1. 20. “Have a taco.”
While this moment is not one that we would consider creepy or unnerving, it is bizarre enough to warrant a mention. Having been captured by Captain Cully and his men, Schmendrick is invited to the fire and then… offered a taco. A taco? A taco. If there’s any doubt that that’s actually what Cully said, it’s in the novel as well. Right there in black and white.
HOW BAD IS IT?: It’s confusing. They were just complaining about having to eat rat soup, but suddenly… tacos? What? How would they even make them? With what? Who’s got tortillas? They don’t even have a proper assembly area for the tacos! Huh? Bzuh?
2. 19. The cat is all kinds of messed up.
The cat is one of the more helpful characters in the film, but we can’t help but notice that the poor thing is all fucked up with a peg leg and eye patch, hinting at some horrible past trauma. Though, on the plus side, at least someone in the castle cared enough about him at some point to rig him up with the necessary accessories.
HOW BAD IS IT?: His banter with Molly is enjoyable, so we’re only mildly bothered by all of his injuries.
3. 18. The caged dragon.
We don’t get a full look at the dragon, but we get enough of an eyeful to know that we don’t need to see any more. Its squiggling, scaly appendages and bizarre fur-covered hide are stomach turning.
HOW BAD IS IT?: If we’d gotten a good hard look, it might have given us nightmares.
4. 17. The Midgard serpent.
This creature moves even less than the aforementioned dragon — and we also see less of it — which might be why it’s just a tad more bothersome. We get the impression that it’s a huge, hulking thing. Not seeing the rest of it makes our stomachs quiver a bit.
HOW BAD IS IT?: Pretty bad. The villagers look nauseous, and we would too.
5. 16. Please enjoy this severed head.
Lir is not the best at wooing, and this sad attempt to impress the beautiful Amalthea falls ridiculously flat. Having bravely slain a dragon, he presents her with the severed head of the creature in a stiff and unromantic gesture. She is not amused.
HOW BAD IS IT?: It’s maybe not the worst thing you could do to impress a woman, but it does come across as a little serial-killer-y.
6. 15. Amalthea is naked.
Amalthea is perhaps the most gorgeous, ethereal creature in all of ’80s animation. Still, watching this film as a child, it was a tad shocking to see her transformed from a unicorn into a human girl — and BAM! Totally naked!
HOW BAD IS IT?: Not shocking in a negative way at all, but shocking in that it was definitely unexpected. Up until we saw this movie, it didn’t occur to us that cartoon characters COULD be naked.
7. 14. The Boob Tree: the tree with boobs.
Schmendrick finds himself lashed to a tree to await a grisly fate. When he uses his magic in an attempt to escape, he inadvertently makes the tree sentient. Aaaaaand gives the tree enormous breasts — which he is then nearly smothered by.
HOW BAD IS IT?: It is equal parts creepy and hilarious. The comedy of the scene really undercuts how fucking weird it is.
8. 13. Ruhk the Hunchback.
There’s just nothing at all about this character that isn’t skeevy. He’s ugly, cruel, and intensely unlikable. As Mommy Fortuna’s barker, his job is to show off the menagerie and scare the patrons. He does his job well.
HOW BAD IS IT?: When talking about the Midnight Carnival’s captured dragon, his eyes do this red, quivery jiggle that’s not right. Not at all.
9. 12. Grabby Haggard.
Cornered on a balcony of the castle, King Haggard confronts Amalthea and demands to know why her eyes reflect so strangely. He grabs at her face with his withered claw hands to get a better look, and terrifies Amalthea.
HOW BAD IS IT?: It’s aggressive and awful. She backs away and cowers, and as the viewer, we also feel the violation.
10. 11. The skull is a lush.
This is a bit played for comedy, and it works. Schmendrick plies the skull for information with a bottle of…nothing. We all get a good chuckle as he drinks imaginary-wine and gets imaginary-hammered.
HOW BAD IS IT?: It’s not really unsettling at all until he starts gasping and moaning about the flavor of the wine, and then it takes a left turn into creepyville.
11. 10. Mabruk the Magician’s ragey talons.
King Haggard’s court magician is ousted with the arrival of Schmendrick and company. He spouts a cryptic, angry warning at the King before disappearing in a huff.
HOW BAD IS IT?: The long, brown claws on Mabruk’s hands are frightening enough, to say nothing of the intense crazy-eyes and jagged teeth as he screams. He has a deeply unsettling effect on the viewer.
12. 9. Haggard goes bananas.
King Haggard, alerted by the skull, finds that Amalthea has escaped trough the magic clock. He proceeds to attack everything — including Schmendrick — with his sword!
HOW BAD IS IT?: He was nuts before, but now he’s full-tilt unhinged. It’s quite disturbing to watch.
13. 8. Mommy Fortuna’s black magic.
Evil crone Mommy Fortuna weaves a sleeping spell over the Unicorn (and in another scene, the Harpy Celaeno) with gnarled hands and magic mist.
HOW BAD IS IT?: She’s awful to look at, and it’s compounded by the fact that we now know she’s a powerful witch. Watching her fingers dance as they cast the spell is very unnerving.
14. 7. The Harpy’s pendulous boobs.
Celaeno the Harpy bounces around in her prison. And her three boobs bounce too. With their three elongated nipples. And it is weird.
HOW BAD IS IT?: It’s nothing that a kid watching this film is really prepared to see. The Harpy is a frightening character, and her swaying naked breasts are startling to distraction.
15. 6. Lir is unceremoniously trampled.
The brave Prince throws himself valiantly before the Red Bull’s charge in an effort to save Amalthea/The Unicorn. It’s a heroic act of selfless love, but — SPOILER ALERT — he’s immediately killed. (At least temporarily.)
HOW BAD IS IT?: It’s absolutely heartbreaking. As kids, we had seen other animated films where a character’s parent was absent (or perhaps a few, like Bambi, where we’d seen them offed) but nothing as violent and awful as Prince Lir getting bowled over by righteous, flaming hell beef.
16. 5. King Haggard’s swan dive.
As the unicorns escape the sea, they trample the foothills and castle moorings. It crumbles and falls into the churning sea, along with mad King Haggard.
HOW BAD IS IT?: Even though he’s evil, he dies screaming, which is just awful to watch. Not just drowned, but crushed beneath chunks of his own castle, it’s a hard end that is difficult to swallow.
17. 4. The skull goes demonic.
When the skull realizes that he’s been tricked — that Amalthea is not only escaping the castle, but is also a unicorn in disguise — the scene’s levity hits the skids hard. His empty eye sockets flame red and he begins shrieking to alert King Haggard.
HOW BAD IS IT?: Coming right on the heels of the not-unpleasant scene where the skull was actually being quite funny, it’s an abrupt and definitely scary turn. It makes you feel kind of awful inside, precisely how a red-eyed screaming skeleton should make you feel.
18. 3. Mommy Fortuna embraces her killer.
Celaeno the Harpy is freed from her cage, and takes her ultimate, bloody revenge on her captor. Mommy Fortuna watches as her death comes screeching from above, and laughs with open arms.
HOW BAD IS IT?: Oh, it’s bad. It’s very, very bad. Mommy Fortuna had told the Unicorn that she knew she’d be killed by the Harpy one day — but it’s one thing to talk about it, it’s another thing to just stand there and take it.
19. 2. Mommy Fortuna is eaten.
After murdering Mommy Fortuna, Celeano the harpy hunkers down to…eat her. Yep. Right there. Right there on the ground. EAT HER.
HOW BAD IS IT?: So bad. Sooooo bad. We hated Mommy Fortuna too, but we were kids! We didn’t need to see the harpy crunching away on her insides! Too much! Too much! This movie is for children?!
20. 1. The Red Bull.
King Haggard’s demon beast, The Red Bull, is unleashed in the dead of night to round up all of the unicorns and drive them into the sea. Flaming hooves thundering, slavering maw filled with dripping, cruel fangs, white hot eyes brimming with hell’s fury — he roars as runs down the Unicorn and terrifies absolutely everyone who ever watched this film.
HOW BAD IS IT?: Pure unadulterated nightmare fuel. This is the kind of thing that makes your stomach drop and gives an ill-prepared child a lifelong complex. You simply can’t watch this movie and not be scared of The Red Bull. The Red Bull is fear.
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