You would think that the little logos at the end of TV shows and the start of movies and video games wouldn't have the potential to scare anyone. These examples prove otherwise. Here are a few of the ones that made young children brit shicks.Note: To just give an overview of how many people were scared shitless by these over the years, the Closing Logo Group's wiki, which documents vanity plates, lists among other things the "Scare Factor" of each logo (as does the site's predecessor and model, the FortuneCity hosted "KRS Logos"). And now, the examples.
Note 2: In the UK, these are known as 'idents' or 'end boards'.
The oldViz Video logos from the Nineties. Very ominous music playing in the background as an enormous golden block continuously swirls against a starry backdrop until it breaks apart with a tremendous sound, similar to glass breaking or a car crash, the individual gold planes swarming the camera until they formed the gold "V".
Speaking of Nickelodeon, they had this bumper from 1993 to 1999. First, we have some creepy painted hands singing the Nick theme in a way that makes the VID music sound pleasant, among flashes that make that one Pokémon episode seem perfectly normal. Then, a disembodied pair of eyes, a nose and dentures creepily sings the channel name, and it flashes the Nickelodeon logo. Nicknamed the "Pinchface", it's regarded as one of their most scariest bumpers.
There was also this other bumper (called Box, it can be seen here) that had this creepy green blob in a box that looked like the horrific illegitimate spawn of the Stretch Films and Klasky Csupo logos (don't worry, we'll get to THEM later).
This 1986 Nickelodeon bumper (also shown in the UK during closedown) is creepy in its own rights, with wolves howling on a solid white background with an eerie noise.
This. The boy isn't scared by the fact that the Nickelodeon logo keeps stalking him throughout the bumper.
The bumper sequence with the mannequin sillhouettes, flashes, and creepy minimal jazz music.
This one will make you afraid to eat hard-boiled eggs ever again.
The 1971-1984 "Tricolor" logo debuted the (in)famous "P-Head", accompanied by an earsplitting synthesizer glissando.
The 1980's "Split Profile" logo had a scarier variant used on the first episode of Square One Television where background vocals sing "And on, and on, and on, and on..." as the logo multiplies after doing its normal animation and music.
Ditto the Annenberg CPB and EFC logos. The later version's music was toned down, replacing the shrill synthesizer with piano.
On a similar note, the music for the 1989 Glass ident can be jarring.
There was also a variant of the 1990's-era PBS Kids logo in which the screen goes black, and you can see a lot of weird shapes moving about. Then we go through an open door and then the "P heads" scream "SURPRISE!" with all sorts of loud party horns and other noises going about. "Surprise" indeed, it'll surprise the crap of anyone not expecting it!
PBS affiliate WGBH's "Neon Flash of Doom" logo. The previous logo it replaced wasn't all that great either, with its Viacom "V of Doom" text zoom-ins and zoom-outs. The first logo's nightmarish jingle was carried over to the second, and became so (in)famous that it survived all the way into the 2010's, although usually in shortened form.
The first string of Disney movies released on home video were preceded by a truly mind-scarring Vanity Plate where a demonic-looking laser Mickey spun around as hyperdramatic brass music blared in the background.
Ironically, the creepiness of laser Mickey fit perfectly with the dark tone (and similarly creepy Conspicuous CG opening credits) of The Black Hole.
The early to mid-90s vanity plate took Mickey Mouse from "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" and wrote the name of Walt Disney Home Video in dark red on a black background. It's probably the mix of the haunting music (Disney seemed to be good at putting chilling music before kids movies for whatever reason) and the dark background.
There's a variant of that vanity plate, except of course it's custom made for the Walt Disney Classics VHS series. According to the Closing Logos wiki, a few later videotapes with that logo featured a distorted version of the jingle, due to a technical error. Imagine how that must have been for the poor kids who were already scared of the logo to begin with...
The Feature Presentation card Disney used on most tapes throughout the 90s spooked out quite a number of kids thanks to the loud fanfare and that creepy announcer. The rare "Navy Blue" variant wasn't much better, with it's noticeably darker background color, as well as the fact that the aforementioned distorted Disney Classics logo follows it afterward.
Disney also put out strange title cards with the Feature Presentation font on certain backgrounds. Thank god Disney stopped using the "Coming On Videocassette this Summer" and "Coming This Fall to Home Video" cards.
They also had THIS old Disney Channel bumper, involving Mickey as a mad scientist trying to teleport his signature Walt Disney World hats. The first attempt makes the ears messed up. The second attempt turns the hat into an Oswald the Lucky Rabbit hat. The last attempt, a yellowjacket flies into the machine, thus turning the hat into a giant Disney Channel logo. Then, it turns with sharp red eyes and zooms in at you.
This one is literal nightmare fuel, depicting Mickey having a nightmare in which he is one of his gloves, running down a hallway being chased by a ghost that turns into the Disney Channel logo, while Mickey arms are sprouting from paintings on the wall and trying to grab him.
One of the big ones is Viacom's "V of Doom". The filmed version (in the link) has the V appearing to go faster as it came closer due to perspective. The videotaped version had it slow down slightly as it approached.
The VID mask, a sequence for one of the first private Russian TV companies formed after the collapse of the Soviet Union. See the page image.
This is perhaps one of the few logos listed here that was intentionallymade scary. With the collapse of the USSR in the early 90's, the executives over at the VID company figured that the network needed a "shocking" logo, so they cooked up a mask with a rather angry face (actually modified through CGI from a less menacing sculpture of a philosopher, which a museum denied them direct usage of) and a fanfare consisting of five scare chordsnote (C#-E-B♭-E-B♭) . Considering Russians' accounts of seeing this logo growing up, they certainly did not disappoint!
A quick note: it had to be be changed because it was feared the sudden black/white cycling would trigger epileptic seizures, so the current VID ident is just the stone face with no animation.
This variant shows VID mask morphes into a man face that talks before giving his smile. There's also another version with the man face speaks in creepy voice before smiling with dramatic fanfare playing.
"The S from Hell", Screen Gems' infamous logo from the 60s. The heavily synthesized music and abstract shapes scared quite a few kids.
The first Klasky-Csupo logo was colorful, bouncy, memorable and fun, even if it was roughly animated. However, its successor (debuting on the tape The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald: Scared Silly) was scary as hell. For those don't want to look, it involves a sudden splat of ink bringing forth a very creepy looking face that looks like it just came out of a little kid's nightmare, with these huge, bulgy, and realistic looking eyes and a thick-lipped mouth on yellow construction paper. The personification of Uncanny Valley and Nightmare Fuel.
An unfortunate side effect of Nickelodeon's Credits Pushback was that sometimes, this logo would appear after the credits on a show it wasn't supposed to: SpongeBob SquarePants. This doesn't happen anymore, thankfully.
A variant on the logo used for The Wild Thornberries Movie was even worse than that, not only is the cut to the logo (which is more cheaply animated this time) jarring, the face constantly stares at you and then smiles in a horrifyingly disturbing way! HOLY CRAP!
In 2012, the face was resurrected with now-added legs and arms and now became a character named Splaat. He even has his own webseries!
Similarly, some are creeped out by The Curiosity Company's logo, due to the loud, unsettling water dripping sound effect (once again, the black background doesn't help).
The first MTE logo, which has the Universal globe fly out at you with no warning, and a loud, bombastic rendition of the theme from the Universal Television logo of the time.
Many people were afraid of the logos Universal Television used in the mid-70s to early-90s, largely because of the bombastic fanfares and the dark globe images they used. There were several different variants used, here are a fewofthem.
Intrepid Pictures, featuring a man almost getting struck by lightning. The red sky and the music certainly don't help. It was later replaced by a tamer version which features a live-action zoom-out of the man and no music other than the thunder sounds.
Pro Skater 1: The eyeball is chilling and looking around, not seeming to care that it has a spear stuck through it.
Pro Skater 2: The eyeball is slithering away from falling letters that form the logo, while fast rock music plays. After successfully avoiding the letters, the spear falls down and impales it. (this same logo was also used on a Spider-Man game for the Playstation that was made by the same developers)
Pro Skater 3: The eyeball jumps on top of a decapitated skateboarder and acts as its head. After falling off the skateboard, it jumps back onto the logo, leaving the decapitated body laying there.
Pro Skater 4: More gross than scary/creepy/unsettling, but anyway, a gorilla skates around, then picks its nose, only to pull out the eyeball.
Underground: Eric is running through a street, when all of a sudden, a sewer monster comes out from the sewer, drags Eric down, and eats him. His bones, an eyeball, and the letters of the Neversoft logo are then thrown out of the manhole, followed by the cameraman running in fear. A great Take That, Scrappy! moment, but also very disturbing too.
The MGM logo. A big lion on the screen roaring at you would send chills down a kid. Also, the MGM/UA Home Video logo.
While all of the lions were scary to some degree, Tanner is often regarded as the scariest of all. This may be why Tom replaced him on occasion, besides Rule of Funny.
In the opening for the US version of The Fearless Vampire Killers the lion sprouts animated vampire fangs with blood dripping on them after he does his usual roaring. In the UK version he turns into a green cartoon vampire.
The new MGM logo introduced in 2012 is bound to catch many people off guard because the logo is animated in a way that exploits 3D. For those who don't want to look, the logo starts out with a extremely-close zoom-in of the lion's eye, which then pans out to a comfortable distance of the full view of the lion and the ribbon, which then continues as usual with the lion roaring. The entire logo is initially irised out up until you can see the entire face of the lion..
The Greek theater mask below the lion is sort of creepy, as well.
United Artists had this "Turning UA" logo, with odd music that it starts out sounding menacing but turns triumphant and celebratory.
Lynch/Frost Productions, David Lynch's logo for Twin Peaks. Not for epileptics. Deliberate, since this is Lynch we're talking about here. You can't appreciate how scary it is unless you remember that the Twin Peaks end credits theme concludes with a slow, brooding fadeout... followed immediately by the Lynch/Frost logo.
Guntzelman Sullivan Marshall Productions' vanity plate is particularly morbid. The vanity plate shows a man on the roof of his two-story house (at night) and he falls off the house into the bushes, screaming. Needless to say, it's pretty jarring when you find out that the sickos behind this ident were the production company who created Growing Pains. It's actually footage from a scene in the series, shot using a camera that happened to be at a different angle. Granted, it's not like knowing the context makes it any less scary. Fortunately, Nightmare Retardant comes in the form of likingdark humor.
Lorimar's Line of Doom, considered creepy by some due to the dark background and electric piano tune. Coincidentally, said piano tune was originally the theme to this logo, which some find creepy for similar reasons (and due to the large "LP" in the middle).
This (fake) one has a low male's voice in the background.
The first View Askew logo (mildly NSFW) that appeared at the beginning of Clerks. It is grungy, roughly animated, and involves a little boy and a middle-aged cross-dressing clown. It has to be seen to be believed.
Touchstone Pictures has their "Snake" logo the company used in the 80s through the mid 2000s. The creepy music is one of the things taken out of the shortened TV version, being replaced with a serene piano jingle ending with a bell where the horn stab would be in the movie logo.
Any of those logos that'll play at the end of a DVD. Picture yourself sitting on your reclining chair during the end of The Girl Next Door: Unrated Edition. You think it's all over and the credits have run their course, and then suddenly, BAM! Big green logo in your face.
Voltaire used to work on MTV station idents before he became a professional musician. His style is typically creepy, gothic and dark. Metal Machine from above is his work.
The second Mozark Productions logo, due to the creepy jingle.
Another creepy jingle comes to us from Vin Di Bona Productions (the same music is in the next three; the only changes are visual:
The 20th Century FoxFanfare composed by Alfred Newman is an awesomely patriotic ditty, but around the early 60's, 20th Century-Fox Television used a variation of the fanfare with muted trumpets and a string flourish. Kinda unintentionally unsettling with the dramatic string flourish, but then in 1965, the Television fanfare was sped up, making the instrumentation even more aggressive (Newman once laughed that having to record a short, three-second television fanfare would cause the musicians to play more frantically). No matter which variation of this fanfare was used, however, there was always one absolute visually. The logo would start off with the standard 20th CENTURY FOX structure, but when suddenly, out of nowhere, the word "TELEVISION" would fill out the screen before zooming out and taking the place of "CENTURY" in the structure; general consensus is that the logo was more traumatizing with the sped up jingle. Starting with the late 80's, however, the logo would use a short version of the classic TCF fanfare, but the zoom-out still made it creepy enough. Fortunately, some variants featured the C in "CENTURY" still being visible after "TELEVISION" seemingly took the word's place on the structure, providing Nightmare Retardant, unintentional laughter, and bewilderment at how this Special Effects Failure got past quality control.
The CGI logos for TCFTV and for 20th Television (which appears at the end of syndicated The Simpsons / Family Guy reruns and myriad courtroom shows), while not scary, are probably a reference/tribute to this logo with a zoom out of the structure.
Unfortunately, around 1997, the dreaded 1965 TV fanfare was rerecorded and became the standard jingle for the CGI 20th Century-Fox Television logo. Currently, the jingle varies between the 1965 TV fanfare and a snippet of the classic TCF fanfare (as well as—in the case of the Fox Network's primetime lineup—various remixes based on the final four notes of the TCF fanfare).
The opening vanity plate for the production team behind The Neverhood is rather frightening, mainly because it used a clip of the villain's ear-piercing evil laugh... right after the DreamWorks Interactive music lulls you into complacency.
Back in the '90s, the Sci Fi Channelhad an ID with a grandfather clock whose face turned into a monster, whose mouth would then be zoomed into and the channel's logo would be zoomed towards at breakneck speed.
There was a later bumper that's creepy as well. It actually came in a series that played during subsequent commercial breaks during the same show. It focuses on invading carnivous alien plants that feed on whatever is unfortunate to get in it's way. All of the horror can be found at this link. (Ironically, the person who uploaded the video posted it because they found it to be Fetish Fuel.)
Another one has a man putting out the garbage and then going back inside his house. After he leaves, the words "Dead...leaves?" appear onscreen.
A 1998 ident for Sky Premier in the UK features women high in the sky holding a golden sheet falling off of diamond-shaped platforms and dissolving into gold dust, as the a sheet becomes a movie screen (you can even hear screams in the background while they're falling, although they're brief and only happen when the first woman falls). Even worse is that falling women are a recurring motif in the look. What the hell was Pittard Sullivan thinking?
Maybe it's just the music, but even this very early logo for Revue Studios, the predecessor of Universal Television, was a little jarring. Revue were later responsible for this logo, the jingle of which has also been known to cause more than a few nightmares. When Revue became UTV in 1963, the jingle was incorporated as their own, and would be heard in various re-orchestrations and lengths until 1975.
The Kaleidoscope might be creepy, but the 1986-1992 "glass" IDs, with a distorted, wavy pattern of the "exploding pizza" logo in the background (along with an oddly soothing synth theme, which brings some Nightmare Retardant) might be worse (they were color-coded by time of day):
In 1993, NBC introduced several network IDs from various artists. The scariest of them all is probably Peter Max's contribution, which is a psychedelic mess from which emerges the 1986 peacock logo. Notably, one of the 1993 introductions, which depicts several brightly colored "fireflies" swirling around and forming the peacock, lasted much longer than the others; almost ten years, in fact.
For all intents and purposes, this French introshould be cute and friendly... However, it just... isn't. It has these card-board cutout, floating heads representing every figure of the family (mom, dad, son, etc.), all positively scowling at you! And for some reason, one of them is crying. Look, don't ask. Just watch it.
Hanna Barbera. There were a lot of people who did not like those zooming letters or swirling stars in their childhoods.
Feel sorry for anyone who had to witness Carlton Screen Advertising's abomination in British movie theatres. It features a huge, flaming branding iron shoving out of the screen at you, along with loud noises. It used to come before the commercials and trailers and was used constantly between 1996 and 2014. So if you were watching something in British cinemas, you'd have to bring earplugs. It was even worse if you saw it in a UCI cinema, where it would be preceded by the following.
At 5:20 in the link, this trailer for the Famous Players chain in Canada, then a subsidiary of Paramount. Famous Players was sold in 2005 to Cineplex Entertainment. It feels a tad creepy to watch this, with what's coming at you. Someone else mentioned a policy trailer for another Canadian chain, Empire Theatres, used in the early 2000s where its logo, that of a film reel, comes flying at you and then explodes, but for some reason, no one has it on YouTube. They have since changed their logo in 2008 to a 20th Century Fox style searchlight. Before the change, Empire Theatres used a logo with a starry background, but not so scary music.
The Mohawk Productions logo. Ultrasounds aren't creepy enough, let's add a loud drum beat and catch people off guard! What's even worse is that the drum beat loops 3 times before finally ending in one version. But the scariest part, is that right before the logo ends, THE FETUS LAUGHS! And this is exactly why some people don't watch George Lopez anymore.
Did any troper from the UK ever get The Snowman on VHS? A nice, sweet film about a boy and his snowman that had a Downer Ending but pretty much defines Christmas for Brits of a certain age? Well, before you got to see the video you saw Palace Video's logo. "Dad, fast forward the tape ...OR ELSE!"
You'd think that BBC One's "circles" idents would have no scare potential. But the Lawn Circles ident, what with the lawn-mowing women's robotic, stiff, unnatural movement and blank expressions, might prove one wrong.
Imagine you were just minding your own business, watching BBC One as an ident appeared, one you have seen before, but it seems off... then this happens. It's the Lawn Circles ident again... but it glitches out to be replaced by an image of Matt Smith saying "The clock's ticking!" before cutting back to ident like nothing happened. Of course this was done in the run up to "The Day of the Doctor" (Doctor Who's 50th anniversary) but they didn't stop at one of them. This happened a few days later, followed by this one the day before. It happened one more time before the episode aired. Keep in mind these happened without warning.
And when "the moment" is mentioned, it's a pun referring either to the broadcasting of the episode or to the episode's MacGuffin, the Moment, which is the Time Lord Weapon of Mass Destruction used to end the Time War with double genocide. Indeed, "The Moment is here..." for you.
In Brazil, Rede Globo's "Plantao" (which precedes breakthrough news, most of the times involving tragedy and/or death; it's usually said the scary vignette makes them even worse).
The Mutant Enemy logo that would sneak up on us at the end of Buffy, no music, just the creepy little Nosferatu-like paper figure and its cute "Grr Aarrrgh !" And it's made even worse when it's going opera style after Season 6 "Once More With Feeling".
The DiC logo from the 90s, and the earlierversions it replaced. The voice in the former Kid in Bed logo sounds...different (and not in a good way), the latter logo features a eerie choir singing the company name, and the music for both variants is nothing short of spooky.
The logo for "Weird Al" Yankovic's Ear Booker Productions, which co-produced The Weird Al Show with Dick Clark Productions, is an attempt to invoke this trope. The company name comes straight at the viewer, changing from black on white to white on black every other frame (in layman's terms: Seizures.), while Al screams in the background. (The audio is taken from "Bite Me", a Hidden Track from Al's Off the Deep End album.) As J. Rose wrote in an Amazon customer review, "You have to have respect for a man who purposely designed his Ear-Booker Productions company logo (which appears at the end of every episode) to be the most nerve-wracking thing ever made."
The logo for Australian animation studio API (Air Programs International) tries to pack as much scary into eight seconds as humanly possible. A dizzying black vortex, letters that seem to bounce back and forth at the viewer, a soundtrack of electronic noises, three dings, and a tympani solo... it's so frightening that it's actually Crazy Awesome. S From Hell and V Of Doom, move over! It's so frightening that later productions from the company don't carry it - it only seems to have appeared in this form on Arthur! And The Square Knights Of The Round Table - and due to ownership changes it's mercifully plastered over nowadays. Think about it - the company that made this logo dropped it...
ITC Entertainment had two scary logos that featured a bombastic, brassy fanfare composed by Jack Parnell. The first version, known as "ITC Compass" because it features a map of the world, is only moderately frightening. But then came the second version, affectionately nicknamed "Spinning Diamonds of Doom". It featured the same music, this time accompanied by three diamond-shaped objects (colored red, blue and green, the primary hues of color broadcasting) whirling around IN SPACE!.
1970s company Winters/Rosen Productions had an animated frog leaping through a garden, "ribbeting" out a red flag with "A Winters/Rosen Production" and the frog on it, all set to chirpy music. Not as cute as David (Winters) and Burt (Rosen) hoped. Skip to 37:02.
This ad for Gorillaz' Plastic Beach album. What the hell is 2D looking at?
Try this Teletoon first year late night screamer bumper on for size. Thank God this was only on during adult cartoons....
Another Teletoon bumper that can be considered scary was one during its launch. It starts off with a music parade which ends with a baby. The baby then takes out his pacifier and cries and sticks out his gigantic tongue (is he supposed to be [[Western Animation/Rugrats Not Tommy?]]), but in a opera voice. It's animated in a really strange style, with everything in the bumper (including the people) created from newspaper clippings of various things, and the bumper itself is just so surreal it could make John Kricfalusi puke in his mouth a little bit. It can be seen with other similar bumpers here. And just if you weren't convinced enough, it was done by Cuppa Coffee Animation, creators of the rather creepy educational series Crashbox.
The Finnish movie distributor Finnkino used to open their features with this clip in both cinemas and home video releases — including childrens' cartoons, of course. Because howling burning space ballerinas is exactly what you want your kids to see.
Invoked with the VGV logo that plays after the credits in HotDiggedyDemon's webtoon series Wacky Game Jokez 4 Kidz. If you don't find the opening eye particularly scary, then wait until you see what comes right after...
The old Buena Vista Television vanity plate. Something about that loud (although pleasant) fanfare, those comets going past the planet, and that widely-spaced serifed font all on a black background was just creepy. No scare factor, CLG Wiki? Pfft, yeah right. By the way, the short version was a bit creepier than the long version (here) due to its suddenness.
This Vanity Plate for Fox often appeared at the end of Cops, and right after hearing the lovely guitar riff of the preceding logo, you are greeted by these horrible, ghost-like letters. Haunting over the rest of the show you just watched.
The logos at the end of Allegras Window. First of all, the Topstone logo is creepy enough, but what follows is even worse, because you get bombarded by a giant egg, a rooster crowing, and a loud fanfare.
Ladies and gents, may we present you the loudest logo of all time. Can you believe that released this on videos targeted for KIDS?!
The MediaHomeEntertainment logo, aka "The Space Logo". All three variants use the same basic, loud dramatic fanfare and a starry background. The first one from 1978 to 1981 was dubbed "MEDA" after company founder Charles Band's (of the Band family of filmmakers) wife, Meda. The second logo, used from 1981 to 1988, had a stylized "MEDIA" appearing, with a variant that began use in 1984 having the byline "A Heron Communications Company" owing to being under new ownership.
The LEGO lego. The graphics aren't freaky or frightening, but the audio...it feels like "Personified Fear" all over again.
One version includes the Lego logo once formed, slide to the upper left, and then you hear a SLAM, as an M-shaped brick saying "Media" appears.
Valve Software has very disturbing logos in all of their games, complete with music that sounds like it came out of a horror film:
Half-Life 1 was originally going to use a logo animation of a man in a factory, willingly inserting a valve into the side of his head. Said logo animation was done entirely in the GoldSrc engine, as a way of testing the engine's capabilities, and its files can still be found within the game.
1998-2006 variant (used from Half-Life 1 to Half-Life 2: Episode 1): A photograph of a man with a valve lodged in his eye socket.
2007-2010 variant (used from all Orange Box games to Left 4 Dead 2): A photograph of a man with a valve lodged in the back of his head.
2011-now variant (used in DOTA2 and Portal 2): Same as the 2007 one, except now it's no longer a photograph, and now the man turns to the side and looks at you, as the music intensifies.
The Friesen/Meyer Productions logo, which shows a woman being kidnapped by a monster and it running off with her. It opens with her screaming loud.
"Paul Haggis Productions" against a nice, cloud-dotted blue sky. Suddenly Icarus falls to his doom in front of the words (as seen on EZ Streets). Startling enough, but then he did a second version (as seen on Family Law) with Icarus flying by the sun, the wings come off and he falls right towards the camera so it ends with his screaming face! What was the man thinking?!?