For this year’s Halloween Extravaganza, I decided to do another little list.
We all have those traumatic childhood memories when we were watching some cartoon or TV show and suddenly something in that specific episode scarred us for life. Even as adults when we recognize how poorly the animation is, how bad the voice acting is, or just how cheesy the whole thing comes across, that certain thing still scares the shit out of us.
For this Extravaganza, I’ll be talking about the monsters and creatures that used to scare me as a little kid.
And still do to this day.
I’m not talking about monsters that make us go “Oh wow they’re so fucked up that’s great!” I’m talking about monsters that make ME go “…dude what the fuck.”
Abracadaver – Powerpuff Girls
Jesus Christ nearly two decades later and this guy still scares the shit out of me. Okay. *Deep breath*
Abracadaver was a one-shot villain from the first season of the original “Powerpuff Girls.” In life, he was a magician named Al Lusion, well renowned for his incredible displays of magic. At a magic show (which the Mayor of Townsville attended when he was a boy), Al invited a sweet little girl (who uncannily resembled Blossom of the PPG) onto the stage and made her teddy bear disappear. The girl was despondent by the loss of her toy, and in the process she accidentally exposed Al as a fake to the audience. He desperately tried to get control of his tricks, but stumbled backwards into a spike-filled coffin and was killed.
Years later, when the Mayor has ordered to have the old theater torn down, a wrecking ball unintentionally breaks open the spiked coffin. Which apparently was left inside the building for all those years… and then a skeletal hand reaches up, manifesting a bouquet of dead flowers. So, moving aside how no one had the decency to FUCKING BURY HIS CORPSE, Al Lusion returns as the grotesque Abracadaver and unleashes magical hell on Townsville as revenge for the laughter that drove him to his death.
Barring possibly HIM, the show’s honest to God equivalent of Satan, Abracadaver is genuinely one of the most horrifying and grotesque villains ever seen in the cartoon. Absolutely nothing about him is funny. Oh sure, there’s some ridiculousness in the way he uses magic tricks to wreak havoc; sawing buildings in half, stuff like that. But that doesn’t make him any less terrifying.
Abracadaver seethes with inhuman rage, and his only other desire is to murder Blossom in cold blood when he mistakes her for the girl from his last performance. And how does he plan to do it? He uses a watch to hypnotize Blossom, and then ties her up in silk scarves with the intent to trap her inside the same spiked coffin that killed him. Bubbles and Buttercup tackle the magician in an attempt to stop him, only to see HIS ARM HANGING IN MIDAIR, STILL SWINGING THE WATCH BACK AND FORTH AND HYPNOTIZING BLOSSOM.
I remember when I first saw this episode back in elementary school. I was so fucking scared I waited up until 1 in the morning for my dad to come home from his late shift before I went to sleep.
It’s a good thing they never used him again after his first appearance, both for the sake of my younger self’s mental health and because nothing could’ve topped how fucking WRONG this episode was.
The Blob That Ate Everyone – Goosebumps
Of course a Goosebumps character was going to be on here. Just not one you were expecting, right?
The Blob that ate everyone is from, well, “The Blob That Ate Everyone.” Aspiring writer Zack acquires an old typewriter from a burnt down antiques shop. The owner lets Zack have the typewriter for free, but advises him to write a REALLY scary story.
Of course it turns out the typewriter brings Zack’s ideas to life, which means the blob monster comes to life and wreaks havoc on Zack’s hometown… including DEVOURING ZACK’S FRIEND WHOLE.
I know the effects are awful but that sequence scared me fuckless when I saw it. I used to lie awake at night thinking about that scene over and over again.
Katz’s Spiders – Courage the Cowardly Dog
Wing I am so sorry to include these, but for your sake I’m not including a photo.
“Courage the Cowardly Dog” was a disturbing masterpiece about a little pink dog trying to save his beloved owner and her asshole husband from a barrage of bizarre monsters and villains trying to kill them. Of course he’s fucking terrified, but he still saves the day. Why do you think he’s called Courage?
Out of every single monster from this show, the Spirit of the Harvest Moon, the demonic mattress entity, and whatever the fuck that warped trumpet creature was in the last episode, these guys have long since been the most terrifying creatures I’ve ever seen. AND THEY WERE JUST THE SECOND EPISODE.
“A Night at the Katz Motel” was the debut of Katz, an anthropomorphic, sociopathic cat who appeared the most out of the other bad guys to torment Courage and his owners. His motives and operations changed from each episode, but his deadpan sadism remained consistent alongside his creepy letimotif.
Here, Katz is the owner of a cheap motel Eustace and Muriel Bagge spend the night in while on vacation with Courage. Unfortunately for them, Katz uses the motel to feed fresh victims to his collection of large spiders. And HOLY SHIT ARE THEY FUCKED UP.
Aside from the numerous bones and skulls littering their web, these spiders are huge, technicolor nightmares with poisonous, salivating jaws. And unfortunately for a lot of people, they don’t appear to be mindless. When Katz informs his “Loves” that dinner has arrived, we’re treated to an unfortunate close-up of one spider appearing to bounce up and down as if it’s ACKNOWLEDGING Katz in anticipation. This gives the idea that his spiders are capable of understanding him and thus making them more traumatizing because THEY CAN THINK. The episode is incredibly tense, between Courage trying to get free of his leash when one spider charges towards him, to Muriel desperately trying to hold a spider back in the bathtub as it repeatedly lunges towards her face.
The spiders never appeared again after this episode, to which I say THANK FUCK.
Kileem – Aladdin The Series
God how I wish Disney would finally release official DVD sets of the animated shows they had in the 90s like “Pepper Ann” and “Recess.”
Alongside the two direct to video sequels, Disney did an ongoing animated series for “Aladdin,” which included an entirely new cast of rotating villains such as the sorcerer Mozenrath, the evil cat demoness Mirage, the ineffectual Abis Mal and his perpetually done right hand man Haroud, and the devious mermaid Saleen. But the one villain who terrified me more than any of them is Kileem, which was especially impressive because he doesn’t actually do anything directly in the episode.
Kileem was a past sultan of Agrabah. He ruled the city with an iron hand and left behind an enchanted, or rather, cursed, suit of armor. The armor was locked away, stored on a statue carved in Kileem’s likeness. When Agrabah is under siege by a giant minotaur, the current Sultan (Princess Jasmine’s father) fears he has no choice but to don the cursed armor as a last resort. Naturally, the Sultan makes quick work of the minotaur, but steadily becomes corrupted by Kileem’s spirit and starts plotting a war to take over the neighboring kingdoms. It escalates to the point he even tries to have Jasmine executed by beheading for questioning him.
Throughout the episode, the Sultan keeps the statue of Kileem placed in his throne room, and it’s clear from the start there is something horribly wrong with it. Murderous sneer aside, the eyes are constantly glowing and no one seems to notice this. It’s even worse when the armor is removed and we’re given a better look at the statue’s bare face. It eventually turns out Kileem’s soul is housed within the statue, and the only way to free the Sultan of Kileem’s influence is to destroy it.
One of the scariest moments in the entire episode is when Aladdin and the others hear Iago the parrot screaming from the throne room. Once the group reaches the frantic parrot’s bird cage, he points to the statue and screams “It looked at me!” We never actually see the statue do this, but the implications are terrifying enough because you keep expecting it to do SOMEthing on screen.
Alongside the implications of wondering what would’ve happened to Iago had Aladdin not arrived in time.
The Monster Under The Bed – Rugrats
Oh boy, this guy.
“Rugrats” had some supremely fucked up episodes in it’s original run not even counting the weird animation and how ugly some of the characters were. For those who don’t recall, the show was about four babies getting into all sorts of wacky misadventures because their parents are a bunch of criminally negligent morons. This included brave Tommy, who was always up for exploring the unknown. Chuckie the scaredy cat, who hates getting roped into Tommy’s adventures but can act as the voice of reason. And the twins, Phil and Lil, lovers of all things gross and disgusting. Their most frequently reoccurring enemy was Tommy’s 3 year old cousin Angelica, who often went out of her way to antagonize the babies knowing she could understand them but grown ups can’t.
“Rugrats” had plenty of freaky episodes, including:
- The one where Tommy thought his dad was a robot
- The one where Chuckie wishes he was never born and is shown the hell that would exist without him
- The one where Tommy and his friend Susie try to stop the monster supposedly living in Susie’s basement
- The one with Mr. Friend, or as the babies called him, “Mr. Fiend”
None were more terrifying than the episode where Chuckie had his crib replaced with a bed…
Which apparently came with a monster living underneath it.
Chuckie begins hearing a deep, guttural voice coming from beneath his bed, enticing him to come down with promises of candy. Chuckie keeps trying to tell himself there’s no such thing as monsters, until he looks down and sees THAT looking at him. Things only get worse for Chuckie when Angelica tells him the story of “Little Barnaby Jones,” a kid that got eaten whole by the monster under HIS bed. Angelica caps it off by singing about how Chuckie’s gonna die. Yeesh.
Tommy is prepared to spend the night at Chuckie’s to prove there isn’t a monster. It looks like Tommy may be right because only Chuckie can hear the monster’s voice, implying he’s just imagining it…
And then they both look under the bed.
(Oh but don’t worry; turns out Chuckie’s dad left his sweater under the bed while they were putting it together and the way the design looked in the dark resembled a monster)
Yes, thinking about this thing makes me scared of looking under my bed. Why do you ask?
Morgan Moonscar’s Ghost – Scooby Doo on Zombie Island
20 years later and this movie is still terrifying.
In the late 90s, the Scooby Doo franchise was revitalized with a direct to video animated film about Scooby and the gang going up against real monsters. Although, looking back they’d already done at least three movies where Scooby DID meet real monsters. But those were from the Scrappy Doo era and for some reason everyone hates him.
Now adults, Mystery Incorporated is brought back together to help Daphne’s documentary on hauntings in America. The gang is brought to Moonscar Island, owned by the wealthy Simone Lenoir. Simone and her maid, Lena Dupree, explain the island is haunted by the restless ghosts of the evil pirate Morgan Moonscar and his crew. Well, that’s part of the truth…
While filming a segment featuring a mysterious warning carved on the wall of Simone’s kitchen, the gang is shocked when a follow up message manifests out of thin air. As they examine the video footage, Mystery Inc discovers THAT carving the words in the wall.
This was the scariest scene in the film for me due to the mix of Moonscar’s ghastly design coupled with the musical sting as Fred enhances the video.
Nightmare Radish – Faerie Tale Theater
Shelley DuVall is an American treasure and I hope Dr. Phil dies a very brutal death for the way he exploited her.
“Faerie Tale Theater” has an important place in my life as one of the earliest fandoms I was a part of. I loved the show’s rendition of different fairy tales; I believe the alternate takes it had on those stories opposite the Disney and Goodtimes Entertainment adaptions helped me make sense of comic books.
In its version of “Rapunzel,” Rapunzel’s mother has a horrific nightmare where a monstrous radish devours some smaller ones. This prompts her to beg her husband to steal more radishes from the witch’s garden to satisfy her cravings… which then leads to the husband getting caught and the witch demanding their baby as compensation for her stolen veggies.
Side note: The witch set all this up by enchanting Rapunzel’s mother to have a radish craving in the first place.
The entire sequence came out of nowhere, and even though the Radish puppet looks cheesy it’s still terrifying. Not helped at all by the screech it lets out as it rips apart several radishes. The first time I saw this thing I had to shut the video off and didn’t go near the Rapunzel episode for a long, long time.
Umbra – Are You Afraid Of The Dark?
A lot of people argue the later season episodes of “AYAOTD” aren’t as good as the original Midnight Society tales. To which I say GO FUCK YOURSELF. I’m not gonna argue that the original run creatures aren’t terrifying, but the one monster which scared me the most came from one of the newer episodes.
“The Tale of Bigfoot Ridge” was about a girl whose friend mysteriously disappeared. And then one day, she started seeing her friend everywhere, including on TV, begging for help. The girl and her brother try to search for her friend, and it brings them to an isolated mountain lodge and they do find her friend…
Only she looks like an old woman, and she wasn’t the one asking for help.
The girl discovers the thing that was asking for help is a creature called the Umbra. It’s a being of pure darkness that feeds off the life force of others. The Umbra gains victims by stealing the appearances of those it feeds on, which it then uses to lure more victims to the lodge. The building is littered with skeletal remains. The friend was tricked into following what she thought was a member of the Ski Patrol.
The Umbra is so scary for me because it relies on the primal fear of darkness. We never know if the thing has a true form beyond a cluster of shadows. It can be hiding anywhere in a dark room, and you’d never even know it…
Undersea Monsters – The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest
“The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest” is one of the ways in which you do a cartoon reboot RIGHT. It was a new version of Jonny Quest created during the 1990s, utilizing both traditional animation and (at the time) state of the art CGI digital sequences. The show was both smart AND action packed, and had some of the scariest episodes I could ever recall seeing in a cartoon at the time.
“Undersea Urgency” from the second season is perhaps the freakiest episode for me. Jonny’s father, Dr. Quest, is asked to inspect the development of a large, undersea scientific complex. He brings along Jonny and Jessie Bannon so the two can explore while he converses with Dr. Duval, the head of the base’s construction.
Unfortunately, during construction on another part of the seafloor, an earthquake hits and opens a cave which unleashes… THEM.
Make no mistake, these monsters are fucking terrifying. They indiscriminately slaughter anything they can get their hands on, murdering dozens of characters on and off-screen. And they aren’t mindless. They’re smart enough to break into the complex and devious enough to SEAL OFF THE EXITS. The scariest fucking moment comes right at the end when Duval wishes to take one of the dead creatures back with her, exclaiming it to be the find of the century…
And then it wakes up in her arms.
The camera wisely cuts back to Jonny and his father, but we still hear Duval’s screams as her face gets ripped off. And the creators originally planned to show MORE.
That’s about it for my most fucked up TV monsters. What’d you think, everyone?