We at the Eyeball strongly believe that the films we watch as children can scar us for life. Now, The Neverending Story (1984) is a case in point. Made in the less patronising end of the early 1980s, when little was sugar-coated, it has plenty of cool monsters to choose from, but one in particular stands-out for its nightmare inducing moments.
For instance, the events in Fantasia open with the weird group of hobgoblin, racing snail, and a rock giant – who are actually quite sweet, but their demise later on is heart-breaking. Then the horse drowns in a swamp. Graphically. Then a creepy turtle the size of a hill maliciously sneezes the heroic Atreyu into the disgustingly sticky swamp, and coats him in grimy snot. Repeatedly. Also, a man in a suit of armour get crispy fried by bare breasted giant female statues who can see right into your soul. And you see its grinning charred skull (TV networks allowing…) and a single, leering blue eye…
Oh, and then, there’s a big bad Wolf.
Even Gmork’s theme music freaks us out. Music is pretty important throughout the film, it’s a very emotive soundtrack (yes even the theme song!). But when Gmork’s tune plays we get our first glimpse of his malevolent green eyes and really, really sharp white teeth in the depths of a tunnel: And that’ll stay with you.
Gmork’s not only savage, relentless and huge, he’s got a terrible plan for humanity and is bent on controlling human minds once the Nothing has destroyed Fantasia. Gmork explains his horrible ambition to Atreyu like this:
G’mork: Foolish boy. Don’t you know anything about Fantasia? It’s the world of human fantasy. Every part, every creature of it, is a piece of the dreams and hopes of mankind. Therefore, it has no boundaries.
Atreyu: But why is Fantasia dying, then?
G’mork: Because people have begun to lose their hopes and forget their dreams. So the Nothing grows stronger.
Atreyu: What is the Nothing?
G’mork: It’s the emptiness that’s left. It’s like a despair, destroying this world. And I have been trying to help it.
Atreyu: But why?
G’mork: Because people who have no hopes are easy to control; and whoever has the control… has the power!
Very creepy. Perhaps he’s actually Simon Cowell in disguise?
Reasons why he rocks:
- Scarily nihilistic attempt to control all humanity. Gulp.
- Hardly seen until the end of the film, so therefore had plenty of time to grow even scarier in the depths of impressionable young minds.
- In VHS copies you STILL couldn’t ever see him properly, so even bloody worse (he was just darkness, teeth and fangs)!
- Cool growly voice.
- Relentless pursuit of Atreyu. So what are the chances that these nemeses both ended up on the same beach right at the end? Well, it is a story…
- You can really only escape him with a Luck Dragon’s help – or try and take him on with a really big knife.
- Shades of Landis’ American Werewolf in London beast, when he flings himself at Atreyu in a huge mass of black fur and even when he dies, those enormous paws kick away.
- Scary even to this day. Even though he’s obviously a great big puppet.
He has quite a following even now and there are tumblr accounts and songs and DeviantArt dedicated to him.
A great tribute to Gmork here as well, with rock music!
The Neverending Story itself ended up with two very sappy sequels, both best avoided. But the first one is an exhilaratingly grownup fairytale with several brutal twists, and a fantastic and terrifying final monster.