Monday, October 9, 2023

Judge Doom - Disney's Most Terrifying Villain

The other night I was doom scrolling TikTok before bed (my normal ritual) when a clip from this year's Disneyland Halloween party came up showcasing the new villains appearing at the parade. 

And my blood runs cold. 

It's the Judge. 

All Black and All Business

For the uniniatied, Judge Doom is from Who Framed Rodger Rabbit?, a pinaccle of animation that holds up to this day. The villain, played by the usually delightful and everyone's wacky grandpa Christopher Lloyd, is a law enforcment official tasked with keeping the antics of Toon Town from getting out of hand. His solution: a mixture of "turpentine, acitone and benzine", called the Dip. It's an acid that liquifies Toons, effectively killing the immortal creatures perminently in the most gruesome way possible. 

Judge Doom, with his black frock coat, hat and glasses that make him look like a somehow even more goth version of Alucard from Hellsing, is a menacing figure all to himself. The thing that first tips him from basic villain to childhood trauma enducing nightmare is when he slowly lowers a Toon shoe into the Dip and we watch it die slowly as it's disolved. He then brings out his hand covered in what is presumably ink (but is definitely coded as blood) and flexes it for Bob Hoskins. Now remember this was in 1988, long before the argument about violence in cartoons would really take hold with The Simpsons, Family Guy and Bevis and Butthead. As children we had never seen anything like this till now. 

Oh, but it got so much worse. 


Now we really enter spoiler country but the film is over 30 years old so live with it. We find out that Judge Doom isn't only the person who is comitting all the murders and framing Toons for them but that he himself is a Toon and is trying to get the deed to Toon Town so he can bulldoze it and get a freeway, and that he's the Toon who killed Bob Hoskin's brother by dropping a piano on his head. This revelation comes at another traumatizing point when Doom is slowly run over by a road roller flattening him like a pancake. He then and he starts talking in a high pitched voice with red glowing eyes,  performing general Toon stuff like getting squished flat and stretching. Picture all the fun stuff Bugs Bunny and the gang used to do but what if they were doing that to a person who couldn't bend and stretch, it would be the makings of a horror movie. Judge Doom is eventually killed by, once again, slowly melting in a pool of his own Dip while he cries out in pain. 

Thinking about it, this movie has a lot of people dying slowly. Are we sure this is a children's movie?

Now He's Back

I know I talk a lot about Who Framed Roger Rabbit? but I think until recently I'd mostly blocked out Judge Doom from my memory, because as a kid I remember being absolutely terrified of this monster. Interestingly I don't think it's because of what he'd do to me but what he'd be willing to do to the innocent and fun-loving Toons I'd grown up loving and which were featured in this film. Remember this is the film where Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse were featured prominently together, and where Dumbo gets fed peanuts through a window. Doom wasn't just willing to displace them by evicting Toon Town he wanted to slowly melt it in acid and revel in the screams of the anthropromorphic flowers and birds. This dude was sick. 

The Disneyland Halloween party now features Judge Doom standing on a platform on the trick-or-treat line, interacting with guests like a nightmareish stage magician, complete with his own little magic trick. In front of the waiting crowd, Doom will pull out a struggling Toon shoe, open a vat of Dip, and just like in the movie slowly torture the creature to death. 

Fun for the whole family, right? 

No wonder I had nightmares that night...


No comments:

Post a Comment