Friday, January 6, 2012

Happily Ever After (1993 film) - Part 3

You know, let's just pretend that December never happened. I'm going back to the regular schedule for this month. And boy, do I have a treat for you.

Part 1.
Part 2.

So the best way to wash away the stench of failure that was last month, I'm doing Happily Ever After once again. Because after getting sick, missing deadlines, being surrounded by relatives that I don't really even like all that much, and just plain hating everything for about two months, it's nice to get back to something nice and fluffy again.

Even if my definition of nice and fluffy involves fairytale creatures narrowly avoiding death multiple times while being aided by a reject from He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. I've already said this about a thousand other times when talking about the movie, but here is where it gets weird. The movie, as if ashamed by how cutesy and flowery the first two parts were (and that's saying something, considering both parts contained some pretty messed up stuff like the dragon and the trolltastic mirror that gives children heart attacks by showing them the queen's death mask), decides to cloak the entire movie in darkness and make the children watching this cry as they watch Snow White try to outrun a pack of wolves.

And yet I love every twisted, dark, gruesome minute of this film. But then again, this is coming from someone who wrote four whole blog posts about how much Felix the Cat: The Movie sucks, only to turn around at the final minute and admit I watch that crap every year. By now, you're probably just ignoring my opinions and only come here for the screenshots.

I will warn you though; this is technically the weakest part of the movie (although to be fair, Part 3 of Felix the Cat: The Movie was the same way), so don't complain as I unearth repressed childhood nightmares and recycled animation as I disinter the craziness that is...

Happily Ever After Part 3

The last time I talked about this movie, Snow White had woken up in the house of the seven dwarfs, only to find that instead of the bearded men that she's grown accustomed to, the house's mortgage and property taxes were being handled by their all female cousins, who conveniently also happened to be in a group of seven so that the children back home won't be too alienated. But, unlike the dwarfs of the fable who would just mine for gems, have personality traits limited to their names, and sing a silly song for the amusement of the giant that took over their home, these dwarfelles (because "female dwarfs" is just awkward-sounding) control the elements and work for Mother Nature. None of this is explained beyond "Mother Nature is pissed that they misuse their powers", even when they make it to Mother Nature's realm, but luckily, Lord Maliss (the main villain who can turn into a dragon and shoot lasers out of his eyes, and I'm sad that I can just accept this) shows up and gives us a coherent plot to follow. Now, with the blessings of Mother Nature, Snow White and her band of freakish, magic-using dwarfs have to journey to the Realm of Doom and enter Lord Maliss's castle in order to save her prince.

So basically, in other words, Part 2 was all of the characters being properly introduced and someone kicking Snow White in the ass and telling her to go fix that huge shapeshifting sorcerer problem her kingdom has now while providing her with enough minions with unbridled magical power that killing Maliss will be a snap. Only they said it in a lot more fantasy-like "but thou must!" tone of voice that is instantly familiar to anyone that has played some form of RPG.

In a nice little transition that cuts out a lot of walking, because the last thing I need to see in a film with shapeshifting dragons is short little women complaining that their high-heels are not fit for hiking in the forest, we hear Mother Nature's voice saying that Snow White and her band of fools has to make it past the seven pines and over the seven peaks (oh cool, a reference to the actual story) and follow a path into a cave that leads to the Realm of DOOM! I put an emphasis on "doom" because, at the last moment, Mother Nature had to take a huge bite out of the scenery and become extremely hammy for just one word. But hey, it's Phyllis Diller doing the voice. She can do whatever the hell she wants.

I will warn the readers who have darker monitors that, for the rest of this movie, the colorists decide that they're going to be the Fairy Tale version of Batman: The Animated Series by overusing the color black. It makes sense in some of the scenes, but then becomes downright bizarre when Lord Maliss's castle just completely loses all sense of lighting for no reason at all.

I remember this scene in particular looking like Snow White and the dwarfelles were
standing in a pitch black void on our old TV.
So they make it to the cave that's supposed to lead them to the Realm of Doom right when night falls, and for some reason, the cave doesn't have any guards posted or any evil minions roaming around even though it's the freaking main entrance to Lord Maliss's domain. For someone who made a big deal about how every creature in his sister's castle needs to do his bidding, he sure doesn't actually use any of them. There's nothing more frustrating than a film that has an awesome two-headed bird gremlin just sitting around collecting dust instead of engaging the dwarfelles in turn-based Dragon Quest style combat.

But anyways, since none of the dwarfs are in charge of fire, nor did they think to bring any provisions with them (so how are they going to survive traveling through uncharted territory without any food or water? Unless Blossom and Critterina can magically summon plants and animals for them to eat...), Snow White has to ask Sunburn and her ugly, onion-shaped hair to use her embarrassing sunbeam powers to somehow light up the cave. Don't ask how it works. Personally, it would've been a lot easier to just say Sunburn controls fire as well as sunbeams instead of showing a scene where she's angling a sunbeam in such a way that it bounces off several rocks and ends up shooting into the cave. That's just needlessly complicating things.

The cave is just like Lord Maliss: Sparkly, melodramatic, and impossible to take seriously.
While the ladies journey into the corridor of dated 80's rainbow effects, bringing the question of how effective long medieval dresses would be for spelunking, they're trailed by that strange cloaked man we saw hiding behind a tree earlier. In this scene, the movie tries to play his role as ambiguous as to whether he's helping or intending to harm the cute little dwarfelles, but it's not hard to determine that he's really a good guy just from how large and playful his glowing yellow eyes are. Compared to Scowl, who's constantly, well, scowling, he looks positively friendly, even though his hands could use a good manicure.

And really, any malice this character could've had is quickly forgotten once you realize that all he's armed with is a walking cane and he's largely outnumbered by our heroes. Remember how Thunderella split a tree in half with a bolt of lightning? Remember the earthquakes and the skin-roasting sunbeams at their command? This guy doesn't stand a chance.

"Galloping gazooks! Dwarfs! I better tell Prince Adam about this!"
But he's not here to slaughter cute little woodland creatures, despite his grotesque appearance and his strange lumpy hat. He's here to make sure that the group doesn't take the wrong path and get their asses killed. In a true testament to how terrible an evil overlord Lord Maliss is, the only security in this cave is the fact that there's a fork in the road and that there's literally no indication of what path leads to The Realm of Doom and what path just leads to certain doom. I guess the strange Labyrinth-esque Muppets blocking the roads and giving a complex riddle to make sure only the heroes that are worthy choose the right path were sick that day.

Also, now I'm wondering how many heroes have journeyed to the Realm of Doom before. Have people tried to slay the evil queen before, only to get killed in this cave that's based entirely on luck? Or is the evil queen and her equally evil family strictly a problem that's reserved for Snow White and her friends? Lord Maliss is pretty threatening, but besides the prince getting attacked and shot by laser eyebeams, we never see whether the kingdom he's in charge of is under any actual attack or if this is an isolated thing.

"You'd think a man who could turn into a dragon would have better booby traps than this..."
Okay, so the misshapen hobgoblin knows the right way somehow, even though it's never explained what's down the other path or how he would know this fact without springing the trap himself. What does he do to warn the group? Does he shout "Hey, don't go down that cave, it'll kill you!"? Does he use a signal flare or some complex flag signals to show them the right path? Does he toss an apple into the right cave, hoping that Snow White will chase after it?

Nope, instead he shows them the right way by dropping a boulder right in front of the cave that's wrong, making it look like he was trying to kill them. Smooth.

Although, to be fair, any other way and the group probably would've assumed that he was a minion of Lord Maliss and would've intentionally ignored his advice. Especially considering what happens afterwards.

Man, what a conveniently sized and conveniently placed boulder!
This misunderstanding incenses the little wishing trolls so badly that Muddy shouts "Get that Shadow Man!", causing the entire group to chase after him while screaming for his spilled blood while Snow White just kind of stands back and watches her group descend into total insanity. In fairness to the dwarfelles, The Shadow Man (which ends up becoming the name all the characters and merchandise use to refer to him, even though Muddy just randomly coined that name out of anger) dropped a boulder and then ran without even trying to explain himself. That does look pretty suspicious.

Regardless of The Shadow Man's intentions, I just have a question for all the dwarfs present in this film. If all of you have magical powers, many of which can be used as projectiles, then why are you just resorting to running after the guy and attacking him with your bare fists? Sunburn was clearly firebending earlier! If this is your idea of defending Snow White from harm, then we're going to be running into some serious trouble later on.

"For the Alliance!"
We even learn just how unqualified the idiots are at their whole "Protect Snow White" job by watching them somehow cause an honest to god cave-in from their wanton running around and tripping into rock pillars. This scene really doesn't fill me with confidence that the dwarfelles will be able to beat Lord Maliss without killing each other, because even chasing a man who barely has any natural defenses ends with them royally crapping up. No wonder Mother Nature is considering laying them off.

Fortunately, luck is on their favor, for the cave-in causes a rock to crush the Shadow Man's foot, which allows the entire group to finally get a good glimpse of the guy while he's at their mercy. I love the Shadow Man's body language here; he just looks completely pathetic when surrounded by a bunch of angry little midgets that want him dead. Truly this is a formidable monster they have to fight!

By the way, I can't be the only one who wondered what Shadow Man looks like underneath those clothes when I watched this as a kid. That sounds waaaaay more perverted than I intended, but seriously, from the looks of how thorough he was at covering himself up, he knows he's hiding some major ugly. You can only see his hands and eyes and, while they look humanoid, they don't look human and get more unsettling the more you dwell on it. They never show you what he truly looks like either, leaving the hideous deformities up to your imagination, which only makes this situation that much sadder. Poor guy.

"Uh, I can explain."
As you might expect, Snow White takes pity on the ugly little stranger. Showing him that she means no harm, she lovingly strokes his forehead (instead of helping with the rock on his foot), no doubt exposing herself to some dangerous goblin diseases through exposed contact and also raising the question as to whether or not the Shadow Man actually has hair underneath that disguise. It's still a cute scene, I'll give them that, even if it seems like such a weird way to greet someone who threw a boulder at you.

Without giving too much away of the plot, this tender scene where they understand each other's pain and suffering is supposed to be foreshadowing something. Considering the film doesn't know the meaning of the word "subtle" (as evidenced by Maliss's and Mother Nature's behavior) and Lord Maliss went out of his way to imply that he did something very special in a previous scene, you can probably put the pieces together. I know I did when I was five.

"Instead of checking my temperature, could you do something about the giant rock on my foot?"
Unfortunately, this scene is quickly ruined when we find out how caring and loving the dwarfelles are when Muddy snatches Snow White's hand away from the Shadow Man (because apparently she misunderstood the wrappings and hopes Snow White doesn't catch leprosy) and Sunburn accuses him of working for the enemy. Tactless little trolls, aren't they? Geez, all of his bones in his right foot are probably broken by that giant rock and he hasn't even explained why he dropped the boulder yet, guys.

Also, no offense to the Shadow Man here, but I'm sure if Lord Maliss was going to send someone to kill the dwarfelles (and that would be the smart thing to do), he can do a lot better than this guy. I saw the monster party at the beginning of the film. He has like giant rats and talking alligators at his disposal!

Eww, don't touch that! You don't know where it's been!"
The Final Fantasy Black Mage reject quickly denies any connection with Lord Maliss, and it's here that we learn that the poor guy can't even speak all that well. Shadow Man's dialogue is mainly composed of monosyllabic words that are gruffly mumbled out from his clothes like some bizarre, mutated version of Kenny from South Park. His voice sounds deep and strained, like someone who has a really bad cold, so don't expect him to recite anything from the great Shakespearean tragedies. It's never explained if his speech impediment is because of his choice in clothing or because of his hideous mutations either. Shadow Man is a mystery wrapped in an enigma sandwich and that's why so many people think he's awesome. Me included.

And is it me, or did he have a slightly different design back in the woods? Way to keep your film consistent, Filmation.
"Face the wrath of my long fingernails!"
But then, suddenly, there's a mudslide!

No, I'm serious. The film, as if at a loss to continue the scene currently playing in it, decides to spit out a random mudslide even though the cave was completely devoid of moisture, there's no indication of where the mudslide came from, and it adds absolutely nothing to the plot other than confusion and headaches. I like to imagine that this scene was the end result of the writers, after staring at the script for hours at a loss at how to end the conversation between the dwarfelles and Snow White about the Shadow Man, just scribbled "To hell with it, they're interrupted by a mudslide" and didn't expect the animators to actually take it seriously.

Incidentally, a random natural disaster that came completely out of nowhere was more effective at inconveniencing the main characters than Lord Maliss so far. The man can turn into a dragon and has a legion of minions, and yet the thing that's attacked them in this cave was a friendly hobgoblin with a walking stick and a random deluge of water. What.

Fun fact: When I was little, I thought they were getting washed away by chocolate milk.
Fortunately, this mudslide is frightening at first, but then the dwarfs and Snow White find out that it's just like riding a ride at your favorite water park as they slip and slide their way to the Realm of Doom while giggling in delight. They even cheer on Snow White once she makes her descent. Man, mudslides are awesome. Those people in Guatemala were having the time of their lives last fall.

Also, I like how all of their clothes and hair remain perfectly pristine even after they slopped around in a giant river of mud. The grime just slides right off. I wish my pants could do that when I'm in my Painting classes.

"Whee! We completely forgot about that guy we left trapped under a rock!"
Despite the dwarfs now being in a good mood because they narrowly escaped a horrible, mudslide-induced death, Snow White still worries about "the poor little man", hoping that he didn't drown from that random-ass flood of polluted water, while the Santa's workshop elves rejects remain open and tolerant as always by saying he gave them the creeps. Hah hah, wow. Way to make yourselves look really bad by judging that guy completely on his appearance even after he showed that he meant no harm, dwarfelles. And it's only going to make yourselves look even more callous if it turns out he really did die during that flood and it was your inaction that killed him. I'm sure Mother Nature is proud in you, ladies.

The Shadow Man's fate (because no one wants to think about the fact that they left that man to die) gets quickly discarded when they find out that they're now in The Realm of Doom and can get a good view of what they're up against. Notice that the castle they're looking at has, once again, changed in design. Geez, either Maliss just can't make up his mind as to what length he wants his fortress of mass evil to be, or the background artists have no use for words like "scale" and "consistency".

I do like the part where Thunderella wonders if maybe The Prince is watching them from one of the castle windows even as they speak. Yes, I'm sure The Prince has the eyesight of a Greek God and can see across several miles of distance.

And how come even Snow White refers to him as just The Prince? Geez, she's marrying him and she's not even on first name basis.
Hey, what happened to those giant spires of rock Lord Maliss summoned in the beginning?
Meanwhile, in an ironic fashion because a character said something about someone watching them, who else but our hammy villain with his green skin and fabulous eyeshadow is watching our heroes' progress through his mirror and is making a fool out of himself as usual. I love this small scene, if only for the fact that, while Maliss is milking a giant cow and going on about how he's going to have his revenge, the mirror is avoiding eye contact and looks like he's really embarrassed to be sharing the same air as Lord Maliss. It's only when he bursts into rhyme (because it's in Dom DeLuise's contract that his characters can't appear in a scene without speaking in his instantly recognizable voice) that he acknowledge's the lordship's pork-filled presence. In my defense, if I was mounted on a wall and had to endure Malcolm McDowell for extended periods of time, I'd do the exact same thing.
"Sir, no offense, but I've seen more subdued performances from Brian Blessed."
Like most dumb children's movie villains, Maliss is going to send a monster to provide an escort for Snow White to the palace. It's the tried and true method of sending evil minions to do your bidding, but here, it doesn't make sense because he could just turn into that giant dragon and pick her up himself.

But I guess Lord Maliss is feeling particularly stupid and cliched tonight and wants to play things by the book. There's just something to admire from a guy who can't talk without fist-pumping, wringing his hands evilly, or just flat out doing these elaborate evil gestures as if he has some sort of nervous tic. I wonder if he's like this all the time (making family reunions incredibly awkward but entertaining) or just goes all out when he has a revenge plot on his schedule.
"And after I send out an evil monster to capture Snow White and bring her to me, I'm going to eat a
bowl of kittens, kick a puppy, take candy from small children, and set an orphanage on fire."
And since we haven't seen Scowl and Batso in a while (and believe me, I was on the edge of my seat wondering where the useless smoking owl and his painfully adorable bat lackey went), we get to check up on them while at the same time getting a view at what Maliss has in mind. Turns out Scowl's best idea for a hiding spot was in the room where Maliss keeps his pack of vicious, bloodthirsty rhino-wolves (rhinolves? wolhinos?), because all of that nicotine destroyed his brain cells a long time ago and he can't think of a place to hide that isn't full of monsters trying to eat him.

Oh, and Batso is still following him even though the whole "teach Batso to be bad" subplot withered away and died off over twenty minutes ago. To be honest, I'm not sure why Batso even hangs out with this dickweed; all it's giving the poor bat is lung cancer.

Scowl just doesn't give a crap about Batso's asthma.
And yes, I wasn't kidding when I said that Lord Maliss has rhino-wolves. This movie has wolves with freaking rhino horns for no reason at all. Just look at these things and try to tell me that the character designers for this film weren't smoking something illegal. I do realize these designs are par for the course for the people that brought us Moss Man and Fisto (yes those are actual character names), but still...

Also, why even have the horns and comically enlarged fangs if they're just going to behave like regular wolves? What's the goddamn point?

"Why do we exist."
Anyways, Scowl's hiding place (if you can really call it that, because he and Batso were sitting out in the open, surrounded by hungry wolves, instantly drawing attention to themselves) backfires tremendously when Lord Hammy Acting walks into the room and, in his own delightful performance that sounds like he's having an orgasm being so evil, tells his freaks of nature to go fetch Snow White. This is going to make me sound like a broken record, but seriously. Maliss can transform into a goddamn dragon. A DRAGON. He's just wasting his time.

And were the dogs Maliss's or are they the property of the Queen? I wonder what Snow White thought growing up and having strange puppies with glowing satanic eyes and horrible fanged teeth for childhood pets.

"Awww, who's a good boy? Yes you are! Yes you are! Good boy wanna go for walkies?"
The freakdogs leave, no doubt spurned on by the thought that they get to horrendously tear apart cute little fairytale creatures in dresses, and that's when Sir SubtleActing McSceneryChew discovers Scowl. In a typical cliched villain fashion, Maliss says that he could go for some entertainment. Because if there's one thing Lord Melodramatic can't do, it's actually kill the worthless additions in his life when he has the chance. He can't just turn into a dragon and devour Scowl like a tobacco-soaked gobstopper and he can't just turn into a dragon and squish Snow White while she's sitting around a campfire; no, instead he does the slow, laborious, easy-to-escape torture route.

...maybe there's a reason why Snow White's still alive even though she's enemies with someone who can shoot lasers from his eyes. Lord Maliss is a total dumbass.

"I put those No Smoking signs around the castle for a reason, Scowl! Use your
company-mandated smoking break like everyone else!"
But meanwhile, the dogs race onward into the night and towards their brightly-colored prey. I hate to say this, but this scene would be a lot more threatening if we didn't already see a dragon in this film. Going from dragons attacking people on horseback and turning into Malcolm McDowell to wolves with horns on their noses feels like a big step backwards on the threat meter.

This screenshot has been brought to you by the color blue.
Meanwhile, the dwarfs have set up a campfire somehow. What, no contrived use of sunbeams like last time, Sunburn? We're actually using fire as a means of illumination?

I'm just noting the campfire scene here because, for some reason, everyone's expressions are drawn hilariously badly. This movie has a strange problem with fluctuating quality in how everyone's eyes and faces are drawn (as seen here with Snow White) and this scene is no exception. Just look at Snow White there and tell me that's not the face of someone who's now traveling through a hellish realm filled with destructive, terrible monsters.

...wait. They're in The Realm of Doom, a place that got a lot of hype for being Lord Maliss's dominion, and they're just chilling out and setting up a campfire, which will provide a great beacon for any monster to see from a distance and attack their prone, defenseless bodies. Good going, dwarfelles.

"Whee, survival instincts are for pussies!"
Since the female dwarfs were kind enough to set up a campfire and then mess around with their powers, making themselves an even bigger target (again, good going, dwarfelles, you're really firing on all cylinders), it doesn't take long for the rhino/wolf things to show up. And, considering the distance from the castle to the campfire from that one previous shot, that means these canines can either reach speeds of up to three hundred miles per hour or know how to teleport. I love it when films just don't take into account things like distance and scale.

But jokes aside, I will award points to the film for using the creepy "monsters emerge from the mist" scene right. If I wasn't already informed by how pants-crappingly scary this movie is through the scary dead face of the Queen and Maliss's transformation, this would've been the part where I realized that these filmmakers weren't messing around and seemed to have an irrational hatred towards small children and their ability to sleep at night.
"Hey, kids! For checking this VHS out at Blockbuster because the cover had bright colors and cute
little dwarfs, let's watch a scene where mutated wolves tear them apart!"
Within moments, Snow White, ready to prove just how badass she is compared to the Disney Snow White, actually says "Stay back, I'm warning you!" while picking up a flaming piece of wood from the campfire. She doesn't actually start kicking ass and taking names while using it as her weapon, but she still gets points for trying. She's certainly trying more than the fairytale creatures with goddamn elemental powers, that's for sure!

While she's proving more competent than her seven travel partners, here's something I never got. The dwarfelles have magical powers. Muddy can create earthquakes. Thunderella can summon dangerous thunderstorms. Why the hell are they hiding behind Snow White instead of actually helping? My opinion of Marina would be a lot higher if she manifested a stream of water out of nowhere and drowned a wolf, just saying.

And then she quickly set her hair on fire.
But instead of getting an awesome scene where Snow White bludgeons a rhino-wolf to death with a torch, we get the only scene in the entire film where Moonbeam (aka the worst dwarfelle of the bunch by far) does something. And I say "does something" in the worst possible way, because she doesn't advance the plot, she doesn't say anything helpful, and she certainly doesn't help with the giant wolf problem the camp now has. Instead, Useless Waste of Time just wakes up and starts to perform an exercise routine as if to inform the viewers that she's still alive.

You'd think that with Moonbeam's powers being night-based, she'd show them off and get rid of the wolves, but instead, she's just as useful to the group as she was when she was sleep-walking and I left this scene wishing that it would end with her getting ripped apart by the dog-rhinos. I certainly know there's plenty of set-up for it and it's not like anyone would miss her.

"I'm a waste of animation!"
As if frustrated by how utterly useless and terrible her sister is at wasting everyone's time, Critterina and her strange chipmunk-style nose then talks to the wolves in their own language. It's a scene that's about as useful as the Moonbeam scene, since Critterina's idea of reasoning with the wolves is just telling them to go away and the problem is still just as bad as it was before, and yet this scene manages to not be annoying because Critterina actually uses her powers and at least tries to help. See, Moonbeam? This is how you actually contribute to the team!

...and is it me, or are those wolves taking their sweet time with the whole "fetching Snow White" thing? If you notice, they're kind of standing there while various dwarfelles approach them and crap up. I wonder if Lord Maliss is shouting "Oh, come on, just kill them already!" in frustration while watching this scene take place from his Dom DeLuise mirror.
"Awesome, we get to eat one of the Chipettes tonight!"
Oh, okay, the Critterina scene did have a point. This is how the dwarfelles learn that the wolves want to eat them. No, really? I thought the savage monstrosities under Lord Maliss's control were going to give them a tour to the many sightseeing locales in The Realm of Doom. That's why they're licking their lips and slowly advancing on them.

But I can't bring myself to hate this scene, even if it is stating the absolute obvious, because Critterina and Muddy make the best damn faces in this entire film once they realize they're inches away from being eviscerated by wild animals. Poor Critterina especially looks like she's about ready to have a mental breakdown.

"We're all gonna die, man. They're coming outta the walls. They're coming outta the goddamn walls."
So we get our big chase scene. With Snow White throwing down her torch to buy them some time, all seven of the dwarfelles and Snow White race off into the night with the wolves hot on their heels. cool as this scene sounds, and as awesome as the idea that there'd be a children's cartoon that has a scene where women narrowly avoid getting torn apart by hungry animals is, the fact that the creators waste no time reusing animation here instantly diminishes the awesome level and turns this scene from frightening to annoying. The wolves use the same two run cycles whenever they're on screen, Snow White uses her "run frightened through the forest" run cycle that was present at the beginning of the film, and oddly, we don't see the dwarfelles running at all through most of this scene on account they would've need different animation for that.

What makes this scene even more frustrating is the fact that, unlike Felix the Cat: The Movie where it's pretty much expected that they're going to reuse animation because they consistently do it throughout that entire film, for the most part, Happily Ever After had new animation for each scene. The sudden drop in quality is extremely jarring. Did they just run out of time for this one scene? Did they think the kids would be too dumb to notice? Come on, I expected better out of Filmation, the company notorious for placing quantity over quality and using stock footage and pans in order to kill time in every episode of Fat Albert.

This is the chase scene in a nutshell. I'm dead serious.
Finally, after almost an entire minute of mostly recycled parts and brutal acid flashbacks to The Batman/Superman Hour, our heroes run into a dead end and the movie has to once again provide new animation. And what a scene this is, for the wolves had led them to a cliff that can barely fit them and where they can easily block their only exit. I love how bad this looks and how they're inches away from certain death. This is a really edgy movie if it's not pretending to be whimsical and light-hearted by having Phyllis Diller sing and dance around.

By the way, Dwarfelles? Now would be a good time to use your powers. Mother Nature gave a big speech on how you have superpowerful magic at your fingertips and you misuse it, and yet you're holding back when you're about to die. How does this make sense.

I like how Moonbeam looks pleased that she's about ready to die.
Since the dwarfelles absolutely suck at their job, we're going to need someone else to save Snow White, Suddenly, with a muffled "Get back!", the Shadow Man makes his appearance next to a dead tree on the other side of the gorge. Not sure how the hell he survived that mud slide earlier (remember, he was trapped underneath a rock), nor am I sure of how the hell he was able to catch up to the girls when they were busy outrunning wolves, but I guess he's made out of tougher stuff than us mere mortals.

"Scrabbledee magic, scribbledeebolves, and now by this magic, you'll escape from the wolves!"
Are the dwarfelles grateful that there's a ray of light in this hopelessly bleak situation? Oh hell no. Instead they honest to god act even more scared of him than the wolves that want to tear them apart and already told Critterina that they're going to eat them. Ladies, seriously. If Shadow Man wanted you dead, he could just stand there and laugh his ass off while the rhino/wolf wuzzles rip your sternums out and gnaw on your intestines. 

"Oh my god, the Shadow Man's a zombie! He's come to wreak horrible vengeance on us!"
So Shadow Man speedily shoves the shriveled sapling towards Snow White and her stupid, sniveling shrimps. Try saying that five times fast.

And don't ask how the tree managed to not flatten anyone even though that cliff looked like it barely had any room at all. The cliff magically grows in size when the tree hits the ground. The Realm of Doom is a strange, frightening place where logic has no place, after all.

Trogdor was a man!
I mean, he was a shadow man!
Or maybe he was just a shadow.
But he was still TROGDOR!
And then he beckons for them to come follow them, just in case they can't make the connection between a fallen tree bridge and a potential means of escape. As you might expect, the dwarfelles just can't get over their strange prejudice over people with strange yellow eyes and say not to trust him. Ungrateful little wenches. Shadow Man is goddamn saving your asses and you honestly think it's a trap? Again, if he wanted the dwarfelles dead, he could've just left them get eaten by the wolves, which, by the way, are still hanging around about ready to eat them.

As you can probably tell, this part of the movie is less Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and more Snow White and the Seven Loads Delaying The Adventure Because They Suck And Can't Use Their Elemental Powers Correctly. Imagine fitting that on a VHS cover.

And while they were gasping at the Shadow Man, the rhino-wolves ate Moonbeam and Blossom.
No one missed them.
Naturally, he actually does help them instead of lead them to a trap that doesn't exist. He's a forgiving mutant, after all. He's just going to ignore the whole "rock on his left foot" incident. At least until he has an opportunity to pee in their trail mix as an act of revenge.

I do like that the only reason they're running on the tree is because Snow White got really frustrated and said that it was their only chance at survival. Even she's getting tired of their crap.

Once everyone's safely across (unfortunately including Moonbeam, who's not going to have a single line afterwards and will continue wasting oxygen for the rest of the movie), they knock the tree bridge down while the rhino-wolves are trying to cross it, sending the sins against nature tumbling to their death. While we hear the doomed mongrels fall to a bone-crushing, gory death, where their carcasses will be picked apart by vulture/bats or whatever the hell the Realm of Doom has, we see a lovely shot of the castle silhouetted by the moon and some clouds. Why am I pointing out the castle again? Because it once again changed in design of course. Now it's on a very tall hill. Damn, Maliss, make up your mind.

To this film's credit, the backgrounds are actually really nice in this scene. It's funny how this film goes from reusing animation like it's going out of style to having backgrounds with actual talent put into them. This background in particular even has the honor of appearing on the DVD's scene selection menu with sassy, bedroom eyes Lord Maliss.

"So, which one of you dwarfs wants to apologize for being assholes first?"
Lord Maliss finds out about that his wolves are dead and...oh god, that mirror's face. That mirror's face.

...did he...did he get a sick thrill out of seeing those mutated canines die? Why is he making that face? And why is he so terribly superimposed over that mirror cel?

I'm sorry, I'm just going to ignore this scene, if you don't mind. My brain can't process this.

Anyways, Lord Maliss has his expensive designer panties all wadded up in a bunch because Snow White "leads a charmed life". Even though, if he has that mirror that gives him great camera angles that are identical to the film we're watching, he definitely saw the Shadow Man helping them and knows she's not doing this by herself. Either way, he decides that he's gonna have to deal with this problem himself, doing the very thing I wanted him to do earlier. Baby steps, Lord Maliss!

"This very poor juxtaposition of me over this background makes me angry!"
Oh, and he's torturing Scowl with one of the classic "suspended over a pit of boiling hot liquid" James Bond death traps for some reason. And, like all good villains, he leaves without knowing whether Scowl's going to die from the death trap, assuming that Scowl's just going to fall in instead of escaping. Man, all Lord Maliss is missing is a monocle, a white persian to sit in his lap, and a villain song (and by the way, the fact that Lord Maliss doesn't get to sing in this movie when Scowl gets a song pisses me off so much), and he'll be able to fill his whole Villain Cliche checklist.

And how come Scowl's cigar never falls out of his mouth and into that cauldron?

"No, Mr. Scowl, I expect you to die."
With this gruesome sight of an owl being tortured to death by his master when all he wanted to do was prove how good he can be at being an evil minion, I'm going to once again stop for the time being. The next post about this movie will be the final chapter on Happily Ever After and, while it is more exciting than the wolf scene from earlier, it's also going to have some very stupid plot twists and some very forced morals.

But with that, I leave with you this friendly reminder. If you're going to keep a rhino-wolf, always remember to take it to the vet to get its shots on a yearly basis. A healthy rhino-wolf is a happy rhino-wolf.

The Shadow Man pushes over another tree and reveals Part 4!