Chernabog is a massive, all-powerful demon who appears as a villain in the Night on Bald Mountain/Ave Maria segment of Fantasia. The huge, nocturnal demon is based on the god of the night in Slavic mythology. At Walpurgis Night (the Witches' Sabbath), Chernabog emerges from the peak of Bald Mountain (in reality Mount Triglav in Slovenia) to summon all of his minions, who dance furiously as he throws them into the mountain’s fiery pit. Chernabog has been praised as Disney’s best representation of pure evil, and as animator Vladimir Tytla's greatest triumph. He is considered one of Disney's most powerful and terrifying villains; as the god of evil, he does not work towards a specific goal but exists purely to be evil.
Being the representation of pure evil, Chernabog does not possess a dominate personality like other Disney Villains. However, most material outside of Fantasia depicts Chernabog as a ruthless monster, feared by all who encounter him. He is one of the most powerful villains Walt Disney has ever created for that reason. Many of Chernabog's appearances also show him to be somewhat comedic, as seen in The Wonderful World of Disney, and House of Mouse. His power is shown to be incredibly demonic, being able to unleash hellish realms and spirits. While immensely dark, Chernabog has managed to become a trademark Disney villain, appearing in numerous material centering the villainous franchise.
The sequence takes place in a mountainous area, in which a village is overlooked by Bald Mountain. The peak of Bald Mountain is revealed to be Chernabog's wings, which he spreads out as he looks at the village down below. Stretching out his arms, Chernabog casts a dark shadow over the village and summons ghosts, including the spirits of hanged criminals (who pass through the noose a second time as they rise from their graves), fallen warriors in the moat and grounds of a ruined castle, and the souls of all who are not buried in sacred ground.
The ghosts join together to become a single mass, swirling around Chernabog, who summons fire and demons. As the demons emerge and gather below their master, he grabs a number of them and disdainfully throws them into the fires of Bald Mountain, while his other minions dance on. He then uses flames to create images: first, the flames resemble elegant dancers; then, to his pleasure, they transform into dancing barnyard animals. Chernabog then transforms them into blue demons, who dance before him, causing him to grin maliciously. As the dancing continues, it becomes more frantic and chaotic. Harpies fly above the demons, occasionally grabbing them and throwing them into the inferno. The celebration culminates in a blinding flash of fire from the inferno. Chernabog, ready to continue, eagerly leers over his minions, but is interrupted by the sound of bells, which herald the coming of the dawn. Though he initially ignores the sound, the light of the sun forces him and his minions to retreat, and the ghosts return to their resting places. Chernabog raises his arms one final time, and closes his wings, protecting himself from the sunlight and becoming the peak of the mountain once more.
Chernabog also makes a cameo in the sequel film Fantasia 2000 in flashbacks.
In the House of Mouse series, Chernabog's role is largely for comical purposes. Voiced by Corey Burton, he is sometimes seen in the audience, often with a regular-sized table, which causes him to sit in a difficult position. At one point he admits to gossip queen Clarabelle Cow that he is afraid of the dark. In the later episode "Where's Minnie" however, when the lights go out, he comments "I kinda like the dark", which is not entirely a contridiction, he may just like things dim, not completely pitch black. In Mickey and Minnie's Big Vacation, Daisy says he and Zeus played darts with lightning bolts. Chernabog also loves corny jokes, especially where Mickey jokes about Chernabog partying at his place at Halloween ("it's easy to get to his place, just take a "right" on Bald Mountain") in which he replies with "It's funny, because it's true!".
He is also one of the many villains to appear in Mickey's House of Villains. After Maleficent sings her bit of the song, she transforms into a dragon. Chernabog puts a hand on her shoulder, saying he loves her work. He sings with Big Bad Wolf as Minnie and Mickey are sent flying out the doors. From then on, he would be seen with Maleficent, but as a contridiction, she would also appear in her normal form in the audiance, leaving some confused. Once Jafar was in command, Chernabog took the role as a bouncer, throwing Mickey, Donald, and Goofy out when they attempted to "dethrone" Jafar.
In the intro to Vault Disney, Chernabog can be seen spreading his wings on Bald Mountain.
Chernabog is the main antagonist of the book series. He plays the role of the ruthless leader of the Overtakers or Disney Villains. It was originally thought that Maleficent was the leader until Chernabog was revealed to be so. Initially he was confined to the Yeti at Expedition Everest by the Imagineers until Maleficent released him at the end of Disney at Dawn. At the end of the third book, he takes over the Dragon Maleficent animatronic at Fantasmic! to fight the Keepers while Maleficent battles Finn personally. They are later captured and taken to a secret location at the Kilimanjaro Safaris. At the end of the fourth book, the Overtakers manage to break them out of their prison and effectively escape. In the fifth book it is revealed that Chernabog's been somehow inactive and his true powers are soon to be exposed.
After voodoo queen Tia Dalma tricks Finn into killing his best friend Dillard, Chernabog licks the boy's blood of the knife, gaining his powers back. However, Finn manages to trap him in a room filling with water, leaving Chernabog to drown. If this proves true, he and Maleficent have been permenantly been removed from the Overtaker equasion.
Chernabog was considered for inclusion in early drafts of the film for a big cameo part in the film's climax. However, the director decided it would be better to save him for a sequel should they ever get the chance, as a villain of Chernabog's magnitude deserves a stronger part. Though his part was cut, there is a gargoyle that appears several times in the film resembling Chernabog, often in shots with Horvath, the film's villain.
Chernabog appears as a boss at the End of the World in the first Kingdom Hearts game. The Japanese version of the game uses "Squirming Evil", the track used for most Disney Villain battles. However, in the American version of Kingdom Hearts, as well as in Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, the background music for the battle with Chernabog is an arrangement of "Night on Bald Mountain", renamed "A Night on the Bare Mountain."
On their way to confront Ansem, while fighting his legions of Heartless, Sora, Donald, and Goofy encounter the demon Chernabog. He wakes up and promptly attacks the trio, but is defeated after a grueling battle.
He also appears in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, this time named Chernobog, as the boss Riku has to fight at the end of the Symphony of Sorcery world. This battle is similar to a Dive phase, with Chernobog sending pillars of fire and spectres at the character.
Chernabog appears in the two Night on Bald Mountain-themed transition levels.
Chernabog makes numerous appearances through the parks in different parades and shows, often as a major float element of a villain float.
Chernabog briefly appears at the final battle of Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. In this attraction, Hades plots to rule the Magic Kingdom park by assembling various Disney Villains. However, Merlin, several Disney heroes, and the park guest fight against the villains and win. Hades results to who he calls "his #1 guy" to fight the park guest. Even still, Chernabog is defeated and sucked into the crystal of the Magic Kingdom along with the other villains.
Chernabog is one of the villains summoned by the Queen to do away with Mickey Mouse and destroy his imagination. Clips from Night on Bald Mountainareshownonwater screens, indicating that Chernabog is summoning a host of ghouls against Mickey.
Chernabog appears in his Bald Mountain float rising out like he did in the original film with red lights.
In the Disneyland Paris version of the attraction, Chernabog appears in a scene based on the village from Night on Bald Mountain, though he is perched atop a ruined castle tower instead of the mountain-top.
Behind the Scenes
Chernabog was animated by Vladimir Tytla.
Inspiration and Design
The idea for Night on Bald Mountain/Ave Maria's Devil was conceived by German artist Heinrich Kley (who, though he did not officially work at the Disney studio, inspired many of the Disney artists, and whose drawings were collected by Walt Disney), who once sketched a pen and ink drawing of a gigantic demon forcing workers out of a factory by blocking the chimney. Albert Hurter, inspired by this drawing and others like it by Kley, drew various sketches of a huge, winged devil tossing handfuls of souls into a volcano. Hurter's sketches also included studies of Chernabog's hands as his flailing minions attempt to clamber onto his fingers for safety; this imagery is used in a scene in the final film. After Hurter's initial sketches, Kay Nielsen established the final appearance of Chernabog and his world in a series of detailed pastel illustrations, as well as a model sheet for the character. Chernabog was then created as a real model, to be used as reference by Tytla during animation.
- "No one but Tytla could have given Chernabog the odious, predominantly animal mentality which made him so fearsome." - Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston
Tytla was Ukrainian, and thus had a clear image in his mind of the character of his culture's folklore. Thornton Hee recalled wanting to ask Tytla about something, but finding that the animator's room was in complete darkness save for the fluorescent light under Tytla's drawing, which lit his face in an eerie way as he worked. This unnerved T. Hee enough to compel him to leave without alerting Tytla to his presence at all.
- In the intro to the 50 Years of Disney TV special, despite terrifying Mickey Mouse half to death, Chernabog is shown to be fearful of and obedient to former CEO Michael Eisner.
- Chernabog makes cameo appearances in the DC Comics story Kingdom Come in a villain bar and in a climactic battle.
- Chernabog was referred to as "Yen Sid" in the pencil tests for Fantasia. But "Yen Sid" was used as the name of Mickey Mouse's magic teacher for The Sorcerer's Apprentice scene in the film, and the animation of both characters were supervised by Vladimir Tytla.
- In spite of appearing in one segment of the film, Chernabog is often represented as the main antagonist of Fantasia all together, and he is the only villain from the film to be marketed as such.