Do you remember The Judderman?  It was an ad for Metz schnapps drink, aired in 2000 in cinema and on tv.  What a glorious collection of uncanny tropes it is!judderman[1]

The style of the commercial is reminiscent of early European cinema.  It’s shot in flickering black and white, the camerawork is shaky, and it looks as if it’s an old print that needs to be restored.  The background music is discordant, with the flavour of a creepy fairground calliope.  The voice-over is supplied by a lady called Alicia Suszka Fielder, who is half-Polish and half-Czech, and who brings an exotic account to her recitation of the warning

Beware the Judderman, my dear, when the moon is fat.

Sharp of tongue and spindle-limbed he is, and cunning,

With sweetened talk of schnapps and Metz, and the deliciousness of judders.

But schnapps, though sweet, has teeth, my love, and sharpened ones at that.

Beware the Judderman, my dear, when the moon is fat.

The ad opens with a stringed marionette Judderman, propelled jerkily across a puppet theatre stage with a backdrop of a moonlit forest.  But the figure soon turns into the “real” Judderman, a spiky elf-like character, who is stalking a lone traveller through the wood, and luring him away from his path to a clearing where characters in fancy-dress are drinking Metz and experiencing “judders”.  When he tries the drink, the traveller is transformed into a stringed puppet himself, controlled by the Judderman puppet.

Why is the ad so uncanny?  At first we see the puppet Judderman, who we can be fairly sure is an inanimate figure, but we soon see that we are mistaken, when the figure “comes alive”.  We have the traveller, lost in the woods, who is bewatched but can’t see by whom.  The trees themselves become animated, putting out roots which writhe along the ground after the traveller and later wrap around his discarded pack.  There;s a raven perched on a branch and its head turns through 360 degrees.  The whole stylised fee is of a fairy-tale nightmare, bringing back childhood fears which we thought we had overcome, which here nevertheless come to light to unsettle us once more.

The ad appeared in the 2003 Channel 4 show The 100 Greatest Scary Moments at number 31.  I would have placed it much higher!

See the ad here.

Director: Enda McCallion

Art Director: Ian Williamson

Copywriter: Jonathan Burley

Anything to add? Let me know!