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Dragonslayer On DVD

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Dragonslayer (1981) was a usual Disney/Paramount collaboration with decidedly un-Disney-like plot developments, despite a fairly formulaic set-up. Hero Galen (Peter MacNicol), inspired by Mickey Mouse as a wizard’s apprentice in Fantasia, is hardly a knight in shining armor, and any warriors who do enter the scene are so afraid of Vermithrax Pejorative – “The Wyrm of Thrace Who Makes Things Worse” – that they fight to appease it under orders from the king. And the princess, upon discovering only she has been safe from a sacrificial lottery, performs her own formula-flipping (it’s definitely not her riding away with Galen on a white horse at the end).

But the dragon itself is the real star of this show, brought to life by a technology called “go motion” that acted as the missing link between stop-motion animation and computer-generated imagery. Jaws taught us that it’s important to wait to reveal the monster, but in this case, that big reveal doesn’t disappoint:

“There is some stuff that has been done with dragons that I find… there are very few landmarks created for me. One of the best and one of the strongest landmarks that almost nobody can overcome is ‘Dragonslayer.’ The design of the Vermithrax Pejorative is perhaps one of the most perfect creature designs ever made.”

So said fantasy filmmaker Guillermo del Toro in an interview with Comingsoon.net, back when he was still involved with The Hobbit. What more endorsement do you need? Of course, you may want to preview it before watching it with the kids, but if they’re old enough to anticipate The Desolation of Smaug, help them endure the wait with its aesthetic predecessor!

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