Archive for Disney

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.


AWESOME-tober-fest 2017: Mickey Mouse in Lonesome Ghosts (1937)

Posted in cartoons with tags , , , , , , , on October 2, 2017 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest banner

This is it. The 10th year of AWESOME-tober-fest begins TODAY! And we are going to start with an old Mickey Mouse cartoon.

On Christmas Eve 1937, three days after Snow White‘s theatrical release, Disney released the cartoon short Lonesome Ghosts.

Walt Disney himself provided the voice for Mickey. I have a fond nostalgia for this short. I remember it well because it came on a cartridge that was released with the Fisher Price Movie Viewer.  And I had one.

The viewer had a crank on it that you moved to advance the film footage. There were a ton of cartridges available but for some reason the only cartridge I remember owning was Lonesome Ghosts.  One of the cool features of the viewer was that if you ran the crank backward, the footage would run backward.  So I would alternate scenes running them forwards and then backwards.  It was endlessly entertaining.

The gist of the cartoon involves four ghosts living in an old abandoned mansion.  They are bored because they’ve scared off all the people.  They see an advertisement in the newspaper for ghost exterminators and they call them in so they can scare them off.

You can watch the short in its entirety here.

Here are the opening title cards.

As I said, these four ghosts are bored having scared away all the people.  So they see in the newspaper an ad for a ghost extermination company and decide to call them in and have some fun.

They imitate a scared lady and ask Mickey, Donald and Goofy to come help.

Our ghost exterminator crew arrives all geared up. Mickey has brought a shotgun. To use. On a GHOST.  I wonder if they’ve ever actually been out on a call before?

So, as I thought, we see the shotgun didn’t work on a ghost. However, not because the ghost is incorporeal.  The ghost actually sticks his fingers in the barrels to make the gun explode.  Interestingly these ghosts are everything except incorporeal as later on Donald actually punches a ghost in the face.  And it lands.

This sequence is the one I remember most with that Movie Viewer above.  The ghosts go in the closet and when Mickey opens it to go after them a ton of water falls out.  I remember watching and reversing this sequence over and over again to see the water rush in and out of the door frame.

One has to wonder if this particular cartoon had any influence whatsoever on the movie Ghostbusters.  Or even the original TV show The Ghost Busters.  Probably yes, on the latter.  For the former, I can’t say for sure.  However, at one point, Goofy does say the line, “I ain’t scared of no ghosts.”

The cartoon is a short eight minutes and change.  It’s a fun watch.  Check it out.

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