In October of 2000, Nickelodeon aired an original horror movie for the Halloween weekend called Cry Baby Lane. The cable channel received a surprising number of calls from parents complaining that the movie was too disturbing. Nickelodeon never aired the movie again, and it was not made available for home video. Cry Baby Lane was considered a lost film, never to be seen again … or so they thought. On Sunday night, a Reddit user produced a digitized copy of the movie from a VHS recording they had made 11 years ago.
I acquired a copy of the movie, and braved its horrors so that I may bring you—dear readers—the low-down on this strange mystery: What really happened with Cry Baby Lane?
It started out innocently enough. The movie was introduced by Sabrina the Teenage Witch herself, Melissa Joan Hart. She described it as “scary, spooky, and full of all that stuff we teenage witches go for.” Okay, sounds like a good scary movie for kids. What’s the big deal? Then the opening voice-over started. The character was played by Frank Langella, spoken slowly in a low voice:
“It all happened some time ago. There was a farmer whose wife gave birth to twins. But something was terribly wrong. Due to a rare embryonic mutation, the infants joined as one flesh and came into this world freaks. And the farmer hid them away. As they grew, it became clear that one was good, and the other was evil. Now it happened that one of the twins fell ill, and because they shared the same liver, the illness quickly spread and they both perished. Not wanting to expose his shame, the farmer decided to unjoin the bodies—[sawing sound fades in]—and buried only the good son in the town cemetery. He buried the evil son in a field at the end of an old dirt road … called Cry Baby Lane. Because legend has it, anyone caught out there at night on that desolate road can hear the cries of the evil child … calling for vengeance … from beyond the grave.”
Sawing sounds and creepy images like the one above of a rotting beheaded children’s doll? As Martin Lawrence would say, “This sh*t just got real.” And that was just the first two minutes. Although the tone changed slightly once the child actors got on screen and started mucking about, the overall effect was still darker than your usual scary kids movie material. It was definitely creepier than what I would expect on Nickelodeon in any given year. There were characters with demon eyes, maggoty worms coming out of the ground, and a scene with a spider crawling out of a girl’s open mouth.
The movie also included fun facts like, “You know, the average person swallows five spiders a year in their sleep?” No, I didn’t know that, thanks. I will never sleep again now. Particularly chilling was a scene near the beginning, when the caretaker’s nephew opens a sliding door wearing bloody plastic gloves over his hands and arms. Obviously he works at the funeral home and has been working on a body. Um, yeah, that’s a little creepy for Nickelodeon.
All of that being said, it is easy to see that this movie could be too scary for little kids. But it wasn’t exactly the extreme horror-fest we thought it might turn out to be, either. A precursor to something like The Human Centipede it wasn’t. As far as the horror itself goes, I don’t believe there was anything bad enough here to make someone call the station and complain. So what happened? Why was it banned? Having given this way too much thought, I think I’ve solved this mystery. Come back tomorrow for the thrilling conclusion to the Mysterious Legend of Cry Baby Lane.