The Black Cauldron (August 10/01)
The Black Cauldron is quite an oddity, especially considering it's a Disney cartoon. It's too dark and scary for younger children, and it's too silly and childish for older viewers to embrace. But this is a cult classic, for some bizarre reason…
The hero of the movie is a young boy named Taran. He spends his days helping out an old man and guarding a mystical pig named Hen Wen. One day, though, trouble comes to town when the evil Horned King decides that he wants to get his hands on the titular Black Cauldron for the sole purpose of wielding control over an army of darkness (and taking over the world, while he's at it). Now, Taran must rescue Hen Wen along with the help of Princess Ellonwy and an obnoxious little animal named Gurgi.
The Black Cauldron is one of those pre-Little Mermaid Disney flicks that doesn't really fit in with the overall Disney oeuvre. For one thing, there are no songs. And for another, the whole army of dead soldiers thing is pretty scary - far scarier than anything you'd expect from such a cartoon.
But, as I mentioned earlier, the whole story is far too childish for older viewers to really enjoy it. This problem is certainly not helped by the presence of Gurgi - a sort of cross between Gizmo from Gremlins and an Ewok. Gurgi must have been an attempt by the animators to lure in the kiddies, while staying true to the dark storyline. And while the kiddies no doubt love Gurgi, to someone over the age of 12, Gurgi comes off as cloying and irritating (and makes Jar-Jar Binks look cool by comparison).
But The Black Cauldron does have some fantastic sequences in it (the rise of the dead army is particularly neat), so for animation buffs, this may be worth a look.