Aw yeah, Happily Ever After.
This movie has had a very unlucky past. Originally called "Snow White and The Realm of Doom", it's pretty infamous for being the movie that sent a pretty famous cartoon company, Filmation, into bankruptcy, and for being the subject of a minor legal dispute with Disney on account it's pegged as an unofficial sequel to that particular movie. Finished in 1988 but finally released in theaters in 1993 (a good five years after its completion), it's also known for being a box office bomb (here's how bad it did; it opened on the same weekend as Super Mario Bros. and that movie made eight times more money than this movie), a regular appearance in store bargain bins, and just all-around derivative of one of Disney's first animated classics. It's not as derivative as Happily N'Ever After, that terrible CGI film, but it's pretty up there.
But when I was a kid, I didn't know of any of these things and watched the everliving crap out of this thing. Yes, it's sad that I'm admitting this, but I liked it. Ah, the days when you could just enjoy something without knowing about other people's opinions of it and getting into large flame wars about it. Instead we were free to make our own decisions.
Disney scholars are going to scoff at me and mock me for my lack of bad taste, but when I was a kid, I loved this movie a lot better than Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. To me, there was no contest. While Disney's Snow White merely had some weird looking evil queen who has to brew a transformation potion in order to turn her into something that could've just used simple costume props, Happily Ever After had dragons, evil sorcerers that shot lasers out of his eyes, a talking bat, a smoking owl, and freaking packs of evil wolves with rhino horns. And while Disney's Snow White just had dwarfs, Happily Ever After had female dwarfs with freaking magic powers that could summon like thunderstorms and crap.
Yes, my friends. This is basically the tale of Snow White on steroids. And man did I cherish this film for it as a little girl.
It was only until later that I found out that people are actually supposed to hate this movie, which kind of bummed me out, but maybe the rosy glasses of nostalgia are blinding me and this truly is a turd wrapped in a pretty princess gown. Either way, I'm going to be looking at the strange, messed up world that is...
Happily Ever After
Airdate: May 28, 1993 but completed in 1988; it was shelved twice before making it in theaters.
Airdate: May 28, 1993 but completed in 1988; it was shelved twice before making it in theaters.
Availability: On DVD
Before the movie starts, it's actually nice enough to give us a short prologue to bring us up to speed, instead of just throwing us unheeded into the movie and expecting us to figure it out that way. It was a smart move, even though I really doubt that there would be a group of children who'd pick this up and go "Huh? Who's this 'Snow White' that you speak of? And dwarfs? What madness is this!?". After all, this movie is intended to be a sequel to Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, even if Disney will legally deny any connection to this movie due to copyright disputes.
...and it just hit me. In a way, this movie is a lot like a Disney fanfiction. That's both hilarious and sad.
By the way, guess who narrates this prologue? Dom DeLuise. Anyone growing up in the 90's knows his voice, and hearing him tell me a cliffnotes version of Snow White in the Seven Dwarfs in rhyme is a pretty surreal experience.
|"Hey sure, lady. Just burst into our house uninvited. Of course we'll accept it!"|
I will point out one thing. Thanks to how condensed this run-through is, the way Mr. DeLuise describes it, it sounds like the Prince was just riding through the forest one day until he found a dead body lying underneath a tree (in this movie, she's not in a glass coffin, because I guess this version's dwarfs are pricks) and decided he's going to suck the corpse's face. And then Snow White wakes up and they immediately plan a wedding. Crazy, but at the same time, pretty close to the original fable.
Snow White's face when she wakes me up used to make me chuckle when I was little. And it still does today.
|"Whooooa...what was in that apple....?"|
...is that a dragon!?
...even if they could've used another color besides blue here. This is going to be a problem that comes up in this movie more than once, but they really overdo it on the blue.
|This would make an awesome album cover for a power metal band.|
|Even evil minions love Oktoberfest!|
And I was always a big fan of the two-headed monster just sitting off to the side chewing on the bone. It's a shame this movie was a big company-destroying box office bomb because I'm always a big fan of crazy monster designs with no recognizable species and I would've loved toys of this thing. Remember this creature, because he (or she, it never talks so I wouldn't know) will appear in the background of several scenes.
|The left head is named Om, and the right head is named Nom.|
The owl, with the voice of Edward Asner (aka Carl, the old man from Up), goes on about how awesome this house-destroying party is, because underneath his feathery exterior is the heart of a frat boy. What's the occasion? The evil queen is dead, the very first plot point that actually makes this film actually have some ties to the original story. Clearly she wasn't too popular with the evil minions.
Wait, this castle is the same castle of the evil queen from Snow White? You mean to tell me that this is where Snow White was living while her stepmother was consulting the magic mirror and making her wear rags? Oh, of course. Snow White just learned to live with the hideous rats and crocodile and bird mutants while singing to the little doves out in the desolate wasteland of a backyard. Also, wasn't the evil queen like the ruler of a kingdom? Kind of an inconvenient place to rule a kingdom if you're in the middle of nowhere and peasants are like hundreds of miles away.
In short, what the hell, movie? There hasn't even been any dialogue yet and already I'm questioning your logic!
|José Carioca's lazy brother and his sidekick Fails.|
And again, they never explain why the evil queen has an intelligent owl with a bat sidekick. We just assume they're there because she's eeeeeeeevil with a capital E. Or, being winged vermin, they found an abandoned castle filled with stores of food and just moved right in. I bet Batso alone has like a nest of babies hiding in the basement.
|And it was around here that Scowl realized that he was higher on the food chain...|
|"I don't have an addiction! I can quit at any time!"|
Helpfully, one decides to show the hell up, which instantly scares all of the misshapen ugly minions. Hate to say it, guys, but this is what happens when you make a mess of a castle without realizing that there might be people looking for the evil queen. Even if Snow White was just going to let that accursed place rot, the fact that there's now a used castle on the market would get some people interested.
|"You henchmen better have left me some popcorn shrimp or there's going to be hell to pay!"|
He's not exactly subtle either, because he has everything from strange green skin to a pointy Dick Dastardly mustache to an incredibly steep widow's peak. Truly this is a man you don't mess around with, lest you want to feel the back of his graceful, manicured tyrant hand. Although now, thanks to his appearance, I have to wonder if the evil queen also had green skin, really thick eyeshadow, and a perpetual scowl. Such traits like that must run in the family.
And fun fact. Thanks to this movie, when I first read Harry Potter (and this was way back before the movies came out), this is who I pictured when I thought of Snape. You may now laugh at my stupidity.
|"Dear diary, today I ate some oatmeal for my breakfast. It was flavorless and watery. |
I thought of my mother. I cry."
But I assure you, that's just hiding the true hammy being this character is. He's going to completely go off the wall in a moment here and show us just how awesome he can be once he starts raising his voice. Beneath that mustache is the brain of someone with no indoor voice.
...also, movie? Are you sure he's related to royalty? He doesn't look much like a lord with that sort of outfit. He looks more like some huntsman who got himself lost on his way to the nearest Renaissance Faire. Huzzah!
|"Drat, drat, and double drat!"|
Yes, it turns out the voice-over from the prologue is actually the magic mirror, who always talks in rhyme and who looks a lot like Cogworth's brother. And, as you can tell, he has an awkwardly superimposed face cel on a painted background. Thanks to this movie's lackluster special effects, you never get the impression that the mirror's face and the rest of the frame are the same character. Dom DeLuise's character looks like some man with blue skin just stuck his face in a hole in the wall and got stuck, so the queen put a mirror around him in order to make him look more festive. It's never believable that he's an actual mirror.
He does get a great line here though. The first thing he says in the movie is "Keep it down, you noisy creep. You're ruining my beauty sleep", which is such a useful line if you ever have to share a bedroom with anyone else.
|"This is yet another example of the late neoclassic Baroque period. |
And, as I always say, 'If it's not Baroque, don't fix it!'"
|You should see what he does to his TV whenever his favorite team loses the Super Bowl.|
...okay, I'm going to come out and admit it. Lord Maliss is pretty awesome. I don't care if he's a ridiculous over-the-top villain with green skin and really thick eyeshadow. He's downright entertaining. I think the fact that Malcolm McDowell is voicing him has something to do with it.
|Lord Maliss equips Mace of Smashing. Gains +15 in STR and STAM.|
...no, I'm kidding. The mirror really decides it's going the freak the kids watching this by giving us a jump scare in the form of her dead corpse. When he says "the queen is dead", a really scary white face with pitch black eyes flashes in the glass for only a split second, complete with a really spooky musical chord and some lightning effects. You only see this image for a brief moment, but trust me, it really haunts you if you happen to be five and watching this after being lured in with the cute cover filled with little dwarves and happy, colorful flowers. For the longest time, I had to hide behind the couch whenever the mirror started talking about the queen because I knew what was coming up.
|"I'll be seeing you in your nightmares, kids!"|
Although, in all fairness, the exact same thing happened with Disney's Snow White. Seriously, between that really scary old lady queen and Rotoscope White, who was more distinct? I think the only reason people even remember what Snow White looks like is because she's lucky enough to be a Disney Princess.
|"Honey, wouldn't it be great if we actually rode the horse?"|
"Nah, walking's much funner."
|Shredder and Skeletor wished they were this melodramatic.|
What exactly is the point of all of this, anyways? Absolutely nothing. We don't exactly see what this spell actually does or how it affects this landscape, so basically Maliss is just throwing a big magical temper tantrum because his sister did something stupid and got herself killed.
I will say this. The part where the green magic surrounds the castle is one of the best background shots in this entire film. This is nowhere near Disney quality, but they can have some nice atmosphere when they try.
|Maliss's bad acting is so powerful that even the earth is shaped by his delivery.|
In other words, you want subtle acting? This is not the movie to watch. Also, nice crotch shot there, Maliss.
|Hmmm, I'm still having trouble figuring out if he's the bad guy...|
...no, I'm serious. Turns out that dragon from earlier was Lord Maliss, and that's how he travels because the man rides in style. After Lord Maliss shoots lasers from his eyes, takes control of the entire castle and its ugly animal minions, causes earthquakes, manifests green energy to surround his sister's empire, and twists the entire ground to his whims, he feels that he has to show off even more by shapeshifting. Geez, what did he even do to get all of those neat powers, anyways? Man, Snow White is really outclassed here in this movie.
And what a shapeshifting scene it is. Transformation sequences in cartoons can be anything from comical to downright frightening. Maliss turning into a wyvern (that's a dragon with only two legs to the non-fantasy geeks in the room) is the latter, because you can hear his bones crack and everything. Sort of intense stuff to see as a little kid. Again, I want to bring up the cover of this movie again and how it's nothing like what I'm seeing here. Curse you, 90's cartoons and your ability to be unspeakably dark!
|My guess is that he's not going to poison any apples in this movie.|
Thanks to him, I've come to the conclusion that dragons inserted into random fairy tales instantly make them at least 20% cooler. I'm pretty sure my novel where Peter Pan has to fight Captain Hook's brother who can transform into a dragon is going to sell millions of copies.
|"Now if you'll excuse me, I have some sleep to slaughter and some gold to sleep on."|
|"Our new boss just turned into a dragon, so to celebrate, I'm going to start rapping!"|
What's the song about? With a name called "He's Bad" and lyrics like "Bad like me is the way to go! Being nice is just for saps, being good is a handicap!", it's easy to figure out that the song is basically Scowl waving around his ego and showing off to the other minions that he's a bad enough dude to save the president.
I think my main problem with this song is that it's too short. It's less than a minute long but we get things like smoking owls physically assaulting little purple bats and crossdressing monsters. Maybe if it was a little bit longer, it'd justify its existence in the movie. Oh well.
|"Problem, Snow White?"|
|I suppose he could try to kill her by secondhand smoke...|
|And then all of Maliss's hard work is wasted when Snow White gets her bodily fluids |
sucked out by a giant butterfly.
And might as well get this out of the way. The Prince looks exactly like Prince Adam from He-Man, only with red hair and Gaston's outfit. Either Filmation did this intentionally as sort of a nod to their previous works, or they seriously can't draw a prince without using that face. It's probably the latter.
|"You know, I never shared this with anyone, but when I hold aloft this magic |
sword and say "By the Power of Greyskull"..."
|"Nothing's going to attack me here! Tee hee!"|
...although at least he's more masculine and heterosexual than his more famous, shirtless brother. But then again, what isn't?
|"Heh heh. Girls."|
...I know it's been established that Lord Maliss is the dragon and that this movie has dragons and monsters in it, but it's still taking me a while to get used to the idea that there are dragons in Snow White. I don't know, it's just not one of those fables that would have giant scaly beasts. I mean, geez, what's next; adding dragons to Sleeping Beauty?
|"Well, that was easy. I'm not sure why my sister had such a hard time with this girl..."|
Although it kind of helps establish that this prince is sort of a badass. From what I recall, the Prince in Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs never actually did anything besides sing in the beginning and then marry Snow White at the very ending. This prince's first reaction when he sees a freaking dragon swoop out of nowhere and carry off his wife is to ride off after it, showing absolutely no fear. He truly is the most powerful man in the universe!
|"Aww man, why did I trade Battle Cat for this lousy horse?"|
|All those nights playing Modern Warfare 3 finally paid off!|
|I guess the Prince figures that if she dies, he can always just kiss her back to life...|
|"Ruin my flower-picking session, will you?"|
Maliss...is not happy with Scowl, to say the least. I love for a brief moment, it looks like he's going to treat Scowl like an animal cracker and bite his head off. Yeah, the minions his sister left behind aren't the best, but hey, he got them for free.
He tries one more time to catch the slippery broad, but Snow White is able to get away from his grasp just in time and she disappears into the woods. That kind of sucks that Lord Maliss can transform into a dragon, but his dragon form just completely lacks the ability to breathe fire, or else he could've just fried Snow White and her fashionably blue dress to a crisp while her back was turned. I guess they didn't want to make a man who can summon earthquakes and shoot lasers out of his eyes too overpowered.
|"I guess I could turn back into my magic-casting, eye laser-shooting human form |
and chase her down, but that would be too easy."
And oddly, even though he collides with Prince Adam at full speed with his razor-sharp claws, this somehow doesn't kill the prince, but instead merely knocks him off his horse. Geez, are all the humans here made out of titanium or something? Somebody break a bone or at least get some sort of wound! You're fighting a flying monster the size of a T-rex while wearing nothing but normal clothing, and according to my Final Fantasy games, you should've gotten a game over already! Wildly unfair.
|Yeah, I'm pretty confident these two are going to succeed against this evil villain.|
|"Don't you wish your girlfriend was hot like me?"|
|"I HAVE THE POWER!"|
|Well, that was easy.|
I do love the faces he makes at the Prince while he's just lying there, by the way. Lord Maliss is well aware of how awesome he is and by god, he's going to flaunt it.
|"I'm simply fabulous!"|
By the way, get used to the fact that the entire film looks like someone poured blue all over everything. In this film, when the sun sets, everything takes on a shade of bright blue, making the film take on some major monochromatic qualities as we get further in. And that's not even limited to the night scenes either; just look back at all the previous screenshots and notice the dominant color in all of them. Now we know Filmation's favorite color.
|"Oh, sure, keep running into the giant, scary forest until you get lost. Good going, me! Stupid, stupid, stupid!"|
Although, wait. If Snow White was going to invite them to the wedding, then why didn't she immediately know where they were? She just kind of wandered through that forest aimlessly until she just happened to stumble across their house. This is not an efficient way to send out wedding invitations, Snow White!
...and couldn't she have just sent one of the Prince's servants to send out the invitation? I know they're her best friends and all, but that probably would've stopped the whole dragon thing from ever happening. Just saying.
|"Well, that's ironic. I just hope my husband's still alive so I can still invite them to the wedding."|
|Snow White, the neighbors are asking questions.|
An owl with a cigar informs you, through a pointless rap song, that Part 2 is this way!