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Logos… from hell!

Logos… from hell! (photo)

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When I was a child and the world was young and we all watched movies on VHS, there was one logo that would always scare the hell out of me. And now, thanks to the good folks at Cartoon Brew (both writer Jerry Beck and his passionate, long-memoried commenters), I now know that I was not alone, and that the logo has a name.

It’s the “Neon Mickey,” which opened Disney videos from 1978-84 (YouTube knows everything, provided it’s sufficiently trivial). It’s Mickey as a neon grid, rays of light emanating from his hollow outline while inappropriately martial brass marches in and out of minor keys at a really loud volume. By the time it finally emerges from the minor key into a major resolution, it’s too late. I was not happy.

12102009_screengems1.jpgWhat reminded me of all this is “The S From Hell,” a documentary short from director Rodney Ascher set to premiere at Sundance about people traumatized by the vintage ’60s Screen Gems logo. A staple at the end of “Bewitched” and “The Monkees,” it’s not a logo I was familiar with, but it jogged my memory about past logophobia.

12202009_lynchfrost1.jpgI’m not talking about intentionally unnerving stuff, like the awful Lynch/Frost Productions logo that went off after every episode of “Twin Peaks,” which is clearly meant to be abrasive. I’m talking about what bookended all that ’80s and ’90s VHS; as commenter “Marbles” correctly observes, “at no point was the aggressiveness more prevalent than the 80s, when I was a runt. People were running wild showing off with early CG, so everything was very loud and bold.”

12102009_carolco.jpgSome of this stuff was just disorientingly noisy, so bright it made you suspicious (like the Carolco logo, which looks like blue lasers carving out layers of “C” on their own initiative, and which is the opposite of comforting when preceding, say, “Terminator 2,” in which hostile computers attack us all. Or the Mandalay Entertainment logo (skip to 0:20) — who, pray tell, thought it was a good idea to precede a movie with a tiger running straight for the screen? Memories of the MGM lion would make any right-thinking person tense up and wait for the attack that never comes.

12102009_kartes.jpgOther logos, though, weren’t just frightening for my easily impressionable childish self; they’re bad ideas all round. Who knows how anyone could think it a good idea to hire Jerry Fielding — the dissonance specialist behind “Straw Dogs” and other light-hearted Peckinpah fare — to compose the utterly unnerving jingle for a United Artists logo from the ’80s? Then there’s the Kartes Video Communications logo, an ominous crawl through outer space, with letters advancing as if they were a ship misplaced from an “Alien” movie — and this, introducing “Rugrats” videos? Just watching it makes me feel like I’m stoned and listening to black metal, something I’ve never done in my entire life.

There’s plenty more where those came from — there are websites for logophobes and a whole subculture of people who like to speed up logos unnaturally, then slow them down to where everything sounds like a David Lynch nightmares. If those logo creators only knew.

[Photos: The “Neon Mickey” of Disney home video from 1978-84, Buena Vista Home Entertainment; Screen Gems; Lynch/Frost Productions; Carolco; Kartes Video]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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