Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Don't You Open That Trap Door...!

My first exposure of this wonderfully creepy series was through a little-known Saturday Morning show known as "Ghost Train" - which broadcast other spooky-related cartoons such as The Real Ghostbusters and Scooby-Doo. Little did I know how much I would come to love and appreciate The Trap Door as I grew up...

The series was typically 80's, where being weird and insane was (and still is) in. Created by Terry Brain and Charlie Mills (known in the credits as "Brainbox Mills"), it centred on Berk, the "overworked servant of The Thing upstairs", his annoying pet spider Drutt and the brilliant skulhead known as "Moany Boni". Together, all three wind up pitted against a host of strange, gross and downright odd monsters that emerged out of the titular Trap Door.

There are so many reasons why I adore this show, but I'll name two of them;

Firstly, it's stop-motion. This is proof of why the likes of Aardman are still around today - because they show time and again just what can be accomplished without the need of CGI; popular and far-advanced it has become now, there's still a great charm of seeing something hand-made brought to life before our eyes with time, care and patience. And the animation quality for The Trap Door especially is outstanding. No surprise that Terry Brian would later go to work for Aardman as an animator for Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run and Creature Comforts.

Second: Willie Rushton. The man was a legend at so many things - cartoonist, satirist, comedian, actor, co-founder of Private Eye magazine, favoured panellist of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue, and much-adored voice actor of both animation and audiobooks. All voices (including monster-related) were performed by Rushton himself, and how wonderfully he brought each character to life. Even as far as providing "additional material" for every episode from start to finish. I wouldn't be surprised if a good amount of ad-libbing was involved here...!

In truth, it defiantly nails the "horror" theme, yet the surreal humour balances it out as only we British know how. Terry and Charlie would continue their mad streak with the equally bizarre "Stoppit and Tidyup".

The Trap Door only lasted for two seasons - but as the old saying goes, it was "Short but Sweet". And many still remember it fondly with good reasons =)


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