Source: Sesame Street
The Puppets: Aliens that appear to be masses of tentacles with eyes, mouths and antennae.
For those of us raised on Sesame Street, the two extraterrestrials known as the Yip-Yips were frightening not because they might descend from the skies and devour us, but because we didn't know just what the hell the things would do. Most of their skits find the two creatures floating around, scrutinizing various earth objects, and repeating all sorts of strange, panicky noises. So we'd envision them flying wildly about our bedrooms, squawking in their half-alien tongue and scaring us with their sheer indecipherable otherworldliness. Oh, and don't bother closing your window to keep them out, because, as we see in the clip above, they can move through walls. As adults, we may find them endearing, but many children saw them as disturbing, fish-mouthed embodiments of the unknown.
4) The "Don't Put It In Your Mouth" Puppets
The Source: A commercial by Concerned Children's Advertisers. Yes, they're Canadian.
The Puppets: Furred blue things that resemble the Boo Berry ghost in late-stage meth addiction.
With a jerky malevolence rarely seen outside of Chuck E. Cheese animatronics, the pair sings about the value of not putting objects in your mouth, emphasizing the point with freakish close-ups of the female puppet while the male one unwholesomely glances off-camera, apparently envisioning the fates of any children foolish enough to disregard his message. A bunch of normal-looking animal puppets join them at the end, with a lion delivering a moral that would serve children well into their hedonistic college years.
3) The Half-Humans
The Source: Peppermint Park
The Puppets: Rubbery, half-realistic faces mounted on apparently human sets of arms.
It begs the question of why the show simply didn't use people instead of aberrant creatures that spastically mouth songs and lessons with their chimp-like beaks. Peppermint Park also bumps the surrealism up another notch by sticking leprosy-riddled stegosaurs and pig-headed creatures alongside slightly more human faces, like that of an elderly puppet-woman with the voice of a ten-year-old. It's an excellent way to introduce children to the uncanny valley and the mockeries of humanity that inhabit it.
2) The Outerscope Cast
Source: Vegetable Soup, an educational program from the New York State Department of Education, which clearly hated children.
The Puppets: Mannequin-headed kids with giant hands.
Cast into space by their homemade rocket, these blank-faced junior explorers and their stuffed cat find themselves on an alien world full of puppets only slightly more abhorrent than the allegedly human children. The stars bobble around like Popsicle-stick figures, and their monotone childlike voices only make it easier for real kids to imagine themselves trapped within the lifeless wooden hell of a ventriloquist's dummy.
1) The Wiggles Puppets
Source: The Wiggles, the kid-oriented Australian musical foursome bound to inspire all sorts of urban myths about how certain members died in cocaine binges.
The Puppets: A number of glassy-eyed simulacrums of the Wiggles quartet.
Many hideous puppets were creations of ill-conceived trends from the '70s and '80s, so it's somehow comforting to see that, in this age of rendered computer graphics and video games, children's entertainment can still produce unspeakable puppet horrors. The video starts off with one jittery mock-up of a Wiggles member squeaking out a song in a voice that even Alvin and the Chipmunks would have to tone down. As the music continues, more creatures appear in this cavalcade of hellish visions. Tough it out, kids. If we had to put up with Jim Henson's most sadistic material, you can make it through the Wiggles.