A demon who seeks to create eternal night by destroying the last of the unicorns and marrying a fairy princess is opposed by the forest boy Jack and his elven allies in this magical fantasy. Two different versions of this picture feature soundtracks by either Tangerine Dream or Jerry Goldsmith.
A magical adventure which features elves, demons and other mythical creatures. Darkness, the personification of evil, plans to disperse eternal night in the land where this story takes place, by killing every unicorn in the world. Although he looks unbeatable, Jack and his friends are disposed to do everything to save the world and princess Lili (who Darkness intends to make his wife) from the hands of this evil monster.
A young man must stop the Lord of Darkness from both destroying daylight and marrying the woman he loves.
- The Lord of Darkness (Tim Curry) alone in his chamber, calls his minion the goblin Blixx (Alice Playten). He confides to Blixx that he wishes to kill the last two unicorns so that darkness will fall upon the world, allowing him to emerge from his cave where he is shielded from the sunlight that is his enemy.
He cannot approach the unicorns, he tells Blixx, because only the pure can find them. Only someone innocent and pure, such as the Princess Lily (Mia Sara), can attract the unicorns. He sends Blixx and his two companions, Pox (Peter O'Farrell) and Blunder (Kiran Shah)to set a trap with orders to bring the unicorn's horn back to him.
The scene shifts to Princess Lilly all innocence and mischief, heading to the enchanted forest. Along the way the playful young teen visits her friend Nell (Tina Martin) a kindly peasant who lives at the edge the woods. She warns Lilly that visiting the woods is not a princess-like activity, but Lily goes anyway, leaving as quickly as she arrived amid Nell's warnings of things to forest things avoid. Lily's real plan is to visit her beloved Jack(Tom Cruise), a forest child and trusted friend to all the creatures that live there.
Unknown to the two lovers, Blixx and his companions have found them and although the goblins are repelled by the teens' beauty and goodness, they follow Jack and Lily knowning that the youngsters will sooner or later attract the targeted unicorns.
Unaware of the danger, Jack and Lily play in the forest glades together like children. Then Jack tells her that he has a special surprise, taking her to see the last two unicorns - a mare and a stallion. These are sacred animals, guradians of purity, innocence and all that is good. Mortals like Jack and Lily are not permitted to see--let along touch them, but Lily, delighted by their beauty and against Jack's warning--approaches them and gently pats one on the nose. Although the unicorns appear to be as pleased by Lily as she is by them, she has unwittingly made them vulnerable.
Blix, hiding from sight, seizes the opportunity presented by Lilly's charm of the unicorns, to fire a poisoned dart into the flank trusting stallion. Stung and in pain, the stallion gallops away followed by the mare. Blix's party gives chase while unknowing, Lilly, delighted by the experience, but puzzled by the unicorns sudden departure, returns to Jack. But Jack is very angry at her for desecrating the unicorn with her human touch.
Lily, though not at all contrite, apologises teasing Jack by telling him that she will marry the man that finds her ring. She tosses the ring and it falls into a pond. Jack leaps to his feet and dives into the water to retrieve it.
Meanwhile Blix and his party overtake the dying stallion and cut off the magical horn. Without the power of the stallion the world plunges into sudden, severe winter. The onset of a blizzard and the howling winds drive Lily to seek shelter. Meanwhile, below the surface of the pond Jack seeks unsuccessfully for Lily's ring. Out of breath, he swims to the surface but his way blocked by thick ice. Using the last of his strength to smash though, he crawls, gasping, to the shore, perplexed by the sudden snow and cold.
Lilly, meanwhile, seeks refuge at Nell's house, but finds everyone and everything inside frozen solid. Hearing approaching riders, she hides in the loft when Blix and his triumphant party arrive seeking food and loot. Listening from her hiding place she overhears them bragging about what they have done and realizes it was her sin that provided them the opportunity. As they leave to deliver to horn to Lord Darkness she vows to follow them and make everything right again.
At the same time Jack encounters a group of fairy folk led by the pan-like Honeythorn Gump (David Bennent). and his companions, two dwarves, Screwball (Billy Barty) and Brown Tom (Cork Hubbert) and Oona (Annabelle Lanyon) - a Tinkerbell-like pixie who only appears as a firefly sized point of light. The fey are also confused by the sudden change of climate. Upon careful questioning by Gump, Jack admits that he took Lilly to see the unicorns. Gump is outraged but forgives Jack when he realizes that Jack's motives had only been driven by love. Jack and rest of the group discover the mutilated body of the stallion and the still living mare. Gump tells Jack that a hero is needed right things. Jack protests that he is not a hero, but Gump leads him to a cave leaving Brown Tom to guard the mare. While the others wait outside Oona guides Jack into the cave to find armor and weapons that he will need. There, Oona reveals to Jack that she is able to assume the form of a beautiful wood fairy and tells him to keep her secret.
Around the camp-fire that night Blix torments his companions with the magic of the horn when the cloaked form of Lord Darkness appears. Blix, trying to avoid Darkness's wrath, drops the horn and it is picked up by Blunder who tell Darkness he will use the horn's power to take over Darkness's throne. Unfortunately, he has greatly overestimated what the horn can do. Darkness seizes the horn and forces Blunder back to the underground lair. Still angry, Darkness orders Blix to capture the Princess and the mare.
Lilly, who has been following the goblins, witnesses this exchange and races back to find the mare. She runs into Brown Tom and warns him of Blix's approach. She is too late and although Tom puts up a good fight, he is knocked cold and the Princess and the mare are captured and taken to Darkness's underground palace.
When Jack, Gump, Screwball and Oona return they revive Tom and he tells them what has happened. The group sets out for the palace, but must first cross a swamp. There, Jack runs into the troll-like Meg Mucklebones (Robert Picardo). She threatens to eat Jack, but he distracts her with her own image in his mirror-like shield until he can use his sword to cut off her head. This is the first real challenge Jack has faced and he is quite overwhelmed when he realizes he has bested a powerful enemy. Still, enemies more powerful still lie ahead.
Arriving at the castle the group stumble through a trap door, down a slide, and into cages of the palace's kitchen. There we learn that Darkness and the goblins are not above cannibalism. Various creatures in other cages await their turn to be made into meals by the kitchen staff, a pair of trolls. In the next cage they find Blunder, who beneath his armor is actually a creature closely related to the dwarves. Just as they are becoming acquainted one of the giant trolls appears and seizes Blunder as the main ingredient of a meat pie.
Jack asks Oona to retrieve the keys to their cell but Gump points out that she is too small to carry them. Jack then reveals Oona's ability to assume human size. Oona is outraged at Jack's betrayal of her secret, but he tells her that if he keeps her secret they will all die. Gump, angered at Oona, demands to know why she has kept this information from him, but she challenges him that her secrets are her own to keep. She then turns to Jack seductively and even after using her glamour to assume Lily's form, finds that Jack will not sway from his own true love. Although she is angered by his rejection, she knows that he is the only hope against Darkness, so she retrieves the keys and sets her companions free.
They escape the kitchen and split up to search for Lilly and the mare.
Meanwhile, Darkness is complaining to an unseen father that he is distracted by Lily and doesn't understand why. The father's voice, emanating from the fireplace, states that Lily attracts him because she is so pure. He suggests that Darkness seduce Lily and corrupt her.
Lily has been brought to the palace's throne room where Darkness' servants have laid out things things to tempt her: There is food, beautiful jewelry and a faceless dancing form wearing a revealing black dress. At first Lily is frightened but soon the seductive spell begins to affect her, luring her to dance with the black shrouded figure. A sudden flash finds Lily dancing alone, garbed in the sparkling black dress; a fit queen for the Lord of Darkness.
Believing his techniques have worked on her, Lord Darkness enters the chamber through a mirror. He is a seven foot tall, hairless, muscular being with crimson skin, yellow slit-pupil eyes, hooved feet and crowned with three foot long ebony bull's horns. Terrified Lily squirms away from him. Darkness, however, keeps his distance and tells Lily he only seeks her conversation. Slowly, Lily's confidence returns as she realizes Darkness' attraction to her. Soon, Darkness, not Lily is the one who's being played. When he tells Lilly the dress and jewels are her wedding presents she stands up to him and tells him it will never happen. Even his frustrated rage no longer frightens her.
Outside the room Jack and Gump overhear Darkness tell Lilly his plans to sacrifice the mare at sunset to bring eternal darkness to the world. Overconfident, Darkness reveals the one thing that can hurt him: sunlight. This inspires Jack with an idea. They rejoin Screwball and Brown Tom who have located the mare in the dungeon. Jack leads the group to steal the shiny silver platters from the kitchen to use to reflect sunlight down the chimney, though the palace and into the underground lair.
The group returns to the kitchen and there release a grateful Blunder from the pie in which he was the main ingredient. Blunder eagerly switches sides to join the intrepid heroes. Unfortunately moving the heavy giant platters awakens the kitchen trolls and a battle ensues, ultimately won by Jack using his new heroic skills and a lot of luck. Screwball, being the smallest, volunteers to climb up the chimney carrying one of the platters so that it might catch the sunlight to reflect down into the lair. The rest of the group place more platters at strategic points throughout the underground palace.
Lily, meanwhile, has convinced Darkness that she will marry him willingly on one condition. She wants to be the one to kill the mare! Ecstatically he agrees.
Screwball and the final plate make it to the surface but unfortunately the elderly Screwball is so exhausted by the climb he has fallen asleep at the the chimney opening. Jack and Gump find the site of the intended sacrifice and slip inside while Oona flies frantically to find Screwball to see what is taking so long.
Hiding on a ledge above, Gump and Jack observe the beginning of the ceremony. Darkness, holding the stallion's horn proclaims his intent to use it to kill the female. Proudly, he passes the horn to Lilly, who stands beside him, for all intents appearing the perfect wife for the master of evil. Gump, convinced she has joined Darkness, tells Jack to shoot her with an arrow. But Jack, trusting in his love for Lilly, hesitates. Fulfilling his trust, Lilly severs the mare's chain, shouting at the unicorn to flee. Enraged, Darkness strikes Lilly into unconsiousness. Jack leaps to her defense but he is no match for Darkness's strength, magical power and psychologically aimed taunts.
Meanwhile, Oona finds and awakens Screwball. Together they angle the final platter to reflect sunlight down the chimney shaft. The light darts through the palace corridors and blows the doors off the dungeon and striking Darkness and opening an abyss behind him which threatens to suck him in. The evil lord, caught and weakened by the sunlight, clings to one of the pillars until Jack to cuts off his hand. Unable to hold on any longer Darkness drops unicorn horn and is swept into the starlit abyss. His last words to Jack are that he cannot be destroyed because there can never be light unless there is also Darkness.
Gump brings the stallion's horn back whith then and replaces it on the stallion's head. The stallion awakes fully restored and is joined by the mare. With that, the world is released from its relentless winter. All is back to normal except that Lily does not waken. Gump tells Jack that she is under a deep spell. Jack once more leaps into the pond and this time emerges holding Lily's ring. He slips it onto her finger and kisses her. His love awakens her, but she is changed by her experience. While still good and pure as before, she now respects the powers of the wood.
They leave the wood together while their fairy friends wave farewell. The final shot is of Darkness, still alive in an unknown place, laughing as he plans his revenge.