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5 Times Disney Gave Us the Willies

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We’ll give you a moment to get over the fact that the title of this list refers to willies, and then we shall press on.

OK, so, adolescent humour aside, it’s fast approaching Halloween season and as is the norm, we here at Two Beard Gaming are racking our brains for some spooky content to keep you entertained until the big night itself. Hopefully, you’ve fully immersed yourself in everything we’ve published so far, and if you’re not then we suggest you dive right in and digest the tricks and treats we have in store for you.

Today we’re looking at the dark side of that wholesome family favourite Walt Disney, and will dive deep into the vaults to bring you some examples of when the House of Mouse became the House of MYRTH! So sit back, grab your pumpkins and enjoy the 5 Times Disney Gave Us the Willies.

*Disclaimer: This is not a list of all the times Disney artists snuck phallic symbols into the animation. That’s a whole different type of willy, and a whole different list for a whole different day.

Evil Disney

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5. PRINCESS MOMBI (RETURN TO OZ, 1985)

We could have just said Return to Oz, and everyone would have understood why we couldn’t single out one specific terrifying moment from Disney’s bizarro universe sequel to your grannies favourite Christmas movie, The Wizard of Oz. After all, it’s a film about mental illness and features cold-hearted doctors trying to forcibly electrocute young Dorothy to remove the delusions she has experienced after leaving Kansas. But despite all of the horror within the movie, it was actually surprisingly easy to single out one character and one moment above all others – and believe us, that’s saying something.

So if we said to you: Princess Mombi, you’d probably know where we were going with this, right? For the uninitiated, the character is actually the Wicked Witch of the North, a deranged and ageing sorceress who can remove her head at will and replace it depending on what mood she is in. It’s a horrible concept, but worse when you combine it with the visual of the actual beheadings during the film. And the other heads are all self-aware as well, which is even creepier. The character may have been created by original Oz scribe L. Frank Baum, but we have Disney to thank for all the nightmares.

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4. THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN CHASES ICHABOD

(THE ADVENTURES OF ICHABOD & MR. TOAD, 1949)

It may be 70 years old, but there’s simply no denying the lasting effect The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad had on audiences both upon its release and through the generations.

OK, so the Mr. Toad sections aren’t so spooky, but when Ichabod is being chased through the woods in the second half of this double feature, and then comes face to face with the Headless Horseman, it is a sight to behold. So good was the sequence in fact that Tim Burton recreated it for his live-action adaptation of the Sleepy Hollow legend.

We dare you to watch this tonight and not feel the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. Watch on and witness a defining moment in the history of Disney, and one of the very best chases you’ll ever see.

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3. CLAYTON’S DEMISE (TARZAN, 1999)

Disney Clayton's Death TARZAN 1999

The death of the typical Disney villain was always a great moment. Whether it was the Witch in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs falling from a cliff and being devoured by vultures, or Gaston plummeting to his demise, the one consistent thing throughout the years was that everything happened off-camera. That all changed in 1999 when Disney allowed Tarzan’s big bad to be shown, in full view of the camera, hanging from a tree by his neck, his corpse gently swaying in the wind. It still gives us shivers.

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2.THE PLEASURE ISLAND DONKEYS (PINOCCHIO, 1940)

If you’re old enough to remember An American Werewolf in London, then you can probably remember how it won an Academy Award for the sequence in which the film’s protagonist transforms from a fun-loving American tourist into a flesh-eating werewolf. It was a sight to behold, and we were there to see it in its entirety, and all it’s excruciating agony. But despite the very different intended audiences, that movie – in particular, that transformation – has always reminded us of the crazy moment in Pinocchio in which the titular marionette and his rag-tag friends are all turned into Donkeys. It may be animated but it’s every bit as excruciating to see their hands slowly contort as they turn into hooves, with the boys screaming for their mommies with their very last breaths as human beings.

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1. THE HORNED KING (THE BLACK CAULDRON, 1985)

Back in 1985, Disney received their first-ever PG rating for one of their original animated features, with the release of The Black Cauldron, a pitch-black fantasy story based on the books of Lloyd Alexander. Even throwing in wide-eyed heroes, and cute and cuddly animals didn’t help to dilute what was essentially an animated horror movie.

Way scarier than any of the premise though was the film’s villain – the Horned King. Looking like nothing Disney had ever come up with before (or after), the Horned King looked like a mix between Skeletor, Evil Ash, and that thing with antlers Will Graham kept seeing in Hannibal. He could conjure his armies of the undead from green smoke too, which is probably the creepiest of colour choices for smoke, and in the original cut of the movie was partial to a bit of throat-slicing and flesh-melting, which obviously never made it past the censors.

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