In a era of the 70s/80s, when the Disney company was in limbo (not having any great successes in film or theme park industry), there film department heavily invested in making live-action films. Besides The Black Hole, The Watcher in the Woods, Tron, Popeye or Condorman. Disney took another heavy risk with Dragonslayer (co-production with Paramount). Besides it's pace, it's actually one of the best fantasy-dragon films of Hollywood, and it really captures the Dark Ages very well with a solid acting.
Sadly, the critics and audience at that time didn't like it besides me, and some few then. When it originally came out back in the summer of 1981, it was a box office flop. Since Disney was behind it as well, the company got a lot heat. Especially from parents but true. It's not every Disney film that you see dragon pups eating (graphically showing) a dead girl with blood pouring out for lunch. Maybe that's why I like it, and I also believe Walt himself would had approved. It's considered one of the most mature of Disney films since the true era of Disney classic's like, say Old Yeller.
Like any good underrated films, it grew a cult following and remains a top favorite among the genre of adventure/fantasy films, I know it is for me. The special effects still look amazing, even in today's CGI era, and proves that old Hollywood magic looks more convincing then CGI (when made well).
I totally agree with Guillermo del Toro, which he stated that along with Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty, Vermithrax is his favorite cinematic dragon. “One of the best and one of the strongest landmarks (of dragon movies) that almost nobody can overcome is Dragonslayer."
It's funny and sad, Disney seems so embarrassed by this film, the Disney logo and name is hardly seen on remade posters, home-video graphics and fine prints. Disney is so desperate to attract a male crowd, maybe they should give Dragonslayer a reboot as a killer E-ticket attraction, and as a inside industry joke, burn Harry Potter (like how Universal has a Mickey Mouse hat in the JP ride).