Google Doodles are not renowned for their morbidity – which is understandable. They often function as positive reminders and celebrations of human achievement, themes that visually trend towards cuteness. But optimism and cuteness are not the sole domain of general audiences – far from it! Horror and the fantastic have their own wealth of the adorable and inspirational, and Google, in all its lovable inclusiveness, made room in the cuddle huddle for some of these…creepier cuddlers. Without further ado, here are thirteen Google Doodles celebrating the strange!
- DAY OF THE DEAD 2014
There are many Google Doodles commemorating the Day of the Dead, a Mexican holiday that celebrates deceased loved ones in a distinctly vibrant and joyful way. This animation stands out among the other offerings; the link between nature and death is the theme here, and human bones commingle with a variety of bold vegetal elements. A delectably morbid treat for all!
- HALLOWEEN 2012
Google Doodles love to dress up for the holidays. This Halloween was chosen for the fine quality of its spookiness. As an interactive doodle, you can click on different doors to uncover five creepy-cute gruesomes! Floating eyes, ghosts, and a helpful skeleton are just some of the grim delights on offer.
- MARY SHELLEY’S 213th BIRTHDAY
Horror author Mary Shelley is given the Google Doodle treatment with an eerie illustration that suggests Dr. Frankenstein’s beleaguered creature is suffering beyond view, just up the stairwell. The juxtaposition of somberly posed portraits with the frantically gesturing shadow of the manmade man from FRANKENSTEIN proves to be pleasantly shocking.
- EIJI TSUBURAYA’S 114th BIRTHDAY
Fans of kaiju (strange/giant monster) films rejoice – there’s a Google Doodle out there celebrating the inimitable special effects director Eiji Tsuburaya of GODZILLA and ULTRAMAN fame. This interactive doodle lets you create your own brief kaiju film based off of your accomplishments in a series of minigames. The minigames are all of the COOKING MAMA variety, with perhaps a lone criticism being that the instructions for the games are brief, and not always entirely clear. But if you do poorly the first time, and take umbrage at your own failure, you can try again. And again. And again. For an interactive version, click here.
- OSCAR WILDE’S 156th BIRTHDAY
This desaturated doodle evokes Oscar Wilde’s THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY using a simple, evocative design. It’s actually quite clever that the heads of both old and “young” Dorian are substitutes for the double “O” in “Google” – emphasizing the intriguing single/dual nature of the cursed man. The desaturated color palette is being used as a tool to evoke horror – and this tool comes out of the box quite a few times in the creation of Google Doodles, as you will see.
- HALLOWEEN 2008 DESIGNED BY WES CRAVEN
I swear, this is the last Halloween Google Doodle I’ll post, but this one deserves consideration. Horror maestro Wes Craven designed this piece – which automatically makes it cool enough for horror fans. But what’s really cool about this doodle is the fact that the horror here is all suggested, and not explicit. A variety of pumpkin carving tools are on display, and some pumpkin guts are innocuously arrayed in front of a fresh jack-o-lantern. But the arrangement of the composition is a bit sinister, and the dramatic lighting emphasizes the grisly cutting edges of all the bladed tools. This works as a prime example of G-rated horror.
- BRAM STOKER’S 165th BIRTHDAY
Bram Stoker’s famed novel DRACULA is the vampiric subject at hand here. This Google Doodle by Sophia Foster-Dimino contains influences from both Edward Gorey and Aubrey Beardsley in its style, which makes for a beautifully flat, almost medieval composition. Note the compression of deep space into a flat, even field of focus, and the lovely pattern of the cape evoking constellations – there’s a folk art quality to it. Desaturation is once again being used as a visual keyword for horror, with the pop of red for the font cheekily suggesting blood (which is about all the blood you’re going to get from a Google Doodle).
- BIRTHDAY OF H.G. WELLS
UFOs stalk the countryside in this homage to THE WAR OF THE WORLDS. The overhead composition allows one of the saucers to be used as an “O” in “Google”, and also makes for a fun, far-reaching landscape full of interesting details. There’s a crop circle in one of the fields, and tiny figures roaming the roads. Dimly, you can just make out a cow being beamed up by one of the saucers – that one’s my favorite.
- ROSWELL’S 66th ANNIVERSARY
Speaking of UFOs, here’s an interactive Google Doodle that’s all about them. This enjoyable puzzle game lets you control an alien that’s crash-landed in 1940s New Mexico. Your objective is to rebuild the spacecraft, but there’s a lot of fun extra stuff thrown in. The rounded shape of the doodle is reminiscent of a television set from that era, and the desaturated palette and general fuzziness of style playfully channels a static-y screen. For an interactive version, click here.
- EDWARD GOREY’S 88th BIRTHDAY
The pen-and-ink gothic aesthetic of Edward Gorey comes to life with this lovely homage. Characters from books by the author abound in this doodle. THE DOUBTFUL GUEST sits with a figure of Gorey at the letter “G”, and the cats clearly escaped from T.S. Eliot’s OLD POSSUM’S BOOK OF PRACTICAL CATS. Although this doodle isn’t interactive, hunting down all the references can function as a minigame for fact addicts in a pinch.
- INGMAR BERGMAN’S 95th BIRTHDAY
THE SEVENTH SEAL is celebrated with a compelling, moody doodle featuring the unforgettable chess match against Death. Once again a flat, elaborately decorative composition reminiscent of medieval art is used, creating a powerfully iconic image. The restrained color palette, keeping with the original black and white film stock of THE SEVENTH SEAL, is hauntingly effective.
- CHARLES ADDAMS’ 100th BIRTHDAY
The artist who created THE ADDAMS FAMILY is given the Google Doodle treatment in fine style. This adorable illustration is a great family portrait of one of fiction’s weirder families, positioned in front of their creepy, kooky home. Altogether, very ooky!
- SHERIDAN LE FANU’S 200th BIRTHDAY
A scene from Le Fanu’s vampire story CARMILLA is gorgeously depicted in this delicate Google Doodle. Texture is used to haunting effect, lending the image a creepily indistinct fuzz. A desaturated palette once again takes us to a horror state of mind without opening up the gore door directly; it’s fascinating that while the characters portrayed can be seen as “cute”, this cuteness has teeth.