The Most Obscure Disney Film by SummerAndTinkles
For supposedly being the happiest film company on Earth, Disney films were filled with all sorts of frightening moments.
Anyone remember the Coachman's horrific grin in Pinocchio, followed by the painful-looking donkey transformation? What about the infamous segment from Fantasia with the enormous demon on Bald Mountain? Or Dumbo's drunken Pink Elephant hallucinations that scared us away from drinking alcohol?
If you were frightened by any of the above scenes, or any other similar scene in a Disney film, be thankful you never saw The Pathway to Hell.
Never heard of it? Don't worry. I can't find a single person online who has.
I only saw it once, when I was six or seven, during the mid to late nineties. I remember my mom bringing it back from a random thrift shop and putting it on for me.
I know for sure it was a Disney film, because I explicitly remember seeing the Disney logo on the VHS cover, and previews for other Disney films before the actual film started.
That film terrified the ever-loving crap out of me. I remember constantly covering my eyes and praying it would be over soon, but I couldn't stop watching it anyway. I felt drawn to it, like a moth to a flame, despite me feeling increasingly frightened more and more as the film continued.
The film was about a pair of kids, a boy and a girl, who lived on a farm with their grandparents somewhere in the northern United States, like Montana. They were told by their grandfather not to visit the well on the far side of the yard.
The kids disobeyed their grandfather and visited it anyway. A bunch of demons came up out of the well, stole the boy's head, and now the girl had to go down and find it.
The first few minutes of the film was animated in the typical cutesy Disney style. But after the girl went down to Hell (and yes, they did refer to it as just that), it suddenly switched to a more twisted and surreal appearance, similar to that of Stephen Gammell's infamous illustrations for the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series.
I still remember how Hell was depicted in the film perfectly. It was mostly gray with a few reds and blues here and there. The rocks looked like skulls, and the trees looked like hands. The latter constantly reached over and tried to grab the girl as she ran through all of this with a terrified expression.
Throughout the film, the girl constantly encountered various obstacles. Some of the demons she met ended up helping her, while others were less helpful. There was no possible way of knowing who was friend or foe.
The first creature she met was some sort of eyeless pig/rat/bug thing that made a screaming/laughing sound like a demonic Donald Duck as it tore away the girl's dress, and she ended up spending the majority of the film in her underwear.
I don't remember most of the other obstacles she encountered, save for the Kitten Eater.
The Kitten Eater was an enormous pale-skinned obese being that sat on a chair clearly too small for him. He had no facial features other than a pair of black jelly blob eyes and an enormous wide mouth filled with sharp teeth.
True to his name, he had a cage full of adorable blue-eyed kittens all drawn in the traditional Disney style sitting next to his chair. The kittens were all mewing in a heart-wrenchingly realistic manner as the Kitten Eater would reach down into the cage, pull out a frightened kitten, pop it into his mouth, and and chew it up with the sound of crunching bones. I even remember him wiping away blood in one shot!
I remember when the girl saw the Kitten Eater, he spoke to her in this horrible deep distorted-sounding voice, lower than any human voice I'd ever heard, before grabbing her by the back of her panties and trying to swallow her.
There was also the Devil itself. I use “it” because I couldn't tell if it was a male or female. I remember it having long stringy hair, pale corpse-like skin thinly stretched over a lanky skeleton, empty black eye sockets, and sharp fang-like teeth. It spoke in a horrible high-pitched screeching voice, that sounded a lot like that horrible screaming sound red foxes made, except forming words.
I remember there being a strange song that played as the Devil and its minions tossed the boy's severed head around in one scene. Speaking of which, that's another thing I remember quite vividly.
See, the boy's head was alive while it was separated from his body. As the Devil held the head, it cried and begged the Devil to return it to its body. I also remember the film constantly cutting back to the farm where the headless boy's body continued to walk around, picking up random stuff like rocks and placing them on its neck stump trying to replace its old head.
After it got to the scene where the girl finally makes it to where the Devil is keeping her brother's head, my mom came in and saw what was going on in the movie. Then she noticed me looking petrified as I continued to stare at the screen. I think she then realized this film was too much for me, as she took it out of the VCR, put it back in its case, and returned it to the store, so I didn't get to see how the movie ended.
I never saw or heard anything about that film ever again. I never found another copy of it, neither can I find any info about it on the internet. It seems to have just vanished from existence, despite being from probably the most famous animation company on the planet.
But I still remember that film explicitly well, even twenty years later. It's been haunting me for years. Right before I wrote this, I asked my mom about the film, and she said she remembered it too, but didn't know anything about it, which proves I didn't imagine or dream it. I have no idea where that VHS of the film is now, or even if there's more than one copy.
If you have a copy of the film, please provide proof of some kind. Like a screencap or a picture of the cover. Just so that I can show the world that I'm not crazy, and that Disney's most nightmarish animated film ever really did exist.