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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.

Exhibit B.

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."

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According to a French Wikipedia entry loosely translated by Google, Telechat is a bizarre satirical news program starring anthropomorphic animal puppets discussing topics that are instantly relatable to all children, such as the pressures of inter-office politics and economics on broadcast journalism, and the undeniable hijinks of "professional misconduct."

All of that explanation is irrelevant, however, because none of us can hear anything over the shrieking madness of Ostrich Boobs and Personface McTelephone.

Somehow, somewhere Guillermo del Toro is smiling.

Or did you miss the human cleavage on the ostrich puppet up there? Here, let's zoom in:

Just ... just wow.

It doesn't matter what these characters are talking about -- a close-up shot of a frothy glass of milk resting gingerly between a pair of ballooned puppet breasts transforms every word of dialogue into a form of "professional misconduct," regardless of what is actually being spoken.

Beyond that, the entire program plays out like some fever dream a child would have staring at their stuffed animals while bedridden with typhus. The characters wobble around like stroke victims, rapidly twitching out the palsied facial expressions of a person shuddering into brain death, while their delicately gloved human hands make the refined but eerily purposed gestures of an aristocratic spree killer. Also, after the end credits of this particular episode, we are treated to a brief scene of the ostrich putting on lipstick and barely avoiding molestation at the hands of a sleazy cat with a broken arm who apparently hides cigarette lighters in his cast. By the way, that cat is a recurring character, and his arm is in a cast every single time we see him.

Either he's not drinking enough of that milk, or milk isn't what he's drinking.

And just in case you thought that horror phone was Telechat's sole representative in the sentient appliance department, here's a corpse-faced microphone with a giant cloned science ear typically reserved for the backs of laboratory mice:

He is understandably excited to be getting out of that sewer.

Every glazed-eyed stare in Telechat has the subtle stench of dread looming behind it. It is like a nightmare we cannot decode yet are powerless to look away from for fear of what those characters might do while we aren't watching.


Oobi is a show on Nick Jr. (Nickelodeon's sister channel for all their preschool-targeted programming) about a family of bug-eyed naked hand puppets speaking in sentence fragments and molesting everything in sight like a colony of blind sexual predators.

Which is to say, these are all just hands with big eyes glued to them, which you wouldn't think would be unsettling until you find yourself asking the crucial question: In that universe, what would we see if we panned down?

Nothing but another fist.

The one on the right is Uma, Oobi's sister (all of these characters were apparently named by Bjork and the guys from Sigur Ros). You can tell because she has a pinky ring, which is apparently the universal sign of feminism in the Oobi universe. Then there's Angus, who wears a hat and has a pair of skinless eyeballs growing down from the roof of his mouth like stalactites.

In other words, he looks a little like Channing Tatum.

The characters don't have separate puppet arms or anything, because gluing arms to arms would be too horrifying even for this show. No, instead the characters merely use their faces to grab everything, at which point the show devolves from "puppet theater" into "filming people as they juggle and play piano with eyeballs glued to their fingers." Seriously, each episode feels like a video that a serial killer would leave for the police.

"Don't even bother with the SWAT team, we're just going to need a coroner."

The anatomy of Oobi is made even more confusing by the fact that the characters talk and eat with the exact same set of appendages they use to manipulate objects. Watching Uma struggle with a pair of chopsticks in a Chinese restaurant is the most Sisyphean task you will ever see on a Nickelodeon channel, because even if she finally manages to hold the chopsticks correctly, how is she then supposed to eat with them?

Best not to ponder. That way lies madness.

Meanwhile, Oobi's father watches patiently, his mouth fingers curled up like an angry spider.

Ready to devour his young, fingernails and all.

And how do these beings masturbate? OK, we actually know the answer to that one.

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Meet Wizbit, a magical talking wizard's hat from space with a shrill, buzzing voice and eyes that stare off in conflicting directions as if they are locked in magnetic opposition. It is unclear whether Wizbit is supposed to be a boy hat or a girl hat, but what is painfully clear is that this is a question the universe never intended for us to ask.

Wizbit lives in a house with the desaturated color palette of a 1960s cigarette ad alongside a gloomy rabbit-man named Wooly who spends the majority of every episode muttering inaudibly like a sociopath trying to do an impression of Art Carney. Wizbit, meanwhile, wags his eyebrows like a silent film comedian and dares children not to weep in terrified confusion, as if they have any choice in the matter.

There is no stopping the tears. Or the fears.

In one episode, the nefarious Professor Doom steals all of the color in Wizbit's village. They take great pains to stress how evil Professor Doom is, despite the fact that he looks about as menacing as a birthday magician and as such is much less horrifying than the two heroes of the program.

We're ruling whatever he does a clear-cut case of self-defense.

Wizbit turns the world back to color, prompting Wooly to shuffle awkwardly outside like he is struggling to choke back the biggest shit in anal-clenching history to marvel at the space hat's handiwork. He then does the same gloomy wallflower dance we assume he did when he went stag to prom. The dance goes on for an uncomfortably long time while Wizbit just stands there and stares off into the middle distance.

This is like a deleted scene from The Wicker Man.

The Greedy

In Raggedy Ann & Andy: A Musical Adventure (the Toy Story of the 1970s), Raggedy Ann and Andy are two stalwart dolls who embark on a mission to save one of their fellow toys from a villainous pirate named the Captain, who, to be clear, is also a toy. They hitch a ride on a camel with an inexplicable Southern accent who ends up leading them directly into the Taffy Pit, at which point they meet the Greedy and every child in the theater starts crying.

If nightmares were money, this episode would be the world's fourth largest economy.

At first, Raggedy Ann and Andy (who, with their patchwork faces and unblinking eyes, are both unsettling enough in their own right) think they've merely landed in a giant subterranean river of taffy, and they immediately begin eating the Greedy's body without any hesitation whatsoever. As they take bites of his tasty flesh, the Greedy's horrifying face rises out of the sticky ocean like the T-1000 and engages the two dolls in polite conversation.

"Terribly sorry, but I couldn't help but notice that you're chewing lustily on my sugary taint."

He begins to sing a depressing song about his loneliness and how he longs to find a "sweetheart" to ease his suffering and put an end to his compulsive eating. As he sings, his face is constantly melting and shifting in an endless surreal food sludge sculpture, like something you would find in Salvador Dali's toilet bowl.

However, things don't get really dark until Raggedy Ann lets it slip that she has a heart made of candy (for some reason) -- a literal "sweet heart." That's when the Greedy loses his damn mind.

Because he clearly had such a tight rein on things to begin with.

He suddenly pulls out a pair of scissors and lunges for Raggedy Ann with the intention of cutting her heart out and eating it in a G-rated musical adventure for children.

The valuable message being "The things you love will literally devour your heart."

Then he ejaculates vanilla ice cream at them as they make their escape, and no parent with any respect for their child's mental health should be far behind them.

"You kids enjoy the candy sperm monster show. Mommy and Daddy have coke to do."

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The Blue Thing

Courage the Cowardly Dog is about a senile old couple and their haunted dog Courage who is regularly terrorized by phantasms that only he ever seems to notice. Most of the monsters that appear on the show aren't any more frightening than a standard Scooby-Doo villain. However, in one episode, Courage accidentally breaks his master's bugle and goes to bed tormenting himself with enough guilt to trigger a nightmare, which the animators used as an excuse to settle some inexplicable vendetta they had against the young viewers of their television show.

A blue Tim Burton sculpture with a pale death mask of regret and disappointment is unleashed on Courage fans, apropos of nothing, for nine horrible seconds. Seriously, Courage blinks a few times and then suddenly that fucking thing comes wailing on screen like a sad banshee.

"Wait, what's happen- NOOOO AAAAAAH!"

A dissonant orchestral arrangement oozes from the speakers as the Blue Thing (the character has no official name, but Courage fans have christened him thusly) slowly rolls his head around on his shoulders like a dead psychic, bulges his eyes out, and whispers, "You're not perfect." And then it ends, as quickly and with as little explanation as it began. It's as if somebody randomly spliced a David Lynch dream sequence into the middle of a children's cartoon.

Apparently, the Blue Thing is supposed to be the broken bugle, reaffirming Courage's feelings of inadequacy, despite the fact that it looks more like a mad scientist's experimental fetus clone and precisely nothing at all like a bugle. Incidentally, this was the last episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog ever produced, so maybe terrifying children with a naysaying doom specter was a way for the animators to express their feelings over the loss of both their jobs and their creative outlet.

"Children exist to be terrified. Why can't the network understand that?!"

Jonathan Wojcik regularly frightens and confuses children on bogleech.com. You can follow Amanda on Twitter or read more at Mannafesto, where she regularly reveals the holy secrets of the ancient Sassypants tribe.

For more nightmare fuel in children's entertainment, check out The 13 Most Unintentionally Disturbing Children's Toys and The 6 Most Baffling Serial Crimes.

If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 4 Stupid Ways the Government is Embracing the Internet .

And stop by LinkSTORM to cleanse your mind of the horrifying things you just saw.

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Extra Credit: Keep the nightmares flowing with terrifying old-timey hobbies like public morgue visits and serial killer action figures. If that fear high starts to fade, this list of real life sea monsters will ensure your bed gets no break from the wetting. Still not scared enough? Check out the worst prehistory has to offer and drift off into uneasy dreams of forty foot wide murderbirds.

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