the feeling that there was an attempt to make this better.  Just the creators get screwed.  I guess I should not hold out hope for another attempt. 

    • Tedzey71

      It’s one of the times where executives made the calls over the creators. It’s a shame, really. 

      I guess I also forgot this was one of the times where John Lasseter was fired for wanting to make “The Brave Little Toaster” the first computer animated film. Oh, well… there’s always next time :)

  • Cristiona

    Oh, poor Chronicles of Prydain.  You (and Welsh mythology in general) deserved so much more.  I would love to see this series done properly.  Especially the High King, which had an almost heartbreaking ending.
    There were so many great ideas in this series that would be amazing if done properly.  The cauldron’s just one of many.  Also, to be fair, that interpretation of Gurgi isn’t terribly off from the book.  Fllewder Fflam wasn’t nearly so poncy, though (or old, that I remember).  Also, while the movie may have been half baked, the source material’s about a decade older than Star Wars…

    • Tedzey71

      If anything, I’d imagine Jerry Bruckheimer producing the series in live action the same way he did Pirates of the Carribean. From what I hear, this series does have the clout to make for a good franchise. This movie didn’t take advantage of that. It’s alot like what would happen if Harry Potter was an animated movie rather than the live action franchise it is.

      • Cristiona

        A Pirates-style could be neat, but I still think it could work animated.

        Maybe if we could get the folks behind the Narnia books…

  • Muthsarah

    Please tell me you’re joking about that princess/talking animal thing.  I…don’t think I can sleep until this is clarified.

    This movie is one of my earliest memories, and it MAY be the movie I have gone the longest period of time without re-watching.  I recall not minding it at the time (though back then, I didn’t mind the Care Bears either), but its reputation is so bad, I’m terrified at the thought of revisiting it.  There’s no way in hell it could be as bad as Home on the Range, though.  Black Cauldron’s animation looks pretty good for the time, kind of a Rescuers/Bluth-level creepy character design, but not bad for the early 1980s until Great Mouse Detective took the quality back to the 1950s (and Little Mermaid went the full pastels).  Home on the Range was both lazy and over-the-top obnoxious.  Like Shark Tale.  Or NIMH 2.

    P.S. The Gollum comparison is eerie.  I have to wonder if there’s a direct link somewhere.

    • Tedzey71

      It was a joke! I even used the A113 easter egg for the article/section. That is a reference to the classroom all the disney animators and famous directors like Brad Bird, John Lasseter and Tim Burton learned in Cal-Arts.

      I won’t lie, but I do have a soft spot for the xerox-animation during this period. Mainly because I love pencil tests, and you can see the rough lines flicker from frame to frame that has it’s appeal like Stop-motion. In some ways, because a camera takes a picture one frame at a time; it’s more like stopmotion when you compare it to computer animation, but that’s a discussion for another time!

      As for Home on the Range… well, it’s on my hit-list let’s put it that way!

  • Cheshirecat

    Have you ever reviewed Titan A.E.?


    I’m reminded of the side character who gives his life, only to reveal later he’s not actually dead.

    • Tedzey71

      It’s on my hit list. Honestly, cop out endings have to be one of my most least favorable movie cliches. Often times it works in movies like “Pinnochio” and “Beauty and the Beast.” But honestly… it is an old-as-nails cliches that can really destroy the mood of the film. 

  • Barbara LeMaster

    Honestly, they should have simply animated the first book in the series, “The Book of Three”.  They could have had a decent animation franchise going.  The books are awesome; this movie, less so (much less so) but I found it somewhat enjoyable.

  • Sofie Liv

    Oh gee, here’s another movie I guess I am not supposed to like but I sort of do.

    First of all, to me as a person.. haha no, that fantasy thing will never ever get redundant, I can’t get enough of it, as long as it’s done well. And well, the cool elements in this I really like, I liked all scenes that happened in the horned kings castle, I liked the scene with the witches I urhm.. urh.. liked the Bard, and I even liked. I admit it! I liked Gurgi, how-ever! I want to remind people I have mostly seen this with Danish dub where in Gurgis voice is not nearly as annoying but just, kind of adorable. 

    That’s not to say this movie is flawless, it’s not, it’s very flawed, that entire elf section or what-ever the heck that was, never ever liked that part of the movie and it just seemed to go on for-ever! story could have been way more engaging.. and yes, Princess? why is she a princess? If she was a girl with magic powers, good enough I could have bought that, but a princess? why???? because it’s disney!?

    Also, only half of the disney features that has down-right talking animals, a lot have animals, but they don’t need to talk like in Snow-white, Pocahontas, Hunch-back of Notredame or Tangled, the animals are there, but they are not essential to the plot.

    Then there are films like Pinnochio, Cinderella or the Frog prince where animals do talk to human, but in there the animals actually have genuine bearing on the plot and are well, characters!

    And last category would be where the talking animals are the actual main character, such as 101 dalmatians, the great mouse detective, home on the range.

    I guess what I am trying to say is that animals can be depicted very differently depending on the movie.

    • Tedzey71

      Well Sofie. The reason why you like movies that nobody else doesn’t is because you have terrible taste… JUST KIDDING!!!

      Though if you watch the portion again, I mention “either talking animals or animals that can display basic communication.” In my mind, I was considering Snow While in which the animals couldn’t talk, but they we’re pretty much animated like human characters with ticks, affections, etc.

      I also agree with you on the elf section. In all seriousness it’s one of the parts katzenberg cut out of the original film, whereas it had some bearing on the plot. Here it’s just “We know where the black cauldron is.”

      • Yonagonaf

         The second sentence of your posting has a double negative.  It should read “nobody else does.”

        • Tedzey71

           According to my heredity, I am only 35% jack-ass.

  • It’s kind of odd that a Disney film has a cult following knowing how mainstream Disney is. I never saw this as a kid and I haven’t seen it now but I will say from what I’ve heard that the dark atmosphere is very apparent and some of the imagery is frightening for youngsters but it’s a shame that it seems like an unfinished or rushed piece of work that didn’t live up to it’s full potential. That’s just the vibe I get from it’s reputation and some of that is echoed in your review.

    • Tedzey71

      That’s appropriate. I’ve read that the animators wanted to move towards something dark, but Katzenberg wanted to make the movie lighter. Honestly i’m on the fence when it comes to disney doing darker films aimed for a specific audience. It’s probably the reason why more people went to see The Care Bears Movie; since it’s themes we’re more like Disney than the actual disney movie.

  • Llyan

    This was one of my favorite book series when I was younger…I read it long before Lord of the Rings, so it was my first excursion into high fantasy. When I was ten I saw the movie at Blockbuster’s and my dad rented it. I thought it was okay, but was horrified at all the characters they kicked out. No Gwydion, no Coll, no Ellidyr, no Adaon, no Hunstmen, no freaking Arawn, and Dallben didn’t even have a beard! And Orddu, Orwen and Orgoch…what has Disney done to you, morphed you into cackling green-skinned witches? I also didn’t like it that Gurgi was the one to jump in the Cauldron. That came out of nowhere. In the book *spoiler* the Malfoy figure to Taran’s Harry, so to speak, was the one to die. And he didn’t get randomly resurrected, either.
    Okay, you can probably tell I feel rather strongly about this. One thing I did like was the Horned King. He was creepier than your average Disney villain, and I liked the freaky music that played whenever he appeared.

  • Rob

    When does Ryan come back with Saturday Morning Glory? This is simply bad. “Taran” and “Gurgi” are mispronounced. The reviewer trashes the princess for looking more like Alice than a Disney princess….despite the fact the movie was made before Ariel showed up….and Belle….and Mulan…and we can go on here. The score is by Elmer Bernstein–a pretty prominent composer. That was worthy of being mentioned. As for the Star Wars references….yes, Lloyd Alexander wrote the books before we knew who George Lucas was. While the movie is not directly based on the books, it does draw from the first two volumes. That was worthy of acknowledgement at least. 

    Some of the better reviewers here–Mr. Mendo, Ryan, Fear Fan–offer that kind of depth and knowledge in their videos. It’s sadly lacking here and badly needed. 

    • Tedzey71

       Meh… different stroke, different folks!

    • Sofie Liv

      None of us has heard from Ryan in a very long time and it does not exactly seem like he is going to go back.

      A lot of changes have happened around here as you can see, there’s been brough on multiple video producers and we as new video producers are self sufficent, meaning each of us do every-thing our-selves, write, film and edit.

      That was not how it worked before, before when videos were just starting up here at the site, Albert O’boogie, the owner of the site, helped writing every-thing and he edited every-thing released on the booth, including Ryans videos, how-ever, now with the new people being self sufficient Albert does no longer need to write or edit stuff for other people and can finally make his own thing at the movie skewer.

      Because we now are merely several self-sufficient people doing every-thing ourselves in our videos and then put them out on this shared site, our different styles obviously comes more apparent and how we focus on more things, some make small reviews focusing on facts, some long reviews focusing on comedy, some tries to balance it, some tries to explore the back-ground of the movie, some tries to analyze what they see in the finished project, it’s all different depending on the person and what he or she finds most interesting to do.

      I don’t know why Ryan don’t make videos more, if it’s because he is not willing to edit himself, if he merely grew tired of it, or what happened, none of us make any money of it and none of us are dependent on this, it’s not our jobs it’s our hobbies, and it seems like Ryan merely moved on.

  • Muthsarah

    Are you talking about Winston O’Boogie?  Is he Albert?  Of the Evil Spock av?  I remember coming by this site many years ago, back when it mostly did recaps, and I only re-discovered it a few months ago (yes, you (and to an extent, MovieBob) are responsible for that), but it looks like there’s a lot of site history I’m still unaware of.

    • Sofie Liv

       Well, the site is ten years old, it has exsisted since 2002, so of cause there is a lot of history and a lot of explanation to dwell down in. But yeah, Albert had the icon of bearded spock as I first joined, and he is the one guy whom started this site ten years ago and have kept it running ever since, so well.. show the man some respect.

  • Muthsarah

    Stupid login procedure not recognizing me.  This was supposed to be filed as a reply to Sofie’s reply to Rob.

    • Muthsarah

       OK, so nothing’s going where it’s supposed to.  Nevermind….

  • Misty

    This movie is…well…to be honest, Disney has done far worse, and I don’t think this was their darkest time. No, I think that dishonor goes to most of the so-called renaissance and the majority of last decade, but I’m in the minority for that opinion I think.

    This isn’t a great movie to be sure, just thoroughly mediocre. And a lot more faithful to the source material than The Fox and the Hound!

    • Tedzey71

      I personally believe “Home on the Range” is worse… far worse than this! I haven’t seen “Chicken Little,” but I have heard bad things about it. 

      I won’t lie, but I like “The Fox and the Hound.” I found the tragic relationship between Copper and Tod engaging enough to set itself apart from other disney films. “The Black Cauldron” lends itself to having the reputation mainly because of it’s production, poor box office scores and critical reception. I’ve heard that this film has a cult following, however I wouldn’t consider myself as a follower :P

      • Sofie Liv

         The Fox and the Hound always made me cry like a little baby.. always.

        Chicken Little.. dude, you don’t want to go there! take my advice and stay away just.. argh, Disney, how did that even happen?

        Well.. at least it’s not “Into the wild.” nor “Mars needs mom.” … D:

        Disney, why?

        • Tedzey71

          Well then, it looks like I have some films to watch… ;-)

          • Sofie Liv

             Seriously, no joke, “Into the wild.” that was produced by Disney, but they took their name of it (hah, wonder why.)

            is the ugliest animated feature I have ever seen! it’s taste bad in your mouth ugly, not silly fun or any-thing, just.. distasteful ugly. The animation is horrendous, the story is atrousius, the humour is in bad taste all the way through, it’s just one ugly movie. It makes you feel bad.

            While Mars needs mom is bad, it’s not as bad.. but yeah, seriously ranks up there with Disneys worst.

            So yeah.. when you’ll finally sit there gaping at the screen with a bad taste in your mouth as if you just saw “Cat in the hat.” again.. you’re welcome.

          • Tedzey71

            Somewhere along the line I wanted to make a followup to my “Top Five Reasons to STAY AWAY from the Cat in the Hat.” I was originally going to have “Son of the Mask” next. Yeah… that one’s equally offensive!

  • rowdycmoore

    Oh this is definitely a bad movie; I’ve actually read the Prydain books, and this is a mess of a mash-up of the original story. (the Horned King isn’t even the main villain in the books!) That having been said, it’s getting a little silly how everyone wants to put the blame on Michael Eisner for all the BAD stuff Disney produced in his time, but none of the credit for the GOOD stuff. Wasn’t it also at this same time that he lifted the Disney ban on animated TV series and actually created the concept for “Adventures of the Gummi Bears,” leading to the development of something called the Disney Afternoon? And how about all those award-winning animated films that came out in the years after this one? Speaking as a fellow critic, I’m just saying you have to sometimes take the good with the bad. And looking at the crap Disney’s put out since Eisner left…

    • Joseph Tedesco

      That’s humanity for you. We tend to remember the misses more than the hits :-P

      Honestly, I was just making a joke. I remember Eisner in an interview saying that disney animation was a luxury that may as well be shut down. Sorry you took it the other way :-/

      • rowdycmoore

        Eh, it’s not really your fault. The comment just reminded me of others that have been a lot more abrasive. I actually hope to review the Disney series “The Jersey” next year and will be bringing up this very topic.

        • Joseph Tedesco

          lol, I remember that show! Particularly the Tony Hawk episode. BTW Mushmouth from the liveaction “Fat Albert” movie was in the show… don’t know why I know that random fact.

  • The_Stig

    That particular period in the 70’s and 80’s after Walt died is a very interesting era in Disney history. They hadn’t experienced their animation renaissance yet but still managed to put out some really kickass live action stuff like The Black Hole, the Journey of Natty Gann, Escape to Witch Mountain and Something Wicked This Way Comes. 

    • Joseph Tedesco

      Oddly enough, I haven’t seen those live action movies :-/

  • patrick

    you dont like brave my daughter leeann lemone likes it

    • LindaMinda

      Why should we care what your daughter thinks?

      • TheCrazyFish

         Why should we care about whether or not you care about whether her daughter cares… …hold on, I just confused myself.

        • Joseph Tedesco

          Yeah… I think that’s about right!

          • LindaMinda

            Even so, it would probably be silly to POST HIS DAUGHTER’S NAME ON THE INTERNET FOR ALL TO SEE AND PERHAPS SEARCH FOR.
            She is entitled to care about us caring about her caring for us, but I am not responsible if people can find out who she is and what her address is because of her (admittedly sympathetic) concerned father WHO LINKS TO HIS FACEBOOK PAGE.
            Word of advice Pat: please be more careful next time!

          • Sofie Liv

            you know, you don’t have to trust every-thing people write on the net, maybe that name was made up, maybe the story of a daughter made up.. maybe it’s actually a little ten year old girl writing giving herself an different adult alias because she is very intimidated by people on the net, whom are older than her, attacks very easily, and perhaps there is a fear that she wont be taken as seriously if she tells whom she is, yet still want to give an opinion and a movie she happened to see and like.

            This is just a guess of cause, but well, just saying, many scenarios are plausible here. 

      • Bon Rugandy

        Maybe because she’s a fellow human being. Even better, she’s a child. I care. That just seems like a rude thing to say.

      • Bon_Rurgandy

        That’s a very rude thing to say. I care.

      • Joseph Tedesco

        Let’s not gang up on the guy now! His daughter is entitled to her opinion. If anything, the movie was probably made more for her than me!