Raoul Servais

Alma, by Rodrigo Blaas

Happy Halloween! Or, rather, Happy Morning-After-Halloween! There’s nothing better to cure a candy hangover than cartoons. In honor of this indulgent holiday, here’s something of an indulgent (if brisk) extravaganza of horror cartoon history. Animation brings a unique skill set to horror and suspense. On the one hand, the difference in the representation of physical space dramatically changes the ability to produce jump scares. It’s not that it’s impossible to put instant shrieks into cartoons, but the impact is different. The fear in animation is often less visceral, more slow-burning. Animators can create self-contained stylistic universes with very specific moods, and terrifying ones at that. A great scary cartoon can sink into your soul, keeping you up at night with memories of something that will never quite fit into the waking world. They’re masterpieces of suggestion and imagination, showing that an image need not be possible in the live action world to scare us to the core. Here are the ten creepiest animated shorts of all time (that you can watch online right now).

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Harpya

Why Watch? Peculiar, dreamlike and perfect for a Friday. This short film won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1979, most likely after the entire jury was slipped acid tabs. Raoul Servais‘ mustachioed story blends Belle Epoque with Vaudeville style to create the top layer of antique bliss, but the real magic comes from front projection techniques and a black velvet background. The effect is mesmerizing. Movement isn’t fluid, but it doesn’t feel as jerky as early stop-motion, so it lives in a middle ground that perpetually confuses the eye. There’s also the fantastical nature of the tale itself — one where a man finds a bare-breasted Harpy in a fountain and takes her home only to find that she’s incredibly hungry. Partially horror and partially a surreal trip with pommes frites on the side, it’s the kind of metaphorical movie you can only watch with an eyebrow raised high. What Will It Cost? About 8 minutes. Keep Watching Short Films

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published: 12.17.2014
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published: 12.15.2014
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published: 12.12.2014
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published: 12.05.2014
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