Bedknobs and Broomsticks and the Disney Demon

I’d venture to guess that many kids growing up in the 80’s and early 90’s, like myself, watched a somewhat strange amalgam of television programming. My early memories are smattered with various Disney and Rankin and Bass productions, a variety of shows with weird puppets, and even a Japanese anime or two.

One movie I remember fondly is the live-action Disney fantasy musical Bedknobs and Broomsticks. The movie takes place during World War II, in the English countryside. Three children have been evacuated from London and sent to stay temporarily with Ms. Eglantine (now there’s a name you don’t see anymore!) Price, played by the delightful Angela Lansbury. Price is learning witchcraft by mail, hoping to use her magic in aiding the British against Germany.

Unfortunately, the correspondence course is terminated before the final lesson, preventing Ms. Price from learning the powerful “Substitutiary Locomotion” spell. She and the children use an enchanted bed to hunt down the school’s headmaster, the huckster and charlatan Professor Emelius Browne, played by David Tomlinson.

(Aside: Tomlinson, who also starred in Mary Poppins, was an excellent actor who I wish had appeared in more big films. A cool fun fact – during WW2, Tomlinson was a flight lieutenant in the RAF)


The movie’s got it all – anthropomorphic beasts, Nazi-fighting animated medieval armor, a musical number about the pinnacle of marketplaces, a not-so-veiled reference to the third demon in the evil trinity of hell.


If you were expecting a post ripping into Disney for something, I apologize for the deception. I’ve got a lot of love for classic Disney. However, I do find this rather odd.

It turns out that the final spell Ms. Price seeks is inscribed on the Star of Astaroth – some kind of curio that once belonged to the so-named sorcerer.

Astaroth, however, in demonology, is the Great Duke of Hell and counterpart of Lucifer and Beelzebub. So whoever wrote the script for this thing decided to name a major plot-device after a major demon. Now I’m not saying that this makes Bedknobs and Broomsticks an evil movie or anything like that; just that yeah, some of these Disney people were a little twisted.


  1. Bedknobs and broomsticks! I saw this when I was a little kid and I thought the final substitutionary locomotion battle was the funniest thing I had ever seen. Like on the floor laughing til my belly hurt. I obsessed over it a bit, but when I saw it again a couple years later I was unmoved. (Rewatching it now, I am a bit closer to my original position. It is a wonderful piece of physical comedy.)

    • I guess we were/are of different minds of this! I always thought it was kinda cool, in a fantastical way. I guess your sense of wonder is dusty and shriveled, HP! How can this be for such a big Tolkien fan?!

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