Nuggets of Wisdom

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

My Top 13 Scariest Nostalgic Moments (#4)

If you've never heard of Bedknobs and Broomsticks, I don't blame you. It's one of the lesser known Disney live-action films, overshadowed by more popular ones like Mary Poppins. In fact, this movie was released less than a decade after Mary Poppins and has a plot similar to it.

The movie involves a group of British children being watched over by a nanny with magical powers. (Like I said, exactly similar to Mary Poppins!) The nanny, played by Angela Lansbery, is a witch-in-training who's searching for a magical spell that can bring inanimate objects to life. Using a magical flying bed, she brings the children along on her search for the spell, traveling to exotic locations such as the bottom of the sea and an island of talking animals.

I discovered this movie after seeing one of its songs "The Briny Deep" featured on a Disney Sing-Along Songs video. I begged and pleaded for my parents to get the movie for me, and like all parents, they did. I watched it once, and once was enough. I never watched it again.

Why? For two reasons:

First, the movie was a major disappointment. Having watched the song, I thought this was going to be a movie with live-action actors in a cartoon setting, sort of like Who Framed Roger Rabbit; instead, what I watched was a mostly live-action movie with the animated scenes in the middle--preceded by a slow-moving plot that my three-year-old mind did not comprehend or care for. The entire experience left me bored and uninterested.

And even if I did like the movie, I still wouldn't have wanted to watch it again. Why? Because of one particular scene that terrified me.

#4: Substitutiary Locomotion Scene from Bedknobs & Broomsticks

Near the end of the movie, the children and nanny are locked inside an old castle by a troop of German soldiers who've landed on British soil in an attempt to invade England. Trapped in the museum and surrounded by suits of armor, the nanny gets the idea to bring them to life with her animation spell in order to fight off the invading Germans.

She yells out the magical incantation, which reverberates throughout the empty dark castle halls. Nothing seems to happen, until...

Drums start beating, trumpets start playing, and suits of armors drop their visors and draw their swords. Then, everything starts marching.

Outside the museum, the German soldiers notice something marching over the hill. The captain looks though his binoculars to see...armor.

Lots and lots of armor. All from different time periods. And none with anyone people in them.

To add to the overall creep factor, bagpipes played by disembodied bagpipe players start playing a haunting melody over the entire spectacle.

Disembodied suits of armor are creepy enough, but bagpipes? That's far too creepy to handle!

As a three-year-old, this was the first time I had seen such a special effect like this in a movie. As I said before, when I first watched this, I hadn't been paying attention to the plot. I had no idea what was going on. So when this scene happened, it took me by surprise and shocked the ever living Kool-Aid out of me. My three-year-old mind couldn't comprehend why all this scary-looking armor had come to life, and it didn't help that they were chanting in a spooky language in deep, foreboding voices. It left me cowering under the sofa as a kid and scared me from re-watching it ever again.

Needless to say, this scene no longer scares me as an adult. In fact, I'm quite impressed by how the creators managed to create it with the limited special effects they had in the day, which seems to be mostly green screens and puppetry.

There are many moments that leave me scratching my head as to how they managed to pull it all off. It depresses me to think that, if this movie were made today, the entire scene would have been done with crappy CGI. Scenes like this makes you appreciate all the hard work that went into making it, as opposed to how most other movies are made these days.

And yet, as a scared, little three-year-old, I was too frightened by it to understand it. Just goes to show how fear of the unknown can preventing you for enjoying something you otherwise would have liked.

How scary is it? As scary as walking home at night only to sense someone following you, and when you turn around to look, no one is there.