AWESOME-tober-fest 2020: Silly Symphony Hell’s Bells

Awesometoberfest 2020

Welcome back to week 2 of AWESOME-tober-fest! Starting this week updates will be on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  Lots of good Devil content still to get through this month so why don’t we get started?

Today I’m looking at an old Disney cartoon from Disney’s Silly Symphony series.  The Silly Symphony series was created between 1929 and 1939.  The Silly Symphonies were separate from the story based Mickey Mouse cartoons.  As the name implies, the Silly Symphonies were created as funny visual companions to pieces of music. They were largely self contained, however a few of the shorts did have followups.  Donald Duck actually made his first appearance in a Silly Symphony in 1934.

The entry I’m looking at today is Hell’s Bells, which was released on October 30, 1929.  It was directed by Walt Disney and drawn by Ub Iwerks.

The depiction of the Devil we see in this cartoon is very simple; “the largest Devil who rules Hell”.  Since there’s no dialogue you don’t see him do anything like negotiating for souls, or anything else truly evil.

Let’s take a look at the cartoon.


Silly Symphonies’ Hell’s Bells from 1929. Title Card.


This is Disney’s version of Cerebus, the three headed dog that guards the gates of Hell.


There are lots of monsters creeping around this version of Hell.  And the music that’s playing for a lot of this cartoon is a version of the same funeral march that Alfred Hitchcock used on his TV show (which started in 1955).  It’s called Funeral March of a Marionette.


Here’s the Devil himself, sitting on his throne, listening to some sweet tunes played by his little devil band.  He looks similar to the other smaller devils, only larger.  He rules this underworld like a king, even sitting on a throne, and the other smaller devils serve him.


Here’s a closer look at that band. They are playing instruments that look to be made from human remains. Like skeleton bones. That bass player is using a spinal column.


At first I didn’t know what the hell to make of this.  This creature that looks like a cross between a dragon and a cow, stands up and the little devil servants MILK HIM into a bowl.  What they are milking out looks like fire.  Then that bowl of milked fire is given to the Devil who eats it like it was his last meal.  I swear, these early Disney cartoons go to some weird places.


one of the smaller devils revolts against the Devil.  The Devil chases him around Hell trying to catch him and punish him.  The smaller devil catches the Devil off guard and kicks him off a cliff.


While hanging off the cliff, flame arms grab at the Devil, pull down his…fur?…and give him a spanking.  I have to assume these flames are manifestations of the damned souls from below.  Ultimately they reach up and grab the Devil pull him down below.  This is very reminiscent of what happens to Hades at the end of Disney’s Hercules (1997).



Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

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