Have you ever gone back and watched a movie from your childhood only to realize that it was full of awful things a child probably shouldn’t see? Think The Dark Crystal and the Labyrinth. Scary as all fuck and yet I watched them all when I was under nine years old. When I watch them now, I sit there shaking my head like the granny I am shouting at the screen “HOW ARE THESE MOVIES FOR KIDS?!?!”.
The Neverending Story was on TV the other night and seeing as I felt up for a night of childhood reminiscing, I excitedly switched over only to relive both my childhood and as it turned out, my childhood trauma.
If you’ve never seen it, I’m about to give away some major plot points. I’d apologize but it is a thirty year old film after all...
That earworm song full of synthesizer goodness fools me every time. I’ve barely settled in to my seat before the song fades and the death and despair begin. I bawled my eyes out as a kid and nearly did it as an adult as that bloody horse, Aratax, sunk in to the black sludge in the swamp because he wasn’t protected from the sadness by the AURYN (I’m pretty sure AURYN is 1980s speak for PROZAC). I don’t care that it comes back from the dead in the end, that is completely beside the point because a slow and painful death in a swamp = TRAUMA. No wonder I refused to read Black Beauty.
I’m just recovering from my urge to call the RSPCA (and the Academy for the horrid acting) when Atreyu comes to the first gate thingy he has to pass. Otherwise known as the big bosomed sphinxes that will zap anyone who does not feel their own worth with their laser eyes. Lovely moral there; if you don’t believe in yourself you will be burned to death by a laser-eyed sphinx with huge norks. Now not only do we see a Knight being barbecued (his horse isn’t hit but does disappear – perhaps there was a one dead horse only policy?), but when Atreyu walks up to the armour, the helmet blows open and we see Sir Crispalot’s charred face. What primary schooler needs to see that shit?!
It does get slightly better after that with only glowing, spooky sphinxes, wolf like beasts to be killed in hand to hand combat, oh and the destruction of the entire mythical world of Fantasia (that we’re told is humanity's hopes and dreams being destroyed by human apathy, cynicism, and the denial of childish dreams – gee, heavy much?). But by then the damage is done, my friend.
The whole thing ends on a high, quite literally, with the only kid-friendly part of the whole movie: Falkor the Luck Dragon flying through the air. I still want a Luck Dragon as a pet. I imagine they're specially trained to help people get over their movie traumas.
The movie franchise did, however, teach me four very important things:
- 80s kids movies are fucking scary
- Luck Dragons are freakin’ awesome
- Reading big books is bad for your health
- Sequels should never, ever be watched
Do you remember The Neverending Story? Were you traumatized too? Or do dead horses and burned faces missing noses not bother you?