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Taxidermy Terror

In media, every villain base, haunted castle, or scary old house seems to have a scary stuffed animal tucked away in a dark corner somewhere. Crocodiles, bears, gorillas, wolves, lions, owls (the huge unblinking owl eyes that seemingly follow you around the room, admit it, that's freaky)...

These are typically encountered by a child or teenager exploring the house, creepy background music optional. Sometimes the character gets up in the middle of the night to find a bathroom and/or a drink of water, and encounters the stuffed monstrosity that way. Sometimes, the character walked right past it when the beast was brightly illuminated during the daytime, but now that it is night, and the house is dark, running into the animal freaks them the hell out. Bonus points if the person stumbles into it in the dark, shines their chosen source of light on it, screams and runs away. Double bonus points if, instead, a lightning strike outside the window lights up the room so it can be seen.

This rarely happens to any character past their mid-twenties.

Also rarely, the animal will occasionally come alive, due to some kind Applied Phlebotinum, and when it does come alive, expect it to attack.

Not to be confused with Taxidermy Is Creepy, which is more about taxidermists themselves, rather than the products of their profession.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comicbooks 
  • In one of the earliest Cattivik stories, the eponymous thief ends up in the mansion of a senile british hunter, decorated with the preserved heads of fellow thieves. The old hunter promptly tries to add him to the collection.
  • Back when Knuckles the Echidna had his own solo series, one of his foes was a human named Hunter. The first time they meet, Hunter showed off his collection of stuffed Mobians that he had hunted down. Since this series focuses on anthropomorphic animals, Knuckles reacts the way most people would when seeing a wall full of stuffed human heads.
  • The Shadow Society in Seekers of the Weird utilizes an army of taxidermied Mix-and-Match Critters

    Films — Animated 
  • Gru's home in Despicable Me is full of furniture made from stuffed animals. As the girls walk down the hall, they see a stuffed lion's head. In it's mouth is a stuffed dog, with a stuffed cat in its mouth, which has a stuffed mouse in its mouth.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Captain James Hook in the movie Hook, meets his end when the Crocodile he "had stuffed and turned into a village clock" (paraphrased) comes back to life at the end of the movie, and swallows him alive.
  • In the film version of The Neverending Story, Bastian is scared by the taxidermied head of a wolf.
  • The house in Evil Dead 2 is full of creepy stuffed trophy heads. Who laugh at Ash.
  • In Night of the Living Dead, Barbara wanders into the house's trophy room, where the stuffed heads seriously freak her out. Although not as much as the corpse. Or the zombie. Or Ben.
  • In Lost Boys, Sam wakes up to discover that his grandfather has left a stuffed woodchuck in his room to "brighten up the place". It freaks him out to the point that he tossed a shirt over it. The shirt is still covering the woodchuck at the end of the movie, indicating that Sam found it more disturbing than the vampires he just had to fight.
  • In Road House, Tinker, the only survivor among the Big Bad's Mooks, is so freaked out by the various stuffed animals surrounding him that he can't testify to the Sheriff about what happened in the climax.
    Tinker: "A polar bear fell on me..."
  • Alfred Hitchcock filled Norman Bates' house with taxidermed birds to add to the creepiness in the film version of Psycho. It also alludes to the final fate of Mrs. Bates.
  • In the Friday the 13th (2009) remake, Lawrence tries to masturbate in the living room, but finds himself too creeped out by a big stuffed moose head staring right at him to go through with it.
  • The 1994 live-action adaptation of The Jungle Book has Mowgli in a room filled with stuffed animals, and he imagines hearing them screaming, with each scream punctuated by a gunshot.
  • Done to terrifying effect in Livid in which stuffed animal heads are put on dolls at a tea party.
  • Ace Ventura has a truly epic Freak Out in When Nature Calls when his new employer becomes a little sick of his antics and shows him his trophy room, as "one animal lover to another". When asked if there was something wrong, his response is "Of course not, this is a charming room of death!" Gets a Call Back later when the Big Bad and his cronies are in said room, and are looking around at the various stuffed animals/heads as numerous roars are heard, right around the time a stampede of various jungle animals comes crashing through the wall. With Ace riding in on an ostrich in the middle of it.
  • In Roxanne, one minor character tries to impress the titular female lead with his taxidermy and hunting store, named "All Things Dead". She's not impressed.
  • Beautifully played with in The Cabin in the Woods. The cabin that the college kids go to has a mounted wolf's head on one of the walls, which creeps them out. In the evening, when they're playing "truth or dare", Jules has to make out with it on her dare. She does so, and then nothing happens. It was never alive.

    Literature 
  • The Neverending Story. Bastian sees the taxidermied heads of a fox, an eagle and an owl, and later in the land of Fantastica he meets three sages with the heads of said animals.
  • In The Hotel New Hampshire, the family dog dies and the protagonist's older brother decides to take it on as a taxidermy project. It comes out looking far more terrifying than it's supposed to, and keeps getting found in various unexpected and startling places. At one point it keeps the protagonist from getting laid by frightening the girl; at another, it literally scares his grandfather to death.
  • In the Fable Haven series, Seth has to sneak into a mortuary that had stuffed animals standing around. Turns out the guy who owned the place wasn't actually evil, but it still scared the crap out of Seth.
  • A stuffed SS Standartenfuhrer is a prized possession of Cristobal Junta, the Magitek scientist from Monday Begins on Saturday. Played for Laughs.
  • "The Mutation" in Animorphs had the group going into an undersea cave and stumbling into a whole museum of stuffed humans on ships(with a few just-added Hork-Bajir in the mix as well.)

    Live-Action TV 
  • Ned from Pushing Daisies is afraid of taxidermy animals, as related in the episode "Frescorts", but that's more because he can bring them back to life with a misplaced touch than anything to do with taxidermy being inherently terrifying. He mentions an incident of a polar bear rug coming to life and totally killing the mood.
  • On Heroes, Danko comes home to see a taxidermied rabbit sitting on his table. He's understandably confused and creeped out, not knowing that Sylar is hiding in the shadows the next room over.
  • Doctor Who example: Ace gets trapped in a room full of this, and freaks out, during "Ghost Light."
  • The Janitor on Scrubs has an extensive collection of stuffed animals, and likes to make additions whenever some small and furry creature crosses his path. They all have names as well, and he likes to play with them.

    Music Videos 
  • In the video for the Genesis song "No Son of Mine," there's only one animal head, but it's still pretty freaky.

    Videogames 
  • TimeSplitters:
    • Future Perfect has a taxidermied moose head in one room of a creepy old mansion that comes out of the wall with a zombie body as a mini-boss.
    • The first game also has a moose head, also in a haunted mansion, although here it is simply a disguised turret that shoots you when you're in the same room.
  • In World of Warcraft, there is a boss fight with one of these. It begins with two random trophy monsters unfreezing, attacking you. Then Gortok Palehoof unfreezes from the other side of the room and charges your group, starting the actual boss fight.
  • In Rama, the stuffed alien may not raise your eyebrow. The stuffed co-worker, however...
  • The Safari Room in Luigi's Mansion is filled with various stuffed creatures, which nod kind of creepily when the Poltergust 3000 is used on them.
  • In the Ambridge Mansion series, in your nightmare you see what seems to be the skin of a shadow monster stuck on the ceiling and dripping blood.
  • In the flash game Haunt The House two of the objects the player can possess to scare people is a stuffed bear and a moose head.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Module EX2 The Land Beyond the Magic Mirror. When the PCs first arrive in Murlynd's house they're in a room with stuffed animals. The description makes them sound scary.
    Several small animals and birds are sitting on shelves and tables. They are regarding you with unwinking stares!
    • Module A2 Secret of the Slavers' Stockade. When the PCs open a door they get a shock from a stuffed bear.
    When the door is opened there comes a low, rumbling growling noise, and a grizzly bear, on his hind legs, comes lurching out of the shadows. He rushes right at the head of the party.

    Webcomics 
  • A running gag in Homestuck is to have one of the characters (Usually the Author Avatar) come across a creepy wolf's head mounted on a hunting plaque.
    Andrew Hussie: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH


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