Nightmare Fuel: Western Animation (Film)
There's a good chance you may never look at a B-17 Bomber again without shuddering.
Tears filled my eyes when I saw her little unborn kittens ripped from her stomach! What sicko made this?!
Just because you can watch cartoons for grown-ups
or kid's cartoons unsuitable for children
doesn't mean you won't get scared.
Animation released originally to the internet now goes under NightmareFuel.Web Animation.
Short Subjects and Other
- Aardman Studios
- "Not Without My Handbag", a short TV film from Aardman Studios, the same people who made Wallace & Gromit and Chicken Run. There was a whole VHS tape of perfectly innocent, kid-friendly shorts, and then this one, terrifying four minutes about a little girl's aunt who dies, get's dragged to Hell by the Devil, and then returns as a corpse... zombie... skeleton... thing, to reclaim her handbag, which she had left behind.
- There's another Aardman short that had one of the most disturbing endings of all time; it's called, "Stage Fright", and the ending of the short consists of a corrupt theater manager ''strangling a poor woman, a theater backdrop coming down crashing on the bad guy's head, an organist turning into a rather demonic thing that drags the guy to, well, you know, and saying in a deep voice: "GOING DOWN" and the theater starting to collapse, leaving the fates of the woman and a guy with trained dogs ambiguous, as the last we see of them is exiting the theater into a bright light.
- A lot of the shorts are scary just for the weird, dream-like atmosphere. Like the Adam short where Adam gets frustrated with God for placing him on a dull clay rock without any company and with nothing to do. Then at the end God creates him a... penguin...? Next! isn't anything particularly scary, it's a guy recreating all the Shakesphere plays with a mannequin, except maybe the mannequin being dismembered in various ways. But there's something just so creepy about it. Also if you're not well read on Shakesphere you won't know what the hell's going on.
- Alma, A short film from Rodrigo Blaas of Pixar. A girl encounters a doll in a sinister, seemingly abandoned shop that looks exactly like her, and when she goes to investigate more closely, things get creepy fast. Watch it here.
- The short film "Butterfly", which Keane's music video for "Bedshaped" is taken from, is beautiful, sad, and one of the freakiest things you'll ever see. Every time a character is angry it looks demonic, and the scene towards the end is intensely disturbing. However, the scariest bit is the Boy's drunken hallucination as he stands in front of a poster of Jesus on the cross. As he watches, the cross is suddenly empty, with Jesus standing in front of it. He starts to move forward in a manner reminiscent of a Japanese horror film, pouring blood everywhere and smearing it over the perspex covering the poster. The Boy screams and eventually runs off, as the viewer resists the urge to do the same.
- The Cat Piano. To make a long story short, a demented psycho kidnaps (or catnaps) singing cats from a nearby cat town and uses them in his dreaded "cat piano" - where cats are confined in cages in a hellish organ. With each note struck, a sharpened nail would pierce each cat's tail, forcing a note from each pitch from their screams to create "music". The remaining cats raid the mansion where the psycho performs his twisted symphony upon thousands of cats, and tear him apart until he slips on his own blood and falls out the window to his death below.
- Made worse by the fact that the "cat piano", or Katzenklavier actually existed. It was created by a German physician in the 1700s for the purpose of treating patients who had lost the ability to focus their attention. Cause if wailing cats doesn't get your attention, nothing will.
- The animated short of A Christmas Carol produced by legends Richard Williams and Chuck Jones remains the only version of the story to win an Oscar. So why isn't it shown on network TV more often? Because it is scary. If the slack-jawed Jacob Marley doesn't creep you out, the "demons" living under the Ghost of Christmas Present's robe will. This adaptation is very true to the spirit of the original book, which contained a lot of eerie, spooky imagery which tends to get toned down in other adaptations.
- The ending to 1930 Van Bueuren short "Circus Capers", starring expies of Mickey and Minnie. Here, after the clown mouse causes the ballerina mouse to faint, he leans in toward the camera so his face engulfs the entire screen. He then winks to us (with a "cuckoo" sound effect) and his face zooms in even more so his nose turns the screen completely black, ending the cartoon.
- Dante's Inferno: An Animated Epic, a short film for the video game Dantes Inferno, where the famous poet, Dante Alighieri of the middle ages, is rehashed into a troubled crusader who must save his love, Beatrice, from hell. Like in the Divine Comedy and the video game, the animated short follows Dante as he travels through limbo, lust, gluttony, greed, anger, heresy, violence, fraud and treachery to rescue Beatrice from the hands of Satan. This short shows the levels of hell in all their sin-filled glory. For example, in one scene Dante explores limbo, where unbaptized babies go. There he finds out his wife had a miscarriage as he clutches his malformed fetus which crumbles away into dust. Then he gets attacked by hideous monsters that look like babies with claws for hands! Dante killing the hideous monstrosities with his scythe is extremely disturbing, and that was only the first level of hell.
- Fleischer Studios
- Pretty much all of "Bimbo's Initiation".
- The ghost walrus from "Minnie The Moocher".
- You'll never look at trains the same way after watching "Play Safe".
- From "Shiver Me Timbers"
Popeye: I told ya there's no such thing as ghosts.
Ghosts: OH YEAH?!?
- The Downer Ending of "Swing You Sinners"
- Humpty-Dumpty's demise in "Greedy Humpty-Dumpty".
- The evil spider in "The Cobweb Hotel", especially during his Villain Song at the beginning of the short.
- The high points of the 1939 short Peace on Earth. The scariest part? That was all World War ONE equipment, and this was made not long after the beginning of World War II. Merry Christmas! By the way, God is dead! Peace On Earth was nominated for an Academy Award and a Nobel Prize. The Oscars Web site confirms that it was nominated in the Short Subject (Cartoon) category. It lost to a Disney cartoon (The Ugly Ducking).
- The British short animated film A Short Vision (which was essentially a depiction of the end of the world through what appeared to be an H-bomb attack). The bit that really made it scary were the fact it was shown on The Ed Sullivan Show(at the time, probably the most-watched television show in the US) with Mr. Sullivan not kids to leave but advising parents to reassure them it was "just a fantasy—it's all animated". (Just a "fantasy" with scenes like people's faces melting off and their eyeballs boiling in their sockets a la Raiders of the Lost Ark.)
- Ed Sullivan premiered the film on the same month the first successful test of the H-Bomb occured, and noted that this was meant as an anti-war piece (though emphasizing the animals that got nuked, not the humans). In other words, not only was this horrifying, but a remarkable example of Getting Crap Past the Radar in Joseph Mc Carthy-era "Red Panic" America (in which there was a very heavy emphasis on "we will survive" portrayals of nuclear war).
- The warning was strengthened considerably when A Short Vision received a repeat screening on The Ed Sullivan Show (this time finally warning parents to have children leave the room). Yes, this was shown twice—despite the fact that multiple producers had warned Ed Sullivan the film was too "grim" to be shown on American television.
- In the Superman Theatrical Cartoon short "Jungle Drums", Lois Lane is being burned at the stake by a bunch of natives. While this is happening, the color palette switches to a hellish mix of red and black with strange silhouettes of the natives dancing and playing drums. It's not-too-subtle hell imagery at it's scariest.
- Then there's the short where Clark, Lois, and a professor journey through a mysterious cave to discover what happened to the latter's missing father who went down the same cave and disappeared years ago. Lois and the professor come upon a tribe of bird-like people who proceed to take them prisoner, and as they're brought into the tribe's home they discover that they possess a statue of the missing father. Moments later the two are tied to a stone slab and the bird-creatures start to lower them into a molten-liquid like substance. To her horror, Lois then realizes the truth: the tribe did the same thing to the professor's father which preserved him and they're now going to suffer the same fate. Sure Superman saves the two of them in the end, but knowing just how close they wound up dying in such a horrific way is more than enough to keep you awake for a good while.
- Svetlonos (The Torchbearer) a stop motion film made by Václav ï¿½vankmajer, (the son of famed Czech animator Jan vankmajer.) The story features a Greek warrior fighting his way through a ruined landscape full of clockwork traps. Opposing him are an army of crumbling (yet sentient) female statues (who are the ones operating all of the aforementioned traps.) Oh and there are gangs of carnivorous rats roaming the ruins as well. Did I mention the reason the Greek Warrior is fighting his way through the ruins? He's there to fix the mechanism that runs the sky, which has stopped, plunging the world into eternal night. Oh, and Ending Spoiler: The only way to fix the mechanism is via Heroic Sacrifice: Inserting yourself into its machinery and allowing it to pierce your body and use your heart and circulatory system as a pump.
- The UPA adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart", from the increasingly frantic narration to the surreal, nightmarish visuals to the creepy music to the final chilling shot from the narrator's point of view, inside the cell of a grey-walled insane asylum.
"True, I'm nervous. Very, very dreadfully nervous. But why will you say that I'm mad?"
- The Nazim Tulyakhodzayev-directed short cartoon of Ray Bradbury's "There Will Come Soft Rains" is scary from beginning to end, but one bit in particular that sticks out is the extremely disturbing scene of the family, having been reduced to ashes by nuclear radiation, being poured out of their beds by the house going through its morning routine. This is especially creepy in the children's room, where the little girl's doll is buried by the growing pile of her ashes. See the whole creepy thing here
- The Old Lady and the Pigeons is a bizarre French short cartoon involving a police officer and an old lady... and plenty of pigeons. One scene shows human-like pigeons eating up the police officer. He takes a pigeon into his apartment and skins it alive. Said pigeon is left around in the apartment for months on end which eventually dies and its flesh is eaten up by cockroaches.