AWESOME-tober-fest 2020: Betty Boop in Red Hot Mama (1934)

Posted in AWESOME-tober-fest, Blog Series, cartoons, Halloween, holiday, monsters, pop culture, The Devil with tags , , , , , , , on October 12, 2020 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest 2020

Today I wanted to look at another vintage cartoon to sort of echo the Silly Symphony cartoon I showed you last week.  So let’s go all the way back to the 30s and a Betty Boop cartoon.  Yes, at one point, Betty Boop met the Devil.

Betty Boop as a character began in 1930 in one of the Fleischer Studios‘ Talkartoons shorts.  Betty Boop actually started off as a French poodle character, then slowly transitioned into a caricature of a Jazz Age flapper.  By 1932, Betty was the sole star of Talkartoons and she became one of the most recognizable characters in the world.  In 1934, Fleischer Studios released Betty Boop in Red Hot Mama.  In this short, Betty was voiced by Bonnie Poe, who would also voice Olive Oyl in the Fleischer Popeye series.

In this cartoon, Betty Boop travels to Hell and confronts the Devil and his minions.  Like in Disney’s Hell’s Bells, the Devil here isn’t really fleshed out much more than “he’s the ruler of Hell”.  No negotiations for souls, no pranky shenanigans, and he doesn’t really do anything evil that we get to see.

It’s a mostly musical cartoon that relies on the visuals to tell the story.  Let’s take a look at the cartoon “Red Hot Mama” from 1934.


Title cards. As you can see, this short was presented by Max Fleischer and directed by Dave Fleischer, owners of the famous Fleischer Bros Studios.


And it stars, of course, the adorable Betty Boop.


The short starts with Betty, for some reason, sleeping with the windows WIDE ASS OPEN in the middle of a blizzard.  At first, she just adjusts her blanket.  THEN she decides that maybe she should shut the windows.


Betty decides to throw a bunch of logs and coal into the fireplace and start a fire. She then moves to right in front of the fireplace.


Suddenly the room becomes blazing hot. You know it’s super hot because the thermostat rises all the way to the top and then explodes.


Betty has a picture of an Eskimo posing with a fish in front of an igloo. Not exactly sure why, but it’s there.  Well, the room is so hot that the Eskimo takes off his jacket and the igloo melts.


Suddenly the fireplace becomes overrun with flames and a PORTAL TO HELL opens up within.


Betty, seemingly not concerned about the open portal to Hell, just walks right in. We get a cheeky shot of her in a sheer nightgown walking in front of flames. She trips and falls and, like AC/DC, rings “Hell’s Bells”.


Betty sees new souls coming into Hell. They are called “Freshman”. They drop down the chute, land in a devil suit, then have their tail and horns attached.  Notice the new guys are white, while all the other devils are black.



The white Freshman are led into “Freshman Hall”, which looks like a giant Viking helmet.  A devil fire brigade shows up and, using a dragon hose, they set fire to Freshman Hall and turn all the white devils black.  Lots of imagery going on here.


Next, we finally get to meet the Devil himself, wearing a crown, surrounded by flames, and eating a flame cone.  Then he walks over to Hell’s Furnace and cranks up the heat from “warm”, to “hot”, and finally to “hotter”.


Once they spot her, all of the devils become fascinated by Betty. They surround her and it looks like their intentions aren’t good.


However, Betty’s been in this situation before. She turns and gives them a cold shoulder so ice cold it freezes all the devils solid.  You can see the block of ice on her shoulder in the picture.


Then the devil comes swaggering over like a big dog to take his turn, but Betty just gives him the cold stare and freezes him solid.


And then all of Hell freezes over from Betty Boop’s cold stare. *Mic drop*

AWESOME-tober-fest 2020: The Devil comes to Quantum Leap

Posted in AWESOME-tober-fest, Blog Series, Halloween, holiday, monsters, pop culture, The Devil, TV shows with tags , , , , , , on October 9, 2020 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest 2020

Hey, let’s finish out this first full week of AWESOME-tober-fest in style!  Today I’m taking a look at an episode of one of my favorite shows, Quantum Leap!

I loved Quantum Leap. I remember seeing the initial commercials for the show before it aired.  And when they said the show was about time travel, I was all in. Then, when the first episode aired back in March of 1989, I remember *begging* my parents to let me stay up and finish the episode after having only watched the first half.

So, I love the mechanics of the show, but I also love the lore it sort of built up around the leaping. Sam actually met leapers just like him in several episodes. Well, they weren’t “just like him”, they were doing the opposite of what he was doing, they were “setting things wrong what once went right.” The “evil leapers” showed up in three episodes in Season 5 and there was rampant speculation about who was running that group. Many people said that God, or the forces of “Good”, were running Sam’s leaps, so the Devil, or the forces of “Evil”, were running the evil leapers.  I love this world building and I wish it would have come up a bit more.  Like what if during sweeps week, or towards the end of a season, the entire episode of Quantum Leap was told from the POV of the “evil leapers”?  We see an entire leap featuring only the “evil leapers”.  I would have loved that.  Maybe the leap crosses over with Sam and Al, but we only see them in passing, OR, Sam and Al are there, but we never see them and we only learn they were there at the end of the episode!  That would have been pretty awesome.

I could discuss the “evil leapers” and what we know about who may be running them.  I could maybe make a case for the Devil there.  But I’m here to talk about a few years before the “evil leapers” showed up.  We got a Halloween episode that actually had an appearance from the Devil.  It was Season 3 episode 5, “The Boogieman”.

title1 title2
The leap starts out like any other. It’s Halloween Day, 1964.  Sam has leaped into B horror novel writer, Joshua Ray.  Right away things seem to be going awry.  Al is acting weird and Ziggy isn’t giving Sam any information whatsoever.

People start dying in mysterious ways, Sam is seeing things no one else is seeing, and he realizes that he’s being manipulated.

Now, I’m going to say, to talk about the Devil part I need to give out a few spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the episode, first of all, GO SEE THE EPISODE.  Second of all, read through for what happens when Sam meets The Devil.

So, at the climax of the episode when Sam is most confused about what is going on, Al reveals himself to not be Al at all.

With dramatic red lighting over his eyes, Al turns out to be the Earthly incarnation of evil.  The Devil.  And the Devil is PISSED.  He’s pissed that Sam is jumping around time undoing all his evil work.  Sam says he’s just trying to get home, and the Devil laughs maniacally and says, “And you’re never going to…”  Sam realizes that the Devil intends to kill him right then and there.  I have to admit, Dean Stockwell is playing Devil/Evil Al here and he’s doing a fantastic job.  He really is menacing in his line delivery.  We don’t get a lot of time with this Devil, so we don’t really get to know much more, but what we do get to see is pretty great.

That being said, the actual Al shows up at this point and sees himself talking to Al, which confuses him.  The Devil then tries to strangle Sam, they spin around like 100 times and all of a sudden Sam’s leap starts over and he’s able to save the person he’s supposed to save.  I was a little disappointed in the ultimate confrontation with the Devil.  It doesn’t really go anywhere or say anything else about what the encounter Sam just had means.  However, I really liked the idea of the Devil showing up here.  And it subtley sets up the “Evil Leapers”, who don’t actually show up for another season and a half.

There’s another Easter Egg in the show.  We see Sam palling around with a young friend named Stevie.


Come to find out, we hear at the end of the episode in a throwaway line that little Stevie’s name is Stevie King.  Yes, *that* Steve King.  And Sam unwittingly dropped a few references to King books throughout the episode.  In fact, the car that Joshua Ray drives is a direct reference to Stephen King.  A red Plymouth Fury.

So, this is a pretty great Halloween episode of Quantum Leap.  There’s a lot it adds to the show’s mythos with the Devil actually getting involved in Sam’s leaping.  And there’s a lot it implies about the mythos, that since he couldn’t stop Sam in this episode, that the Devil started the “Evil Leaper” program to further thwart what Sam is doing.  I love stuff like that.



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

AWESOME-tober-fest 2020: Marvel’s Mephisto!

Posted in AWESOME-tober-fest, Blog Series, comic books, Halloween, holiday, monsters, pop culture, The Devil with tags , , , , , , on October 7, 2020 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest 2020

Here we are, the Wednesday entry for the first full week of AWESOME-tober-fest 2020.  I can’t believe we made it this far guys.  HIGH FIVE!  I’m still looking at the Devil and today I delve into the realm of comic books!

Each of the “Big Two” comic companies have their own analogue for “the devil”.  DC has Lucifer Morningstar, and Marvel has Mephisto. Mephisto is the personification of all evil in the Marvel Universe. He performs a lot of the duties of a traditional devil figure.  Temptation being the main one.  His name is even a shortened version of Mephistopheles.

Mephisto

Mephisto first appeared in Silver Surfer #3 in 1968 and he’s still appearing in Marvel Comics today.  The depiction of Mephisto throughout his existence hasn’t changed much. He looks like the typical depiction of a demonic devil. Red skin and hair, fangs, sometimes horns, sometimes not. He’s immortal and a very powerful magic user. He’s been around at least as long as the Marvel Universe. He lives in a “hell dimension”. And he’s a collector of souls. Marvel is very cagey about calling him the traditional “Devil”. The character does admit that he may be the inspiration for the concept of the devil, and I know he’s referenced several times that he is the demonic figure in the Faust story.

Mephisto has had his hands in many different events in Marvel history.  He’s butted heads with Silver Surfer, the Fantastic Four, Thor, Doctor Strange, and even Thanos.  I wanted to cover a good story for AWESOME-tober-fest featuring Mephisto, and I have many choices, but there’s one I never got to read and I decided to take a look at it today, it’s Mephisto’s 4 issue mini-series from 1987, Mephisto Vs.

Mephisto 1 Mephisto 2
Mephisto 3 Mephisto 4

Mephisto Vs was written by Al Milgrom and drawn by John Buscema, and as I said, it was released in Spring 1987. It was mostly a standalone mini, but it did acknowledge a few things that happened within the books of the teams it crosses over with.

Overall, this is a pretty great story, and the art is classic Marvel.  Mephisto kicks off a long game plan by attacking the Fantastic Four and snatching the soul of Franklin Richards, the son of Reed and Sue.  This leads him to trade it for Sue’s soul, which then leads to X-Factor getting involved and Mephisto trading up different heroes’ souls from the X-Men and the Avengers.  And it’s clear that Mephisto has an endgame in mind, we just don’t know what it is until the very end.  It’s really cool too see that plan unfold throughout the books.

The story really leans into Mephisto as a soul collector.  And that he isn’t interested in just more souls, he views different souls differently.  He values some souls over others.  He makes it clear that while human souls are desirable, he covets super human souls more, and Homo Superior souls more than that.  Yes, Mephisto GRADES his souls like a comic collector!  Milgrom continues to draw this parallel between Mephisto  and readers collecting comic books when he reveals that Mephisto has a system in place for storing souls, and to some of you it may sound familiar.

Mystic Mylar Mystic Mylar

Mylar bags!  Mephisto stores his valued souls in double Mylar bags to protect them!  And Mephisto goes on to mention he needs to take inventory of the other souls he recently acquired.  Is Milgrom trying to say comic collectors are like “the devil”?  Ha, no, he’s not.  It’s just a funny metaphor.

This Mephisto business gets serious.  Serious enough that we get an appearance by The Living Tribunal.

I love the big, ethereal, cosmic entities in the Marvel Universe.  Eternity, Chaos, Living Tribunal…these guys were always a fun, unexpected appearance in books like Silver Surfer and Doctor Strange.  Only a few people in the Marvel Universe even knew they existed.  Look at that guy, he is *awesome*.

Ultimately, we get the final showdown with Mephisto taking on the current roster of Avengers in a fight for one of their members’ souls.  This roster of Avengers includes Black Knight, Silver Centurion Iron Man, She-Hulk, Tigra and Dr Druid.  Oh, and the West Coast Avengers show up as well to help out.  It’s a pretty epic battle.

This was a pretty great little mini-series.  I really enjoyed the writing but especially the art.  I would definitely recommend it if you have access to it.  Lots of fun.



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

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

Posted in AWESOME-tober-fest, Blog Series, cartoons, Halloween, holiday, monsters, pop culture, The Devil with tags , , , , , , , on October 5, 2020 by Paxton

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.

Faust Movie Friday: Crossroads (1986)

Posted in AWESOME-tober-fest, Blog Series, monsters, movies, The Devil with tags , , , , , , on October 2, 2020 by Paxton

Faust Movie Friday

It’s Friday, guys!  Usually on Fridays during AWESOME-tober-fest I do movie reviews in what I call Fangoria Movie Fridays.  However, since I’ll be doing Devil movies this year, I’ve decided to rebrand these Friday movie reviews as Faust Movie Friday!

Today, I’m talking about Crossroads from 1986 starring Ralph Macchio, Jami Gertz, and Joe Seneca.

1986 was a sweet spot for Ralph Macchio. He was in two movies that year; Karate Kid Part II and Crossroads. So he was at the height of his mainstream penetration. And Crossroads feels like an odd movie to do during this time. But I’m so glad that he did.  I’m a big fan of old blues music anyway, but there’s a lot to love about this lesser known, underappreciated movie.  And yes, the devil makes an appearance, and he’s a *great* version of Ol Scratch.

Before we get to Scratch, let’s talk about the movie in general.  There’s always been this old American folk tale about blues legend Robert Johnson selling his soul to the devil so he could play the blues guitar like no one else.  This movie takes that small urban legend and runs with it.  We even start with that very image.  Robert Johnson at the Crossroads making his deal with someone who is clearly more than he seems.  We later learn it’s the Devil’s assistant.

We then cut to Eugene played by Ralph Macchio. A gifted classical guitarist who is studying at Juliard, but really only wants to play the blues.  He’s studied the blues, read about them.  Learned about all the legends and the tales.  So he thinks he’s tracked down blues legend Willie Brown, the last person to play with Robert Johnson before he died.  And Eugene hopes to talk to Brown to get the fabled “lost song” of Robert Johnson.  Willie says he’ll give it to him if Eugene breaks him out of the old folks home and takes him back to Mississippi.

So Eugene gets a part time job on the maintenance crew of the home.  You, know to help him “case the joint”.  And because it’s Ralph Macchio, he has to pop the collar of his coveralls while mopping the floor. Eugene then uses his maintenance access to break Willie out the home and they hit the road back to Mississippi.

And cue all the normal road trip events; they don’t have enough money, they get in trouble in a bar, they meet a wayward teen girl, steal a car, get harrassed by small town cops.  All the stuff you expect to see on a roadtrip movie but I’m thoroughly enjoying the trip.  The whole time we think Willie just wants to get out of the home and live the rest of his life back in Mississippi, but we later learn he has alterior motives.  Willie apparently made a similar deal to the same man as Robert Johnson, and Willie wants to go back to the Crossroads where he made the deal to get out of it.  And he’s using Eugene to get there.  However, along the way, Willie winds up teaching Eugene what it means to be a real blues man before the big final confrontation with Ol Scratch.

And here’s Ol Scratch.  Played by Robert Judd.  I don’t know where this guy came from, but he is an AMAZING on screen Devil.  Looking at his IMDB he’s only done 2 movies; one back in 1977, and then Crossroads.  But he is awesome as Scratch.  Like an old, friendly small town southern preacher.  But underneath, you can feel a bit of menace.  I’d forgotten how good Judd is as the Devil.  Anyway, Scratch won’t let Willie out of his contract unless he has something to bargain with.  Eugene offers himself.  Scratch suggests a contest between Eugene and his man, guitarist Jack Butler.  Winner take all.

Eugene agrees, and suddenly they are transported to what looks like a small barn being used as a blues bar.  And Eugene goes up guitar to guitar against Jack Butler, played by the awesome Steve Vai.  This final battle is really feast for the eyes and ears.  I love it.

Check it out for yourself.  But honestly, if you haven’t seen the movie, just watch the whole movie.  You won’t be disappointed.



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