The Ninjabot

A Childhood Of Nightmares

Posted on August 31, 2013 at 11:00 am by Jess Hicks

There comes a time when every horror fan looks back and tries to discover what it was that really turned them into what they are today. For me it was a variety of films, TV shows and books. Lucky for you I have complied a list of some of the creepiest things from my childhood, some have stayed with me into my adult years and others…well let’s just say I’d prefer to wash my brain of them entirely.

 

Courage the Cowardly Dog (Cartoon Network 1999-2002)

Back in the day cartoons were not merely colorful, mind numbing, baby sitters that they are today. Apart from Adventure Time and maybe The Regular Show cartoons pretty much suck and if they don’t suck they soon get cancelled. Thankfully, I grew up in the 90s and early 2000s where cartoons were really allowed to shine.

Courage the Cowardly Dog was among my favorites, it centered around a small purple dog who is nothing but loyal to his owner Muriel and her nasty husband Eustace. Though silly and mostly harmless, this cartoon had some seriously freaky moments and a lot of references to horror movies. Hell, it even got an academy award nomination for the short feature that eventually became it’s pilot episode.

For me, a child of 9, these were mesmerizing. Characters like Creepy Fred and the evil Kat burrowed deep in my impressionable mind and began an obsession I couldn’t stop. Courage is a lovable character a kid can identify with but the villains are the real catch here. If you missed the boat on this when it was on check it out on Netflix Instant Watch, you won’t regret it. In the mean time check out this video of Courage’s creepiest moments.

Are You Afraid of the Dark? (Nickelodeon 1991-2000)

 During the 90s there was a huge need for horror based shows for kids and Are You Afraid of the Dark? essentially was the Tales From the Crypt for kids. Sure there was Goosebumps, which I also liked, but it just didn’t seem to creep me out the way Are You Afraid of the Dark did. Goosebumps always seemed to be a little sillier too me and though Are You Afraid of the Dark? hasn’t aged too well two things will always haunt me about this show:

First, the opening sequence is by far one the most dread inducing openings to a show in pretty much the history of TV. It uses very simple imagery that kids are familiar with, like swing sets, and turns them into everything you every feared. The actual theme tune remains one of my favorites. Seriously, it’s in my iTunes.

Second, Are You Afraid of the Dark? single handedly created my fear of clowns. For years I couldn’t figure out why clowns freaked me out so much. Was IT the culprit? No, I saw that when I was much older. Then, one day while wondering through YouTube I came across The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner and it all came rushing back into my conscious mind. This was the reason! That stupid jester who made everyone laugh themselves into a blue goop spitting fool. Thinking about it now makes my skin crawl.

Are You Afraid of the Dark?, like many of my favorite Nick shows, is criminally low and media formats. Nothing has gotten a proper official release aside from a couple greatest hits DVDs. Thankfully YouTube has made it possible to watch a lot of these episodes in full, hopefully Netflix can gain the rights to stream.

Ghastly Grinner

The Oogie Boogie Man (Nightmare Before Christmas 1993)

Despite this being one of my favorite movies there is no denying that it was a pretty visually disturbing movies. Not to mention the whole kidnapping of Santa Clause plot. Lucky for me I was always more of a Halloween fan over Christmas so I didn’t mind too much when they stuffed Santa in a trash bag. Though, now that I think about it, that was pretty much a sure fire way to kill him. Lucky for us he is magical.

However, there is one sequence in this movie that always has and always will make me look away in terror. The scene in question being the big reveal of what Oogie Boogie is really made of. Bugs. Squirmy, squishy, multi colored bugs! Girly is not a word that most people would use when it comes to describing me but I am 100% disgusted and horrified of bugs. When Oogie Boogie comes spilling all over the roulette board of hell I immediately feel like they are all over me.

Aside from that though this movie is kick ass and has some great songs. Not to mention Jack Skellington being the classiest skeleton around.

Oogie Boogie bugs

Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark (Book Trilogy)

I was totally that kid who brought their books to lunch and recess when I was younger and this set of books was my favorite. The stories were weird and often dealt with some pretty strange things but what set this set apart was Stephen Gammell’s illustrations. The themes of violence, death and loneliness coupled with this simple black and white illustrations made for some seriously wicked fears.

The series continues to be one of the most challenged in schools and libraries because of it’s graphic nature. For me I loved looking at the pictures until I couldn’t bare to turn the pages anymore. They were unlike most media I had available to me and the best part about it is that is WAS supposed to be for kids. I only wish there were more than 3 of them.

Scary Stories

Angela Anaconda (Nickelodeon 1999-2002)

I absolutely, unabashedly, loathe this show. I can’t say that about too many TV shows of my youth but this one ranks pretty high on my “Things I Wish I Didn’t Know Existed” list. For the most part I couldn’t tell you much about this show other than it center’s around a young girl named Angela who deals with your everyday drama of being an awkward kid in middle school and by all rights, I should have been okay with this show. I WAS the awkward kid in middle school, not girly but not a tomboy and definitely not popular but I just couldn’t handle this show.

Fast forward 10 years and I still cannot deal with this show. The animation has always really bothered me when it came to this show along with the voices. It’s not that I don’t like “cut out” animation, I enjoy it in Monty Python but this show just got into my nervous system in a way I cannot describe to you. Instead, watch the opening theme and judge for yourself. I’ll be in the corner crying.

 

I grew up in a very creatively different time, kids shows were often for adults as well and always kept you at the edge of your seat. Though some of these things did scare me from time to time I appreciate them all, yes even that last one, for entering my life in some way. Without them I wouldn’t be the horror fan I am. So what were some creepy things from your childhood? Leave a comment below!

You can follow Jess on Twitter @DangerJess_

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