Pinwheel "Clock Man" (Lost Animated Short; 1970s-1980s)
|Artist's impression of the "Clock Man" wizard. Art by Gaucelm/Reynard.|
During Nickelodeon's Pinwheel in the early-to-mid 1980s (or possibly as early as 1977, its debut) was an alleged short stop-motion animation that had apparently first aired in this show and possibly continued airing as late as 1990.
"Clock Man" - as it would now be commonly referred/nicknamed - was brought to mass online attention in 2012 by bungie.net user "Commander Santa" on its Off-Topic forum aka "The Flood".
According to Commander Santa, the short involved a young boy laying in his bed, who gets snatched up by the "Clock Man", a discoloured, unkempt entity that emerges from the wall clock above the child's bed at the stroke of midnight. The boy, after being taken on an eerie adventure, is subsequently returned to his room before sunrise.
An uncannily similar description of a scary Pinwheel short can be found within a 2002-2004 animationnation.com forum thread, (as recounted in a 2004 comment by user Michael W Howe), involving a young girl making a deal with a wizard, after losing her red shoes; the deal being that the wizard would replace the shoes, so long as the child told her mother about the extraordinary event. Incidentally, the girl decides not to tell her mother, to which the wizard responds by emerging out of her wall clock, snatching her up and demanding an explanation. She eventually agrees to make it up to the wizard by sewing stars to be placed in the night sky, before being returned to her mother, to whom she then recounts the entire experience.
Although several other people claim to have seen the short, its validity has yet to be actually proven, with many writing off the "Clock Man" as a mere creepypasta (largely on account of an over-the-top comment made by Commander Santa, in which he suggests that Pinwheel used to hypnotise children, giving them visual hallucinations). There may yet be some truth to this short, however, especially given the huge gap between (what seems to be) the first and most recent online recounts of it, but until some form of solid proof emerges, we will never really know. It may be worth noting that a user of 4chan's /x/ board also apparently recalled the clip, citing the boy's name as Benjamin, though this too has never been confirmed.
Whether real or a hoax, no footage (either proven or alleged) from the short has ever emerged, the closest thing being a few still renditions as created by Commander Santa.
Pinwheel aired a number of shorts from a variety of countries, a (possibly incomplete) list of programming is available here. The shorts were dubbed into English, so it's likely the Clock Man came from a foreign country, and probably aired on multiple networks, perhaps in different languages and different countries.
The short in question bares a strong resemblance to Hans Christian Andersen's The Red Shoes. To summarize the story, a poor orphaned girl is adopted and cared for by a rich woman; she soon becomes spoiled. One day, her caretaker decides to buy her a pair of new red shoes, and soon the girl becomes obsessed with them. The girl wears the shoes to church, but is scolded by an old woman (perhaps a nun), and is told to only wear black shoes to church. Despite this, the girl decides to wear the shoes to church again, and this time, a red-bearded soldier talks to the shoes, saying "Oh, what beautiful shoes for dancing, never come off when you dance". After this, the girl's shoes begin to dance, and she can't stop the dancing, and suffers misfortune. The girl later gets her feet amputated, but the shoes still dance anyway. The girl asks for forgiveness before she is finally exalted into heaven.
There are many strong themes that are shared in common with the accounts, namely the theme of not being spoiled, but also the theme of a bearded man, a mother, and red shoes. There are major differences; in Clockman, the punishment is simply sewing stars, whereas in Red Shoes, the punishment is misery, or even death. It's possible these were altered, as it was a kids short.
The Red Shoes has been parodied/homaged since the 1940s. It's possible the short originated in Denmark, and was dubbed into other languages, including English, before being picked up by Nickelodeon.
There are some reports that the clockman in the short had an Irish accent, and was supposed to be a leprechaun. While there are no exact matches that describe the short in Irish folklore, there are some running themes, such as a cobbler, or shoemaker. The short also seems to loosely follow the tale of a changeling. Changelings were believed to be fairy children who were put in place of a real child; the child was kidnapped by the fairies for a variety of reasons, such as acting as a servant, out of pure love, or even malice or extortion.
It's possible the short was animated in the Republic of Ireland or the United Kingdom, and could possibly be a hybrid of Irish folklore and the story of the Red Shoes.
On the Lost Media Wiki Discord, user "YoshiKiller2S" said that his cousin had seen it multiple times. User "Notelu" posted a summary of what he said on the forums:
"He recalls seeing Clock man 2 or 3 times once in 1982 and a second time in 1983. He does not remember much about it but what he does remember is him coming out of the clock and saying "You did not tell your mother" and had an Irish laugh (possibly made in Ireland?) He remembers clock man like everybody else, Big white eyes, Green skin, big toothy smile, and A bowler hat with a belt buckle(?) on it, and the girl had brown hair, a white gown with white dots on it, and black eyes, the bed sheets were blue. and Blue or White Slippers.
The Clock man comes out of the clock with a big thump and wakes up the kid with an Irish laugh, and says "You did not tell your mother" the kid tries to apologize but fails and she is taken away through the window, and they go through a field, and the girl has to help the Clockman with chores.
He says the room is very similar to Commander Santa's picture, but there were photos on the wall, and curtains on the window.
He says that it had very poor claymation.
During the day the kid had a hair band on, and her hair was straight down. Also, there might have been a vase in the room with 2-3 flowers in it. '''
- Commander Santa's 2012 "Clock Man" forum post on bungie.net. Retrieved 15 Jan '14.
- The aforementioned 2002-2004 animationnation.com forum thread. Retrieved 15 Jan '14.