The original 1982 Dark Crystal made a name for itself as the film that would terrify your children, with the cruel and vicious Skeksis lingering long in the minds of viewers.
Now, a new Netflix prequel of the series called The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance is arriving – but how scary is the series compared to the original film? It is too much for younger kids? And what kind of sights could younger viewers be subjected to if they do watch the series?
“I remember, when I was young, being really scared of the movie – and I think there’ll be a whole new generation scared by this show,” Age of Resistance voice actor Shazad Latif laughed when we put the question to him – and he could be right.
While the series is very much aimed at kids – there’s no extreme violence, bad language, sexual references or the like – some parts of the series could be a little disturbing for younger children, including shots of the puppet characters bleeding (purple blood rather than red, but still), crumbling and rotting away in death and even (in one memorable case) urinating.
Bird-like villains The Skeksis also continue to be physically unsettling and scary (that’s largely the point of them), and subject to disgusting physical processes and ailments that are likely to put you off your dinner.
“They don’t shy away from the gross stuff, which is true for the original film but also in this,” star Nathalie Emmanuel, who plays a gentle Gelfling named Deet in the series, told RadioTimes.com.
“I can’t remember what I was watching, but there’s a bit where a Skesis literally pulls a boil off of his finger or something, and there’s all of this grossness and you’re like… eurgh! That’s… no. I don’t want to see that.”
During the series you can see one puppet character stabbed and dying on a floor, another screaming as it’s drained of its life essence and another tormented by a crowd of Skeksis – but is it really too much for children?
Well, no. Generally speaking, the series deals with some reasonably weighty themes – death, loss, corruption, rebellion, grief, environmental problems – but it’s all presented in an accessible, entertaining way that kids will find easy to understand and deal with.
“I think children are very sophisticated,” executive producer Halle Stanford said. “I think they’re used to darkness in their fairy tales.
“Let it be a conversation starter for families, to take a look at these really challenging moments which I won’t spoil. And turn to their child and say ‘What would you do? How did that make you feel? When do we speak up when people aren’t being treated well?'”
“Even if the show is scary or thrilling, we want to still keep it in the family viewing zone,” said executive producer Lisa Henson.
“We have three different cuts of [one of the most gruesome scenes]…and the mildest version is the one we used.
Yes, it’s a bit scary, and it might frighten some younger kids, but probably not much more than a particularly spooky episode of a show like Doctor Who. And everyone involved in the series seems convinced that being a little scared is an important part of growing up.
“I feel like [in] the ’80s, ’70s, even early ’90s, the kind of childhood movies we got were terrifying. They were dark!” series voice actor Hannah John-Kamen said.
“I was absolutely terrified [of the original film]. It’s dark! But it was part of my childhood.”
“I’m here for bringing shows like that back,” added Emmanuel.
“My strongest memories in going to the movies as a child were those scary moments,” agreed director Louis Leterrier. “Going to see Empire Strikes Back and seeing Han Solo go down in the cryo thing – it was terrifying!
“We wanted to make a show for everyone to enjoy at the same time. So it’s sometimes scary, sometimes it’s sad, sometimes it’s funny. I have a little bit of everything.”
“There are some moments where I wonder, did we push the line?” said Stanford.
“But then I remember as a child I watched faces melt in Raiders of the Lost Ark!”
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance might spark some nightmares, it’s true. But sometimes, isn’t it good to be a little afraid?
The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance streams on Netflix from the 30th August