‘FernGully: The Last Rainforest’: Tim Curry’s Villain Was Too Intense for Kids
Disney may have been the studio that defined animation in the 1990s. But the House of Mouse was far from the only one making animated movies. 1992’s FernGully: The Last Rainforest even moved its release date to avoid competing with Disney’s own Beauty and the Beast. Considering the movie’s environmental message, FernGully: The Last Rainforest offers a very different experience for young fans. And its sinister villain was once even more terrifying.
‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ star Tim Curry voices Hexxus
FernGully: The Last Rainforest hit theaters in April 1992, just weeks before Earth Day. And the movie does indeed make a strong statement about protecting the planet, its rainforests, and its wildlife. But the movie does so using fantastical elements, such as the presence of fairies in the titular environment.
These days, FernGully is often known as a point of reference for other movies — like 2009’s Avatar, for instance — that use fantasy or sci-fi elements to speak to ecological concerns. Naturally, the villain then in the film represents the opposite side. The Rocky Horror Picture Show star Tim Curry voices a dark creature known as Hexxus. Designed to call to mind pollutants such as smog, oil, and toxic muck, Hexxus leaves a startling impression.
The actor’s performance was originally too much for younger viewers
Curry — who has a long history of voice acting roles — commits to his insidious character to such a degree that it had to be toned down. Reportedly, the actor’s original recordings were too much for younger viewers. And Curry was called in to re-record some of his dialogue. But perhaps the most devastating demonstration of how hard Curry went as Hexxus is the villain’s eerie anthem “Toxic Love.”
Although an abbreviated version of the tune appears in FernGully: The Last Rainforest, the original version is much more intense. The lyrics include blatant sexual references and innuendos, leaning into just how much Hexxus loves causing destruction. Clearly, Curry tapped into some of the anarchic energy he brought to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. His performance might be a hoot for older fans, but it’s wild that he got away with it during production.
None of the original cast returned for 1998’s ‘FernGully 2’
FernGully: The Last Rainforest was by no means a blockbuster. Based on a reported production budget of $24 million, the movie earned just $33 million worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo. But it became popular on home video, leading to a 1998 direct-to-video sequel titled FernGully 2: The Magical Rescue.
None of the original actors returned for the sequel, which has faded into obscurity. But the original FernGully maintains a cult following even 30 years after its big-screen debut. Its themes are, painfully, as relevant as ever. And the voice performances — particularly by Curry and the late Robin Williams — have largely stood the test of time.