Sunday, November 17, 2019

Disnovember 2019 - Top 5 Villain Deaths


Disney Movies used to have a problem – while trying to stay as family-friendly as possible, they still needed to kill the villain to get closure.  Obviously, the bad guy couldn’t die on screen, but the one way to get around that was a great fall until they disappeared.  Look at the evidence – Gaston from Beauty and the Beast, Rattigan from The Great Mouse Detective. Even the original Disney film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, has the Evil Queen falling off a cliff.  Disney has gone a long way to get past it lately, showcasing some surprisingly violent or gruesome deaths.  Let’s take a look at how close Disney’s come to torture porn, because there’s no question that these bad guys are freaking dead.

5. Shan Yu – Mulan

After their supposed defeat high in the mountains, Shan Yu and his remaining Huns have infiltrated the Chinese Emperor’s palace.  Shan Yu loses the Emperor because of Mulan’s involvement and realizes she’s the cause of the avalanche that killed most of his troops.  Their fight takes them to the very top of the palace where a Mushu-guided firework carries him into a nearby tower filled with gunpowder and fireworks.  A massive explosion follows without a trace of the Hun leader anywhere.



Dying in a fiery explosion is one heck of a way to start off this list.  It’s such a decisive end for the villains like there’s no way you can doubt he was dead.  The fact that it happened on screen as well, not just seeing some small part of it while the rest is hidden from us.  It also ranks high on the list considering the previous movies (1996’s Hunchback of Notre Dame and 1997’s Hercules) had villains die by falling, even though the former fell into a massive fire, and the latter – not really a death, mind you – fell into a pit of lost souls.

4. Sykes and his dogs – Oliver & Company

Fleeing from the brutal loan shark Sykes, Fagin takes his animal crew through the New York streets before steering into the subway.  Sykes follows in his massive sedan, shredding his tires on the rails.  When Penny falls off the cart onto Sykes’s car, Oliver and Dodger fight the loan shark’s Dobermans, DeSoto and Roscoe. Both dogs fly off the back of the car and are electrocuted n the subway’s third rail.  Sykes continues his chase, even when a subway car barrels toward him, turning his car into a fireball before sending it crashing into the river.  



Replacing homeless kids with cute puppies and kittens made Oliver & Company one of my favorite Disney flicks.  And I’m not sure how unpopular this opinion is, but I like Billy Joel’s soundtrack way better than any of Elton John’s stuff.  Anyway, even though Sykes’s death happens just off-screen, we still see the fiery explosion of his car immediately after it leaves the picture.  While this normally wouldn’t register that high for me, the fact that we see one of his two dogs get electrocuted on the rails (we only see the second dog fall and hear the surge) pushes it near the top for me.

3. Rourke – Atlantis: The Lost Empire

Even after watching the Heart of Atlantis change Princess Kida into a living crystal, Rourke’s plan of selling the kingdom’s treasure hasn’t changed.  Rourke and Milo’s fight on the hot air balloon during their escape breaks the glass on Kida’s chamber, which Milo uses to cut Rourke’s arm.  The energies within the chamber consume Rourke, turning him into a crystal as well.  Milo’s relief is short-lived as Rourke unleashes an unnatural scream and lunges across the balloon’s structure.  The shifting weight brings Rourke up into the balloon’s propeller, shattering the villain.



I love the fact that Rourke gets two deaths.  You expect Rourke’s transformation to kill him, it certainly looked painful enough as it happens.  But then he keeps coming before being torn apart by the propeller.  Either one of those would have been bad enough but putting them together is just adding insult to injury.  And I love it.

2. The Horned King – The Black Cauldron

Using the power of the Black Cauldron, the Horned King has brought to life his army of undead warriors. As our heroes watch in horror, their cowardly friend Gurgi summons up all his courage and plunges into the cauldron.  Purified by his sacrifice, the evil magic is reversed.  The Cauldron-born are destroyed and the Horned King is sucked into the Cauldron, his decayed flesh ripped from his bones before his skeleton is pulverized.



There’s not one thing about the Horned King that belongs in a Disney movie.  He’s got an incredibly ghoulish look, with rotten skin and half his face eaten away.  His plan is to revive an army of skeletal warriors that immediately murders his henchmen.  And then there’s his death, which is the most graphic we’ve ever seen.  It’s no wonder this movie took thirteen years to be released on home video.

1. Clayton – Tarzan

As Tarzan and Clayton’s final fight leads them further up in the trees, the hunter’s losing his cool.  Tarzan gets Clayton’s shotgun and after threatening to use it against its owner, he breaks it in half.  Reduced to using his machete, Clayton chases Tarzan through the vines, slashing wildly.  Tarzan tries to stop him as the vines catch around Clayton’s neck, but it’s too late. Clayton cuts through the last vine holding him up.  He drops down out of the tree, the vines strangling him.



While Clayton’s death isn’t nearly gruesome as some of the other deaths on this list, I just love the imagery of it.  Most of Disney’s fall deaths are shown from above as the body disappears out of view, but here we see it from below, the machete falling into view right as the lightning strikes, showing his limp shadow.  There’s something almost beautiful about it.

So which villain did you think had the best death?  Do you prefer the more gruesome demises?  Or the most poetic justice?

1 comment:

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