From the earliest days of my childhood, film and television have had an indelible impact upon me. Films like The Lion King, Toy Story, Jurassic Park, and The Indiana Jones franchise have continued to thrill and excite me even into adulthood and drive me into a pleasurable nostalgic haze.
And yet, there have also been those films that, for one reason or another, I can remember watching only after being prompted or otherwise reminded. Regardless of the quality of the film, some pieces of my childhood were locked behind some vague glance at my old VHS tapes or a mention by some online film reviewer.
Today's article is honor of those films. Irrespective of their quality or my personal opinions on the films, this list is intended rather to be an exploration and retrospective on films that I remember that have, for one reason or another, fallen under the radar of my generally excellent sense of nostalgia. Some are films I enjoyed watching that I simply have forgotten, others are so vague that I can remember only small sections or parts.
Without further ado, let us take a quick retrospective look at 8 Nearly Forgotten Films from my Childhood.
- The Quality of the Film will have no bearing upon its inclusion on this list.
- I will try to vary up the films on this list, so as to avoid filling it with too many films from any single director or production (with respect to Don Bluth).
- While all the current list include films which are predominantly animation, that was not a prerequisite for inclusion on this list.
2. The Pagemaster
Essentially designed as a motion picture to inspire children to read, The Pagemaster followed a young neurotic boy scared of everything who is thrust into an animated adventure when he is transported into a series of classic novels, such as The Strange Case of Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde and Treasure Island, upon visiting his local library. Joined by a triplet of living books (Horror, Adventure, and Fantasy), the young man seeks out the legendary Pagemaster to escape from the literary world.
Though this film is on this list, as I write this article, I am actually kind of stunned at how saturated my childhood was by this film. I remember so much of the various scenes and characters, was enthralled by the music, and while the animation is a little weird with regards to Culkin's animated form the rest of the film is excellently done visually speaking. I even remember owning The Pagemaster book and Super Nintendo Game growing up.
This film in reality, might be the most memorable forgotten childhood film on this list. I think it was largely the negative response from other people and the lack of general knowledge of this film that caused me to forget it in the first place. Suffice it to say, I may have to touch upon this film in greater detail with its own article down the line.
3. Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland
A 1989 Japanese-American animated musical (I didn't actually know it was a musical because I remember no music) is based off of a comic strip called Little Nemo in Slumberland. The story involves a young boy named Nemo who finds himself drawn into a magical land known as Slumberland by the will of the king in order to become friends with the princess of Slumberland. Along the way, Nemo accidently releases an evil being known as the Nightmare King who is hellbent on destroying Slumberland. Nemo must then work with the Princess and a strange band of friends to defeat the Nightmare King and rescue the king.
I am struggling to remember anything about this film beyond vague memories of a train chasing Nemo and memories of a strange black sludge that I think was the Nightmare King. I also remember a court jester of some sort that was kind of a villain and kind of a good guy (the film is very weird). Mostly I remember this film feeling almost like a Miyazaki film in terms of animation, though I may be confusing scenes from Kiki's Delivery Service which I also remember watching as a child and could very easily have made this list.
On the whole, Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland is a film recalled only in vague patches, much like Rock-a-Doodle actually.
4. The Care Bears Movie
Released in 1985, The Care Bears Movie was based on the widely successful Hasbro toy line of the same name. In the film, the eponymous Care Bears head to Earth to help a trio of children, including a young Magician's apprentice who is being manipulated by an evil spirit. This film is important because it was released on the same weekend as Disney's The Black Cauldron and outperformed it so spectacularly that Disney seriously considered ending their animation department entirely. In other words, The Care Bears Movie was the film that nearly killed Disney Animation (and was precisely the kick in the pants needed to eventually lead to the Disney Renaissance).
As stated earlier, I remember nothing about this movie except for the villainous book spirit. I recall how creepy the animation looked whenever she was on screen and the effect she had on the Magician's Apprentice only aided in that creep factor. I wish I could say more about the film but honestly this was released at a time when expectations for childrens movies were at an all time low and the general attitude towards toy brand films was selling more toys rather than telling good stories.
The Care Bears Movie it seems will be known more for its place in cinematic history, than its own cinematic merits.
5. Timmy's Gift
The films plot is actually quite thin. Timmy is an angel that has been tasked by Heaven to deliver a gift to a very important newborn Prince (Jesus). That's it. Timmy has a set of minor setbacks along the way and has to give up something very personal to complete the task.
I know I watched this film and I know how it ends, because it ends exactly how you think it will end if you've ever watched any Christmas special involving the birth of Jesus. Don't really know what else to say. I don't even really remember the animation all that much. This is a film that really just didn't leave much of an impact on me and I imagine that I only saw this film in the first place because my mom worked for Hallmark for nearly 20 years and Precious Moments played a major part in her daily workload.
Not all that much left to say to be honest.
6. We're Back: A Dinosaur Story
The film follows the exploits of a group of dinosaurs that are modified by a well-intentioned scientist's eating brain-enhancing cereal and sent to modern day New York to help teach children about dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum and fill them with joy and wonder. Along the way, they must avoid causing a panic, assist a pair of runaway children, and avoid the machinations of the scientist's evil brother, Professor Screweyes, who runs a macabre circus that is powered by people's worst fears.
The film really was a blast to watch as a kid and I am thinking upon it with great fondness as I write this article. Yes, the child characters are a little annoying and stereotypical for the early 90s, but its so well-meaning and good-hearted that I can't even fault it for its simple moments. Of particular note, Professor Screweyes really is an incredibly memorable villain and I'm almost mad that I've never really touched upon this film in the past, the Screweyes circus is its own unique brand of creepy and peculiar that sticks with me to this day.
7. Madeline: Lost in Paris
The film outing involved Madeline being taken from the orphanage by a man claiming to be her father but is in fact in league with a woman who is running a secret child sweatshop that creates lace clothing. Madeline must survive the intolerable conditions while waiting for her friends at the orphanage to find and rescue her.
As a child, this plotline didn't really draw too much attention to me. It is only now as an adult with a wider perspective on the world around me and the atrocities being committed around the globe that I now understand how dark and twisted this movie actually is. In all honesty, the film is basically a long version of the original TV show but I remember quite vividly some of the much darker elements of this film. It speaks of slave conditions, blindness from poor work conditions and open cruelty towards children. It's really a disconnect from the usually whimsical adventures that the original series explored but that honestly helps it to better stand out in my memory.
Because without these moments, I'd likely remember as much of the movie as I do of the show, which isn't a lot to be honest.
And that's all there is. There isn't anymore.
(Those who know will get the joke).