Anyone who has existed on Twitter over the last five to ten years will know the power of Shrek. The ogre is of course the main character of the 2001 Dreamworks film Shrek and its subsequent sequels, and he’s gone on to become a meme king of the Internet. While his name is mostly synonymous with memes and laughs, there’s one Shrek film that is, maybe appropriately, really quite frightening.
It’s getting to be the time of year where people are seeking out old Halloween specials and luckily, the Shrek franchise has a good one. The film is called Scared Shrekless and it’s an anthology series that first premiered in 2010. The overarching plot is that it’s Halloween, and Shrek is taking his pals to Duloc where they’re going to have a scary stories competition. Whoever tells the scariest story will be King of Halloween. The film is mostly depictions of the spooky stories the characters are telling, and they’re designed to be parodies of popular horror movies. While this brings a few laughs and fun moments, they also get pretty dark.
Even the setup to the spooky stories gets kind of scary. This is the first time Duloc has been shown in the series since appearing in the very first film and Scared Shrekless even has a version of the infamous Duloc song performed by the wooden dolls of the Clockwork Corus when the gang arrives. Only this time, it’s a terrible scary version that openly says lines like “we will chop off your head and then laugh when you’re dead.” The Clockwork Corus members themselves are also really deformed and spooky to look at.
The first spooky story is told by Gingy the gingerbread man, and it’s called “The Bride of Gingy”. This follows Gingy as he goes to the Muffin Man and confides in him about breaking up with his girlfriend. The Muffin Man bakes him a brand new gingerbread girlfriend, named Sugar because she has way too much Sugar in her. This is a spoof on Bride of Frankenstein. While the pair gets along swimmingly at first, things begin to go wrong quickly when she’s just too obsessed with him. This is mostly a funny little short, but some of the imagery is quite frightening as Sugar becomes more and more deranged. It also doesn’t have a very happy ending for Gingy, which is kind of disturbing.
Donkey and Puss in Boots sort of share the next story, and it’s by far the least scary story. It’s called “Boots Motel”, and is a parody of Psycho. The story follows the pair as they seek refuge from a storm in a scary hotel, end up getting attacked by the innkeeper, and every time Donkey tries to finish the story it ends with Puss getting killed. Puss doesn’t like this and continuously tries to jump in to make himself the hero. It’s silly and cute, but it gets a little dark and intense as well as they try to one-up each other. For adults, this will not be scary at all, in most cases anyway, but for children, this short could be a little much. There are some scary images of chase scenes and Puss does (sort of) get killed.
The final scary story is told by Shrek himself and is very disturbing and terrifying. Even adults will be freaked out by this, and it doesn’t feel appropriate for children at all. The short is called “The Shreksorcist”, a parody of one of the scariest movies of all time, The Exorcist. Shrek serves as a “babysitter” who has come to take care of Pinocchio, as the puppet is going crazy. There is a lot of really disturbing imagery in this film that is ripped from The Exorcist, including the infamous vomit scene as well as the puppet crawling on the ceiling with his head spinning around. There’s even a shot of the puppet hanging, which just seems so intense for a children’s movie–even a Halloween special.
Shrek always did have content aimed at adults, but this movie really will take viewers by surprise. This is especially the case if one is thinking they’ll just throw on a cute little Halloween special for their kids. Is this even for children though? The vast majority will not be familiar at all with these references, as most of them aren’t spending their time watching films like The Exorcist. The overall tone still does remain quite fun and very Shrek, all of these spooky stories have some great laughs as well as scares, but some of the imagery and the violence feels intense. With that being said, it’s a really fun Halloween watch for older kids and adults alike and a really solid parody. Adults who grew up with Shrek and will understand these references should check this out, as it takes viewers by surprise with how far it goes.
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