Like much of Disney’s output during the late seventies/early eighties there is an undercurrent in this film that’s a tad bit unsettling. It’s not a proper horror film for sure, but in some ways it follows the classic trope closer than most “proper” horror films do. What’s that you say? Unkle lancifer has lost his marbles? Before you grab your torches hear me out. We start off with a group of desperate travelers looking for shelter. This is how every old dark house thriller begins including OLD DARK HOUSE. They then find what appears to be an abandoned ghost ship to take refuge in. Resembling a gothic cathedral, the spacecraft Cygnus could be viewed as a sort of haunted castle. Inside they meet a mad scientist MAXMILLIAN SCHELL and his formidable creation Maximillion, a bulky metal Golem that one of the characters compares to Frankenstein’s monster (He actually looks like a giant floating swiss army knife.) Suspicious of their host, the travelers try to settle in as they learn clue after clue about their benefactor’s true nature. After horror icon ANTHONY PERKINS is killed by the dreaded Maximillion (he’s shredded by one of his blades) the jig is indeed up. It is also revealed that the entire crew of the ship including one of the traveler’s fathers, has fallen prey to Reinhart’s experiments and are now zombie slaves. The rest of the movie of course concerns the escape and destruction of the “castle”. True, there are cute robots and lots of laser gun firing but this is all just sci-fi window dressing. THE BLACK HOLE even offers a glimpse into a place few horror films dare go…hell itself. The film’s final astonishing set pieces involve rivers of flowing lava, fiery explosions and the marching of hooded figures through a cavernous landscape that would give HEIRONYMUS BOSCH pause. You gotta feel sorry for all the lil’ tykes out there who were just looking to tame their STAR WARS jones. Sure there ARE long stretches that are goofy and outdated and the cast seems ripped from one of the era’s lesser disaster flicks but THE BLACK HOLE is much, much darker than you’d think.
The introduction of Maximillion
Perkins trying to protect himself with a book and failing miserably
Reinhardt and Maximillion merging atop a cliff and making a scarab-like silhouette