October 27, 2016 posted by

Halloween Haunts: Flip the Frog in “Spooks” (1932)


After last week’s rush getting out the Halloween Rarities disc, I thought I’d be tired of looking at Halloween cartoons. Not so much. Perhaps the reason there’s so man skeletons and haunted houses in cartoons is that they’re fun as a subject matter, and endless is possibilities and direction in some ways.

The Flip the Frog set is progressing amazingly well, so I thought I’d share one of the films on the new set. This particular film isn’t cleaned up as of yet, but, honestly, it was in such beautiful shape that it doesn’t need much.

flipmag1In many ways, Spooks (1932) shares a kinship to many old haunted house stories. In this case, it’s a little closer to The Rocky Horror Picture Show in it’s theatre of the bizarre direction, with poor Flip having to deal with a complete break from reality, and in the end, even his horse is lost to the bizarre skeleton world!

A favorite scene of mine in the film is the skeleton man greedily sizing up Flip to fit in with his display of various other skeletons! Clearly this isn’t his first late night visitor!

Grim Natwick seems to carry a lot of the animation on this short, and his well-drawn poses on the skeleton man are some of my favorites in this cartoon.

Although early in the history of sound cartoons, Spooks is a beautifully posed and timed short for it’s time, with a great score, and funny too!

This transfer is MGM’s master positive, struck on Fine Grain stock in 1931. We’ve pulled the camera neg as well on this short (not in as good of shape at all!) and are debating what to use on the final set- since this one is so clean chances are we’ll stick with it. The soundtrack isn’t from the master positive; we pulled that, on a separate reel, but it seems to have been mixed up with the track from ‘The Milkman’. We used the track from a DVD version for now but will be pulling other tracks to see if we can find the master positive on this one.

Have a good week and a Happy Halloween everyone!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Jerry Beck here. I’m borrowing the bottom of today’s post to plug my annual Halloween “Spook-tacular” screening and party in Los Angeles next week – on Halloween.

Yes, that’s right. While everyone else is “trick-or-treating” all over town, I’ll be screening Halloween cartoons on the big screen – with rare film prints (from studios and collectors) AND digital restorations (thanks to Steve Stanchfield). I cannot reveal what I’m showing for various legal reasons – but if you are all partied out, filled with candy and just need to “chill”…

Join me at The Cinefamily, 611 N. Fairfax in Hollywood, California, on Monday October 31st, Halloween, at 7:30. More details and advance tickets on sale here.


  • Happy Halloween, Steve and Jerry.

  • Hey Steve Happy Halloween to you Ya’ll at Thunderbean are spoiling all of us retro animation lovers! Just got the Halloween disc-loved it!!!! Thanks and ya’ll keep up the great work!

  • I think Spooks was the first Flip I ever saw, and it remains one of my favorites. Happy Halloween!

  • Still my favorite Flip cartoon! Two other Halloweenie entries in the series (THE CUCKOO MURDER CASE and TECHNO-CRACKED) are pretty great too!

  • Boy, Jerry, do I wish I could sample some of what you’re going to show as I’m sure these won’t be the usual greatest hits of animated Halloween! In fact, I could identify the cartoon whose soundtrack you were running in reverse at the beginning of the “trailer” for next week’s event–the TOM AND JERRY cartoon, “FRAIDY CAT” (or is that “SCARED-Y CAT”?). Listening to that FLIP cartoon starts me thinking of a marathon of “greatest hits” and rare titles that I’d run–“SPOOKS”, “THE OLD HOUSE” (MGM), “THE BOOK WORM” (MGM), “BETTY BOOP’S INITIATION” (Fleischer), “MY GREEN FEDORA” (Warner Brothers), “THE CARTOONIST’S NIGHTMARE” (Warner Brothers), just to name a few, but really, the 1930’s were so riddled with spook and haunted house cartoons that you could probably find all kinds of rare films that I’m not even remotely aware of. Yes, I know I keep mentioning “THE OLD HOUSE”, but it is a classic, with one great moment, in which a skeleton leaps at the camera and is dashed into a million little pieces; touches like that, along with the chase near the end of the cartoon, as Bruno is tumbling down the stairs, covered by the shiny black robe and a Jack O’Lantern on top of the cackling radio playing the spook story, put this otherwise dated cartoon above some of the others for me. Have a great show and, Steve, the more I hear these FLIP cartoons, the more I am anxious and eager to get my copy of the resulting set. I know it will be something amazing! A big toothy grin to both of you!

  • Oops, my mistake–the BETTY BOOP cartoon I mentioned in my previous message is called “BIMBO’S INITIATION”. While I’m at it, there is a great BEANY AND CECIL short in which Cap’n Huffenpuff decides to go looking at a rather spooky house as a possible bit of real estate acquisition for Beany. The “scarey TV” bits during that short (found on the ninth volume on VHS of “THE BEANY AND CECIL SHOW”) has so many fantastic pop culture references that I’m sure that any audience for spooky cartoons would love to check it out again. I wish I could remember the title, but at least I did remember where you could find it.

  • Happy Halloween! Just got my Halloween Rarities disc, and looking forward to watching it this weekend!

    I love this cartoon, perhaps in the top three of the Flip cartoons for me (“Soda Squirt” and “Funny Face” might be tied with it). Grim Natwick’s animation is always a treat to see, it’s no wonder Disney recruited him for “Snow White” and later Fleischer for “Gulliver’s Travels.”

  • Steve I enjoy your rare discoveries. You are the King at restoring classic cartoons. Maybe can you upload a few Paramount Cartoons that have original titles. I enjoy Arthur Greenbaums Lettering on these films and enjoy them in their charm. Maybe you can try to restore them.

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