It seems this year has really flown by for us Cartoon Researchers. So much work had been put into the big Turner Classic Movies broadcast show of early animation in recent months (which I hope you all thoroughly enjoyed, Van Beuren mishap aside!). In the time since then, my close colleagues, collaborators and I have also been going full steam ahead to get my new Cartoon Roots Blu-ray release finished and ready to go for cartoon lovers around the world. We’ll have a big official announcement about that here in just a few weeks.
Now Halloween is upon us, and to celebrate the glorious spooky holiday, I’ll be presenting the 30th entry in my 16mm Cartoon Carnival series in Brooklyn on Saturday. Yes–Halloween is on Friday this year, and my crew will be extending the holiday by having this fun show on Saturday. Who says there can’t be an entire weekend of Halloween festivities? We’ll have a dozen rare and early spooky cartoons, all shown on real film, as well as a Race Night Comedy contributed by our friend Nelson Hughes. These fun films were made in the 1930s starring old silent-era comedians engaging in a race, and one lucky guest always wins a prize at the end of the film. There’s one hitch: this will be an outdoor screening, and we New Yorkers have been given less-than-stellar weather forecast. If any of you are in touch with the rain gods, please put in a good word for us! We welcome Jack Frost at my screenings no earlier than November 2nd.
What are some of your favorite creepy and spooky cartoons? Here are some of mine, in my usual silent and early sound-era vein:
1. Mickey Mouse in The Mad Doctor (1933)
2. Tom & Jerry in Wot a Night (1933)
3. Pete’s Haunted House (1926)…which is one of those Hot Dog cartoons starring a young Walter Lantz in live-action segments
4. Koko’s Haunted House (1928)
5. The Cuckoo Murder Case (1930)
6. Jasper in The Haunted House (1942)
7. The Headless Horseman (1934)
8. Mysterious Mose (1930)
Here’s my #1 pick – The Mad Doctor (1/21/33) directed by David Hand. This pre-code Mickey was considered so frightening it was never reissued and pretty much buried for years. So forgotten, they actually forgot to renew the copyright – making it one of the handful of public domain films from this particular studio. It’s actually a spot-on parody of the then-current Universal horror films, mad doctor and “Old Dark House” mysteries of this era. And quite funny, too.