At the same time that Atreyu is learning his lessons about luck, he meets an old couple living in the side of a cave in the middle of nowhere. They are literally the only noticeable signs of life living in this area from horizon to horizon. The man claims to be a scientist, and the woman claims to be a doctor. Keep in mind that the only thing our hero knows about these people is that the first 15 seconds of interaction with them shows that they are both clearly insane.
"Even I think you're fucked up, and I'm goddamn crazy!"
The woman steps forward and hands him a "potion." There is a thick fog boiling out of the top of the cup, and live wormlike creatures are trying to escape. He takes a whiff and recoils in disgust. Then drinks it without question. As he's gulping down whatever the hell is in that thing, the woman says, "There's eye of newt in there. Tree mold. Old lizard brains. Scales from a rancid sea serpent." The bacteria alone in that concoction is enough to kill him. But she said she's a doctor, right? Must be OK to trust her and just do whatever she says.
"Also, I shit in there."
So now he's off to see the Southern Oracle, but first has to pass through a gate made of a large set of titty-baring statues who judge your confidence. If your own self-worth isn't up to their standards, they open their eyes and fry your punk ass with lasers. The movie demonstrates this as an armored man rides through while Atreyu and the scientist watch from a distance through a telescope.
Someone could easily make a career writing the psychological breakdown of the director's mother issues from this one picture.
Atreyu decides that he has to try it himself. Everything seems fine, and he's made it halfway through before he looks down to see the charred face of the armored man that the tittymoms just lasered. Just as he's shitting himself, the eyes start to open. He has clearly failed their test. So how does he get out of this one? Does he summon the courage to defeat his inner doubt and regain his sense of self worth, thus calming the statues?
Nope. He runs like a bitch.
As it turns out, the statues rules became more defined that day. "He who shows true self-worth within his own heart -- or runs really fast with his own legs -- shall pass unharmed. Because it's really hard to hit a moving target." It just goes to show that confidence is nice and all, but if you're really athletic, you don't really need all that pansy psychobabble bullshit.
The world is destroyed. Everyone is dead except for the Empress. Bastian has been pulled into the fantasy world. There is darkness.
The Empress opens her hand and a single grain of sand lights up their faces. She explains to him that this is all that's left of her empire and hands it over. She then tells him that he can make wishes with it -- as many as he wants. Each wish he makes will cause Fantasia to be rebuilt. So what does he wish for? Love? World peace? The end of disease and famine?
Nope. Sweet, terrible revenge. He and the Luck Dragon swoop down into the real world and dive headfirst towards the three bullies who attacked him in the beginning of the movie. Bastian and the dragon laugh and cheer as women clutch their children and scream in terror at the sight of the demonic dogmonster.
Look at all that delicious terror.
Look, we realize that this was a book before it was a movie. And we realize that maybe some things just didn't translate all that well from German to English, and from English to Hollywood. And maybe the book explained things a little better and taught lessons that were wholesome and practical.
But fuck you if you think we're reading it. After all, the final, convincing lesson of The NeverEnding Story is that books are twisted portals that will take you to an amoral universe and return you in a state of corrupted insanity.
We want no part of that.
Be sure to pick up our book and dive into the amoral universe of Cracked.
For more from Cheese, check out 7 Impractical Rock Star Fashions We Wish Had Caught On and 12 Things You'll Wish You'd Never Seen Under a Microscope.