Being a kids’ show doesn’t stop SpongeBob from exploring just about every major sub-genre of horror movies, from the paranormal to body horror.
Of course, Sponge Bob Square Pants The general public may view it simply as a children’s show, but there are a surprisingly good number of episodes that pay tribute to the different subgenres of horror. The citizens of Bikini Bottom often find themselves in situations of terror or the perpetrators of horror. Ghoulish episodes are often outnumbered by fools, but there are still enough stories that pay tribute to just about every type of horror subgenre out there.
Slasher: “Graveyard Change”
“Graveyard Shift” gives Bikini Bottom its own version of Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees with Hash Slinging Slasher. Squidward may have invented this villain to scare Spongebob off while they worked the night shift on the Krabby Krab, but when creepy things similar to his story start to happen, even Squidward accepts the myth. If this episode wasn’t enough of a horror homage, it ends with the appearance of Count Orlock from the iconic German expressionist film. Nosferatu.
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Survival horror: “The survival of idiots”
In “Survival of the Idiots,” SpongeBob and Patrick enter Sandy’s dome while she hibernates for the winter. They frolic in the snow, but their antics accidentally wake the sleeping squirrel. This version of Sandy is twice her size and, in a dream state, she thinks they are outlaws Dirty Dan and Pinhead Larry. Because the entrance to their dome is frozen, SpongeBob and Patrick find themselves in a survival horror story similar to The reborn where they have to survive the sleeping giant beast and the icy elements.
Crime: “Nasty Patty”
Mr. Krabs is greedy, but some have theorized that he could be worse than that and even a murderer. This theory is highlighted in “Nasty Patty”, where Krabs and SpongeBob attempt to bury a health inspector they believe they killed. This episode may seem more like a crime drama than a horror movie. Still, the twisted way in which Mr. Krabs tries to cover up the murder by poorly concealing his guilt from the authorities is reminiscent of an Edgar Allen Poe tale.
While on a boat trip with SpongeBob and Squidward to celebrate his million-dollar earned, Mr. Krabs listens to sinister music similar to John Williams’s iconic score to Jaws This orchestra signals the arrival of a giant clam that comes to take away your dollar. When the clam snatches the beak from its claws, Crab loses his head and uses Squidward and SpongeBob as bait to lure the clam. It is not only a parody of Jaws, but it’s also inspired by horror movies where people go crazy.
Terror of isolation: “SB-129”
“SB-129” begins with Squidward traveling through time to escape from SpongeBob and Patrick, only to meet his descendants and ancestors. Frustrated Squidward accidentally breaks the lever of his time machine and finds himself in an alternate dimension. The following is a textbook example of the horror of isolation. Squidward is initially comfortable being completely alone before becoming overwhelmed by it. Although he is not in outer space in front of a creature like in Alien or The thing, Squidward’s brief time alienated on a plane of nonexistence is equally terrifying.
Creature Feature: “Sandy, SpongeBob and the Worm”
The Alaskan bullworm is possibly the most popular giant creature in Sponge Bob Square Pants. The big scary pink bull worm terrorizes Bikini Bottom in the spirit of many classic giant monster movies. However, his best comparison is the 1990 Kevin Bacon movie. Tremors. Both creatures are shaped like giant worms and can travel fast underground, rising to the surface to devour whatever they want. Another creature that caused havoc in Bikini Bottom was significantly smaller Wormy in the episode of the same name.
The cowardly villain of Sponge Bob Square Pants made a great debut on the series in the episode “Plankton!” when he enters SpongeBob’s head and implants a control device in his brain. Although he uses technology instead of a demon spirit, Plankton’s control over SpongeBob is similar to many possession horror movies, dating back to The Exorcist. Plankton even has a microphone inside SpongeBob’s head to speak through and call Squidward a mediocre clarinet.
Zombies: “Eleven Bitten”
Before The Walking Dead broadcast on AMC, sponge Bob paid tribute to zombie horror tropes in “Once Bitten.” This episode begins with Gary rabidly biting everyone in what Bikini Bottom thinks is a case of “Mad Snail Disease”. This disease apparently causes snails to transform their bite victims into zombies, turning Bikini Bottom into an apocalyptic state. The formula for a zombie apocalypse movie made famous by movies like Night of the Living Dead it is wonderfully parodied in the episode. However, it turns out that Gary was in a bad mood from having a splinter.
Paranormal: “Silly Ghouls”
Throughout the series, SpongeBob and his friends have often participated in spooky adventures thanks to the mysterious Flying Dutchman. But they met more ghost pirates in season 8’s “Ghoul’s Fools.” SpongeBob and Patrick discover a wrecked ghostly pirate ship and meet Captain Lord Poltergeist, an obvious reference to one of the most famous ghost movies of all time. As the episode unfolds more like Ghostbusters of what it does Paranormal activity or The spell, extends the show’s macabre tradition beyond the Flying Dutchman.
Body Horror: “I was a teenage Gary”
During its two decades of execution, sponge Bob has many episodes that explore body horror. Considering that there are few consequences in the animated world and everyone can return to normal in the next episode, the creators are free to transform the bodies of their characters into grotesque mutants. A classic example is the season 1 episode “I Was a Teen Gary”, where SpongeBob and Squidward accidentally inject snail plasma destined for Gary. They both transform into snails in a terrifying way that can only be described as a G-rated version of The fly.
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