You could hear the screeches echo across the vast reaches of the Internet when the first trailer was released: “The lips. They have lips.” And thus the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot, out this weekend, provided the traumatized masses with ample nightmare fuel months before it was even released.
But Raph, Leo, Mikey, and the indisputable best turtle, Donatello (I will fight you) were far from the first to set up shop in the Uncanny Valley. That’s the zone where a robot or, say, a CGI character, is designed in a way that’s meant to be realistic but is juuuust far enough away that they look like they’re going to murder you. See: Lips and tombstone teeth on gosh darned Ninja Turtles. They share that dubious honor with these fellow raving hellbeasts:
Grendel’s Mother, Beowulf
NSFW for nudity, though your boss will probably be too busy clawing their eyes out to fire you.
“Aw, man. Bro. Did you hear Angelina Jolie’s gonna be in that new, like, wolf movie? Playing a monster or some sh*t? And she’s totally naked and yet still manages to wear high heels. Stock up on the Kleenex and lotion, I’m going to–oh God. Oh God. What–what is that?! I will never feel clean again. You have ruined my life, Robert Zemeckis. You have ruined everything.”
Paddington The Murderous Demon Bear, Paddington
Paddington isn’t even out yet, but if its first images were creepy enough to inspire a horror movie meme, then it’s creepy enough for this list. One-time voice of Paddington Colin Firth says he dropped out of the film—after the trailer was already out, no less—because the titular bear “simply doesn’t have my voice,” which makes perfect sense… if it’s true. But what if Colin Firth really meant “he’ll never have my voice,” as in Paddington broke into his no-doubt posh yet tasteful apartment in the middle of the night and threatened to slice his vocal cords open, prompting Firth’s swift but polite (don’t make Paddington mad) departure from the film? I’m just sayin’. It could have happened that way.
Tintin, The Adventures of Tintin
When Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin came out in 2011, a lot of people cried “Uncanny Valley” on the main character, an adorable mocapped moppet voiced (and face’d) by Jamie Bell. The issue wasn’t so much with Tintin’s face itself—unlike Beowulf, for example, Tintin is a very technically impressive movie—but the fact that he’s a hyperrealistic character, while everyone else is more cartoony. It’s an odd juxtaposition, and one that made a lot of people feel like they were going to have their guts ripped out by Billy Elliot.
Renesmee, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2
Don’t watch this video if you have a weak heart or a weak stomach, because there’s nothing about it that isn’t absolutely terrifying. If you’ve somehow gotten this far in your life without realizing Twilight involves a werewolf who imprints (yeah, that’s what I said) on a creepy vampire baby, congratulations, your innocence has now been stolen from you. The most hilarious thing about all of this is that Renesmee was almost an animatronic doll, but it freaked the cast out so much they went with CGI instead. Yes, what you see in the video above is the second most disturbing thing director Bill Condon could have gone with.
Clu, TRON: Legacy
Garrett Hedlund’s facial expression at the :33 minute mark of this clip is the same as mine was watching it, though for different reasons. The first few decades of Jeff Bridges’ career are retroactively ruined for me after seeing the actor’s digitally deaged, unnaturally smooth visage in TRON: Legacy. Sorry, The Last Picture Show. I wanted to watch you one day, but now even the thought of a 20-something Bridges gives me the shakes.
Literally every single character, The Polar Express
You can’t write about the Uncanny Valley without mentioning The Polar Express, the second Robert Zemeckis movie on this list. What the hell, Zemeckis?! Get your sh*t together. Unless you’re secretly a mole planted by the Robot Liberation Army, and you’re trying to get us acclimated to the visages of our fearsome future overlords before Assimilation Day approaches. I’m on to you, sir.
Literally every single human character, Mars Needs Moms
Geez, after watching this trailer I have no idea why Mars Needs Moms wasn’t a critically lauded success story instead of the biggest flop of 2011 and one of the biggest flops of all time. It truly is a mystery. You shouldn’t be surprised to read that Mars Needs Moms was a co-production of Disney and ImageMovers Digital (IMD), co-founded by, wait for it… Robert Zemeckis, who co-produced this film. IMD folded after production wrapped on Mars Needs Moms, reportedly because a new Disney exec saw some footage and said “Woah, what the #*&#?!” The closing put the kibosh on a Zemeckis-produced mocap version of Yellow Submarine, making Mars Needs Mom a public service in addition to a rancid turdblossom of a film.
Billy the Baby, Tin Toy
Pixar may have ascended to heights of glorious animation by the year 2014, but it’s important to remember that they were one of the first companies in the business of CGI films. As such, they went through what you might call some growing pains. Case in point: The 1988 short film Tin Toy, which won Pixar its first Oscar despite the fact that it was up against animated shorts that didn’t have demon babies in them. But hey, the baby is kind of a demon in Tin Toy, so it works. In a possible acknowledgement of what they hath wrought, one of the villains in Toy Story 3 is a baby doll who serves as teddy bear Lotso’s hired thug.
SimPal Cindy, The 6th Day
Ahnuld, you’re a pretty tough guy, but I’m 98% certain the SimPal Cindy doll from The 6th Day could kill you and bathe in your blood without breaking a sweat. She might have a tough time with Michael Rooker, though. I’d watch that fight scene.
Insect Rock, The Mummy Returns
The Mummy Returns did it: It made The Rock too cheesy. Open this picture of Oded Fehr in another tab; you’ll need some psychological cleansing after watching this clip. Mmm, Oded Fehr. Also, God bless The Mummy Returns for giving us this gif:
All is forgiven.
And a non-movie bonus: The Burger King. Not CGI, but he’ll gleefully butcher you all the same. WAKE UP WITH THE KING, PUNY MORTALS: