31 Nights, 31 Frights: Night on Bald Mountain from Fantasia

In observance of that autumn spell when we celebrate the primal, compulsive instinct of fear, Rainestorm highlights 31 days of spooky scares to season the eerie atmosphere of Halloween.

Reign of terror: 1940


That is just badass.

The horror… the horror: Honestly, all of Fantasia is an enormous delight. Consisting of eight animated segments set to an arrangement of classical music, it’s a beautiful experiment in the evolution of animation. The penultimate segment, Night on Bald Mountain, is the real delicacy here. Ovelooking a small village, an ominous mountain comes to life in the form of the demonic Chernabog, a winged personification of Satan. This segment scared many a kid who watched it on Wonderful World of Disney in his youth. I first remember seeing it on Disney’s Halloween Treat in the 80s and it was, and is, a gloriously spooky sight to behold. Many may disagree but I believe it works best when viewed with its companion piece, Ave Maria, all the way through to the contemplatively silent closing credits sequence that was added to the 1990 restoration.

Halloween haunt: Are you kidding? If you want to know the definition of Halloween spookiness, just watch this segment. The village that sits at the base of the mountain is wonderfully gothic, with the houses and buildings set at odd angles that become exaggerated as Chernabog casts his shadowy hands over them, summoning ghosts from the village graveyard and from the depths of a murky lake.

Tastiest treat: The phantasms that drift upward from that graveyard tug at a hangman’s noose as they pass vaporously through.

Check the candy for: The winged she-demons giant breasts and monstrous nipples, which apparently weren’t too offensive for censors even though the female centaurs in the Pastoral Symphony segment earlier in the film had to don chaste bosom covering.

Goes great with: The Skeleton Dance (1929). Very similar in design to Night on Bald Mountain but with a comedic touch. This early Disney cartoon establishes classic elements like the skeletal xylophone, as well as others that would be used not only in Fantasia but other Disney Halloween favorites such as The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.



  • Enrique

    David – you have quite the way with words. The blog looks fantastic – great graphics, great links, great insights!