'FernGully: The Last Rainforest' Is Actually Super Dark

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Vote up the reasons why the '90s favorite is clearly messed up.

Upon first viewing, the 1992 animated film FernGully: The Last Rainforest seems innocent enough - maybe a little too fantastical, a little too neat, a little too sweet. But when you delve below the surface, FernGully is really dark. It's a bit surprising the movie was ever deemed appropriate for kids in the first place. Many moments make the film not only scary but downright nightmare-inducing.

FernGully tells the tale of the fairy Crysta, who lives in an unspoiled rainforest. One day, she encounters young lumberjack Zak, who works with a crew to chop down the trees of Crysta's home. One thing leads to another, and Crysta and Zak join forces to stop the demolition. There's lots of magic and strong messages about environmentalism. But scratch a little deeper, and there are plenty of scary FernGully moments. 

  • 1
    1,052 VOTES

    Hexxus's Song Is Terrifying

    Hexxus's Song Is Terrifying
    Video: YouTube

    Hexxus is the main antagonist in FernGully. He's an evil spirit that morphs from a big blob of black ooze into a towering figure of pure malice. Bent on destroying anything living, Hexxus aims to kill the rainforest and the creatures who call it home.

    Voiced by the great Tim Curry, Hexxus sings a song called "Toxic Love," an outright terrifying ode to evil. Here's just one verse, which, while not included in the final film, certainly reflects Hexxus's priorities and principals:

    I feel good, a special kind of horny,

    Flowers and trees depress and frankly bore me,

    I think I'll spew them all with cyanide saliva,

    Pour me a puke cocktail and take me to the driver.

    1,052 votes
  • 2
    835 VOTES

    It Jokes About Animal Experimentation

    Robin Williams provides the voice of Batty Koda, a wacky bat who helps Crysta and Zak in their quest to save the rainforest. But Batty has a dark backstory: Scientists experimented on him. That's already horrifying territory for a children's cartoon. What's worse, though, is that the whole animal experimentation thing is played for laughs. The subject is never investigated or discussed in any seriousness - it's a constant punchline. The character is funny, but the source of Batty's craziness is pretty sad.

    835 votes
  • 3
    621 VOTES

    Hexxus Wants To Become Godlike

    Bad guys are supposed to be bad, especially in cartoons. But there's something particularly insidious about Hexxus. He exhibits a very dark and twisted kind of horribleness. While FernGully is about a battle to save the rainforest, it's also about a struggle to prevent Hexxus from gaining godlike power.

    This recalls the "A God Am I" TV trope, in which characters like Hexxus are "aiming for godhood by rewriting the rules of the world... in their own image." It's nefarious stuff.

    621 votes
  • 4
    685 VOTES

    Magi Lune Sacrifices Herself

    Magi Lune sacrifices herself so the fairies can live, but self-sacrifice is heavy subject matter for young viewers. And Crysta is, of course, impacted by Magi's sacrifice. Later, she appears to sacrifice herself by allowing Hexxus to gobble her up. All these voluntary deaths paint a nihilistic picture that children may not fully understand.

    685 votes
  • 5
    691 VOTES

    The Trees Feel Pain

    In FernGully, fairies experience the same pain trees feel when they're cut down. That's a particularly harsh thing to show children, who may not be able to separate themselves from deeply hurtful experiences. That's why it's so common for kids to blame themselves when their parents divorce.

    The characters discuss the pain of trees in one exchange:

    Crysta: Can't you feel [the tree's] pain?

    Zak: Its pain?

    Crysta: Yes!

    Batty Koda: Humans can't feel anything. They're numb from the brain down.

    Later, Crysta touches a freshly cut tree stump, and her hand glows red from pain. For a sensitive viewer, these scenes could be damaging and difficult to explain.

    691 votes
  • 6
    558 VOTES

    Humans Are Irredeemable

    Nearly every human character in FernGully is a villain of some sort, with the except for Zak. He only comes to his senses after Crysta shrinks him to a fairy's size. Otherwise, humans are portrayed as selfish, lazy, and altogether repulsive.

    However, the movie shifts the blame for environmental destruction from humans to the evil spirit Hexxus. If, according to the film, they aren't responsible for the annihilation of the Earth, why make them all such malevolent characters? Why not show children that regular people have the power to change things?

    558 votes