THUNDERBEAN THURSDAY
October 30, 2014 posted by

A Thunderbean Halloween

So, Halloween has gotta be the cartoon lover’s favorite holiday, at least for all the weird animated films that either have Halloween themes. We seriously could put a link to the hundreds of them…but instead, here’s a few that I especially like myself (and since it’s Halloween, some local TV from the 70s included). I wish I was out in New York to see the show Tom is doing.

Here are some of my favorite Halloween and spooky cartoons. I know some of these are old saws, but heck, isn’t this a site dedicated to them?

We have to start this year with the one we put up last yearMidnight Frolics. I know it’s not one of the greatest of cartoons, but it’s a sentimental favorite of mine and takes on special meaning for me this year. We would show every year in my Mom’s neighborhood (and this print of it, beat up as it is!). We’d put a screen up on her carport, and chilly children would stop and watch cartoons projected from 16mm prints (and sometimes would make shadow puppets with their fingers between reels). The parents wouldn’t mind as long as they didn’t stay for TOO many of them – those cold Michigan nights are really only good for a cartoon or two. This cartoon was her personal favorite, and she would always tell me to make sure to bring ‘The Flora Dora Girls’ cartoon when I came over. I may very well stop by the house on Friday and show cartoons one last time- so if you’re in Ann Arbor, stop on by and watch!

I always like to show this one too- The Fresh Lobster, starring Billy Bletcher. This is clearly a sound reissue of a 1928 (?) silent short, but it’s a great little trick film. Not a great copy of this, but there is a really nice one on Blue Mouse Studio’s Grotesqueries‘ DVD, available on Amazon.

I really love the backgrounds in the Columbia Rhapsody Skeleton Frolic… produced by the UB Iwerks Studio. Of course it owes more than just a little tip of the hat to the earlier Iwerk’shelmed Disney short. I still always feel that the clock and rooster seem out of place in this one…

Toby the Pup may win for having the best Halloween cartoon though… now, wouldn’t it be nice to see ALL the Tobys in beautiful prints. Maybe someday. This may have my favorite Columbia score, and enough skeletons to make up for any lack of them is any other Halloween Cartoon.

I had always wanted to see The Ouija Board since I saw the title in the Fleischer Story book around 1977. Here’s a not too great copy, but interesting anyway:

Someone put a piece of the 1964 Walter Lantz Spook-a-Nanny special here… I think almost all of the rest of it consisted of several cartoons – Playful Pelican was one of them (I think Under the Counter Spy was the other…) At one point in the early 80s, one of the 16mm collectors had something like 20 prints of this special, in IB Technicolor, selling for something like $20. Some people would cut the cartoons out of it and sell them separately. I really like some of the cycles near the end of the cartoons.. and especially the really odd spooky faces made by Woody
at the end.

… and of course, there’s Iwerk’s version of ‘The Headless Horseman’:

Finally, on a less cartoon-related note: when I was a kid, we’d beg to stay up from 8 until 10 at night to watch ‘The Ghoul’, a local TV horror movie host. He would show Public Domain films and other sheep rentals, often adding comments with sound effects and clips from other movies as the film was shown. When someone got hit, it was almost always an ‘Ow! Ow! OWWWWW!’ sound clip. I remember my dad looking on with little interest as my mother, my brother and I laughed at the nuttiness of the show. He had taken over I think for ‘Ghoulardi’, and had some of the same look. Ron Sweed was the guy who was dressed up as the Ghoul, and he appeared I think at first on Channel 50, then Channel 62, then many years later on channel 20 if memory serves. I think he’s back in his native Cleveland these days. They were always blowing stuff up on the show, and as an 8 year old I found this particularly cool.

Here’s a piece of the Halloween show from 1974!

….and here is one of the things I remember best about the show… hurting Froggy – the character from the old Buster Brown show. The Ghoul nearly always blew up Froggy on the show with a ‘boom boom’. One of the great disappointments of my childhood was ordering a ‘Froggy Kit’ from them for $7. It never showed up, despite my Mother sending several letters to them with a xerox of the cashed check. I hope some day to ask Ron Sweed why he never sent it…

..and the Ghoul blowing up a Pumpkin:

Happy Halloween all!

10 Comments

  • well, NOWWWWWWWWWWW I can have my Halloween. Spook-a-Nanny! Now THAT’s the tkt! Thank you so much!

  • or…to quote Leonard….”the ubiquitous Billy Bletcher”……

  • Absolutely LOVE The Fresh Lobster, Steve. It’s just so perfect in a multitude of ways. I wish you were out here in NY as well…but it looks like we may have to cancel the big outdoor show because of the bad forecast 🙁

  • One of the great disappointments of my childhood was ordering a ‘Froggy Kit’ from them for $7. It never showed up, despite my Mother sending several letters to them with a xerox of the cashed check. I hope some day to ask Ron Sweed why he never sent it…

    Love to hear what he says! Hopefully it’s not a case of the post office sending it to the wrong address or it simply got lost in the shuffle.
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    In Toledo we had a similar guy on the air in the 80’s that went by the name of “Dr. Shock”. I’m sure he ‘borrowed’ his shtick from The Ghoul.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdFDAaUMzsU
    http://dr.shock1.tripod.com/index.html

  • I remember “Spook-a-Nanny” getting special treatment on KTVU, being folded into an hour show with kid show host Captain Satellite. After the end of “Spook-a-Nanny”, they cut to the studio for three little kids wearing sheets and Beatle wigs, which came off to reveal Ben Cooper Woody Woodpecker costumes. A live action re-enactment of the cartoon gag struck me as incredibly brilliant, but I was easily impressed.

    The complete “Spook-a-Nanny” — which was actually an episode of the Woody Woodpecker Show, with the show’s regular opening titles — is on one of the Woody Woodpecker sets.

    • I remember “Spook-a-Nanny” getting special treatment on KTVU, being folded into an hour show with kid show host Captain Satellite. After the end of “Spook-a-Nanny”, they cut to the studio for three little kids wearing sheets and Beatle wigs, which came off to reveal Ben Cooper Woody Woodpecker costumes. A live action re-enactment of the cartoon gag struck me as incredibly brilliant, but I was easily impressed.

      Not bad for a local TV show to make that work within it’s budget.

  • Steve,

    what information can you share with us about the UB Iwerks cartoon. who worked on it? it looks like Iwerks may have animated a few scenes. did he? where in LA was this short and others from the same staff made? are there other gems for Iwerks fans in the columbia years?

    thanks for posting these

    • I’m pretty sure Iwerk’s studio was still in Santa Monica when these were made. I’m not sure of all the animators on the film- it would be great to get a list of who was there in 1936 and 37

  • Hey Steve! I’m in Ann Arbor, though I hadn’t heard any of the little kids that stopped by our house talking about a live cartoon show. You must be in a different neighborhood.

    But I did watch Spook-A-Nanny yesterday as I picked up the new Woody Halloween DVD. They seem to have put the entire special on there including the Lantz B&W portions and the Kellogg’s advertising. They also threw in some bumpers from the Woody Woodpecker show between some of other theatrical shorts. Not bad.

  • “The Ghoul” got his own chapter in the book Television Horror Movie Hosts by Elena M. Watson. (So did the horror movie host from my childhood, the Tampa Bay area’s “Dr. Paul Bearer”.)

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