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16

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Neither Cruella De Vil nor the Wicked Witch of the West was much to look at, but they were just miserable old hags with something against dogs. Nothing your average kid hasn’t dealt with in real life. The Grinch—possibly the misunderstood, more socially maladjusted brother of Oscar the Grouch—was pretty much harmless, too. That guy from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang who caught children in a combination ice cream truck-paddy wagon was a little disturbing. But for really spooky, look no further than the freaky Greek chorus from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, the Oompah-Lumpahs. These multicolor moralizers rank right up there with the Teletubbies as one of the most misguided attempts to entertain children. In my house, it was traditional to stock up on sweets before any Willy Wonka viewing. Now that’s a recipe for nightmares: a head full of Oompah-Lumpahs and a belly full of Sugar Babies and Goobers. Overdose on sugar and scary short people at 8:30 p.m. at the National Institutes of Health, South Drive & Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda. Free. (301) 881-0143. (Neil Drumming)