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Do you remember the scariest movie on Disney Plus?

For a family streaming service full of classic kids’ movies, Disney Plus hides some very traumatic memories: Bambi’s mother. The end of Toy Story 3. All about this horrible Home Alone reboot.

But for my money the scariest movie on Disney+ is… The black hole.

This 1979 chiller was one of many sci-fi movies Hollywood rushed into production to capitalize on the popularity of Star Wars (now also part of Disney’s catalog, ironically). Movies like Battle Beyond the Stars and The Last Starfighter or TV shows like Buck Rogers and Battlestar Galactica were squarely aimed at kids. But while Disney made sure The Black Hole boasted adorable droids and a few laser gun shootouts, it will remind you less of the crisp fun of Star Wars and more of a darker sci-fi movie released the same year. : Ridley’s Scott’s Alien. .

Like Alien, The Black Hole is essentially a haunted house movie in space. The film opens with eerie music and slow-burning visuals, including starships that look more like menacing shadowy hulks than the dive toys seen in Star Wars. Even the Good Guys’ ship is introduced, slowly rising from the abyss, scarily erasing the stars and filling the screen with darkness. It’s like the opening shot of Star Wars in negative.

When their ship encounters the titular tear in space, the crew spends several moments discussing its terrifying power. We intone that the cosmic phenomenon is “straight out of Dante’s Inferno”. And that’s just for starters: our heroes soon crawl around a strangely derelict ship – stunningly realized with fantastic production design, incredible lighting and consistently impressive effects – before facing off against a madman who rules the an army of menacing robots.

I’m not exaggerating, by the way: The Black Hole was actually Disney’s attempt to make movies for an older audience. It was actually the studio’s first PG-rated film. And one of the best bits is a frantic death scene involving Anthony Perkins, famous for his appearance in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, and I’ll be happy to say that shocking moment is up there with the infamous shower scene of ‘Hitchcock.

Obviously, The Black Hole is not Alien, or Event Horizon. But he absolutely is not the cat from outer space.

The effects, lighting and visuals of The Black Hole are always stunning.


Of course, it’s a bit talkative. The cast is incredible – Perkins, Ernest Borgnine, Yvette Mimeux and the stoic Robert Forster years before Quentin Tarantino revived his career in Jackie Brown – but they’re mostly on cruise control. Film critic Gene Siskel wrote, “If actors are paid to express emotion, then the cast of The Black Hole doesn’t even deserve minimum wage.” Ouch!

Maximilian Schell, however, is mesmerizing as the zealous scientist Dr. Reinhardt, his eyes burning with the distorted vision of a man who gazed into the abyss and mistook it for a mirror. Reinhardt is a wickedly observable villain, like a cross between Captain Nemo, Dr. Moreau, Prospero, and Colonel Kurtz. And he’s locked in a delicious power struggle with one of cinema’s greatest henchmen, the blood-red killer android Maximilian. This silent Cyclops, with its sinister, glowing eye and relentlessly spinning claws, is the stuff of nightmares.

Make a glorious pilgrimage in the spirit of God in The Black Hole.


Admittedly, the 70s silliness of The Black Hole doesn’t help the suspense. The wacky stuff ranges from Borgnine’s chunky brown space sweater to the Mimeux character having telepathic powers for some reason. Wacky, cartoonish robots VINCENT and Old BOB are comically played by Roddy McDowell and Slim Pickens, facing a gunslinger showboating droid named Captain STAR who looks like he was added by a marketing guy from the business division. Disney toys (the inevitable line of toys, like the movie, were a bit of a flop). But you just have to try and enjoy these kitsch retro tunes.

The villain Maximilian in The Black Hole on Disney Plus.


And it’s worth it, because the silly stuff also heightens the contrast with an ending that’s quite, absolutely bananas. After that shocking death scene, it all erupts into emotional laser battles and entertaining disaster-movie carnage, with the actors running for their lives from a massive molten meteorite and battling the howling winds of a depressurized ship. Then it hits a psychedelic climax that feels like a cut-price version of the end of 2001: A Space Odyssey. And thenjust when you thought it couldn’t get any weirder, the film crescendos hellishly with a disturbing and truly surreal kaleidoscope of final images.

The actors weren’t told when the movie ended, though it probably wouldn’t have helped them even if they had. Maybe it’s meant to be allegorical. Who knows? All I know is that it freaked me out as a kid and it still freaks me out now. And it’s all the scarier to appear in a Disney movie.

Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson exasperatedly denounced The Black Hole as the least scientifically accurate film of all time, saying: “Not only did they not understand the physics of falling into a black hole, but they they had understood it well, it would have been much more interesting film. As for Tyson, he might know stars and stuff, but he’s dead wrong when it comes to weird ’70s sci-fi movies. The black hole is a weird experience and a cosmic anomaly in the Disney constellation. But above all, it’s a disturbing space/horror/disaster game with a haunting ending that will draw you in.


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