Lord of Nightmares
Let's start with a concept, a nightmare idea,
if you will. Zordrak
is the all-pervading evil guy from The
Dreamstone. And on paper,
he's terrifying. He's a horrible half-lizard,
half-dragon monster who
dwells beneath the Black Mountain of Ilfeed, in
the Land of
Nightmares. Zordrak has just one awful mission
He wants to get his claws on a mythical stone -
Dreamstone - which will enable him to steal away your
Let's consider that for a moment.
Your dream time is the best time, the most private
time you can have.
But Zordak wants to steal it away and replace
it with an all-pervading
black and terrible nothingness. No thing. Nothing.
Zilch. That's Freddy
Krueger frightening, that is... until we actually witness this
lizard in action... until we see that he's really rather
Jupp, Martin Gates and the FilmFair team have given him the
most redundant and ridiculous evil minions to assist
him in his quest.
Sergeant Blob, Frizz and Nug share barely a brain cell
Urpgor is a lunatic too, so most of his evil plans
barely get off the
drawing board. But Zordrak seems oblivious to this
fact, and sends
far too much time pontificating in his bleak mountain
of actually grasping the bull by the horns and going
off to menace
folks good and properly, like an overlord
should - darnit!
Oh Zordrak, you could have been something truly
you're clinging to the edge of our Top Ten by
the tips of your claws...
- The Blue Meanies
The nasty, anarchic Pop Art blue beings with Mickey
Mouse hats invaded
Pepperland en masse in Yellow
Submarine. They're the embodiment of all
those society naysayers, big corporations, officialdom
constantly jabbering and bickering and quashing
all the fun and freedom
and colour out of the world. They are THEM. The
Powers That Be or
Would Be, if we let them have their way. It's a concept
that's lost none of
its potency in the four decades since the film
was first released. Indeed,
as our Government has become ever more centralised
and controlling in
recent years, the Blue Meanies have probably assumed
relevance. They scared the bejeezus out of The
Hound, anyway, when he
he first caught up with them as a kid. They are
illogical, off-kilter creations
with bank robber masks and blood red lips, who
sneer and leer at our
heroes and poison all their fun...
Beware, the relentless forces of Bluedom... er,
- Evil Edna
If you go down to Doyley
Woods today, you'd better go in disguise.
Dress up like a Dyson vacuum cleaner, or some
handsome white goods.
That way you might avoid the unwelcome attention
cantankerous cackling cathode-ray, Evil Edna.
Maybe she's angry because there's never anything
good on the telly.
Maybe it's because she's lost all traces of her
femininity inside that
Hitachi-shaped shell (although she does fall in
love with a Newsreader,
in one episode). What ever the reason, Edna is
a nasty and
embittered tv witch who appears hell bent on making
life a misery
for Arthur, Mavis, The Moog, Carwash and the rest
of their woodland
pals. She'll cackle and zap them with her antennae
all day long.
Why is she shaped like a television? - We're not told.
we don't need to be told. Nick Spargo's creation
is just a hugely
memorable teatime pantomime villain, helped in no small
by Kenneth Williams, who really went to town with her
her with an unforgettably camp and evil glee that surely
young viewers well beyond the six o'clock watershed...
- Fenella the Kettle Witch
By 'eck, Wheelieworld's
bobbing, blobbing Welsh witch is a classic
from Cosgrove Hall. She's the perfect foil
to chuckling Chorlton, the
Happiness Dragon, who drives her insane
with his effervescent presence.
Joe Lynch gives her a brilliant, gargling,
Welsh accent that reaches
fever pitch as she rages around her home in Spout
happiness just makes her green blood boil!
Maybe it's because she's a redhead... and she's
Welsh... and she's
been lumbered with a ridiculous red fez... Who
knows... Fenella is
just a big bad tempered old bat. But someone
loves her despite all that,
or else we wouldn't have Clifford's disembodied
leg roaming around
in the background. And we love her too. Her
tirades must have terrified young tots as they
sat down for
their lunchtime tv...
- Dr W Goodner
Okay, the fun time's over now. It's time to get
dark and deadly serious
with an entry that might surprise a few of you,
until you watch Martin
Rosen's adaptation of The
Plague Dogs. Then you'll be shocked to your
bones, as that lab door and that name become synonymous
hideous experimentation and relentless pursuit
of our two canine stars...
Dr. Goodner is a scientist at the fictional animal
research facility, based
in the Lake District. And whilst his senior colleague,
Dr. Boycott, has a
proper voice in the film, Goodner is represented only
by that sign.
Even so, it's enough to chill us to the bone,
because it's Goodner who has
been conducting tests with bubonic plague, and
The Powers That Be have
no qualms in using this information to aid them
in their dog hunt - even
though Snitter and Rowf are potentially plague-free.
Dr. Goodner's legacy is thus an overwhelming and
throughout the film. It drives the hunt and forces
the dogs into their last
desperate lunge for freedom. If you have
dogs of your own, you'll be
mortified by this film. And even if you don't,
you'll still be shedding tears.
It's so bleak and so awful to watch it can be
a struggle to get through it.
All you can do is to clutch hold of its ambiguous ending
and hope that the
dogs have reached their dreamland paradise, somehow,
As for Dr. Goodner, he's the dogs' devil. For
them, he is evil in its
most unwholesome human form...
Raggety the twiggy wood elf from The
Adventures of Rupert Bear
is probably the most disturbing puppet ever to have
graced our tv
hornet-nosed face and stick hair have no doubt
fueled a thousand nightmares over the years. He
looks like Gonzo's
twisted, skeletal alter-ego. It's all-too easy
to imagine him rat-a-tat-tatting
against your bedroom window, come the midnight hour.
could haunt your dreams for eternity...
The thing is, Raggety's bad looks actually belie
his character. He's a
little malevolent, rather than evil. He's
an irritating - nay - irritated wood
sprite and initially, he's irked because he believes
that Rupert has
knocked down his knotty tree home, in Nutwood.
He's nagging and
niggling and embittered, certainly. But nothing
more. Nothing darker.
Mind you, the decision-makers out there in tv
land have obviously picked
up on Raggety's fear factor. In the recent Follow
the Magic series he
was completely transformed into a button-nosed
pixie. You wouldn't know
it was the same chap. Which that means you could
have some fun with the
kiddies this Halloween. Put on Mary Turner's puppet
gem and scare them
out of their wits. That's if you can find it.
Alas, this classic ITC series is
lost somehwere in the vaults, with only a few
episodes left available
to tv historians. In a way, it makes Raggety even
more desirably dark.
He's an evil sweetmeat for you to track down,
if you dare...
Now, the nitpickers amongst you, will note that
I said "probably" when
introducing young Raggety. He's "probably"
the most disturbing puppet.
And that's because there's a rival for that prestigious
title, in the form
of Hartley Hare, of Pipkins.
Hartley is a monster, of that there's
no doubt. He looks like some ghastly flea-bitten
back to life,
and there's also no doubt that he still terrifies
viewers to this day. But he's
not a bad boy, and was never conceived as an antagonist,
or as some
true tv terror. So he's not in this list... Apart
from just there, when we
talked about him... er-hum...
- The Blue Voice
Let's move on now, from two characters who are
in this list
because of their good-bad looks, to a character
who we never even
see on screen. But it doesn't make them any
less terrifying. Indeed,
this character uses our own imagination to haunt
us just splendidly...
The Blue Voice is omnipresent in that magnificent stop-motion
the Blue Cat. It's she who drives said blue cat, Buxton,
on his quest to rid the Magic Roundabout world
of colour, and to
inperil Florence and Dougal with her wiles. Initially,
Buxton through a strange, twisted castle,
progressing him through
various ranks of nobility. It's a fabulous and disturbing
off the wall and completely immersive. We never
see this Blue Voice, she is
instead the disembodied voice of evil, a
sweet siren who calls to you
as the night draws in. We are left to fill in
an image of her for ourselves,
but many of us can't help but picture her as the
very real, very curvy,
Fenella Fielding who gives the voice... er...
its voice. And no doubt,
we can also picture her in that magnificent red
velvet gown she wore
when she played Valeria Watt in "Carry On
Screaming". But this
still doesn't detract from the insidious evil
spell she casts upon
the film, and those who watch it.
She's the voice in your head that taunts and belittles
you. She's the
whisper that fuels your desire for revenge upon
She is blue!... She is beautiful!... She is best!..
- The Pogles Witch
So far we've had characters whose appearance scares
and characters who have scared us with their voice,
or indeed, just
by their name. Now we have a character who almost
get to scare us at all...
Pogles Witch is, by far, the scariest Halloween witch we've ever
had on our screens. She is in fact a character who
considered too scary for kids tv. She
was created by the SmallFilms
partnership of Oliver Postgate and Peter
Firmin for the first series
of The Pogles.This
stop-motion Witch was a particularly evil old hag with
shapeshifting abilities who had her eye on the
Pogles' magic crown and
she was to have featured in several further stories,
but the BBC producers
got cold feet and requested that she be dropped
from the show. Thus,
the next tales from Pogles Wood centered on somewhat
woodland happenings and discoveries. And that first
1965, with the Witch stalking the Pogles in all her menacing
is now all-but resigned to the tv vaults.
It's easy to see why the BBC got so scared. This witch
is a fantastically
dark creation. She sports a huge beak-like nose,
and twiggy fingers that
jut out from a swaddling black cloak. In the episode
"King of the Fairies"
we look on aghast as she breaks down the Pogles'
door to threaten,
and bind them with her black magic. She has a
fantastic air of menace
about her that's aided and abetted by Oliver Postgate's
and taken to another level entirely by having been
filmed in black and white.
She becomes something far greater by virtue of
all that grey-black shadow.
Her features are reduced, and sculpted in darkness,
giving our cold
imagination freedom to roam.... and to be petrified....
- Piella Bakewell
Nick Park and the Aardman
team understand the need for a memorable
antagonist in their films. Mrs Tweedy was a gleefully
sadistic chicken farmer,
Feathers McGraw was a diamond thief with an ice-cold
stare, and Preston
an unstoppable maniacal mutton-chasing robo-dog. They
even had no qualms
about transforming our favourite inventor, Wallace,
into a great furred freak of
nature with a penchant for murdering vegetables.
But all of those villains pale
next to pink and pearl Piella Bakewell, the
forner Bake O Lite Girl who
comes between Wallace and Gromit in A
Matter of Loaf and Death.
This woman, dearest readers, is the real deal. She's
a full-on suburban
psycho killer and she's at number two in our list because
be afraid of her. Very afraid.
Piella is Aardman's Pink-Black Widow, and her
home in Pastry Rise
is as iconic as the Bates Motel.
fluffy-wuffy middle-aged menace who twaddles and
twitters with an
unhinged look in her eye.
She's already seduced and murdered twelve
full-grown men, and she keeps photographic evidence
for each of her kills in her bedroom.
Photographs and trophies. In. Her. Bedroom.
Yep, at the end of the day, you can stare at folks
all you want, you can
threaten to turn birdy-wirdies into pies, or lambs
into cans, but having
the blood-curdled stomach to press on and commit
murder, not once, but twelve times over
- well - that takes evil to
another level altogether, and the only reason Piella's
not topping this
Halloween list is because the Aardman team have
wrapped her up
in so much
candyfloss that it masks the awfulness
of her crimes...
- General Woundwort
so we reach the end of our countdown. And right down here in
the pitch darkness, at the bottom of our list, deep underground,
face to face with the most terrifying toon creation.
It's the leader of Efrafa,
the great and savage General Woundwort, who will
stop at nothing to
prevent Fiver, Hazel, Bigwig and their friends from
is a monster. In his first appearances in the film, he's
a great hulking presence, weighed down with menace.
sway over his shrinking lupine courtiers. He's a great simmering
overlord who could despatch you with one flick of his
the climax, we see him cut loose. He mauls and bites
into our heroes, and the blood flows in buckets untill
his demise. But even then, he appears to go out on his
leaping towards his maker with a roar of bloody defiance...
Let's get personal here. The Hound was ten years old
when he first
saw this film, and it was an experience that quite literally
Here in the UK, animation on the big screen had previously
just Disney. Disney and animation, the words were almost
interchangeable. "The Aristocats", "Robin
Hood", "The Rescuers" -
that was our main diet. For sure, a few outsiders punched
their way in
to the ring from time to time. But it was Disney, almost
all the way,
until "Watership Down" came along. This film
broke the genre in
half. It was a hit film that chewed up Bianca and Bernard
and upset a whole load of Daily Mail readers
who were horrified by
the animal realities it depicted. This was a grim,
dark, and dirty story.
And General Woundwort drenched unsuspecting families
and guts and fur. Many mothers and fathers appeared
to be offended
on behalf of their kids. But we were far more tolerant
than they thought,
and this viewer was thrilled to the marrow by what
he saw. Woundwort
was deliciously terrifying. He killed those rabbits,
right in front of our eyes. He was amazing!
That's what sets Woundwort apart from the rest of the
this chilling list. Woundwort commits his crimes on
kills in camera. And right here, right now, at the bottom
of this page,
you would not want to see him emerging from the
gloom, with that
blackened eye focusing in on you, those bloodied
and those crooked
teeth bared. Why, he'd rip out your liver without
a second thought....
Halloween, one and all!