When we last left our clueless hero, he was happily entering the most ominous-looking seacraft in the world. Along with him for the ride are con artists Scalawag the Raccoon and Igor the Monkey, who are starting to regret taking advantage of such a dangerous boy and are now terrified.
A large door opens up in the ghoulish boat’s stern and the steamboat is
sucked inside it. Once inside, a gondola with a creepy ferryman appears
and offers Pinocchio “a ride.” Despite EVERYONE screaming at him not to
take the invitation, Pinocchio takes it immediately.
There’s a giant underground cavern inside this ship, ten times as big as the
outside, because………magic? The stream splits into two
directions and the ferryman points out the loud music and flashing
lights coming from the left path. “That is the place where DREAMS COME
TRUE. What have you always wished for? Fun with no rules? All the toys
you want? A second season of Sym-Bionic Titan? The box you seek is in
the other direction, so I’ll go that way. UNLESS you want to go to the place where DREAMS COME TRUE.”
I’m not sure what the point of this is, or why he feels he has to
lead Pinocchio on so obviously. We already know from at least ten other
examples in this movie alone that Pinocchio ALWAYS picks the worse of
two choices, even if the other choice is far better. If the other path
didn’t have a box, but was full of child-eating tarantulas, Pinocchio
would pick that path instead.
The Emperor — whoops, should have marked spoilers, oh well — tells
him he can do whatever he wants in that area as long as he agrees to
sign some contract without reading it. Sure, why not? Pinocchio races
right in, drinks a ton of green beer, gets blasted out of his mind, and
then….everybody starts to warp and distort around him, which I think
looks far scarier than the Puppetino scene everyone talks about.
Finally, the villain reveals his true James Earl Jones-voiced self.
The Emperor of the Night is the one good thing about this movie. All he
does is stand there, but he REALLY KNOWS HOW TO STAND THERE.
“WHAT DO YOU WANT WITH ME ANYWAY?” screams Pinocchio. It’s a good
question. This guy has absolute power, Darth Vader’s voice and one of
the most imposing designs for a villain ever drawn. What possible use
could he have for the dumbest boy in the world?
“You owe us for the fun you had,” replies Puppetino. THAT’S NOT A
REASON! That’s something he just did! We’re not gonna get a true answer,
are we? Ah well. The Emperor laughs maniacally as he zaps Pinocchio
into an iron cage for storage, then boots “Gee Whillikers” out into the
Scalawag and Igor are also in the cage, despite not being shown in
there in the previous scene. Scalawag thinks he knows the Emperor’s
deal: “Every time somebody gives up their freedom, the Blue Fairy grows
weaker…and the Emperor grows stronger.” Puppetino’s collection of
distorted, grotesque puppets has now been confirmed as a collection of
real, frozen children. Wow, this movie is pitch black. The only reason I
can think of Puppetino’s scene being more famous is that kids simply
got so freaked out they never made it to the final act of the film. The
real Nightmare Fuel is here. I would never let little kids watch this;
it becomes a solid horror movie at this point. “G” rating my tuckus.
Pinocchio is sent up to talk to the Emperor one more time. He’s had a
sudden change of heart, which Scalawag remarks is suspicious. He’s now
agreed to let Pinoke have his box back, AND his Twinkle Doll to do
whatever he wants with (makes me wonder if his real beef is with
Twinkle). They’re free to go….but one last thing….
“Check inside the box. There’s a surprise in there.”
A surprise? From THIS guy? The only one in the world dumb enough to open the box is…you guessed it.
It’s Gepetto! He’s been miniaturized! Holy Rick Moranis!
“YOU’VE GOTTA RESTORE HIS SIZE! I’LL DO ANYTHING!” Pinocchio vows with his fist in the air.
“Hmm, anything?” Bent him like a twig, he did.
“If you bring him back, and let all my friends go….I’ll be your
frozen, inanimate puppet forever.” Because Pinocchio is so close to the
Fairy’s heart, this acquisition will crush her and tip the scales of
power toward the Emperor, and he’ll TAKE OVER THE UNIVERSE!!! Everyone’s
fate rests on this dumb kid. The world never had a chance.
Pinocchio inches ever closer to the contract….he picks up the quill….
WHILLIKERS RUSHES RIGHT IN THROUGH A HOLE IN THE CEILING AND BASHES THE
EMPEROR RIGHT IN THE FACE! EVERYONE ESCAPES IN THE ENSUING CHAOS!
…..That didn’t happen. Pinocchio signed the contract.
“HA HA HA,” the Emperor cackles as Pinocchio stands there crying.
“NOW YOU BELONG TO ME, AND THE FAIRY CAN NEVER SAVE YOU AGAIN.”
Pinocchio starts convulsing like Kane from Alien as his body painfully
contorts into cold wood…..ugh! You people at Filmation were sick
animals! You can’t hear the music that accompanies all this, so you
can’t get a true feel on how disturbing it all is, but trust me.
“Take the rest of them to the dungeon,” the Emperor bellows….and then suddenly, something I never saw coming happens….
Pinocchio does a complete 180 and instantly becomes a fierce,
ferocious badass. “NO!!” he yells, kicking Puppetino in the shin and
starting to glow. His transformation stops as he seethes in rage. “YOU
SAID YOU WOULDN’T HURT THEM! THAT WAS THE AGREEMENT!”
“It doesn’t matter. You’ll do what I say. You CHOSE to be my puppet.”
Pinocchio shouts that he’s in charge of his OWN fate and that
nothing, not even a contract, can make his own decisions for him. He
glows brighter and suddenly bursts with blue light. He’s becoming a
The Emperor cowers in fear as his entire ship starts to crumble
around him. Everyone has to escape from the cursed place, which is a
pretty terrifying and trippy ordeal in itself, and just when they’re
reached the deck and are about to leap to safety. the Emperor bursts
through the floor and growls at Pinocchio for ruining everything. “IF I
CANNOT DESTROY YOU, I WILL DESTROY YOUR FATHER!” He holds out his hand
and Mini-Gepetto is gravitated toward it. It’s at THIS moment that
Whillikers returns (took your sweet time, did you) and moves Gepetto out
of the Emperor’s grasp just in time.
But the Emperor’s still there, and Pinocchio is burning with blue
glowing rage. Whillikers realizes what he’s thinking of doing. “NO,
DON’T DO IT! HE’S FIRE! YOU’RE WOOD! YOU’LL NEVER MAKE IT!” Pinocchio
ignores him and charges right for the Emperor, and when they collide, he
EXPLODES in destructive fireworks!
Is this really the same Pinocchio from the first hour of the movie?
Obviously, this is leading to the “he’s dead but he’s not really
dead” scene that every animated movie from this era had, but once that’s
over, everything’s happy! Twinkle is real now! How’d that happen, and
what happened to the other puppet people? Who cares? The Blue Fairy
reappears, and says that now that Pinocchio has his own powers, he
doesn’t need her anymore. No one could be happier about that than her, I
I was prepared to completely thumb-down this movie, but the last
third is worth a view just to see the Emperor. Once he appears, it
becomes a tense animated nightmare the likes of which are rarely seen.
The last third makes it too scary for kids (believe me when I say this,
it’s even scarier than Return to Oz, or possibly even Jurassic Park), but the first boring two thirds are unwatchable for grown-ups. Filmation made a film no one can sit through completely.