Two weeks ago, the new streaming service Disney+ launched with a reported 10 million subscribers on its first day.
Whether it was young parents hoping to find an endless supply of cartoons to entertain their kids, adult viewers hoping for a hit of nostalgia, or your older cousin who got a bunch of money suing K-Mart after slipping in its bathroom that one time and now just sits around watching “That’s So Raven” reruns, Disney+ obviously appealed to a lot of people.
Because there’s truly something for everyone on it. For the nerds, there’s every episode of “The Simpsons,” as well as all the Marvel and “Star Wars” content, including the original TV show “The Mandalorian” (#BabyYodaIsMyEverything); for the family, nearly every classic and contemporary Disney animated film has been uploaded; and for hipsters looking to ironically hate-watch something so they can make fun of it on Twitter, there’s a selection of terrible made-for-TV movies, including the flawless ‘80s masterpiece “Mr. Boogedy.”
With all the big-name content available on its release, it’s easy for some lesser-known titles to get swept aside like they’re Mickey Mouse’s forgotten brother Lumpy (he scared the children). Here are three titles to check out on the hottest new streaming platform in town:
“The Black Cauldron.” Behold, one of the few animated films the Mouse House probably wishes didn’t exist. Released in 1985, this fantasy adventure is a “Lord of the Rings”-esque tale about a young farm boy who must make sure the evil Horned King doesn’t acquire the titular cauldron and take over the world. The original cut of the film scared a test audience of children so bad that 12 minutes were cut, and once the film was finally released, it bombed so hard at the box office that it nearly bankrupted Disney’s film studio. But it certainly doesn’t deserve that kind of infamy. It’s not a perfect film by any means, but it’s a unique attempt at trying something different, with its dark tone and surprising amount of violence, a notable departure from the usual Disney fare.
“Gravity Falls.” Though this animated series has a legion of fans, it is still one of the more overlooked recent Disney properties. Influenced heavily by David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks,” it’s set in the fictional town of Gravity Falls, Ore., as teenage twins Dipper and Mabel arrive to spend the summer with their great-uncle. The two find out that the town is a hotbed for supernatural and paranormal activity, and discover an ancient mysterious force that’s haunted the town for years. Full of hidden symbols and ciphers, it’s one of the most bizarre shows Disney has ever put out, as well as one of its funniest. The entire series is blessedly available to stream.
“Return to Oz.” And now for arguably the scariest kids movie ever to be released. Also released in 1985 (man, Disney was really going through it that year), this quasi-sequel to “The Wizard of Oz” takes a much — much — darker tone to the beloved original as Dorothy escapes a mental asylum (!) and finds herself back in the Land of Oz, which has fallen into ruin thanks to the reign of the malevolent Nome King. Seriously, this movie is messed up — there’s a princess with a room full of disembodied heads, Auntie Em sending Dorothy off to get electroshock therapy and nightmarish creatures called the Wheelers — and it traumatized a large percentage of millennials who saw it growing up. But it’s actually a more faithful adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s stories than the original, and it has since found a loyal cult following — hopefully its inclusion in Disney+ means more adventurous young viewers will embrace it, too.
Michael Hunley is a copy editor at E&E News in D.C. He previously worked as a copy editor for the Frederick News-Post. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.