Crossing Over: “REGULAR SHOW”Fearful Features,Movies/TV,News Ken W. Hanley
Welcome, FANGORIA Readers, to CROSSING OVER, a column that highlights the films, series and content out there outside of horror that is fashioned towards or pays tribute to our beloved genre. By shining a light onto these projects, FANGORIA hopes to open a world of entertainment perfect for fright fans that lies just beyond the borders of the horror community. So without further ado…
One of the questions this writer has discussed much with family-centric fright fans is when- and how- to introduce young ones to the horror genre. For some horrorheads, the introduction usually comes in the form of SCOOBY-DOO or COURAGE THE COWARDLY DOG, while others might hold out for something a bit scarier, such as ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK?, THE TWILIGHT ZONE or GREMLINS. Yet for some, the first exposure to horror might come in the places one least expects it: Large Marge in PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE, The Tunnel Sequence in WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY or even less horror-oriented animated fare such as REGULAR SHOW.
The absurdist sitcom on Cartoon Network created by J.G. Quintel certainly holds an appeal for younger viewers with its mix of referential humor and over-the-top worldbuilding, but for longtime viewers, the show’s admiration for horror is clear as day. Whether it’s horror-centric episodes or incredibly specific spoofs, REGULAR SHOW is incredibly cognizant of genre tropes and iconography, and moreover, is super respectful of the source material as well. After all, it isn’t every day when an animated show aimed at children has a hilariously accurate parody of THE EVIL DEAD prominently featured in an episode.
That’s right: complete with an animated Bruce Campbell surrogate, one of REGULAR SHOW’s first forays in the genre comes as early as the second season episode “Grave Sights,” in which a Cemetery screening of the fictional EVIL DEAD spoof “Zombocalypse 3D” accidentally unleashes a wave of zombies upon our heroes. Other, less direct spoofs include the episode “Ello Gov’nor,” which follows a CHRISTINE-like killer British Taxi, the werewolf parody “Skunked” and SINGLE WHITE FEMALE spin “Temp Check.” And these don’t even include the individual monsters, demons, secret societies and demigods that populate REGULAR SHOW’s ever-expanding universe.
However, REGULAR SHOW’s strongest love letter to the genre comes in the form of their annual “Terror Tales of the Park” episode, a fixture since their third season that serves as both Halloween special and an homage to the styles and stories of horror. From evil wizards to killer dolls to supernatural scarecrows, each “Terror Tales of the Park” toes the line between stylistic homage and outright parody. While standard jump scare conventions such as the “surprise cat” or “mirror bait-and-switch” show face, adult horror fans might appreciate the less-than-subtle nods to CHILD’S PLAY and HOUSE.
Yet what makes REGULAR SHOW’s love for horror feel so infectious is how accurately it captures what works so well about the genre while never going to the lengths that would exclude its younger audience. From the clever visuals to the self-aware writing, REGULAR SHOW understands the fun yet wicked atmosphere that allows their spoofs to be simultaneously spooky and appropriately sinister. It’s horror comedy entertainment that works for the whole family, offering newcomers an accessible and not-too-scary take on horror’s most iconic territory while giving seasoned horrorheads enough winks-and-nods to keep them grinning like a madman.