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'Too Many Cooks' parodies '80s TV, with a sinister twist

Wacky TV sitcoms, crime shows, late-night soaps, Saturday morning cartoons and even space sagas get lampooned by Adult Swim in the ultimate creepy homage.

Time for a family portrait. Say, who's that creepy guy on the stairs? Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

Anyone who's old enough to remember the intro sequences to such '80s sitcoms as "Too Close for Comfort," "ALF," "Family Ties" and "Growing Pains" will connect instantly with Adult Swim's tribute "Too Many Cooks."

"Too Many Cooks" is the bizarre brainchild of Casper Kelly, who also wrote "Your Pretty Face is Going to Hell," as well as episodes of "Aqua Teen Hunger Force," "Squidbillies" and "Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law."

The parody pokes fun at the inane comedy cues of retro TV comedies and their ever-annoying earworm theme songs. But there's something not quite right the longer you continue to watch the video, which runs almost 12 minutes. (If you'd rather innocently watch "Too Cooks" without spoilers, skip to the end of this article and just watch the video.)

Since "Too Many Cooks" aired as a short at 4 a.m. on Adult Swim, it has gained momentum on social media, with actors and directors alike becoming obsessed with the odd parody.

"I highly, highly recommend you watch this before bed," "Shaun of the Dead" director Edgar Wright tweeted.

"'Too Many Cooks' is so deftly engineered to unnerve stoned people in their mid 30s, it might actually have been created by the US government," actor Simon Pegg tweeted. After watching "Too Many Cooks" too many times, we have to agree.

In the video, we see a long sequence of actors being called out in the opening credits, complete with the usual yellow lettering spelling out their names during cheesy freeze-frame smiles and posing.

Typical characters pop up like the silly dad, the stylish mom, the caring grandmother, the nerd kid, the jock son, the promiscuous teen, the adorable twins, the even cuter baby and even a puppet cat named Smarf and the peeping-tom neighbor. But that's not all. Soon we're seeing other sitcom tropes included in the mix, which blends the office comedy with the family sitcom. There's the underappreciated employee, the snooping secretary and the mean boss.

But if you look closely, a character who clearly doesn't belong seems to pop up in all the sequences -- a creepy, bearded, balding man in disheveled, dirty clothes -- lurking in the background like a sinister specter. He's grabbing spices from the kitchen cupboard, and even hiding out on the staircase behind an unsuspecting TV family taking a family portrait. Who exactly is this guy?

Soon, police drama intros are the focus of "Too Many Cooks" and we see cops chasing down criminals, calling for backup and pulling out their guns in shootouts. And that creepy guy we spotted before is in the background shots here too.

"There is all this cheerful stuff and you just want something unhappy to start emerging," Kelly told Vulture. "We put him in throughout. We hid him in various places and no one would notice it the first time they watched. I worried that people would only watch it once, so I was wondering if I should put arrows to show where he's hiding."

Creepy guy in the background is up to something. Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

And you can't spoof '80s TV without adding in an intro to a "G.I. Joe"-type cartoon complete with explosions and a machine gun-toting chef. Now our mysterious man is wielding a machete and he looks like he no longer wants to be in the background, which is not a good omen for the rest of the video.

After a seeming reference to the hit late-night soap opera "Falcon's Crest" -- hence the eerie sequence of a falcon giving us some evil side eye glance at around 3:46 -- the horror sequence begins.

If Freddy Krueger is famous for killing his victims in their dreams, the weird machete guy of "Too Many Cooks" will be known for his brutal slaughter of actors trapped in a never-ending opening-credits sequence. No one is safe, no matter what TV show they're in.

As the video progresses, the action gets even weirder. Actor Katie Adkins runs from the killer only to have her own glowing yellow credit give away her hiding place. And if the serial killer wasn't enough, it could very well be that the yellow name credits and continuous theme song are actually symptoms of a deadly virus. By the end of the video, you'll be scratching your head and wondering, "What the hell did I just watch?" And then watch it again.