80s Fantasy Movie Review: “The Black Cauldron”

80s movies have awesome posters

80s movies have awesome posters

I embarked on a quest to watch through Tor’s list of 80s Fantasy. I have only seen an embarassingly small number of the movies on that list, and have decided to rectify that! Here, I review “The Black Cauldron,” yet another one I haven’t seen before! But I did read the whole series of books! There will be SPOILERS in what follows.

They really don’t animate movies like they used to. Seriously, “The Black Cauldron” is stunningly beautiful. There is so much detail in each scene that it is easy to catch yourself just looking at the scenery rather than paying attention to the film. But that would be sad, because the story is pretty solid too.

There’s something inherently awesome about having an assistant pig-keeper as the hero of a story, but the other characters, from a silly bard to a sarcastic princess, are each fun in their own way. It’s the kind of film that makes you want to peel back the layers to examine it further because it’s truly compelling. I enjoyed the fact that it seemed like no one character in the movie could have accomplished everything on his or her own–they each needed the others to succeed on the quest.

The story is actually pretty dark, though, when you think about it. Much of the imagery used to convey the story is also super creepy, especially the Horned King! The notion that the Black Cauldron requires death in order to be appeased makes your skin crawl too.

The main problem with the movie is that there is never any real sense of the consequences of the activity of the heroes and villains. We never see anyone besides the main cast as “good guys” so we don’t know who it is the Horned King might be trying to conquer. Nor do we know why he wants to conquer so badly.

Overall though, the movie is charming, beautiful, and foreboding. It’s got a solid plot and good characters. Another winner! These 80 fantasy flicks are sweet!

The Good

+Visually impressive
+Captivating story
+Initially compelling

The Bad

-No sense of a broader world
-Seems pretty creepy for kiddos
-Characters never get fleshed out much

The Verdict

My Score: A- “Dark but uplifting, ‘The Black Cauldron’ was a blast to watch.”

Guest Verdict (Wife, Beth): A  “All the childhood nostalgia!!”


“The Black Cauldron” is a beautifully animated and well-written story of heroism from unexpected places. I’m glad I took the time to watch it.


J.W. Wartick- Always Have a Reason– Check out my “main site” which talks about philosophy of religion, theology, and Christian apologetics (among other random topics). I love science fiction so that comes up integrated with theology fairly frequently as well. I’d love to have you follow there, too!

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Time to Watch some 80s Fantasy Flicks– I describe my quest to watch a bunch of 80s fantasy movies. This post also features links to all the reviews done so far.

A Ranking of 1980s Fantasy that would please Crom Himself– The original list of movies that made me embark on this quest.