A while ago, I stumbled across the Mental Floss post “8 Forgotten Kids Shows Sure to Give You Nightmares.” One of the eight clips they link to is the “Mysterious Stranger” segment from “The Adventures of Mark Twain,” a 1980s stop-motion movie for children. The kids featured in the clip are Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer, and Becky Thatcher. (Was Tom described as a redhead in the books? I have a vivid mental image of him as a dirty-blond. The curly red thing threw me for a loop.)
I love this clip. I was so taken with it that I now, months later, have watched the rest of the movie. It’s a really strange piece of work. The kids go up with Mark Twain in this fanciful hot-air balloon-ship thing to find Halley’s comet. There’s a teleportation device, unicorns, Mr. Hyde alter-egos… Strange movie.
The “Mysterious Stranger” bit is still undeniably the best (and creepiest) part, but the whole thing is worth a view. I do, however, raise a quizzical eyebrow at the idea of marketing this to children. I am no fan of watering things down to a mush of inoffensiveness (I dearly miss the edgy “Sesame Street” of my childhood and lament the new direction the show has taken), but this is some serious grit for a kid to stomach.