The Black Cauldron is highly underrated as it has a bunch of great characters and scenes. I know I talked about it during my first Horrorfest.
So I actually never saw this film as a kid. My mother thought it would scare me. It would come on TV and I remember it coming out of the vault and being on all kinds of commercials. I even had a toy Gurgi that I got in a McDonald’s happy meal.
So how did I finally stumble onto this work? Well, I really like the author Lloyd Alexander, as I have read his book Time Cat. Two years ago, I decided that I would read through the The Chronicles of Prydain series as it is his most famous work and what The Black Cauldron is a part of. The book series was really good except I wish the Horned King was in more of it and as the series wraps itself up, the last books are not as nearly good as the first ones. Anyways, so after I had read the series I checked out the film and of course did the I’m No Warrior, I’m an Assistant Pig-Keeperpost. But in that post I compared the film and the book as I had just finished reading the series.
So the film The Black Cauldron is a compilation of the first two books in the series; The Book of Three and The Black Cauldron. And I thought it was pretty good. I mean some parts were film corny, but I really liked it. In fact, I am appalled that more people have never heard of it or seen it. It really deserves more love.
“Legend has it, in the mystic land of Prydain, there was once a king so cruel and so evil, that even the Gods feared him. Since no prison could hold him, he was thrown alive into a crucible of molten iron. There his demonic spirit was captured in the form of a great, black cauldron. For uncounted centuries, the black cauldron lay hidden, waiting, while evil men searched for it, knowing whoever possessed it would have the power to resurrect an army of deathless warriors… and with them, rule the world.”
So the film is about Taran, an assistant pig-keeper, who dreams of becoming a great warrior. He finds out that the pig her cares for, Hen Wen, is in danger as she is an oracular pig and that the evil Horned King is after her. The Horned King needs her to find the Black Cauldron to bring to life the dead, creating a zombie army.
An actual army of the undead. That is much more creepy than this guy.
Taran accidentally allows Hen Wen to be captured and travels after her, saving and getting the creature Gurgi as a follower. He comes to the Horned King’s castle and there he finds a captured princess, Princess Eilonwy, a ministrel named Fflewddur Fflam, and a magic sword. The journey on to destroy the Black Cauldron, meeting up with fairies, witches, and battle the Horned King.
It’s funny, but now that I think about it, this film in a lot of ways reminds me of Star Wars.
Now it has a lot of great characters.
First we have Taran, a young boy who dreams of achieving something greater. Think Luke Skywalker, eager to leave what he feels is an inadequate existence. He wants more, he wants to fight the Dark Sith Lo…I mean Horned King. At times he is a bit silly, as every young boy who is trying to find his way is, but in all he’s a great character. You just love him.
Then we have Eilonwy. Now people always forget this princess, but she rocks.
She tooootally kicks butt. She is like the animated version of Princess Leia. She has been caught by the evil Horned King, but isn’t waiting around, she’s trying to get out of there. She never let’s anyone push her around because of her size or gender:
“Taran: What does a girl know about swords, anyway?
Eilonwy: “Girl”? “Girl”? If it wasn’t for this *girl*, you would still be in the Horned King’s dungeon.”
And this film has one of the all-time creepiest villains ever! The Horned King!
Oh man, he is a creep. Horrifying and Incredibly Horrible.
This is a great film, you should totally watch it!
Dracula is one of the best horror films ever made. This version with Bela Lugosi is my favorite; as I feel other versions either have subpar acting, a distortion of the story, or just fall flat in their presentation.
Bela Lugosi was never intended for the part of Dracula. Originally Lon Chaney was going to play him, but he died the year before. As much as I love Lon Chaney, I can’t see Dracula as anyone but Bela Lugosi.
I have to say that this film probably has the most remakes of all time. There’s House of Dracula, Dracula (1958), The Return of Dracula, Dracula: Prince of Darkness, Dracula Has Risen From the Grave, Billy the Kid vs. Dracula, Taste the Blood of Dracula, Scars of Dracula, Blood of Dracula’s Castle, Count Dracula, Dracula vs. Frankenstein, Count Dracula’s Great Love, Dracula AD 1972, The Satanic Rites of Dracula, Dracula (1979), Love at First Bite, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Dracula: Dead and Loving It, Dracula 2000, Dracula II: Ascension, Dracula III: Legacy, Dracula’s Curse, Dracula 3000, The Batman vs. Dracula, Dracula (2006), Dracula 3D, Hotel Transylvania, Scooby-Doo & the Ghoul School, and Scooby-Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf. Not to mention all sequels or films that Dracula has a part in; this guy sure gets around.
Of course even with all of these, Lugosi’s version still stands the test of time. It is the one we quote, the one we mimic Lugosi’s voice from, the one that we copy the cape movements from; etc-the one that inspires us to pretend that we too are a vampire.
The film starts out with Renfield, a lawyer, going to Dracula’s castle. All the villagers warn him that there are vampires there, but Renfield doesn’t listen.
“Innkeeper: Castle Dracula? Renfield: Yes. That’s where I’m going. Innkeeper: To the castle? Renfield: Yes. Innkeeper: No. You musn’t go there. We people of the mountains believe in the castle there are vampires. Dracula and his wives – they take the form of wolves and bats. They leave their coffins at night and they feed on the blood of the living.”
Renfield ignores them and enters the castle, where he is greeted by Dracula and those famous lines! Some of my favorite.
“Count Dracula: I am Dracula. Renfield: Oh, it’s really good to see you. I don’t know what happened to the driver and my luggage and… Well, and with all this, I thought I was in the wrong place. Count Dracula: I bid you welcome. [Dracula goes up the stairs. Renfield starts to follow him. Suddenly, Dracula hears wolves howling] Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make.
[Dracula goes up the steps and waits for Renfield, who, without difficulty, cuts open a hole in a huge spider’s web using his walking stick] Count Dracula: The spider spinning his web for the unwary fly. The blood is the life, Mr. Renfield. Renfield: Why, er… yes.”
Renfield doesn’t make it out alive as Dracula ends up attacking him and turning him into his personal valet/assistant. Renfield becomes crazed as the slave of Dracula. The two travel to England, and when the ship docks only Renfield is left on the boat; everyone else is dead with their blood sucked out of them. Renfield is super looney, so he is taken to Dr. Seward’s sanitorium.
Martin: Aren’t you ashamed now? Aren’t you? Spiders now, is it? Flies ain’t good enough! Renfield: Flies? Flies? Poor puny things! Who wants to eat flies? Martin: You do, you loony! Renfield: Not when I can get nice fat spiders! Martin: All right, have it your own way
Later Dracula runs into Dr. Seward, his daughter Mina, Mina’s fiancé John Harker, and family friend Lucy Weston. Afterwards, Lucy becomes enamored of Dracula. And of course, that night Dracula visits her in her sleep and drinks out all her blood.
The next day Lucy is dead as no transfusion is able to save her.
Renfield is acting even crazier, and crazier; Professor Van Helsing is called to speak to him to try and help him work through his problems. As Van Helsing is the expert in vampires, and believes there is a vampire involved in this.
“Renfield: He came and stood below my window in the moonlight. And he promised me things, not in words, but by doing them. Van Helsing: Doing them? Renfield: By making them happen. A red mist spread over the lawn, coming on like a flame of fire! And then he parted it, and I could see that there were thousands of rats, with their eyes blazing red,l ike his, only smaller. Then he held up his hand, and they all stopped, and I thought he seemed to be saying: “Rats! Rats! Rats! Thousands! Millions of them! All red-blood! All these will I give you! If you will obey me!” Van Helsing: What did he want you to do? Renfield: That which has already been done! [giggles sinisterly] “
Renfield further proves Van Helsing’s theory correct as he doesn’t like it when Van Helsing shows him wolfsbane; something that is able to stop vampires.
Later that evening Dracula attacks Mina; he doesn’t fully drain all her blood, but chooses to do it a little at a time as he doesn’t want to kill her hit make her his new bride (the previous wives didn’t come in the move).
Van Helsing also notices that Count Dracula doesn’t have a reflection and concludes he must be the main vampire and Reinfeld’s master.
Van Helsing puts a wreath of wolfsbane around Mina’s neck and tells her nurse not to remove it. He also gives Harker a cross and tells him to hold onto it; that it will protect him from harm of the vampires and to not to give it away under any circumstances.
Immediately Harker tries to give it to Mina and it doesn’t work.
DID YOU JUST NOT HEAR THE MAN? HE SAID IT WILL WORK ONLY FOR YOU! YOU KEEP IT!
I mean this is such a classic mistake made by men in these horror films. In The Mummy, he just has to give the girl the charm that is supposed to protect only him, and then gets knocked out and is unable to keep her from being kidnapped. In The Wolf Man, he gives the girl the charm to protect him, and it doesn’t work for her. Instead he manifests into being a werewolf and almost kills her. MORAL OF THESE STORIES, KEEP THE DANG CHARM!!! DON’T GIVE IT AWAY!!!
Van Helsing confronts Dracula and tells him to leave Mina alone. Dracula tells him that it is too late, he has given Mina some of his blood and that she belongs to him. Van Helsing tells Dracula that he will hunt down his coffin and drive a stake through his heart no matter what.
“Count Dracula: Van Helsing.
[Van Helsing turns to face Count Dracula] Count Dracula: Now that you have learned what you have learned, it would be well for you to return to your own country. Van Helsing: I prefer to remain and protect those whom you would destroy. Count Dracula: You are too late. My blood now flows through her veins. She will live through the centuries to come, as I have lived. Van Helsing: Should you escape us, Dracula. We know how to save Miss Mina’s soul if not her life. Count Dracula: If she dies by day. But I shall see that she dies by night. Van Helsing: And I will have Carfax Abbey torn down, stone by stone, excavated a mile around. I will find your earth-box and drive that stake through your heart. Count Dracula: Come here.
[Dracula raises his hand to hypnotise Van Helsing] Count Dracula: Come here.
[Van Helsing takes three hypnotised steps towards Dracula but soon steps back, resisting Dracula’s hypnotic power over him] Count Dracula: Your will is strong, Van Helsing.
[Van Helsing reaches out for his crucifix as Dracula looms toward him] Count Dracula: More wolfsbane? Van Helsing: More effective than wolfsbane, Count. Count Dracula: Indeed. [Dracula lunges towards Van Helsing. Van Helsing holds up the crucifix. Dracula snarls and turns away. Van Helsing, in triumph, puts away the crucifix]”
Harker still hasn’t realized what is happening to Mina. He takes her out in the night, where she attacks him. Luckily, he is saved by Van Helsing who puts Mina in her room with wolfsbane. He tells the nurse to make sure that she does not remove it.
He and Harker leave to look for the coffin. They know it must be in the area as Dracula would never travel too far from it.
While they are gone, Dracula hypnotizes the nurse and has her remove the wolfsbane.
Dracula takes off with Mina, bringing her to his lair.
Harker and Van Helsing see him and follow; Harker wanting to save Mina while Van Helsing wants to destroy Dracula. Renfield manages to escape from his cell and follows them as well. But Renfield isn’t in the picture king as Dracula kills Renfield; thinking that he lead everyone to his lair. Eventually, Dracula is forced to return to his coffin as the sun is rising. When he does Van Helsing drives a stake through his heart and Harker goes to get Mina.
This film is truly amazing and I think you should check it out. It has influenced countless generations and really became the face and substance of who Dracula is.
This was one of Bela Lugosi’s favorite films and when he died he was buried wearing the black silk cape he wore for this film.
So that’s today’s fearsome tale. More on the way.
Here’s poster I made for my cover page on facebook in honor or Halloween. Hope ya love it.