Here are two initially unrelated, but ultimately connected anecdotes from the past few days:
- Last week Warner Brothers released the first full trailer for the upcoming Space Jam sequel, which not only doesn’t actually take place in outer space, but also inexplicably features appearances by Anthony Burgess’ classic dystopian rape-gang, Stephen King’s demonic murder-clown, and Yogi Bear. Putting aside the fact that the original Space Jam is a terrible movie to begin with, and in no ways deserves a sequel — to say nothing of the gauzy nostalgic dry-humping to which it’s been treated in recent years — I personally look forward to the inevitable flood of pearl-clutching parenting blogs going absolutely apoplectic over having to explain what “droogs” are to a new generation of cartoon-addled grade-schoolers.
- Disney+ unceremoniously added the classic ’80s Ewoks cartoon to its Star Wars lineup. No, it’s not good at all (the first episode has an extended plotline about kids playing a game of “drop the sack”???? ) but it’s a good reminder that there was a time when Canadian production company Nelvana was making some of the weirdest, most deranged, most unexpected cartoons out there.
When I think back to my steady diet of childhood cartoons — TV shows, movies, interstitial shorts, the works — there are a few moments that stand out. Not for the sense of otherworldly whimsy and wonder that only animation can create, but for those moments of unexpected terror that puncture the placid sense of security most kiddie fare provides; I’m talking the sort of sense of doom conjured by the creepy owl in The Secret of NIMH, or the stark mortality of anthropomorphized cars facing their inevitable death in a ravenous junkyard, or even the introduction to body horror that comes from watching Christopher Lloyd die screaming under a steamroller, only to resurrect himself in his true, toon-ish form before a stupefied Roger and Jessica Rabbit.
And those are just the scenes that are meant to freak you out! How many more cartoons were created as benign amusements, only to tickle some poor kid’s over-active imagination with the inexplicable feeling that something here is w r o n g, even if they’re not sure what, or why?
That’s why for this week’s Office Hours I thought we could all relive some childhood traumas, and drop our favorite (??) moments of cartoon terror. And not some creepy R-rated anime stuff from an actual animated horror movie. I want the sort of stuff that came out of nowhere in the middle of something animated for kids — the sort of stuff that left you a little less innocent in its wake.
So let’s revel in the scary stuff. Don’t worry. We’ll keep the lights on.
It’s Office Hours. Time to get spooky.