Dragonslayer , which features some stunning animation work from Phil Tippet, is still one of the most startling. Long before we got to see Alien , the Vermothrax Pejorative became the terrifying big-screen monster to beat - thanks in no small part to this grim scene. Topping the list in the Krull nightmare fuel rankings is the scene captured above, where the Emerald Seer John Welsh is replaced by a black-eyed, long-taloned Changeling.
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If you were a youngster not yet versed in the ways of rated horror films, the sight of a screaming, melting old man was heart-stopping stuff. Another fantasy movie, another disturbing swamp scene. A thick streak of melancholy runs through The Neverending Story like a blue vein in cheese, with the movie taking place in world consumed by a deadly force called the Nothing. The most upsetting scene in the entire movie, however, is the one where hero Atreyu Noah Hathaway loses his horse, Artax, in the Swamp of Sadness.
We kids, on the other hand, were left wailing into our Transformers T-shirts. Yes, Artax is restored to his equine glory at the end of the movie, but by then, the emotional damage has already been wrought.
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In its original state, the film was considered to be so graphic and frightening that Disney chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg famously tried to edit the film down himself. Even in its final form, The Black Cauldron remains pretty strong for younger viewers; the Horned King is a formidable villain, and the creatures that emerge from his bubbling cauldron are truly scary.
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Instead, what you get when you sit down is something closer to Mad Max 2 - the land of Oz is broken down and full of danger, and there are horrifying, nightmare-inducing monsters everywhere you look. It's a bit like going to Toys R Us to look at the Sylvanian Families and discovering that the building's been turned into an abattoir. This brings us onto the Wheelers - characters that, to be fair, were created by L Frank Baum himself in his original Oz books. As brought to the screen by director Walter Murch, however, the Wheelers are little short of terrifying: cackling, long-limbed, mask-wearing lunatics who hurtle around the shabbier areas of Oz like a cross between Richard O'Brien and a Ford Fiesta.
As one commenter on YouTube helpfully points out, "They're actually harmless since they have no hands to grab hold of anything - like any quadruped predator, they can still bite. A brief anecdote, if you don't mind: your humble writer saw The Last Unicorn on its cinema release in , and still hasn't quite recovered from the experience.
An animated fantasy from Rankin-Bass Productions, it features a starry cast of voice actors, including Jeff Bridges, Mia Farrow and Christopher Lee - plus too many startling and surreal images to accurately count. First, there's a formidable villain, the Red Bull, played by Frank Welker most famous as the voice of Megatron. Then there's a sequence where a witch played by Angela Lansbury is killed by a vicious harpy. Or there's the bit where the story's young heroes encounter a talking skeleton with glowing red eyes. For sheer, mentally-scarring weirdness, we'd go for the scene where the magician, Schmendrick Alan Arkin misuses a magic spell and turns a tree into a talking, suggestive-looking tree.
We didn't necessarily recognise all the sexual undercurrents in this sequence as kids, but we knew, deep in our subconscious, that there was something truly disturbing about it. The bubbling cauldron of Terry Gilliam's imagination overflowed onto the screen with The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen, a fantasy adventure which made headlines for its cost overruns. Decades later, it's easier to appreciate the film for its visual style and ideas rather than its behind-the-scenes drama - and Baron Munchausen's age has done little to dim its more out-there moments.
Case in point: the King of the Moon - a giant, disembodied head played by the late Robin Williams in full-on stream-of-consciousness mode. With his suspect Spanish accent and incoherent ramblings, he's a disturbing character - and that's before his wife shows up, and things get really, really out of hand. Forget the Saw franchise: three minutes of watching the King of the Moon tickle his wife's feet is enough to bring us out in hives.
As an achievement in puppetry and artistry, The Dark Crystal is one of the late Jim Henson's high watermarks. One of the film's most memorable creations is the Skeksis - a race of evil creatures that resemble rotting vultures in long, elaborate gowns. Maxwell: Famous authors are being killed using the methods in their stories.
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