Saturday, August 2, 2014

Unexpected Horrors Part V: Jim Henson - Nightmare Maker

It's that time once again to delve into the realm of Unexpected Horrors.  Those skin crawling, nightmare inducing moments and creatures that catch you by surprise because they do not appear in a horror film.  In Part III, I mentioned the Fiery's in Jim Henson's Labyrinth.....which got me thinking about other various creatures and moments in Jim Henson's world that spooked me as a kid.  So, in no particular order, allow me to count down my top Henson scares!

The Muppet Show
Meteor Aliens

In an episode with Jonathan Winters, the show is apparently under a gypsy curse with anything and everything going wrong for the cast and crew.  When Fozzy tries to convince Kermit of the curse, Kermit replies that the show would have to be "visited by something absolutely disastrous".  Just then a meteor crashes into the theater, pinning Kermit's flipper underneath it.  It cracks open and these two glittery creatures come out and announce that they are there to observe and ask questions.  Looking back on it now, they're kinda cute.  Not so much when I was 5.  They scared the bejesus out of me.  Bastards.

Fraggle Rock
The Terrible Tunnel 

For a kid's show, Fraggle Rock certainly had it's share of freaky episodes and disturbing characters (Seriously, show me a kid who wasn't at least slightly creeped out by The Trash Heap!)  One of the episodes that scared me the most when I was but a wee one was The Terrible Tunnel.  The Fraggles are playing a game called "Heidey-Ho"...a call and answer game that's sort of a cross between hide & seek and Marco Polo played on land.  Wembley is "it" and must find the other Fraggles who are hiding.  He stumbles across what he believes to be the "Terrible Tunnel"...which was a story told to the Fraggles by The Storyteller.  The tunnel is supposedly haunted and full of creatures.  I will never forget Wembley searching for his fellow Fraggles and calling out "HEIDEY!"  and an unearthly voice answering "Ho....."   Gives me chills just thinking about it.

The Muppet Show
Dancing Clowns

As a general rule, clowns don't bother me.  Some of my favorite horror flicks are clown movies:  Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Stephen King's It, House of 1,000 Corpses, etc.  However the Clowns that appeared on the Muppet Show while Judy Collins sings "Send in the Clowns" are pure nightmare fuel.  Everything about them bugged me as a kid.  The way they moved seemed unnatural.  The worst part was the fact that they attempted to make them "full bodied" Muppets, which means that they had Muppet like faces with giant alien like googly eyes that haunt me to this day.  Every once in a while, I'll wake up in the middle of the night and half expect one of these bastards to be standing at the foot of my bed staring at me.  Good thing I work nights and mostly sleep during the day!

And finally there's this:

This is wrong on so many levels.  I guess that's why I love it so much!   


  1. Matt, you are dead on about some of the images on The Muppet Show being frightening. I understand that Henson was a nit of a hippie, and some of the designs he chose come from a very imaginative mind. The Dark Crystal contains scenes that still give me goose bumps! But now that I think about it, so many of the children stories, nursery rhymes, and presentations contain very suggestive and shocking images. Makes you wonder how we ever survived being so small and helpless.

  2. You know I thought long and hard about adding The Dark Crystal in here, but it just seemed SO obvious! That movie scared the crap out of me as a kid. Those damn Skeksies are downright terrifying! I was also going to mention the Muppet Show Halloween episodes with Vincent Price and Alice Cooper....but I'm saving those for the big Midnight Cinephile Halloween Extravaganza! I've always thought that a Jim Henson/Stephen King collaboration would have been amazing! You are absolutely right though. So much of our childhood was made up of horrifying stories and images.