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Dragonslayer [1981] (1 disc)

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Director:Matthew Robbins
Writer:Hal Barwood
Matthew Robbins
Composer:Alex North
Length:109 minutes
(1 hour 49 minutes)
MPAA Rating:PG
Sorting Category:Fantasy
IMDB Rating:6.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating:84%
Amazon Rating:4.5/5 stars
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Classifications:
  • Fantasy
  • Drama
  • Action
  • Romance
  • Puppets
  • Stop Motion
  • Suspense / Horror
Available Formats:
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Synopsis: A young wizarding apprentice is sent to kill a dragon which has been devouring girls from a nearby kingdom.


Personal Rating: 6/10

Matthew Robbins => Director / Writer
Hal Barwood => Writer
Alex North => Composer
Albert Salmi => Greil
Caitlin Clarke => Valerian
Chloe Salaman => Princess Elspeth
Ian McDiarmid => Brother Jacopus
John Hallam => Tyrian
Ken Shorter => Henchman
Norman Rodway => Greil (voice)
Peter Eyre => Casiodorus Rex
Peter MacNicol => Galen
Ralph Richardson => Ulrich
Sydney Bromley => Hodge

Random Trivia For This Title:

  • According to sculptor Bill Basso, who worked on the 2002 post-apocalyptic fantasy movie Reign of Fire, the dragons featured in the film were designed as updated versions of Vermithrax, being rendered more robust and dinosaur-like.
  • Vermithrax is Guillermo del Toro's favorite movie dragon alongside Dragon Maleficent.
  • This is the only movie released under the Disney name with frontal male nudity. When Peter MacNicol jumps into the water, his legs swing wide, providing a quick shot of his genitals.
  • Ken Ralston designed the dragonets with the assistance of graphic novel illustrator David Bunnett. In designing them, Bunnett attempted to find a look that did not inspire sympathy, in order for their deaths to be more acceptable to audiences. Realizing that most young animals look appealing due to their large eyes, Bunnett designed the dragonets to have relatively small eyes, with Ralston refining the design to incorporate bulldog and bat-like features to their faces, as well as hinting at their adult forms by adding a small horn on their noses and giving them long forelimbs that would grow into wings. Ken Ralston, Chris Walas and David Carson built three articulated puppets and a featureless miniature model (for the scene where Vermithrax discovers her dead progeny). The dragonets were operated as hand puppets through holes in the floor on set.
  • This movie was a co-production between Walt Disney Pictures and Paramount Pictures.
  • This movie was mostly shot on-location in Wales. The final scene was shot in Skye, Scotland.
  • Theatrical movie debut of Peter MacNicol (Galen). He is said, however, to be embarrassed by this movie, and does not list it on his CV.
  • Although conceived as a creature of magical origin, screenwriter Hal Barwood envisioned Vermithrax with various rules of evolution kept in mind; for instance, making her a four limbed animal, in concordance with vertebrate biology. Barwood himself was inspired by the body plan of the Jurassic pterosaur Rhamphorhynchus. As well as following Barwood's directions, Bunnet also designed the dragon to have a degree of personality, deliberately trying to avoid creating something like the titular creature from Alien (1979), which he believed was "too hideous to look at". Specifically, he incorporated a bony ridge over the eyes, which swept over the temples and merged into the horns, giving the creature a notable frown. He also modeled the articulation of its jaw on that of rattlesnakes, as a single pivot jaw made it look too duck-like. In keeping with the necessity of the dragon being aerodynamic, its feet were modeled on those of birds, specifically chickens.
  • Vermithrax Pejorative roughly translates as "The Worm of Thrace Which Makes Things Worse".
  • Some of the score by Alex North was music he'd originally composed for 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) that went unused.
  • Including the hydraulic forty-foot model, sixteen dragon puppets were used for the role of Vermithrax. Each was capable of flying, crawling, and breathing fire.
  • The story has many familiar dragon motifs found throughout Western culture, in particular, "St. George and the Dragon", in which maiden sacrifices were made to appease a harassing dragon. St. George's tale also includes a sacrificial lottery resulting in the surprise condemnation of a Princess. St. George is also frequently depicted with a magic (blessed) lance or a sword.
  • George R.R. Martin, author of the ["A Song Of Ice And Fire"] novels, upon which [Game of Thrones (2011)] is based, has said that Vermithrax Pejorative is "the best dragon ever shown on film." One of the deceased dragons mentioned in the 1st season of the series, by Viserys Targaryen, was named "Vermithrax".
  • To create the dragon fire, the special effects team used a pair of military-style flamethrowers.
  • This was the first movie to use go-motion, a variant of stop-motion animation, in which parts of the model (in this case, the dragon) were mechanized and the movement programmed by computer. During shooting, the computer moves the model while the camera is shooting, resulting in motion blur, which makes the animation more convincing.
  • Twenty-five percent of the film's budget went into the special effects to bring Vermithrax to life.
  • Neil Marshall praised Vermithrax as "easily one of the best dragons in films ever. The greatest screen dragon of all time," citing the creature's realism and sympathy.
  • Albert Salmi's voice was dubbed by Norman Rodway.
  • Eric Roberts was considered to play Galen.