Captain EO is an incredibly geeky and wonderfully campy space-aged 3D musical. It stars Michael Jackson and Angelica Huston, is directed by Francis Ford Coppola and is produced by George Lucas. It originally ran in the Disney parks from the mid 80’s to the late 90’s and in 2010 it reopened at both Disneyland (Anaheim, Paris & Tokyo) and Disney World to commemorate Michael Jackson’s death.
I remember seeing Captain EO at least twice in my kinder years, and I also remember being scared crapless. Angelica Houston plays a really creepy cyborg alien witch thingy , also known as “The Supreme Leader”. There was one point towards the end of the film where her long menacing 3D fingers grasp at your face that absolutely terrified me. The first time I witnessed this I shut my eyes as tight as possible and I plugged my ears with my pudgy little fingers. Knowing me I probably cried a bit afterwards as well. For my next viewing of the show I was quite prepared. I made sure to plug my ears the entire second half of the film and I was ready to shut my eyes at the drop of a sparkly glove.
Another thing I remember about seeing Captain EO in the late 80’s was that I was a little too young to really understand who Michael Jackson was. For the next few years after seeing EO I was extremely confused as to whether Michael Jackson was a guy or a girl. I finally just asked my mom. I’m still waiting for that answer…..
Flash forward 20ish years and Captain EO has reappeared at the Disney parks. I was able to rekindle my childhood relationship with Michael Jackson and his pseudo Star Wars puppet friends during a fall vacation to Disney World. The first thing I noticed about the movie was that there were a lot of 4D effects (smoke, water, shaking seats) that weren’t all used in the original version. I definitely could have done without them…I thought this film was supposed to fulfill a nostalgic need, not give me a butt massage.
Second, Angelica Huston’s fingers where not as frightening and long as my vivid imagination had made them out to be. Lastly, being older, I was actually able to appreciate the AWESOMELY BAD music. The score was written by James Horner, and two songs were written and performed by Jackson himself.
Here’s one of the more memorable musical moments in Captain EO:
I especially love how there are plenty of loud sound effects to complement Michael Jackson and his dancers’ every move.
All in all, I’m glad that Captain EO made its way back to the parks, and I hope that its success will encourage Disney to bring back more of its retro attractions (Journey Into Imagination starring Figment AND the Dreamfinder perhaps?)
R.I.P Michael Jackson