Dragons have been a staple of special effects ever since George Melies used a smoke breathing puppet to wow audiences. Most people can name the most popular dragon films like How to Train your Dragon, Dragonheart, Shrek, Pete’s Dragon, Neverending Story, and the Hobbit films. But what about the more forgotten dragons in film? Sure, not all of them were state-of-the-art CGI, but many of these forgotten mythological creatures deserved a place in your cinematic memory. Here’s a list of the top 5 forgotten film dragons and why you should remember them:
5) Spot from the Munsters
I have always been partial to the Addams Family myself (the Munsters were a little stuck-up for my taste), but I was jealous of Spot, their pet dragon that lived under the stairs. Eddie had the awesome choir of taking Spot for walkies and I always wondered how he actually got the dragon out of the house. I was excited to see that Spot was going to be included in the Mockingbird Lane reboot Bryan Fuller wanted to make, only to have my excitement dashed to pieces when the reboot was turned into a single episode Halloween special. At least Fuller got to do some dragon related writing on Hannibal.
4) Magellan from Eureeka’s Castle
Not a lot of people remember this puppet-filled Nickelodeon show written by R.L. Stine (yes, of Goosebumps fame). Usually if you mention it, children of the late 80s/early 90s will get that squinty “oh yea” expression. It was about a wizard-in-training named Eureeka who lived in a giant’s castle music box with her other friends who mostly consisted of unusual creatures and talking animals. Most popular among them was Magellan, a child-like dragon whose tail was out of his control. He often spoke to his tail like it was separate person, which looking back on it is a little strange. Actually, it’s a lot strange. But he was lovable, so we’ll let it go.
3) Yowler from Dragonworld
A recently orphaned little boy moves to Scotland where he befriends a baby dragon, only to grow up and have to keep greedy amusement park owners from taking control of his beloved pet. If this sounds like a cheesy mid-90s direct to video tale to you, then dingdingding! You won! Yes, this was a poorly produced fantasy film by the same company that made the Prehysteria film series (raise your hand if you just had dinosaur puppet PTSD). Still, Yowler was an adorable puppet/stop motion creature. He had a goofy face with big expressive eyes and a lot of overall personality. It was the sort of movie that made an 8 year old think that owning a pet dragon was a possibility. Plus, it starred the hot guy from Monarch of the Glen.
2) Taro from 7th Voyage of Sinbad (SPOILER ALERT)
Always show respect for the Ray Harryhausen creatures! The stop-motion genius created this obstacle chained to a wall in the final battle of the first of the Sinbad adventure films. The dragon is not made to be cuddly or pathetic, yet you feel a little sorry for him. He lives his life trapped as a guardian of a cave. Taro is freed by Sinbad in order to rescue himself and the princess from a cyclops. Taro does indeed fight the cyclops, giving the heroes a chance to run away. However, in order to fully escape from the Island, Sinbad and his men then have to kill Taro with a giant crossbow. The dragon accidentally lands on top of the story’s villain, killing the sorcerer, thus saving Sinbad a second time. As the crew rows away, they see the giant reptile cry out as he dies upon the beach. Not really fair for poor Taro. May he rest in peace. For shame, Sinbad.
1) Gorbash, Smrgol, and Bryagh from The Flight of Dragons
This 1980s Rankin and Bass animated film is never as easily remembered as the Last Unicorn or the cartoon version of the Hobbit, but it was still a decent film. Written a part study of dragon anatomy and part typical fantasy story (the main character slips from his modern world to a world where magic is an everyday occurrence) by borrowing from two different books, The Flight of Dragons was a good mix of action and pseudoscience. Peter, the main character voiced by John Ritter, is accidently merged with a dragon and discovers first hand why dragons can fly and breathe fire. The explanations seemed completely logical to me as a child and Peter as a dragon was very lovable. The final battle against James Earl Jones is pretty epic too.