The Hound says "Welcome to Toonhound!" TheHound - an irregular round up of toon news and chatter from the uk...cartoon news interviews and views from the UK!  Union Jack


  british toon
  news & chatter
  animated films
  & shorts

  animated series

  animation studios

  & people

  string, hand
  & finger puppets

  characters, strips
  & comic books

  British animators
  & illustrators


Toonhound presents...








Toonhound's news pages!
toon news

toon news



   Toonhound's Top 10 Toon Terrors! (image copyright: "A Matter of Loaf and Death" - Aardman Animations Ltd)
Toonhound's Top 10 Toon Terrors    (29.10.10)

   Top Ten lists are fun. The last one we did round these parts
   generated lots of interesting feedback and chatter, so, as we
   creep up on that special ooky-spooky time of year, The Hound
   thought he might tempt you with another one.

   This time, we're looking at a list of UK toon characters who terrify us.
   Or if you prefer, scary folks you wouldn't want to meet in real life.
   Now, very soon after The Hound pulled on his raspberry and custard
   thinking cap, he came to an epiphany. There really aren't that
   many evildoers lurking out there, in our cartoon countryside.
   Think about it. There's ne'er an antagonist in sight in most of
   our preschool series. The producers just don't want to scare
   the littl'uns, and any ne'erdowells we do encounter appear to be
   of the "munster" variety; fun monsters who could barely scare
   the whiskers off a midnight mouse. It's been a challenge to
   dig out ten real scaremongers to be proud of. But we've done it.
   And you can read on at your own peril. So cue the church organ
   and forked lightning, and let our creepy countdown commence!


     Top 10 Toon Terrors #10 - Zordrak, Lord of Nightmares (image copyright FilmFair/Cookie Jar/Mike Jupp)

    #10 -
Zordrak, 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 in life.
    He wants to get his claws on a mythical stone - the titular
    Dreamstone - which will enable him to steal away your dreams...

    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 cartoon
    lizard in action... until we see that he's really rather toothless.
    Mike 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 between them.
    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 home, instead 
    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 terrible. Instead
    you're clinging to the edge of our Top Ten by the tips of your claws...


     Top 10 Toon Terrors #9 - The Blue Meanies (image copyright Apple Corps/UA/MGM)

    #9 - 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 and governance,
    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 even greater
    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, man...


     Top 10 Toon Terrors #8 - Evil Edna (image copyright Spargo Sisters)

    #8 - 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 of that
    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. But then,
    we don't need to be told. Nick Spargo's creation is just a hugely
    memorable teatime pantomime villain, helped in no small way
    by Kenneth Williams, who really went to town with her voice, imbuing
    her with an unforgettably camp and evil glee that surely haunted
    young viewers well beyond the six o'clock watershed...


     Top 10 Toon Terrors #7 - Fenella the Kettle Witch (image copyright Cosgrove Hall /Fremantle)

    #7 - 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 Hall. Chorlton's
     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
freewheeling, screeching
     tirades must have terrified young tots as they sat down for
     their lunchtime tv...


     Top 10 Toon Terrors #6 - Dr W Goodner (image copyright Martin Rosen/Nepenthe/UA)

    #6 - 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 with the
    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 terrible presence
    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, some way.
    As for Dr. Goodner, he's the dogs' devil. For them, he is evil in its
    most unwholesome human form...


     Top 10 Toon Terrors #5 - Raggety (image copyright Mary Turner/ATV)

    #5 -

    Raggety the twiggy wood elf from The Adventures of Rupert Bear
    is probably the most disturbing puppet ever to have graced our tv
His 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. His face
    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 roadkill
come 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


     Top 10 Toon Terrors #4 - The Blue Voice (image copyright Serge Danot/Goodtimes Enterprises)

    #4 - 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 feature
    Dougal and 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, she guides
    Buxton through a strange, twisted castle, progressing him through
    various ranks of nobility. It's a fabulous and disturbing sequence, totally
    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 the world...
    She is blue!... She is beautiful!... She is best!..


     Top 10 Toon Terrors #3 - The Pogles Witch (image copyright Olifer Postgate & Peter Firmin/SmalFilms)

    #3 - The Pogles Witch

    So far we've had characters whose appearance scares us,
    and characters who have scared us with their voice, or indeed, just
    by their name. Now we have a character who almost didn't
    get to scare us at all...

The Pogles Witch is, by far, the scariest Halloween witch we've ever
    had on our screens. She is in fact a character who was genuinely
    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 lighter
    woodland happenings and discoveries. And that first series from
   1965, with the Witch stalking the Pogles in all her menacing glory,
    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 cackling voicework,
    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....


    Top 10 Toon Terrors #2 - Piella Bakewell (image copyright Aardman Animations Ltd)

    #2 - 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 you should
    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
. She's a muffin-topped, bingo-winged
    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 and trophies
    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 proper, grown-up
    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
comical candyfloss that it masks the awfulness
    of her crimes...


Top 10 Toon Terrors #1 - General Woundwort (image copyright Martin Rosen/Nepenthe)

    #1 - General Woundwort

   And so we reach the end of our countdown. And right down here in
   the pitch darkness, at the bottom of our list, deep underground, we come
   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 escaping
   to Watership Down.

Woundwort is a monster. In his first appearances in the film, he's
   a great hulking presence, weighed down with menace. He holds
   sway over his shrinking lupine courtiers. He's a great simmering
   overlord who could despatch you with one flick of his paw. Come
   the climax, we see him cut loose. He mauls and bites and rips
   into our heroes, and the blood flows in buckets untill he meets
   his demise. But even then, he appears to go out on his own terms,
   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 engulfed him.
   Here in the UK, animation on the big screen had previously meant
   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 for breakfast,
   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 in blood
   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, without flinching,
   right in front of our eyes. He was amazing!

   That's what sets Woundwort apart from the rest of the terrors on
   this chilling list. Woundwort commits his crimes on screen. Woundwort
   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 lips parting,
   and those
crooked teeth bared. Why, he'd rip out your liver without
   a second thought....

      Pooch says 'Stay tooned!' 
  Happy Halloween, one and all!

    headlines »    news archive »


all characters © their respective creators and licensees / F2010