A wild, weird, and wonderful All Hallows’ Eve to you all!
This week, The Retro Set offers a smorgasbord of classic Halloween cartoons for your ghoulish pleasure–some familiar, some perhaps less so.
Felix the Cat in Switches Witches Pat Sullivan, 1927
In this surrealistic silent cartoon, our mischievous old friend Felix gets into some insane body-parts-switching hijinks and seeks out his true love on Halloween (too bad the only woman he encounters is one ugly witch). This cartoon debuted near the end of the silent Felix series, before the character’s ill-fated move into sound in 1929.
Fun fact: Felix’s name is reportedly derived from “felix,” the Latin word for “lucky” (and the name is also not far removed from “feles,” Latin for “cat”).
Flip the Frog in Spooks Ub Iwerks, 1931
In this cartoon, Flip the Frog seeks shelter from a storm in an eerie house populated by skeletons. This is one of the most entertaining cartoons in the relatively short-lived Flip series, if only for the effectively creepy characterization of the antagonists.
Fun fact: if this short reminds you at all of the Walt Disney Silly SymphonyThe Skeleton Dance (1929), which we posted earlier this week, that’s no coincidence: the earlier cartoon was also animated by Iwerks, a year before he left Disney to run his own animation studio.
Mickey Mouse in The Mad Doctor Walt Disney, 1933
When an evil scientist steals Pluto away in the middle of the night, Mickey must brave the mad doctor’s foreboding, skeleton-infested castle to rescue his beloved pup. This terrifying cartoon is something of a rarity for the Mickey Mouse series, marked by unrelieved tension and true moments of horror (colloquial evidence indicates that The Mad Doctor may have been banned from cinemas in Britain upon its release, due to concerns about scaring children).
Fun fact: the character of The Mad Doctor would be revived more than seventy-five years after this cartoon’s debut to serve as a villain in the two Epic Mickey video games.
Popeye the Sailor in Shiver Me Timbers! Fleischer Bros., 1934
Our favorite spinach-loving sailor invites a whole mess of paranormal trouble when he decides to explore a “ghost ship” with lady love Olive Oyl and buddy Wimpy in tow. This spooky short was only the twelfth entry in the long-running Popeye series, and the otherworldly antagonists make for a nice break from Popeye’s typical rivalry with big brute Bluto.
Fun fact: the Popeye series was one of the longest-running classic cartoon series, with more than two hundred cartoons produced over two-plus decades. More than half of those cartoons were made after the series’ creators, the Fleischer brothers, were ousted from Paramount in 1942.
Bugs Bunny in Hair-Raising Hare Warner Bros., 1946
An evil scientist (who looks and sounds a hell of a lot like Peter Lorre) entices Bugs Bunny to his evil lair via an attractive–albeit robotic–female rabbit. He intends to feed our hero to his pet monster, but of course, Bugs has other ideas. Directed by the great Chuck Jones, and written by Tedd Pierce, this cartoon’s conceit would be revisited in 1952’s Water, Water Every Hare.
Fun fact: this cartoon marks the debut of the monster who would later come to be named “Gossamer.”
Donald Duck in Trick or Treat Disney, 1952
When Huey, Dewey, and Louie show up on Uncle Donald’s doorstep on Halloween night, his tricks deny them of their treats. But a helpful witch decides to assist them in showing Donald the error of his ways … however much magic it takes to get through to the stubborn fowl.
Fun fact: June Foray, the voice-over legend who performs as Witch Hazel in this cartoon, played a similarly-named character in the Chuck Jones-directed Warner Bros. short Broom-stick Bunny in 1956 (as well as two sequels).
Brandie Ashe is a freelance writer and editor from Alabama. She is the co-founder of and head writer for the film blog True Classics, a site dedicated to the Golden Age of Hollywood film and animation. Brandie will never outgrow her love for cartoons, both old and new. Her passion for Cary Grant is absolute and damn near legendary. If she were a character in the Harry Potter series, Brandie's patronus would be Robert Osborne.