In our quest to bring you the best TV content, sometimes we have to look... backwards. That's why we have Thursday TV Throwback, wherein each week our staff of pop culture enthusiasts will be tasked with bringing back some of the best television clips that have been forgotten by time, space and the general zeitgeist. This week, we're bringing back genuine terror: via the characters who assaulted our childhood innocence way back when. Rational or not — here's looking at you, Michael Arbeiter — behold a round-up of the most terrifying offenders.
Shaunna Murphy: Hi, kids — it's me, Face! — an absolutely terrifying, bodiless talking head on acid. I change colors every few seconds, and my only purpose on this earth is to inject terror into the hearts of millions by introducing their favorite TV shows. The truth is that I'm actually an ethereal terrorist from the future sent from the past to collect brainwaves from the innocent minds of children, until their hearty imaginations build a time machine that will send my ruined people back in time to establish a reign of terror on planet Earth! Hee Hee! I mean, enjoy Blue's Clues!
Kelsea Stahler: This little bear was supposed to make you want to wash your blankets and roll around in them, soaking up the freshness. Instead, this terrifying little spokesbear turned a comforting activity into a terrifying one.
Matt Patches: I wasn't allowed to watch MTV growing up — a move to protect me from the heinous, perverted, mind-destroying material flooding the channel at the time, of course — but the pop culture impact of Beavis and Butthead was too strong. I found it... and it scared the crap out of me. I blame it on the lack of laugh track and incessant low-pitch giggling on the part of the idiotic duo. Their voices sounded like evil gremlins. And what the heck was AC/DC?!
Michael Arbeiter: There was nothing inherently scary to me about Grover when I first encountered him on Sesame Street. But the popular puppet earned certain… dark connotations when he began to slip into my nighttime delusions. I was about three or four, struggling to get to sleep, when I began hearing voices coming from my wall. Not coming from behind my wall, but from the wall itself — it spoke to me, and in the highly recognizable voice of Grover. But the voice didn’t bring along with it his chipper, kindly demeanor. I was terrified, and would forever be so whenever I heard Grover speak.
Abbey Stone: The 1985 TV movie Alice Through the Looking Glass was already a few years old by the time I stumbled upon it as a kid, but it was still enough to make me afraid to fall asleep for years. As terrifying as the monstrous Jabberwocky was, he was only the tip of the iceberg. I'm not sure if the psychedelic imagery scared me more, or the abandonment and helplessness tropes the movie played up.
Christian Blauvelt: (The trolls from David the Gnome) It’s one thing for cannibalistic, shag-haired, pupil-less trolls to menace cute little forest gnomes. It’s another thing when they’re menacing a cute little forest gnome voiced by Tom Bosley. Here's a clip where the trolls come in at the 15:30 mark. They actually want to eat a fox! A fox!
Samantha Xu: I'm pretty sure that NASA has disproven the theory of swinging over the bar on a swing set, but after watching this Nickelodeon claymation short as a child, my paranoia of turning into a walking peepshow severely hampered my swinging mojo. I mean, who wants to be inside out? Wouldn't you be really cold all time?
Anna Brand: Pinky was always goofy with his buck teeth and crossed eyes so he seemed harmless. Brain, on the the other hand, was always grumpy and evil-looking, and when he played with his squiggly tail I had to close my eyes. Also, his ears were so enormous I always thought he was hiding creatures in them.
Alicia Lutes: "What is it about Howie Mandel that's so terrifying?" people often ask me. To which I respond: Are you kidding? Is that even a question? Everything about Howie Mandel is terrifying. Howie Mandel is what I imagine all clowns look like on their days off — right down to that weird voice he did in Bobby's World and his general germaphobia. Though I believe my fear may have a bit of a bias, considering I once had a vivid dream as a child where Howie Mandel and my younger brother chased me around the entire state of Connecticut before finding me in my cousin's basement and murdering me. My childhood imagination was very strange.
Aly Semigran: Soundgarten's video for "Black Hole Sun" creeped me out so much that not only would I have to change that channel whenever that terrifying, big-eyed nightmare started on MTV, but still cannot listen to that song without getting a chill down my spine.
[PHOTO CREDIT: Snuggle]
Thursday TV Throwback: Jennifer Lawrence as a Mascot, and More Old Footage of Oscar Nominees
Thursday TV Throwback: Why ‘Popular’ is Still Popular 10 Years Later
Thursday TV Throwback: '90s Catchphrases
From Our Partners:
Celebs as Kids: Guess Who? (Celebuzz)
Craziest Celebrity Swimsuits Ever (Celebuzz)
Hollywood fashion designer Mr. Blackwell announced his 43rd annual list of worst dressed celebs Tuesday, and former Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith got top honors. "Anna's fashion follies are the worst of the year...don't bother with a new designer Anna, just hire a structural engineer!" Blackwell said. The Texas native, however, was not Blackwell's only target. Kelly Osbourne, Shakira, Cameron Diaz, Britain's Princess Anne, Anne Rice, Donatella Versace, Meg Ryan, Christina Aguilera and Pink followed Smith on the list. Blackwell, of course, added his biting commentary to each fashion felon, sparing no one. He said Diaz "looks like she was dressed by a colorblind circus clown," and described Ryan as "a total fashion wreck" who "looks like a Swap-Meet Fashion Queen in Beverly Hills."
Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving early Sunday morning in Berkeley, Calif., The Associated Press reports. Armstrong, 30, was stopped for speeding in a black BMW convertible and failed a field sobriety test when he was booked into Berkeley county jail. He was later released on $1,053 bail.
Christa Miller, who starred as Kate O'Brien on The Drew Carey Show, gave birth Friday to a 7-pound, 6-ounce boy named William Stoddard Lawrence, the AP reports. Miller and her husband, Bill Lawrence, already have a 2 1/2-year-old daughter. Her pregnancy was written into the NBC comedy Scrubs, in which she has a recurring role. Her husband is the show's executive producer.
Director Dwight Little (Murder at 1600) is in negotiations to helm Anaconda II, a sequel to the 1997 thriller starring Jennifer Lopez and Ice Cube. According to Variety, the project will be developed by Columbia's mid-budget label Screen Gems. The original film, about documentary makers terrorized in the rainforest by a giant snake, grossed more than $136 million worldwide.
Gary Oldman, meanwhile, is in negotiations to join the cast of Warner Bros.' Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as wizard Sirius Black, the escaped prisoner of Azkaban who is later revealed to be Harry's godfather, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The film, directed by Alfonso Cuaron and produced by Chris Columbus, is set to begin production Feb. 17.
Bernie Mac is set to play a retired baseball player for the Detroit Tigers who returns to the game in Disney's feature comedy Mr. 3000. The project is out to directors, Variety reports. In addition to his hit Fox sitcom, The Bernie Mac Show, Mac will also be seen as Bosley in Charlie's Angels 2: Full Throttle and in DreamWorks' Head of State with Chris Rock.
Singer/actress Jennifer Lopez is in final negotiations to star in Revolution Studios' drama An Unfinished Life for director Lasse Hallstrom (The Cider House Rules), Variety reports. The film revolves around a young, down-on-her-luck woman, who, along with her daughter, is forced to move in with her estranged father-in-law. The film would become Lopez's third project for the studio. She next stars in Revolution's drama Gigli, set to debut in theaters this summer.
Fox hit pay dirt Monday with its limited-run reality series Joe Millionaire, the network's twisted take on the ABC hit The Bachelor. According to Variety, Millionaire was the highest rated premiere of the season on any network in the coveted adults 18-49 and 18-34 demographics. With 18.61 million viewers overall, it is Fox's best series showing in the Monday-at-9 hour slot since Melrose Place in 1995.
Two men were arrested for credit card fraud during raids last week at Murder Inc. records, a successful hip-hop label home to recording artists Ashanti and Ja Rule. According to court papers, the men, Joe Ragin and Derek Hayes, are accused of using a phony tuxedo rental business as a front for laundering proceeds from stolen credit cards. Investigators are also looking into whether the label's founder, Irv Gotti, had financial ties to a convicted drug gang leader. The raids were part of an ongoing investigation into alleged ties between Murder Inc. and New York's violent drug trade.