Did Bela Lugosi Inspire FANTASIA’s Chernabog?

This question is like asking whether or not Vlad “Tepes” Dracula inspired Bram Stoker to create his vampiric Count Dracula. Yes, he did. The real question, or questions, plural, applying to both of the previous ones, should be, to what EXTENT he inspired it? One only has to watch Chernabog’s movements to see Lugosi’s Dracula. It’s as plain as day, er, night. (Incidentally, I think FANTASIA remains the masterpiece of Disney animation. If you’ve never seen it, you’re really depriving yourself. It is stunning, a true wonder to behold. And yes, of course, my favorite part of the film is the “A Night on Bald Mountain” segment featuring the demon-lord Chernabog.)

Even though Walt Disney himself stated that Lugosi was used as model for the sequence, supposedly the animator didn’t care for Lugosi’s pantomiming, so he got one of his coworkers to perform the movements instead. Okay, sure. That makes sense. NOT. “Hey, Joe. I didn’t like how Lugosi did it. Go stand there and do it exactly like Lugosi did it!” Without a doubt they were aping Bela Lugosi, whether they credited him or not, whether or not they rotoscoped his movements or not. But if they didn’t CLAIM that they used him, they didn’t have to PAY him. Ah, yes. The picture, I think, becomes clearer.

By TheCheezman

WAYNE MILLER is the owner and creative director of EVIL CHEEZ PRODUCTIONS, specializing in theatrical performances and haunted attractions. He has written, produced, and directed (and occasionally acted in) over two dozen plays, most of them in the Horror and True Crime genres. He obtained a doctorate in Occult Studies from Miskatonic University and is an active paranormal investigator. Is frequently told he resembles Anton Lavey. And Ming the Merciless. Denn die totden reiten schnell!

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