When he was just six years old, Jake Hood, now 30, stared into the deep, soulless eyes of a creature so menacing that it altered his life forever. “Every time I sat on the toilet from that moment on, I went as quickly as I could, for all I could see in my mind was that twisted, oddly-detailed face,” he recalls with a shudder.
That face, with empty eyes perched below scorned, blue eyebrows and a pair of sharpened white fangs that Hood “can still picture with perfect clarity to this day,” belonged to none other than Mr. Toilet Man, the ghoulish toilet that springs to life in the 1990 film Look Who’s Talking Too.
Voiced by none other than Mel Brooks, Mr. Toilet Man appears after Mikey, the toddler learning to potty train in the film, quells his initial fears of a demonic “doo doo-eating” toilet and turns to leave the bathroom. “Hey you, you little pisser, I’m talking to you!” Mr. Toilet Man angrily shouts. “Give me your pee-pee, or the next time you sit on me, I’m going to bite off your tushy!”
The scene, which only lasts about 20 seconds in an otherwise forgettable film, made a permanent impression on millions of people who, like Hood, saw Look Who’s Talking Too at an impressionable age. “It’s wild to think how a scene like that didn’t raise any questions from the filmmakers or test audiences,” says Daniel Hess, a filmmaker himself from Baltimore. “But at the same time, it’s pretty astounding that the filmmakers were able to simultaneously capture the anxiety of going to the bathroom on your own, while also creating a new set of fears for an entire generation.”
“I certainly can remember having this apprehension that at any moment a seemingly demonic toilet could spring to life,” he continues. The fear that a fanged toilet would start badgering him for piss was “only alleviated after telling my parents why I was so worried. They reassured me that toilets don’t threaten people in real life.”
“For the longest time growing up, I would have to sneak past my bathroom, then turn on the hallway light, then reach around the edge of the doorway to turn on the bathroom light before entering,” adds Josh, who also first saw the movie when he was six. “I find it strange how scary that scene is. Even watching it in my 30s is still a bit uncomfortable.”
For his part, Daniel, a 28-year-old in California, tells me, “I had to wear diapers to bed until I was five because I wouldn’t go in the bathroom at night without someone with me. That pang of anxiety continued to occasionally hit me as I grew up, and to this day, I have an innate hatred of toilets with blue water or the carpeted toilet covers.”
There is one person who could lay our fears to rest: Lorne Sussman, the actor who played Mikey in Look Who’s Talking Too. Now a 34-year-old banker in Canada, Sussman doesn’t remember much about the scene — so he reached out to his mom, who accompanied him on set. “That’s the scene where we had to try to scare [Lorne],” Sussman’s mom recalls. “They needed to get [him] to startle so they used this crazy horn.” (In the moment, Sussman covers his ears and looks heartbreakingly startled when Mr. Toilet Man appears.)
As for Sussman’s toilet behavior today, “I’d say it’s pretty strange — although I’m not sure I can attribute any of that to Mr. Toilet Man,” he says, recalling the deviant toilet as little more than an idle prop. “It was a fully functioning robot, that’s pretty much all I can remember.”
The thing is, back then, Sussman bravely stood in front of Mr. Toilet Man, unafraid. So maybe it’s time for the rest of us to follow his lead and finally start pissing without fear, too.