Ghastly Tales for Gruesome Kids

It might be a little late to post about this programme as I think it’s off our screens for the moment, but hopefully it will return. Firstly, yes, it’s a children’s show. And strangely it’s been much more appealing and intelligent than most ‘adult’ programmes on TV.

Ghastly Tales are at heart morality tales, not even very thinly disguised ones, old-fashioned tales with a warlike ‘no pain, no gain’ mentality. They may be for gruesome kids, but are also about gruesome kids; snotty, rude, greedy, obnoxious kids who always get their comeuppance. And it’s pure genius.

There are two parts to the programme – the first a model-animation of a creepy old man who delights in horror and the second the stories he tells, animated in the usual cartoon sense (I’m sure there are technical terms but I don’t know them). The first type of animation is done brilliantly, with lots of detail and a satisfying style. The man’s head spins and he does disturbing, Freudian things to his pet spider. The second part is the actual story, animated more crudely and narrated by the creepy old man.

One story is about a girl who fakes being ill every day to avoid going to school. It gets to the point that when she claims to have rabies, a creepy doctor comes to her door in order to cure her. He pulls out a massive needle, but even when she shouts at that she’s only faking, he slithers ‘I knoooow, this is just for fun!’

I find it really heartening that such disturbing stories still manage to make it onto TV, especially ones that don’t glorify children and everything that they do, however precocious and horrible. I like their mentality, and I like the fact that they’re not entirely politically correct.

The children always end up shining pillars of the community at the end, but only through severe trauma – from the cutting off of bodily bits to full scale paralysis (via paper mache). There’s room for some psycholoanalyis, especially as it’s never the parents who sort the children out, but some strange and creepy deliverer of justice, but it would ruin a great programme.