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Nightmare Fuel: The Ren & Stimpy Show
"And with these hands, I hold the fate ofmillions."
The Ren & Stimpy Show is one of the most controversial cartoons of the 90's, with all of its disgusting and terrifying imagery. Sometimes, the show intended to use these terrifying imagery or plotlines in most episodes, and we end up getting these. Take notice of how the Spümcø episodes ironically have FEWER examples than the Games episodes (the ones made after John K. was fired). However, there are more Games episodes than Spümcø episodes, so it's sort of justified.
The deranged duo's antics were intended to amuse us. Sometimes they frighten us, whether or not it was intentional.
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Ren, in his Ax-Crazy moments, is incredibly creepy. Every single moment when he is angry, is Nightmare Fuel at best. The best example is in the "Sven Höek" episode.
In the episode "The Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen", we first learn that the aforementioned group is sent to find a barren wasteland and always die as soon as they get out there. In the middle of the episode, one of their Yaks gets tired of Stimpy singing the Canadian Kilted Yaksmen song. We are treated to an almost one-minute-long sequence of him going completely bonkers in front of the camera, foaming at the mouth, developing neck veins, screaming and bugging out. (You can see it at about 4.30 here)
"Stimpy's Fan Club", where Ren is jealous of all the attention Stimpy is getting, so he plots to kill him in his sleep. As you can see in the page image, all of the lights go out and all you see is Ren's face and his hands (It kinda looks like Andross or Master Hand or whatever.). And as if that wasn't bad enough, toward the end of the scene, you see his brain pulsating from his skull as he screams and what could be described as fires of hell engulf him.
The end of "Sven Höek" (Spumco) where Ren Goes Mad from the Revelation upon finding out what a mess Stimpy and Sven made in his house. What made it Nightmare Fuel of the highest degree was when Ren went from genuinely angry and raving to eerily pleasant at the drop of a hat while he described how he would get his revenge by "gouging out their eyes", "tearing off their lips", beating them up, and wrenching their arms out of their sockets. He imagines committing said acts by demonstrating with his hands, and we hear what each horrible act of violence would sound like. Made worse when Sven and Stimpy are shown to be terrified out of their wits and Ren expresses his happiness at seeing how scared they are by giving them a huge Slasher Smile and continuing on with his Psycho Rant. The worst part is that when he says "tear your arms out of the sockets" and we hear the sound, you can see a brief splash of blood as we hear the snapping.
The Devil: So, you whizzed on the electric fence, didn't ya?
Poor Sven and Stimpy are crying and hugging each other, shaking in pure terror, during the whole thing. It can remind some people of how little kids react when they are abused by their parents. Their reactions just sell the scene and make it even more disturbing.
Stimpy: W-we don't like this, Ren!
Sven: Yeah- you're scaring us!
Ren: Good... You're scared, huh?
In "Haunted House", the ghost's last resort to scaring Ren and Stimpy was to approach them wearing a mask and wielding a chainsaw. His eyes, while wearing the mask, look realistic and when he approaches the sleeping duo, his eyes widen and turn red.
Ren's Up to ElevenWild Take in "In The Army". Ren is badmouthing the domineering sergeant, not noticing he's rising up out of the mud behind him. Not only do his eyes bug out in shock, his face melts off and his skull and brain pop out as he screams.
"Insomniac Ren" has Stimpy reading a bed time story as an attempt to get Ren to fall asleep. The story started with "The sky grew black as blood!" and ended with a blood-curdling scream from Stimpy. This naturally scared the wits out of Ren. The fact that the book had "Poe" on the cover says something.
In the episode "To Salve or Not to Salve", Stimpy buys a giant vacuum from a door-to-door salesmen and demonstrates it to Ren. Ren gets sucked in, fur-first. We then see a skeletal Ren having his internal organs sucked out one by one, then trying to keep his brain from being sucked in. He later would scream, and his heart would fly out, a la Courage the Cowardly Dog.
The nightmare fuel of the brain scene was softened a bit by Ren's utterly hammy scream of "Must... Save... THE BRAIN!!!" That was a healthy dose of Nightmare Retardant right there.
The salve guy was pretty damn creepy just by himself. Although he was hilarious, the way he kept appearing out of nowhere was pretty disturbing. You do NOT want that creep in your house.
"Ren's Retirement". Basically it goes like this. Ren turns ten years old, seventy in dog years. He's convinced he's gonna die. He manages to get a high-end coffin and is buried, alive, with Stimpy. A large worm comes over to visit... and promptly eats all the meat from their bodies, leaving nothing but torn-up skin hanging on their skeletons. AND THEY ARE STILL ALIVE.
"Aloha Höek". The scene where they are living on an island, inside a dead whale and the maggots inside the whale are rising in such number that they are almost overwhelming Ren and Stimpy... vomit-inducingly horrific.
Stimpy: Ren, it's hot and stinky, I don't like it! Ren: Of COURSE it's hot and stinky. It's a CARCASS rotting in the SAAAND!
"Ren's Brain", nonstop. Stimpy removes Ren's brain as part of a random science experiment... but Ren's brain leaves the house and goes off to work. Not too bad- gross, but pretty silly. The nightmare fuel comes in when Stimpy approaches Ren's brainless body, and replaces Ren's brain with a telephone. We see Ren acting like a retarded mental patient, completely limp, with a horribly vacant expression as Stimpy plays with him like a ragdoll, his head covered in stitches.
Earlier in the episode, in a manner similar to the infamous "Keef's Eyes" scene of Invader ZIM, we are treated to a scene of Stimpy removing Ren's brain, entirely in silhouette. Who knew shadows could be so graphic?!
The episode "Who's Stupid Now" from Ren's perspective, is an extremely disturbing, unsettling episode. Basically, the show is about to be cancelled, but Ren convinces the boss to keep it going, so he orders Ren and Stimpy to switch places. Stimpy becomes the skinny jerk, and Ren becomes the fat idiot. Ren has more obligatory nervous breakdowns and his self-esteem is crushed.
The bizarre, freaky, Mind Screw ending of "Eat My Cookies". It was revealed that all of the girl scouts were old men in disguise as little girls- as was Stimpy. Stimpy urges Ren to take off his disguise, only to reveal Ren's skeleton and heart. Everybody laughs.
"Hermit Ren". Oh sweet, merciful Buddha, "Hermit Ren". Even ignoring the squicktacular visuals (for example the delightful image of the flesh melting off of Ren's hands, leaving only bone, done entirely in first person), the incredibly detailed portrayal of Ren becoming slowly insane due to his self-inflicted isolation, to the point where he begins having conversations with a mummified corpse.
Ren's 'father' pointing out ticks and chiggers to eat, giving a nice view of the ones embedded in his armpit in the progress. Ulk. Gag.
From "Double Header". Ren's boss is horribly burned, the flesh has melted off of his skeletal finger, and his nose fell off. Also, the "Salve" guy returns as the manager of a freak show, and it's revealed that he has the lower half of a baby protruding from his chest.
A great many of the "freaks" from that episode were horrifying, too. There's also Ren's short "The Reason You Suck" Speech to the people watching his and Stimpy's freak show- they were forced to eat chicken heads.
In the episode "My Shiny Friend", Ren becomes suspicious when Stimpy goes to the bathroom three times in a row, the last time being "Number 3". When he realizes that Stimpy is still addicted to televison, he yells at Stimpy to stop watching it. As Stimpy ignores his orders, his face becomes gradually distorted until Ren breaks in. Ren then sees Stimpy jittering on the ground, with empty black eyes and glowing green due the cathode rays from watching television excessively, much to his horror.
"Stimpy's Cartoon Show": "The cartoon's finished, Ren. Would you like to see it?"
"Ren's Bitter Half" has Ren becoming a Literal Split Personality by literally splitting in half. We only see his pupils dividing like amoeba, and the rest of his transformation occurring offscreen, with Stimpy's reactions being shown.
"Ren Needs Help": The WHOLE flipping episode. It starts off with Ren acting more unhinged than usual (muttering to himself while huddled near his favorite chair, sputtering about his glass coffee table collection, lying cross-eyed in a dirty bath tub that has a chicken, doll and old boot floating in it, and smothering red lipstick all over his face). After another of Stimpy's stupid antics, Ren tries to kill himself by jumping into a garbage disposal unit while its running, prompting Stimpy to commit him to the insane asylum. There, Ren is put into a psychological evaluation along with the other inmates. When one of the inmates starts to go crazy, he's put into a straight jacket and carted off to an unknown location, and judging by the flickering ceiling light afterward it's implied they subjected him to electroshock therapy. A month afterward, Ren starts a riot and is also carted off and given a lobotomy (evidenced by the stitched up scar across his forehead), then he's dressed up as the president for a public announcement. "My fellow Americans. The bombing begins at 5 minutes."
The ending to "The Scotsman in Space" where Ren and Stimpy are floating towards the sun, causing them to slowly disintegrate while Stimpy babbles pious nonsense.
The scene from "Ren Seeks Help" where Ren gets therapy from Mr. Horse and tries to find out why he's behaving the way he always does. When Mr. Horse angrily said that he (Ren) is insane because of his acts, Ren was horrified by the fact he turned on him. Mr. Horse then started to beat the mess out of him. Unfortunately for him, Ren hits him with the phone and scratches him viciously. When Mr. Horse reaches for the gun, Ren grabs it and pistol whips him mercilessly until he's dead. When the authorities came, they saw Mr. Horse dead on the ground and Ren, whose face resembled something like a demonic dog at the time. Ren was then carried away while he was wriggling rabidly. The ending was rather dark, even by the show's standards.
Before being hauled away, Ren actually bites off the hand of one of the officers and SWALLOWS IT. And his tongue comes out like a snake's and licks his lips. That wasn't even the most horrifying thing about that episode. The most frightening part of the episode was the exploration of Ren's twisted childhood. The origin of Ren's anger comes from memories of his birth- being in the "dark... and stinky" womb, and receiving a slap from a nurse, which leaves a bright red mark and leaves the baby stunned. Sound funny? It wasn't played for laughs, surprisingly. It was played completely straight. "My first memory was of unspeakable pain... and from that moment on, I wanted to inflict the pain on others." We see Ren age from a baby to an adolescent, and we see that he grew up torturing little animals. The audience is treated to several long scenes such as baby Ren gleefully plucking the legs off of a screaming caterpillar, burning ants with firecrackers, and a young child Ren torturing a frog in multiple, horrific ways.
Ren's voice is even creepier in this cartoon. John K (the original voice actor for Ren) lowered Ren's voice and made him sound very emotional and unhinged, even while speaking calmly. This episode has some of John K's best acting. Not only can you hear the genuine pain in Ren's voice at the beginning while he's talking to Stimpy, but his calm narration of his entire life story is downright horrifying.
The unmade episode "Life Sucks" probably would have been this for the bulk of its length for it' dark message and scathing honesty, but the storybook sequence especially stands out; it's a scene where Ren tells Stimpy a bleak tale of a colony of Christian crusaders (made entirely of children, drawn in an art style that homages the work of artist Mary Blair) many of whom die horribly in a winter storm during their long journey, and when they reach the promised land, they end up attacked en masse by the lands inhabitants and are graphically killed via stabbing or decapitation on-screen—and the children that did survive ended up growing up and inducted into harems and slavery for the rest of their lives! Outside of Ren's infamous outbursts, this easily would have counted as one of the darkest (and chillingly nihilistic) moments, in what probably would have been the darkest episode in the entire series. And most frightening is that it wasn't made up for the episode—it was based on something that (in some form or another) actually happened.
Ren: That's life, Stimpy! Meaningless, stupid and cruel! I tell you, life SUCKS! It's a damn miracle there's any living lifeforms left on the planet!