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5 Awesome Horror Cartoons Time Has Forgotten

Horror and cartoons seem like complete opposite ends of the entertainment spectrum. But the truth is that they are and always have been deeply connected. Kids love monsters. From an early age, we identify with strange and unusual creatures. Every kid knows what it’s like to feel lonely and alienated, to feel like an outsider, and the best monsters embody those traits—especially the Universal classics. Kids can relate to these creatures in a way that adults can’t.

Because of this young fascination with the genre, studios and networks often try to create horror-themed content aimed at children. Sometimes they’ll be genuine horror films that happen to be made for kids, like Something Wicked This Way Comes, and sometimes they’ll be more horror-adjacent productions like Scooby Doo. Both are equally valid and both are crucial for sparking that interest at a young age.

Kids’ horror is important. When you’re younger, maybe before you’ve even begun to dip your toes into the genre, any monster you see might be enough to spark a lifelong interest. Even when you do want to start jumping into horror with both feet, you might not be able to. Some of us had very lenient parents when it came to this kind of thing, but some of us didn’t.

That sweet spot between finding out who the classic monsters are and when you first start trying to trick your parents into letting you watch Friday the 13th, that time is often spent with a lot of great material aimed at the young horror fan. Some of these kids’ horror shows become classics, like Are You Afraid of the Dark and Goosebumps. But a lot of them fall through the cracks, and those are the ones that I want to shine a light on.

The following are all horror cartoons that I loved, but ones that almost completely disappeared. Most of them aren’t even available on DVD. You might actually see something on this list that you recognize and that’s the whole point of doing in the first place. If I show you an insane cartoon you’ve never heard of and can’t believe actually exists, that’s great.

If I jog your memory for something you haven’t thought about in twenty years, that’s even better.


Mummies Alive!

Imagine a superhero team like the Fantastic Four. Each one has their own individual strengths, each one serves a different purpose and has their own special power. Oh, and also they’ve been dead for 3,000 years. That’s the basic premise behind Mummies Alive, and it’s amazing. It’s amazing that a cartoon like this even got made considering that neither the Spider-Man or X-Men animated series could have any direct references to death.

Here, our mummies are all, well, mummies. They freely talk about living the mummy life and often mention that they were all once happy, living people. Even our child hero is the reincarnated version of the King they used to serve. There’s even a mummy cat thrown in to be the cute comic relief. That’s the cute mascot. A dead cat.

As a kid who loved The Mummy and thought it was a monster that never got its due, I was so happy when I first came across this incredibly short-lived show.

horror cartoon Mummies Alive


VAN-Pires

In case the title still leaves you with some confusion, yes, VAN-Pires is literally about vans that are also vampires. Imagine if the Transformers had an unquenchable thirst for gasoline that controlled their every decision and you’re on the right track. This combination live-action/animated show is actually named after its villains. Our heroes are the Motor-Vaters, teenagers with the ability to turn into robot cars, but who also need to chug gasoline and avoid sunlight at all costs.

The Van-Pires, stuck in their robotic forms, are led by the evil Tracula. And the heroes must get into the driver’s seat of their Carfins in order to transform. I swear I’m not making any of this up. Oh, and let’s not forget that the team’s mentor Van He’ll Sing is played by Gary Oldman!

horror cartoon Van-Pires


Tales from the Cryptkeeper

This show is something of a mixed bag. Sometimes I bring it up to people and they immediately know what I’m talking about, sometimes they’re absolutely clueless. Tales from the Cryptkeeper was, just as the title suggests, an animated version of Tales from the Crypt that was toned down for younger audiences. As a kid who loved the Crypt Keeper and always wanted to watch the live action show, it was a great access point for me.

Like its parent series, this often adapted some of the original comic stories, as well as literary classics like “The Monkey’s Paw.” It also featured the Vault-Keeper and the Old Witch, two other horror hosts from the early days of EC Comics, which is a fun bit of continuity between those iconic titles.

horror cartoon Tales from the Cryptkeeper


Mighty Max

Mighty Max was a show that I just couldn’t get enough of as a kid. Everything about it appealed to me. First, there was a boy at the center of it, constantly thrown into battle with the classic monsters, which reminded me of Monster Squad. But he did this by transporting himself into the world of each character, like Zach Galligan in Waxwork. In the most nineties move imaginable, Max’s power stemmed from his cool backwards baseball cap.

I ate this up as a kid. I had the toys—basically the boy version of Polly Pocket, in an era where everything needed to be specifically catered to boys and girls individually—and even had the game for Sega Genesis. I loved that a kid like me could go on all these adventures and fight all these different monsters. Plus, the cartoon featured Tim Curry as the overarching villain, Skullmaster.

horror cartoon Mighty Max


My Pet Monster

If anything, people might remember the stuffed animal that the cartoon is based on. But I think this ‘80s cartoon is definitely worth another look. I’ll admit it might not be the most elaborately put together show. It kind of looks and feels like an off-brand Christmas special from the days when different animation companies would essentially put out the Asylum mockbuster versions of Rudolph and Frosty. Yet there’s something about it I’ve always loved. I would watch this cartoon whenever I got sick as a kid.

Something about the sheer lunacy of it still intrigues me to this day. Monster is, as the theme song notes, a monster of a friend. He’s a stuffed animal that comes to life and takes his owner on wacky adventures, thwarting the doubly monstrous Beastur at every turn.

Before Toy Story, and long before I stumbled onto Child’s Play and Puppet Master, I think this was the first thing I ever saw that depicted the idea of a toy coming to life when adults aren’t looking. That instantly hooked me as a child, and I’ve remained hooked by the idea ever since.

horror cartoon My Pet Monster

 


59 Comments
  • Chris Vander Kaay

    I guess it’s not on the list because it is more fondly remembered than these others, but I loved Gargoyles as a smart horror children’s series, too.

    • The chicken man

      Loved that show!

  • MaryMaria

    Great list! I love horror animation and want there to be even more. For classics, I’d also include the old Beetlejuice show-
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/cdbce69c44bfab9ceb8b01fbf1f9c48af8265ebf102e81c85db3e7f903e64edd.jpg
    …and for new stuff, I can’t emphasize just how great Over the Garden Wall is:
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ec212b4725655ebf334555151108111d9bed297e9b0f247a506524ef67cda325.png

  • DJV1985

    If I could I’d star this article not because of all the great shows you listed but because of one of them, one show that pretty much lives on in my mind and I’ve shared with each of my nieces and nephews (there are a lot of them trust me) and that show is MY PET MONSTER!!! I freaking loved and love that show so much that when I was in secondary school (high school for Americans) I actually wrote a rough outline for a film version that took the premise of the show and tried to turn it into a sort of ET style film but it just couldn’t work because I never lived up to the show.

    I’ll ask: Is it strange that I still whack it on every so often? lol

  • Fester B. Gone

    I’d add Mutant League to this, that show is very forgotten.

  • Matt

    Great list, but you forgot Skeleton Warriors!!

    • Nat Brehmer

      Whoa, I really did! Even I’d completely forgotten about it, but I loved that show. That’s reason enough for a Part 2!

  • Kirk Brainard

    Wow…..I’m old. I thought for sure with a title like that it would bring up “The Groovy Ghoulies”

    • Matt

      It’s a great show, not forgotten! That’s why it’s not here.

  • Grimphantom

    Good list! Some have mentioned Beetlejuice, Skeleton Warriors and Gargoyles but how did you miss out mentioning Inhumanoids!!!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ls2lvNYrZVI https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/cfc131878c1fd20e0d42f21f56cb9805ff3406b63bda5cc76cc9bf8e7cbbbccb.gif

  • Elizabeth

    Tales From The Cryptkeeper plays pretty frequently on one of the free Pluto TV stations.

  • Poopsmith McUnty

    Gargoyles? Beetlejuice?

    • Jimmy Sue aka Pnut

      I don’t think those would really fit the “forgotten” aspect of the article…

    • Gargoyles was amazing!!

      • Poopsmith McUnty

        i hardly remember it but it was pretty dark eh? they wouldn’t make anything like that now

  • Jason Gilliss
    • Trixxxster

      I know, right? That show was awesome!

  • Stefan Heikel

    OMG literally no one my age remembers Mighty Max and it’s always annoyed me. There are so many memorable episodes (my favorites were the carnival in Russia and the aliens in Antarctica). Being both a horror and geography nut, I ate it up. I loved how it touched on serious themes too (Norman avenging his father’s death was a great example). I thought it was great how it had a proper series finale, something which not many kids shows seem to do.

    In addition to Tim Curry, it also featured Tony Jay as Virgil.

    • Grimphantom

      I agree with you on everything you said except the finale…….the finale was just cop out ending, i mean they literally went video game reset and have to play the game all over again.

      With the recent reboots i wouldn’t mind that they try a new version of Mighty Max with a bit more mature story arcs and also give some connections between Max and the Skullmaster.

      • Stefan Heikel

        See I thought it was a good lead in for the show to go into syndication.

  • The Fucked Up

    This article could/should have included a show that freaked me out when I was a kid: Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors.
    It doesn’t hold up well at all in this day and age but man, Saw Boss gave me nightmares. Of course that didn’t stop me from watching religiously, kinda like ‘V’ back then. Man, the shit our parents let us watch back then… 😀

    • The Fucked Up

      Just rewatched the intro and some other clips from Jayce… let’s just put the “horror” in that show between Dr. Evil’s quote fingers :/
      The scary nasty details my mind had retained from childhood are nowhere to be found lol

  • Charles Cumella

    Anybody remember “Ahhhhh! Real Monsters”? I loved that show and it was gross and weird as shit! haha Tales From the Cryptkeeper, Gargoyles nd Beetlejuice were also great for me when I was a kid! We need more horror inspired cartoons nowadays, all we have now is 3D crap animations for kids. Nostalgia.

    • Nat Brehmer

      Loved Ahhhh Real Monsters and Gargoyles. Both were a little too iconic to put on this list, but both were childhood faves of mine.

    • Evan3

      I recently re-watched Ahhhh on Netflix. Pretty fun stuff. And damn, i loved the incomprehensible Shakespearean nature of Gargoyles.

  • TheSlitheryDee

    Freaky Stories? Creepy Crawlers? There’s more to this list. This feature needs a part II.

    • MaryMaria

      Yes! Freaky Stories! This definitely shaped who I am, hah. That nasty maggot puppet…

    • Nat Brehmer

      I’m all for a Part 2 if people like this list! Definitely thought about including Creepy Crawlers, as well as the Little Shop of Horrors cartoon.

    • Evan3

      I thought creepy crawlers was just a toy. I remember baking those things though.

      • TheSlitheryDee

        Toy inspired cartoon!

  • 8-bit Jason

    It may be just a small part in a cartoon series but Mumm-Ra’s transformation in ‘Thundercats’ definitely fits the bill.

    • The Fucked Up

      So does Lion-O’s voice acting. Christ 🙂

      • Grimphantom

        You that his voice actor is the same guy that voiced Sonny the Cuckoo Bird from Cocoa Puffs? =P

        • The Fucked Up

          A massive improvement. Quite possibly the defining role of his carreer. He can die a happy bloke

  • jon

    Mutant League

    • thegreatiandi

      Bones Justice!!!!!

  • lostboy408

    Toonsylvania!

    • lonestarr357

      Freaking loved “Toonsylvania”. Ridiculous, but very funny.

  • The Groovy Ghoulies!

  • lonestarr357

    Van He’ll Sing played by Gary Oldman? Did this come from the same guy what told you that the kid from “The Wonder Years” grew up to be Marilyn Manson?

    BTW, I actually watched “Van-Pires”. Definitely one of those shows that can get lost in the cobwebs of your mind.

  • Justin Smith

    you forgot …Freaky Stories

  • WALKTER

    Count Duckula was pretty awesome.

    • Darren Kerr

      Yes Sir

  • Wyatt

    No StreetSharks? Gaddammit!

    • Grimphantom

      it was more action than horror, it’s like adding Swat Kats even tho it had some few horror elements in the show

  • Dr Zitbag’s Transylvanian Petshop was my favourite!

  • Saturn

    Gotta admit that I must be a big kid at heart, but I LOVE Tales From The Cryptkeeper – even now at 43!

    • WALKTER

      Holy jeez! You’re a relic, what was life like before colors and t.v?

      • The Fucked Up

        He would’t know, memory wasn’t invented yet

      • Saturn

        Well I remember when this site was all fields……

  • Yarik Dekhno

    Holy Mother of Monsters, thank you thank you thank you! The Mummies!!

  • Rick-Taylor

    There was a Tales from the Cryptkeeper game show, as well. I recall it being similar to Legends of the Hidden Temple.

  • Mr. Dry

    Mummies Alive was my sunday morning jam!

  • Anyone here remembers the Little Shop of Horrors animation series?

    • iamtripp

      oh yeah, that was a good one.

    • Nat Brehmer

      This one came very, very close to being on the list. Hopefully I get to do a second one, because I can’t believe I missed Skeleton Warriors, too.

  • Jeremie Jayzik

    Happy Tree Friends

  • Gargoyles was an amazing tv show, I remember how I loved to watch it.
    Goosebumps is not a cartoon but was the best childish horror tv show I’ve seen.

  • pumkinheadfan VHS Forever!

    I didn’t see anyone mention Attack of the Killer Tomatoes: The Series and Toxic Crusaders. Watched these along with Tales from the Cryptkeeper every Saturday morning! Oh and Extreme Ghostbusters! I Really miss 90’s Cartoons! Great Article!

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