35 years ago, Jim Henson released Labyrinth in theaters and the film would go on to become a cult classic. David Bowie and a then-teenage Jennifer Connelly stole imaginations as Jareth the Goblin King and Sarah. Sarah’s quest took her all over the goblin kingdom where she stumbled into wily characters such as the Fireys and tricky obstacles like the Bog of Eternal Stench.
Behind the scenes of this iconic movie, there was a massive effort to make the bog look and feel real. Fans may find it interesting to learn that the place really did reek. And someone fell into its foul pit.
Jim Henson’s son said ‘Bog of Eternal Stench’ smelled bad on ‘Labyrinth’ set
Jim Henson and Brian Froud were known for their elaborate puppet/muppet displays in movies. Their intricate film sets were also part of the spectacle. Labyrinth is a prime example of how they masterfully brought fantasy worlds to life, and that includes the infamous Bog of Eternal Stench.
Connelly sold it when Sarah nearly fell in the slimy swamp and held her nose to block out the funk. Slime, bubbles, and an orchestra of farts awaited those who came close to it.
According to Jim Henson’s son Brian Henson, the bog had an odor. During a USC panel event in 2015, he mentioned how the Bog of Eternal Stench had “something” growing in it.
“It was so slippery because it was all goopy and it bubbled, and something grew in there, so it really did stink,” said Henson. “And in those days the film speed was like 50 ASA, so it was hot as hell with lights.” Heat plus mysterious growth equals icky smell.
A crew member sunk into the Bog of Eternal Stench
Hoggle and Ludo worked hard to avoid falling into the bog, but one of the Labyrinth crew members met his match in the swamp. Henson explained that the bog disguised a tank that housed the pistons to make it look realistic.
Chains holding the tank down cleverly blended in with the swampy set, but one camera guy did not know that. And he happened to be lugging a $300,000 camera across the set.
“He just walked right off the edge with this camera, and it was so slippery, and the chain was covered with the goop,” said Henson. “He just grabbed a hold of it, and he just lifted the camera with one hand, and he slid down the chain.” The man had one hand on the chain and one on the camera, and sunk all the way under the watery sludge.
“One of the other ACs grabbed the camera right before it went. But the poor guy was fully under the Bog of Eternal Stench,” Henson recalled, laughing.
‘Labyrinth’ made Bog of Eternal Stench a punishment
As fans may remember, Jareth used the bog to reprimand anyone who got out of line, and regularly threatened to send Hoggle there. When Sarah found herself stranded above it, Ludo came to her rescue by summoning his rock friends. It’s one of the most memorable features in the movie. In honor of the film’s 35th anniversary, stream it on HBO Max or Amazon Prime.