I suppose the classic Dummy would be what comes to mind when one thinks of scary puppets. This familiar baddy has been put to good use countless times in film and on television. Think Goosebumps’ Night of the Living Dummy or James Wan’s Dead Silence and Saw films. There was even one off beat Buffy episode with a talent show and an inevitable creepy Dummy doll.
For me, the dummy is laughably unscary. It seems like a relic of a frillier more British time where people carried sunbrellas un-ironically and everyone had a haunted dummy lying around in their sprawling attics.
For many of us growing up outside of victorian London, the past 30 years brought on a slew of newly horrifying, hallow, hand warming beasts that instilled fear in our youthful minds. Here are some of the worst:
The Muppet-esque style puppet is probably one of the most unseemly to behold. I imagine there is an armada of people just like me who silently curse Jim Henson and his evil Muppet yielding minions. There truly is something off-putting about their flat, slapping mouths and general positivity that is most upsetting.
Two particularly nightmare fuelling examples of Jim Henson’s horror are The Muppets Christmas Carol and the Labyrinth.
The Muppets Christmas Carol:
This magical 1992 film by Brian Henson is evocative of chilly December nights with one’s romper clad family sitting around your tube television on your blow up couch. It also evokes feelings of the blackest fear.
Re-watching this film on a yearly basis, I’m always baffled that this is intended for children. If being visited in the night by three ghosts (five if you count the Marleys) isn’t creepy enough, each ghost itself it’s its own brand of puppet horror.
We have the giant ginger puppet who probably eats small children.
…the ethereal waif with the face of a thousand haunted porcelain dolls
…and of course MFING Death himself.
The supporting cast of familiar Muppets makes their familiar cameos in the film as well as in our collective nightmares.
There is the Swiss Chef with his band of twinkly eyed slaughter-bound turkeys (the implications are far too disturbing for the minds of eight year olds.)
… this meeping monstrosity
…. and finally the pointy-faced monster that is Sam Eagle.
I’ll just leave this here:
For those of you unfamiliar with the plot I will do a two sentence summary before moving on to the real meat and potatoes.
Jennifer Connely’s infant brother is kidnapped by David Bowie who is inexplicably a Goblin King though he himself is not a Goblin but does have very rapey eyes. Jennifer Connely must traverse of Labyrinth full of MFING puppets to save her infant brother from David Bowie and the distracting bulge in his royal leggings.
Alas, there are far too many scary puppets in the Labyrinth to give proper time to the many horrors of Ziggy Stardust and his trouser snake.
I will begin with Jennifer Connelly’s rag tag group of puppet companions who are a pants full of practical effects terror.
There is Ludo, the lumbering Minataur with a heart of gold and most likely a collection of human souls harvested from the innocent.
We have Hoggle the deceptive Dwarf who is second only to Bowie for rapiest of eyes.
Then of course there is this worm(?)… who upsets on so many levels and somehow reminds me of Yoko Ono.
Moving right along, Jennifer Connelly faces many adversaries of the puppet variety including but not limited to:
A pit of decaying, groping hands from the darkest depths of your nightmares.
…feathery, singing, dancing, head juggling hell demons
…and of course the Goblins themselves.
In conclusion, this playful 80s musical romp contains more puppet-faced horror than all the decades of practical puppet effects before it.
Here is the nightmare that is Hoggle pre-restoration
What is it with McDonalds and creepy puppets? They have a long a coloured history of scaring the shit out of me.
In 1984 They presented these ads with anthropomorphic McNuggets.
It is not only the physical characteristics of the McNuggets that are a cause for concern, the ad raises some serious ethical conundrums.
These McNuggets are practicing detectives. We are meant to dip, dunk, and consume creatures that have apparent human-like intelligence. We are meant to eat a being that is evolved and organized enough to solve mysteries.
We are also left with no origin story. What radio-active disaster resulted in these abominations of nature? Why God, do they have faces? Do they practice religion? Do they reproduce sexually?
McDonalds did not respond to my hysterical inquires.
Even recently McDonalds’s hasn’t hesitated to horrify with this 2014 spot from Cossette.
Once again, we are going to set aside for a moment the sheer horror of the puppets themselves focus on the context of the situation McDonalds has thrown us into.
Are we not supposed to find it unsettling that this man operates under the assumption that he is in the company of four teammates and friends? All of which having unique and differentiating personality traits ie. a particular affinity for parfaits. All of which are figments of his imagination. All of which are puppets!
I also couldn’t resist including this unashamedly racist basketball sock puppet Frappe spot, though sock puppets don’t usually fall into the uncanny valley of humoresque horror:
Well thats it my Sauce Monsters,
I hope you enjoyed, sympathized with, and peed your bulging leggings because of this sordid collection of fancy gloves.
More to come soon and Happy Holidays.