|Developed by||Steve Schnier
John A. Delmage
Stephen Brathwaite (puppeteer)
|Country of origin||Canada|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||35 (13, 13, 9)
(140 five-minute stories)
|Production company(s)||Decode Entertainment
Big-Time Talking Pictures 1, 2, 3 Inc. (divisions of Decode)
Sound Venture Productions Ltd.
Funbag Animation Studios
J.A. Delmage Productions
Edward Sarson Productions
|Picture format||480i SDTV|
|Original release||October 24, 1997  – October 1, 2000|
Freaky Stories is a Canadian television series, which was originally broadcast by YTV in English and Canal Famille (now VRAK.TV) in French (5-minute versions using the French title Frissons). It is an animated show about urban legends hosted by two animatronic puppets, Larry de Bug, a cockroach, (voiced by James Rankin) and his gooey sidekick, Maurice the maggot (voiced by Dan Redican) in Ted's Diner - a 1940s era diner setting staffed by Rosie the waitress (voiced by Jayne Eastwood, but never seen - Season One only).
The series, described as "a Twilight Zone for kids," centers on the kind of myths and legends that are told as scary campfire or bedtime stories. Every episode always starts with and finishes with the phrase: "This is a true story, and it happened to a friend of a friend of mine." and by the words of Larry, "Just because they never happened, doesn't mean they ain't true." Animation styles and musical scoring varied within each half-hour episode, incorporating 20 different looks in the first season alone. The short stories and changing styles were specifically designed to keep viewers' attention span.
Series creator Steve Schnier successfully pitched his concept of modern urban legends to YTV in 1991. In 1994, Steve teamed with executive producer John Delmage. The resulting Freaky Stories pilot premiered during YTV's "Dark Night 3" Halloween block on October 28, 1995, and the series itself premiered as a one-hour special as part of "Dark Night 5" on October 24, 1997. While most episodes were finished on digibeta, the pilot was shot on film using traditional animation techniques but completed on video. The subsequent series was digitally inked, painted and composited.
Some famous episodes of Freaky Stories tell the story of:
- a family that goes to Mexico and brings home a pet thinking it is a chihuahua, but really a sewer rat.
- a man with a telescope who calls the police to look at something horrible he found through his telescope across the street.
- a pizza delivery man enters a house to eat pizza with a lady and finds out he's going to be killed by her.
- a teenager who is babysitting children and a visit by a lady who says she is a relative of the children, who is actually a relative, but a dead one.
- a boy from Mexico sees into the future, only to discover that the world is going to end in 2016. The only person who can save the world is a man from South Africa who will die in 2015. (part of the pilot, titled "Who will save Leron?")
- a woman buys a new mysterious diet pill in preparation for a beauty contest, on the condition that she must not drink water for the duration of the diet. The diet pill was actually filled with several tiny sponges, and when she breaks and drinks gallons of water, they cause her to bloat uncontrollably.
- a woman who has a beehive hairdo for so long that she gets a headache, they surgically cut open the beehive and she has tons of spiders living in her hair. (part of the pilot, titled "Spider in the Hairdo").
- a man who goes on a camping trip has a bug crawl into his ear, which starts bothering him, so he goes to see a witch doctor who pulls it out of the other ear, but in the process announces that the bug was a female and it laid eggs in his brain.
- a group of people on an airplane get stuck when the cockpit somehow wouldn't open, leaving it up to a boy (using his braces) to save them.
- a phone keeps ringing at a home mysteriously, leaving a family puzzled, until they realize the line is broken and keeps phoning the house.
- a boy eats a bunch of peanuts, which were chocolate covered peanuts that an old woman previously sucked on.
- an unscrupulous man who tries to siphon gas from an old couple's RV accidentally gets a mouth full of biological waste.
- The Hook, done as a musical.
- a nosy hotel maid uses a mysterious spray to set her hair, only to find that she was using industrial shellac; thus, her hair cracked and she became bald.
- a student photographs his mysterious teacher and finds out that the teacher is a vampire because he does not appear in the photos.
- the greedy owner of an airline tries to save money by not emptying the waste tanks on his planes; a plane flies over his house party and covers his party with waste.
- a young man at a supermarket is duped by an elderly woman into paying for her groceries.
- a young vacationing couple tries to take a photo with a kangaroo which they believe to be dead; the kangaroo comes back to life and steals their camera.
- a mischievous boy makes faces while riding in a car; a trick wind comes along and his face is stuck in that pose.
- a teenage boy finds that his girlfriend always sucks on a lock of her hair; one day, she coughs up a hairball.
- a nerdy boy creates a concoction to help him grow facial hair; he accidentally uses too much and becomes a werewolf.
- a young girl learns kung-fu so she can confront bullies at school; after beating a girl up for supposedly stealing her lunch, she comes home to find that she left her lunch on the kitchen counter that morning.
- a farmer treats a heroic pig who saved the entire farm from a fire by giving him many luxuries; however, the pig uses a wheelchair because the farmer could not resist cutting its legs off to eat.
- two cheating college students ask to make up an exam on the excuse of a flat tire; after being confined to different rooms, the majority of their exam asks them to identify which tire was flat.
- an elderly millionaire spends all his money commissioning research for a potion that will make him live forever; he gets the potion, but it doesn't stop him from aging and eventually his bones collapse.
- a rejected football player spreads bird seed on the football field every day for a summer; at the first game of the new school year, the stadium is bombarded with pigeons.
- a boy who sneaks into the female dorms in college must hide under the bed when girls enter; he mistakenly drinks a glass containing a girl's contact lenses.
- a prisoner collects utensils to dig himself out of his cell; he emerges into the courtroom where his trial is being held.
- a woman enters a funeral home to use the washroom and signs the guestbook; she later finds that the deceased, a very rich connoisseur, has left a fortune of money and valuable art to the only person who signed his guestbook.
- deceased man's business partner visits the deceased man's grave every year, dressed as his widowed lover, leaving a rose on his gravestone to churn up business for his local shop.
- girl left home alone hears noises in the night but doesn't go downstairs to investigate because she feels her dog lick her feet under the bed; when she wakes up in the morning, the intruder has left a note saying "humans can lick too".
- creepy unpopular girl invites a few girls from school to her party; they think the creepy girl is knocking ominously at the door as a prank, but they later find out that the creepy girl could not have been the one knocking outside.
- nerdy girl brings snacks for a boy in the school cafeteria every day for a week; on the last day, she reveals that she made the snack using a contraption she built to make food out of dead cockroaches.
- boy falls asleep watching horror movies; he dreams that he is attacked by mummies wielding toilet paper outside his house; he wakes up but finds his house covered with toilet paper.
- man picks up a hitchhiking girl on the road; she disappears during the drive but leaves her jacket. The man goes to her house to return the jacket, but is greeted by a woman saying the girl died several years ago, wearing that same jacket.
- identical twins get engaged to the same girl by pretending to be one person; on the wedding day, both twins forget to show up by accident, so a long lost identical triplet marries the girl
- woman tricks her boyfriend into thinking he has won the lottery; he reveals several incriminating secrets and walks out on her, only to find out that the lottery drawing was yesterday's.
- man stores his fancy futuristic car under high-tech security; only day, he finds that the car has been turned around 180 degrees in the garage, and the thieves have left a note saying "if we want it, we'll take it".
- family's car is stolen, but returned later with a note explaining that someone needed the car for an emergency and has left opera tickets for the family as a thanks. The family goes to the opera that night and comes home to find their house completely looted.
- man and his friend stumble upon a landed UFO, go inside to find an alien party with severed heads on the walls.
- woman comes home to find her dog choking on a finger that turns out to be the finger of a burglar, her lover, hiding in the closet.
- man who steals car from parking garage finds top-secret fuel injection device in the trunk, travels across the country to deliver the device to a gas company for a large sum of money but is thwarted by the man who was originally hired to transport the device.
- real estate agent stays in an old house for a night to prove it is not haunted; during the night, creepy disturbances happen like the necks of people in the paintings bleed, but it turns out to be the homeowners' son playing tricks because he doesn't want to move.
- an escaped convict hides in a wax museum by posing as a wax figure, but he is discovered when the guard notices the figure has the convict's trademark six fingers on one hand.
- a young boy flushes his pet baby alligator down the toilet because his parents won't let him keep it; when he grows up and is working in the sewers, he sees the now-adult alligator.
- a vacationing man in an RV is abandoned at a gas station when the RV drives away on cruise control.
- a little leaguer finds out that he's a robot and that he's about to be replaced by a newer model.
- a sitter is repeatedly phoned by a stranger to "check on the children" and the phone operator is asked to trace the next call, the sitter is then informed that the caller is in the house (an adaptation of The Babysitter and the Man Upstairs story).
- a sheriff chasing bank robbers pushes their car off rail tracks but gets his car stuck and gets hit by a train. When his grandson and his friends get in the same situation, they narrowly escape getting hit, and find a sheriff's badge on the ground and hand prints on the truck's bumper.
- a businessman, tired from a long drive, pulls into a motel to rest. He sleeps on a bed with an automatic massage setting, calling it the best sleep he's ever had. He attempts to find out what the mechanism is from the hotel manager, who refuses to divulge the secret of the bed. The businessman sees a small hole in the mattress and hopes to get a peek at the bed's mechanism; he's horrified to discover the mattress is filled with thousands of bugs.
- an English professor pairs two of his students together for an assignment in order to get them together. He instructs them to write a story, with each partner taking a certain amount of time to write their part.
- The Original Spanish Kitchen urban legend, as a musical, like the Hookman episode.
- while preparing for a blind date, a girl consumes a bowl of leftover chilli and begins to feel queasy afterwards. As soon as she enters her date's car, she opens a window and passes gas, unaware that there were passengers in the back seat.
- a nervous boy meets a girl who helps him gain more confidence with talking to other girls; he later tries to thank her, only to discover that she had died twenty years ago, but still returns on the anniversary of her death to help one person in need.
- a nerdy boy is set up on a date by two bullies, one of whom related to an unattractive girl; the couple later fall in love once they see each other's faces.
- a prison inmate starves himself to protest against the food served at the prison. After escaping during a lightning storm, the inmate makes his way towards a bio-tech building and accidentally consumes all of the refrigerator's contents.
- a woman and her party guests believe they have been poisoned when they learn that the fish they ate was bitten by the woman's cat, who later died; she later learns that her elderly neighbor had run her cat over with her car.
- a man tries to convince his daughter to eat his favorite brand of hog dog wieners by taking her to a themed amusement park, where they learn that the company had been making the wieners out of garbage.
- a woman's life changes when she adopts an abandoned kitten she finds on the street; but when the kitten gets stuck in a tree, it is accidentally catapulted to another woman's lawn, who also decides to take it in.
- a carpenter hired by an elderly woman accidentally traps her pet bird beneath the newly carpeted floor, and had also pounded the bird flat, mistaking it for an air pocket.
- while babysitting for a family, a girl is horrified when she sees the family's dog chewing on the body of their rabbit; after grooming it, she places it back in its cage, only to learn that the rabbit had actually died one week before and had been buried in the backyard.
- a futuristic family leaves their dog in the hands of the kitchen staff at an alien restaurant; when the son finds a collar in his soup, the family believes they had consumed their dog, unaware that their pet was still alive in the kitchen.
- a journalist sneaks into a room on Area 51 and begins to take various pictures, believing he had found a hidden UFO; after the photos were revealed to be duds, he loses his job and later finds the real UFO and alien at a local museum.
- two rivals attempt to out-dress each other when a fashion TV program arrives at their school; when both girls are seen in the same outfit, they each tug a loose thread on each other's dresses, causing their dresses to unravel right in front of their peers.
- a boy goes to a restaurant and takes pictures of a waiter he believes to be a vampire; he is shocked when he doesn't see the waiter in any of his photos.
- a man obsesses over a building's missing thirteenth floor when he realizes that the building actually has one that the elevator skips over; he discovers that it is actually a trap for obsessive people like him.
Additional Narrator Cast
- Sahrla Bonneville
- Benedict Campbell
- Jonathan Wilson
- Hugh Nelson
- Shawn Lawrence
- Amos Crawley
- Don Francks
- Paul Essiembre
- Juan Chioran
- Eddie Glen
- Susan Roman
- Lisa Yamanaka
- Stephanie Morgenstern
- Kate Hurman
- Nigel Bennett
- Chris Wiggins
- Diane D'Aquila
- Debbie Murphy
- Maryke Hendrikse
- Robert Bockstael
- Keith Knight
- Neil Crone
- Ron Rubin
- Maddever, Mary (1997-10-06). "Freaky Stories a first on many fronts". Playback. Retrieved 2011-08-24.
- Armstrong, Mary Ellen (1995-10-23). "Special Report on Merchandising and Marketing: The art (and benefits) of reaching kids". Playback. Retrieved 2011-08-23.
- "Telefilm Canada: Production Catalogues 2002 - Freaky Stories". Retrieved 2011-08-24.
- Strachan, Alex (1995-07-03). "Ontario Scene". Playback. Retrieved 2011-08-24.