Toons From the Crypt

In 1993, the children’s animated series Tiny Toon Adventures spoofed Tales from the Crypt with an episode called “Toons from the Crypt.” Buster Bunny takes on the role of the Crypt Keeper, telling three separate horror stories in the same style of the HBO show. Due to its horror content, the episode wasn’t aired during the cartoon’s initial run on Fox Kids. It wasn’t seen in its entirety until Nickelodeon acquired the rerun rights.

The connection between these two shows doesn’t end here. During the production of Tiny Toon Adventures‘ third season, Buster Bunny voice actor Charlie Adler left the show. Guess who was brought in to replace Adler for the remainder of the series? The Crypt Keeper himself… John Kassir!


“The Uncanny Valley”: Creepy Dolls

“You can’t talk about creepy dolls without invoking the ‘uncanny valley,’ the unsettling place where creepy dolls, like their robot cousins, and before them, the automatons, reside. The uncanny valley refers to the idea that humans react favorably to humanoid figures until a point at which these figures become too human. At that point, the small differences between the human and the inhuman – maybe an awkward gait, an inability to use appropriate eye contact or speech patterns – become amplified to the point of discomfort, unease, disgust and terror. The idea originated with Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori’s 1970 essay anticipating the challenges robot-makers would face. Although the title of the paper, ‘Bukimi No Tani,’ is actually more closely translated as ‘valley of eeriness,’ the word ‘uncanny’ hearkens back to a concept that psychiatrist Ernst Jentsch explored in 1906 and that Sigmund Freud described in a 1919 paper, ‘The Uncanny.’ Though the two differed in their interpretations – Freud’s was, unsurprisingly, Freudian: the uncanny recalls our repressed fears and anti-social desires – the basic idea was that the familiar is somehow rendered strange, and that discomfort is rooted in uncertainty.

“But the uncanny valley is, for scientists and psychologists alike, a woolly area. Given the resources being poured into robotics, there has been more research into whether or not the uncanny valley is real, if it is even a valley and not a cliff, and where exactly it resides. Thus far, results are not conclusive; some studies suggest that the uncanny valley does not exist, some reinforce the notion that people are unsettled by inhuman objects that look and act too human. These studies are likely complicated by the fact that widespread exposure to more ‘natural’ looking humanoid figures is on the rise through animated films and video games. Maybe like the Supreme Court standard for obscenity, we know uncanny, creepy humanoids when we see them?

“But before the 18th and 19th centuries, dolls were not real enough to be threatening. Only when they began to look too human, did dolls start to become creepy, uncanny and psychology began investigating.

“‘Doll manufacturers figured out how to better manipulate materials to make dolls look more life-like or to develop mechanisms that make them appear to behave in ways that humans behave,’ says Hogan, pointing to the ‘sleep eye’ innovation in the early 1900s, where the doll would close her eyes when laid horizontal in exactly the way real children do not (that would be too easy for parents). ‘I think that is where the unease comes with dolls, they look like humans and in some ways move like humans and the more convincing they look or move or look like humans, the more uneasy we become.'”

From The History of Creepy Dolls by the Smithsonian Institute

Horrorible Kids

I have been a fan of Garbage Pail Kids since they first came out. My lunchbox was covered with Garbage Pail Kids stickers and, today, I still love finding and collecting Garbage Pail Kids memorabilia.

Mark Pingitore, who created artwork for over 100 Garbage Pail Kids card fronts as well as concept work, sketch cards, and paintings for various other trading card series, has released a new series of Garbage Pail Kids characters inspired by horror movies called Horrorible Kids. They are so much fun!

You can get cards, posters and pins from this and other series he has created at Magic Marker Art.

Horror Junior: The Peanut Butter Solution

Movie review
Michael Rubbo’s The Peanut Butter Solution

The Peanut Butter Solution is a Canadian, family-friendly horror classic. The story centres around a kid who lost his hair from fright after visiting a scary, abandoned house. He then gets a recipe from a ghost to grow his hair back, but this solution only leads him into the hands of a villain.

Watching The Peanut Butter Solution as a kid, I liked that it was funny, scary and bizarre. Even as an adult, I don’t think that I have ever seen anything quite like it. With a bit of an old school Degrassi feel to it, this movie is fun and worth a watch if you haven’t seen it yet.

Rubbo, Michael. The Peanut Butter Solution, Cinéma Plus (CA) / New World Pictures (US), 1985.

TV Monster: Sweetums

Sometimes I wonder about Sweetums’ back story before he joined the Muppet Show. Was he a mean monster turned softy after a particularly traumatic experience? Had he always been a sweet monster; was that part of how he was as a species? Or, was he an outcast from his aggressive family? I usually think of him as an outcast because, for the majority, all of the Muppets are outcasts, and he finds his family among them. Oh, Sweetums!