There exist in this world certain things that are just inherently creepy. There are critters that abide in the deepest depths of the oceans with sightless eyes and fearsome teeth, while there are those creatures that walk on Earth with physiologies that defy explanation. It is with some surprise, then, that one of the creepiest creations in the world comes straight from the human imagination. The bizarre art of puppetry has existed for centuries – first as a medium for teaching mythology and legend, and later as a form of vaudeville and comedy. Here we will examine some of the most unusual (and sometimes famous) examples of this “fine art.”
10. The Yip Yip Martians
Of course, no puppet-centric list would be complete without a Muppet or two. These Jim Henson creations are some of the more hilarious residents of Sesame Street, and are presumed to be from the planet Mars. Their trademark “yip yip….uh huh” language demonstrates beautifully their misunderstanding of the inherent absurdity of many human objects (e.g. televisions and typewriters). Complete with furry hides, tentacles, googly eyes and antennae, these out-of-this-world puppets can really put the world in perspective.
9. Wayang Kulit
Wayang Kulit isn’t a specific puppet, but rather an ancient form of shadow puppetry that has existed in Indonesia for centuries. Contrary to many of the preconceptions that are usually associated with puppets and their uses, these intricate and highly developed works of art are used to tell stories of mythology and the ancient struggle between good and evil. The puppets themselves are hand-made from buffalo hides, and operated using a complex system of strings and sticks. Their actions are orchestrated by a conductor known as the Dalang.
8. Howdy Doody
Many might argue that there is nothing bizarre about Howdy Doody – he is a beloved children’s character and a staple of American entertainment history. We counter; however, that no string-operated, man-made juvenile should have that much influence over the youth of the world. This wooden, freckle-faced youngster captivated countless children and continues to represent the childhood of millions raised during the original running of the show (1947-1959).
7. Li’l Penny
What is every multi-million dollar superstar athlete missing from his entourage? Why, a smaller, smart-mouthed puppet version of himself! This fast-talking, game-spitting hustler could be spotted in night clubs, chasing supermodels, courtside at basketball games and hocking the merits of both the real Penny Hardaway and his signature sneakers. As Hardaway’s fame began to fade, so did Li’l Penny’s behavior, spiraling so far as to become embroiled in a confrontation with fellow puppet counterpart Miles Thirst. Seriously.
6. NSYNC – “No Strings Attached”
What’s more bizarre than a puppet that wants to be a real boy? Real boys that want to be puppets. This gimmick was launched during the release of the “No Strings Attached” album in 2000, and featured a cover with the pop heartthrobs strung up like marionettes. While the concept may have oozed cheese, it made bank for the band, hitting number one on the Billboard charts and setting NSYNC head and shoulders above the other “boy bands” of the decade.
5. The Rat
Don’t be surprised if you don’t recognize this fella’. As far as we can tell, he’s no one famous or infamous. He’s just plain old creepy. Really creepy. Rats are some of those aforementioned critters that carry an innate sense of strangeness, being plague-carriers and all. During the course of our research, the interwebs presented us with this jewel of bizarreness. Nothing says “strange” like a scrawny, wooden rat on a string.
Jim Henson strikes again. “The Dark Crystal” is legendary for its all-puppet cast, and the terrifying Garthim are a major contributor to its success. These puppets are built on a massive scale, an incarnation of nightmare and destruction. Seemingly created to do the bidding of the evil Skeksies, they crumble to pieces at the defeat of their masters, revealing themselves to be empty, golem-like “puppets” that cannot withstand the return of good to the world.
3. Captain Stargood
The “Captain Stargood” television show was created in a disastrous attempt to cash in on the Space Race of the 1960’s. The eccentric wunderkind puppeteer Oswald Larsen was granted total autonomy in the production of the show and the resulting product was later described as “unwatchable, twisted and utter sh*t.” Amid the wave of disgust and contempt that followed the release, the creators fled and much information regarding the terrible puppet show was lost.
2. Gay Carrington
It’s easy to believe that the creators of Gay Carrington spent ample time sitting back and contemplating how to make a something that is already considered strange and off-putting (that being a puppet) even more disturbing. Imagine what would happen if you crossed Pinocchio with Buffalo Bill (as in, “Silence of the Lambs”), and BAM, you’ve got Gay Carrington. This transgendered starlet of a puppet has a special gift for leaving viewers with a general sense of “WTF?”
1. The Lollipop Puppet
Our number one spot is reserved for another nameless discovery from the depths of the internet. With his accordion jaws and less-than-sanitary-looking candy, this elaborate marionette is the perfect example of everything that creeps people out about puppets.