The 80s tried to traumatize children – Inhumanoids edition

The more and more I look back on cartoons and tv shows aimed at children in the 1980s, the more I realize that their creators were trying to traumatize kids for life.  Look at He-Man and the Masters of the Universe; the main villain is a blue skinned muscle man with a SKULL FOR A HEAD.  How about the Skeksis from Dark Crystal?  Vulture people with giant beetle henchmen.  Yeah, that’s not going to be traumatic.  How about Scooby Doo?  Remember the astronaut ghost?  The one who cackles and has a glowing skull head?  How about the green ghosts with rattling chains?  And this was what our parents parked us in front of for hours on end.

One show sticks with me, though.  In 1986 Hasbro and Marvel were thick as thieves.  Marvel literally helped create most of the iconic Hasbro lines: Transformers, for example, were piloted robots in Japan until Marvel gave them personalities (and names in many cases).  GI Joe’s Cobra was based on Marvel’s Hydra!  And in the mid 80s, there was an hour long syndicated cartoon block called Super Sunday, co-produced by Hasbro and Marvel.

Along with re-runs of Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, Super Sunday also showed original programs that were broken into 7-9 minute shorts.  One of the most famous was Jem and the Holograms, which has gained a cult status.  There were others, however, such as Robotix (based on the building toys), Bigfoot (the truck, not the cryptid), and the one shot original X-Men cartoon, Pryde of the X-Men.  And, of course, The Inhumanoids, which was, honestly, one of the most horrific cartoons ever made.

The Inhumanoids was the story of Earth Force, a group of government scientists (who in real life never get such cool project names) and their fight against giant monsters discovered underground, dubbed Inhumanoids.  The Earth Force had the help of sentient trees (someone liked Tolkien’s Treants a bit) known as the Redwoods, and rock people called the Granites (creative, huh?).  They were collectively known as Mutores.  The Mutores had long ago sealed away the evil Inhumanoids, but now humans had disturbed the seals and the ancient evil was waking up.

Does this sound familiar to anyone?  Lovecraft?  Ancient sleeping evil?  Anyone?

The leader of the Inhumanoids was a creature of living lava called Meltar (again, names…not so great).  He was sealed near the Earth’s core by a pair of magnetic Mutores called Magnokor (magnetism is his weakness, which honestly doesn’t sound completely stupid, so I’ll give some points back for the crappy names).  His two main lieutenants are Tendril, a giant plant monster, and D’Compose.  We’re going to talk more about D’Compose in a minute.

There’s actually a fairly complicated back story for these creatures.  Thousands of years ago, Meltar led a rebellion against the former Inhumanoid boss, Sslither (why yes, he is a giant snake man, why do you ask?) and went to war with the surface dwelling Mutores.  He failed and was locked away, as were his followers.  Note that Meltar could create lava men to do his bidding, so the guy literally can create troops at will, so this was not an easy battle.  The remaining Mutores sealed away the Inhumanoids and went into a kind of hibernation to keep them sealed.

D’Compose is found first, trapped in amber (remember, more about him in a bit), and due to the machinations of the evil Blackthorne Shore, a wealthy industrialist, Tendril is freed and he breaks his buddy out of the amber prison.  They then free Meltar.  The Earth Force has to use experimental weapons (read: TOYS!) to fight the creatures, while also sidestepping Blackthorne and his political might.

O.k., let’s get to D’Compose.  This guy is a giant rotting monster with an alligator skull head.  No, really.

This cartoon is made for children!

He’s a big, bloody, half skeletal monster that’s about thirty feet tall (or a hundred…you know, scale in kids cartoons in the 80s was iffy at best) and wants to PUT YOU IN HIS RIBCAGE FOR SAFE KEEPING.  That was his thing…he could imprison you in his fucking innards.  I could go on about how Tendril looked an awful lot like Cthulhu, but let’s just keep things straight here – we have a rot monster with a skull head who will grab you and stick you inside his ribs.  Perfect fun for the average 10-12 year old!

Not convinced this was nightmare fuel?  Well we haven’t gotten to D’Compose’s actual powers (sticking you in his ribs is just something he does for fun).  He can turn anyone he touches into a zombie.  He can also control those zombies.  He lives in an undead realm called Skullweb, which is filled with undead creatures he’s created.  Oh yeah, nice guy.  And guess who did the voice for this guy?  Chris Latta, also known as Cobra Commander and Starscream.  At least this guy was loyal to his boss, but still, if you remember that voice…and imagine him trying to do it scary…it worked.

But it doesn’t end there.  Oh no.  These shows were a joint effort between Hasbro and Marvel, remember?  So where’s the Hasbro part?  Right here!

You know, for kids

It might be hard to tell from that picture, but that toy was big enough to stick a GI Joe in the rib cage.  And this was what a lot of little boys asked their parents for for Christmas.

The 1980s folks.  It was trying to turn us all into demented basket cases.  Actually, mission accomplished!


8 thoughts on “The 80s tried to traumatize children – Inhumanoids edition

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  1. Like your post! We had that show in Germany as well and it still sticks with me twenty years later. So much, that I had to look it up on the web. I couldn’t remember the name of the show, all I could think of was that it had horrifying monsters and it haunted me at night. It really did. What was the aim of that kind of show – prepare us for the today’s gory Hollywood action? Thinking back makes me speechless. Thanks for your thoughts!

  2. I was surfing around looking for rankings of ’80s cartoons and came across your post. At first I laughed hysterically because your writing style is brilliant, but then I realised that Skeletor was traumatising enough and that I’m glad I never saw these things.O_O

  3. Shows for kids nowadays are actually a lot smarter and give kids a lot more credit for their intelligence. They just aren’t as dark as they used to be. At least not in the same ways, anyway.

    1. Kid shows really have improved in a great number of ways in the intervening decades, plus all this super weird sci fi / fantasty stuff has taken over the mainstream so as far as I’m concerned it’s win all around!

      Though I am as interested in this show now as I am glad I did not see it during my formative years, I was more easily spooked then 😛

      Also Haley, we necro’d this post pretty hard, does this make us D’Compose and one of his undead minions? You were here first so I’ll let you have the alligator skull. What’s our next move boss? 😀

  4. I loved this show a as a kid. I remember watching this every Sunday morning. Jem, Hanna Barbera and Monster Trucks were my other favorites. I’ve been looking for this for years though in my memory I remembered this being called “Humanoids.” I was surprised by the title “Inhumanoids.”

    I don’t remember much about this show (it’s been 30 years); one part I remember was a running joke about one character who was always annoyed by the media’s reporting of the team’s battles with the monsters. Every week there was some gag about him throwing a shoe at the tv while watching the news.

    I was definitely not traumatized by this cartoon any more than I was by Skeletor or the other kid’s shows we watched then. Children’s cartoons in the 80’s and 90’s had intricate stories, amazing characters, and wonderful animation.

    Yes, there were some crazy shows on then, (the one about the cowboys who were cows and rode horses.) But now, most of what kids are fed is junk that can be produced as cheaply and quickly as possible. Though there are a few cartoons now that are okay, you really have to look to find them through all the hideous animation and moronic stories.

    So grateful to have grown up in the 80’s.

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