When I was younger, I was exposed to a lot of content that frightened and fascinated me, leading me to becoming the gorgeous devilish fiend I am today. I fully support exposing some kids to the spooky, because it can lead to a fascination and creativity. Why am I on the path of dark fantasy? Some of my influences could be the cartoons I watched as a child, which I consider extremely valuable! Even if, sometimes, they made me cry. No pain no gain, eh?
That said, here are some shows I wanted to talk about. There’s a mixture here, some of them aren’t scary and did not scare me as a child, but I wanted to mention them and appreciate them for the horror/spooky themes or creatures that hooked me. Therefore, I’ll mention on a scale of how much these shows scared me, and if it’s a low score, go on to explain creature interest and give that a score.
(1) Courage the Cowardly Dog
Scared meter: 10/10
Creature interest: 4/10
A lot of people cite King Ramses Curse as super terrifying, and I do agree with them. As a child, that freaked me out so much. But I wanted to bring up the “Harvest Moon”, I mean just the look of them and their voice is utterly offputting and SUPER eerie. I had nightmares about this thing when I was a child. There was so much in this show that scared the daylights out of me, some of it even scary to me to this day. I don’t know, that harvest moon still looks pretty eerie.
Therefore, I set my ‘scared meter’ to max here, as I’m sure many other people would as well. I put creature interest at a lower score of 4/10, however, because Courage doesn’t really focus on creature lore much. A lot of the stories center around random and very-well-done monsters. I would not say that this sparked the love I have for specific monsters in horror, however, like some on this list that would score lower on the horror meter.
(2) Powerpuff Girls
Scare meter: 5/10
Creature interest: 8/10
Powerpuff girls was a show I fell in love with as a child, particularly Bubbles, because I saw myself in her. But this isn’t a post to discuss sentimentality. In terms of horror, this show isn’t high on the ‘oh wow, I’m frightened’ meter, but I gave it a 5/10 because as a very young girl, I got nightmares of “Sedusa” (I…actually thought she was ‘Medusa’ up until this point, oops). Nowadays, I obviously think she’s a pretty cool villain.
But creature lore in Powerpuff girls is interesting, particularly the monsters. There was a lot of personality given to the monsters that the girls fought, and Sedusa is a good example of this with her wild hair powers. I think this is one of the few instances where I enjoy superheroes, whereas normally I’m not a fan of that genre.
Scare meter: 6/10
Creature interest: 5/10
This one scores a bit lower on both, but it doesn’t really fit into either category for me. By the time I began watching it, I was too old to be frightened by the surprising pieces in this show, and there weren’t really any creatures that stood out to me. But I feel like this show should be mentioned because I did love it so much, and it was just plain…weird.
The ‘weird’ part of youtube reminds me of this show every so often. I would say this appeals to more of the ‘weird’ in horror than anything, as opposed to scary or something specific with creatures. That said, if I watched this when I was younger, I feel like I would have been frightened by many things in this show. But it definitely contributed to my love of ‘weird’ that I have today.
(4) Rugrats (yes really)
Scare meter: 8/10
Creature interest: 4/10
So, rewatching those scenes reminds me as to why I included Rugrats on this list. It might seem odd, both in my meters and the fact that I’m mentioning it here, but age definitely plays a factor. You see, when I watched Rugrats, I was a very little girl, to the point where my brain hadn’t developed enough to discern reality from fantasy. That therefore means that everything I saw in Rugrats I thought could happen in real life.
And…watching some of those scenes? Yeah, I can see why I was so frightened. I remember one scene in particular where I think Tommy was going on adventures in the basement, pretending he was working with Reptar or something, against some form of giant rats. Well, they defeated them and got out of the basement, but at the very end, the scene focused on a door cracked open, black as the abyss…with red eyes staring out of it.
Considering I couldn’t discern fantasy from reality at that point, I thought that therefore some giant rats were going to come out of my basement and attack me in real life. I actually recall having quite a few nightmares following this! Which is good, this builds character in my opinion. I like being scared now, in a safe environment, of course.
(5) The Black Cauldron
Scare meter: 10/10
Creature interest: 7/10
High scores for this, and well deserved too! While, in my opinion, the characters and their development left MUCH to be desired in this movie, looking back, the horror elements were ON POINT. I was so frightened as a little girl watching this movie, and I love it! The horned king is so SCARY looking! The animations being super jerky at some points for him, too, were amazing.
Creature interest is high as well, the whole skeleton army thing being animated by magic, and the witches, are fairly interesting in this movie and inspired an interest more in the darker magics in fantasy. This movie definitely has its weak points, and I could write a whole blog article as to why, but its strong points are certainly the artistic depiction of horror. This is one of the movies that inspired my early nightmares, and I love it for that!
(6) Scooby Doo
Scare Meter: 5/10
Creature interest: 10/10
OH MY GODS I forgot how much I LOVED Ghoul School for Scooby Doo in particular. So I gave this franchise half points for being scary, because it was more of a ‘spooky!’ than legit horror. Granted, when I was pretty young, I saw the live action movie, and we had a Rugrats-situation where I thought all of those monsters were REAL because live action. I was, again, too young to discern fantasy from reality.
But aside from that instance, most of the time Scooby Doo wasn’t scary. The CREATURE LORE for horror themes is where this shines, and particularly Ghoul School. This actually confirmed, to me at least, the existence of real monsters in the Scooby Doo universe. There might have been other instances prior to this of real monsters, but this one sticks out to me the most by far.
And the best part is?! They’re not depicted as evil or anything. Just… normal people who happen to be monsters, little girls trying to do their best in this school. There’s also a dragon, MATCHES! Argh, I love everything about this movie and need to rewatch it. But yes, Scooby Doo has a TON of horror creature lore that got me interested as a little girl, carrying on today, and Ghoul School is a perfect example.
(7) Danny Phantom
Scare Meter: 3/10
Creature interest: 8/10
This show really didn’t frighten me, as by the time I watched it, I was old enough to not really be afraid of it. Plus, it never really went out of its way to be super scary. The art style isn’t one that strikes fear, but this is where creature lore comes in. Danny Phantom was one of my favorite shows as a child, and I really was interested in ghosts along with their realm as a child.
This show featured a vampire ghost, which naturally I really liked (his name was Vlad so yeah). The characters in this show were rich and interesting, but also the world building surrounding the ghosts. I can’t recall if they had any other monsters besides ghosts, aside from implications like being a ghost-vampire, but it definitely pushed me into liking the idea of paranormal things and ghosts in general. Plus, Danny was my first cartoon crush. Fun fact!
Well, there you have it! I hope I sparked some nostalgia in some people. Do you feel the same way about some of these shows or movies? What inspired your love of horror or dark fantasy? A lot of what I watched and read pushed me toward the dark fantasy genre and influenced my personality today, something I’m happy about. I could make an entire blog article of books that got me into vampires, speaking of which!
Feel free to respond with your childhood memories as well, they’re always fun to talk about. Especially if you’re seeing this around October!
Oh, and feel free to check out my magical college book! It came out on October 9, 2021!