It's tough making movies for kids. As adults, it's easy to forget how things that seem mildly strange to us might be earth-shatteringly horrific to a young child. But it works the other way, too, because kids' shows are full of characters that kids seem to love (or at least be indifferent to) that make us want to sleep with a nightlight on. Like ...
Put that lunch away, it's not getting better from here.
Fofao, a mop-topped escapee from the Island of Dr. Moreau, has been a beloved entertainer of Brazilian children since the 1980s, because the body horror genre has apparently not made its way into South America yet. He dresses like a police sketch of a pedophile and has the singing voice of a cartel assassin, but the kids in this video are completely unfazed by his presence.
"There's a giant pig werewolf behind us?! Oh no! Somebody warn Fofao!"
We were pretty sure "Fofao" was Brazilian for "melting wax scrotum cheeks and eyes that have seen the inside of a prison." However, Fofao is actually a magical alien from the planet Fofaolandia who came down to Earth to form a band called Balloon Magic with a quartet of grade school children, which is a sentence that seems to have been lifted directly from the carefully rehearsed speech of an elaborately theatrical kidnapper.
We're not saying that Fofao steals children. He merely looks like he was specifically designed to push legislation requiring armed guards at all school bus stops. But watching his television show is like being transported into an episode of The Twilight Zone where you're the only person who realizes everything around you has gone totally insane.
Most of us are familiar with the kind and lovable characters of Jim Henson's Sesame Street. Gentle Big Bird, curious little Elmo, best pals Bert and Ernie, and even that ornery bastard Oscar the Grouch were all carefully conceived to be as non-threatening as possible to amuse young children with entertaining lessons about spelling and friendship. Which makes the inclusion of the Nobody, a bodiless alien phantasm from a parallel universe of screaming impotent terror, all the more baffling.
Nobody seems like he was specifically engineered as nightmare fuel, and for some reason, the producers of Sesame Street thought it would be appropriate to have Nobody use his twitchy, disembodied facial features to deliver counting exercises to preschoolers. He also speaks with the terrifyingly dulcet tones of a serial killer patiently assuring us that there is no escape from his basement, because a man with a bachelor's degree in home economics thought that was a good idea.
Phasing in and out of being, Nobody occupies some incomprehensible realm of chaotic oblivion, seeping through the cracks in our reality like one of Kevin Bacon's visions in Stir of Echoes. Unsurprisingly, Jim Henson originally created this character for an entirely different purpose -- to narrate a surreal short film about the human subconscious.
Apparently, Mr. Henson's brain supplied its own acid.
The film, Limbo, the Organized Mind, stars the Nobody as a mental homunculus adrift through a purgatory of his own thoughts, overlaid with images of leaky pipes, scurrying cockroaches, and foggy, alien landscapes.
Don't worry, kids, God isn't dead. He's just hunting you.
At some point during the preproduction of his children's television show, following a line of logic that will never be understood, Jim Henson revisited this nightmare and said, "Yes. This should be the monster that teaches human babies how to count."