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Scary Logos refer to a variety of vintage television production company logos that were used as bumper sequences between the 1960s and early 1990s. Although their perceived eeriness has been disputed, a handful of pre-roll animations have been found to cause fear in many viewers, most notably the logos of Screen Gems and Viacom nicknamed “S From Hell” and “V of Doom," respectively.
As early as 1998, television fans were discussing the frightening aspects of these vintage logos online. One of the earliest threads was posted to the rec.sport.pro-wrestling Usenet newsgroup on September 16th, 1998 asking if others found the “Big Purple Viacom ‘V’ of Doom” (shown below, left) scarier than the booming voice that said “Viacom” (shown below, right) in their 1990s bumpers. Three of the posters agreed that the V of Doom had invoked fear in them when they were younger.
In July 1999, the question of scariest television logo was opened up for debate on rec.arts.tv, where the “V of Doom” was again referenced. A number of other posters also brought up the 1974 Screen Gems logo (shown below), in which the S and G merge together on a yellow background with eerie music. This particular instance was further discussed in another thread later that September. By February 2001, this logo had been given the nickname the “S from Hell,” which quickly spread outside of Usenet, appearing in a thread about the closing credits for Gidget and I Dream of Jeannie on the Sitcoms Online message board in July 2002.
In 2002, two separate single serving sites about the Screen Gems logo and its history were created on Homestead and Angelfire. Between 2002 and 2003, both the V of Doom and S from Hell, along with other scary logos, were discussed on a number of Usenet groups including alt.tv, alt.culture.us.1970s, alt.religion.kibology, alt.revenge, rec.arts.tv and rec.arts.animation. In July 2003, a Yahoo! group dedicated to scary logos launched. Between 2008 and 2011, a number of bloggers began writing about these logos including Nostalgia Junkie, Cartoon Brew and Good Reason. During the same time period, scary logos were discussed on several message boards including Futures Passed, YouChew and the Sega forums. On July 15th, 2011, the single topic Tumblr Fear of the Peacock was created to curate various logo animations that have been labeled “scary.” That October, the Scary Logos Wiki launched.
“S From Hell” Documentary
n 2010, The S From Hell, a short horror film-style documentary about the Screen Gems logo directed by Rodney Ascher, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The trailer was shared on Boing Boing, Vulture and Logo Design Love that same year. In April 2011, Ascher uploaded the film online (shown below), shortly after which it was picked up by io9, Geek New Wave and Horror News.
As of August 2013, there are more than 37,000 search results for “scary logos” on YouTube including remixes and compilation videos of different logos from vintage television shows.
Google Groups Archive – rec.arts.tv: POLL: What REALLY makes a closing logo scary?
Google Groups Archive – alt.revenge: “V of Doom”/Viacom logo as revenge tool?