Archive for Lucifer

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: 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 2020: Devilish origins for modern popular fiction

Posted in AWESOME-tober-fest, Blog Series, books, Classic literature, Halloween, holiday, monsters, pop culture, The Devil with tags , , , , , , on October 1, 2020 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest 2020

Welcome to Day 1 of AWESOME-tober-fest 2020!  I think this will be a fun month!  The theme for this year’s Halloween celebrations is The Devil! I’m going to talk about movies, comics, TV shows, and cartoons that feature Ol Scratch as a character.

There are many depictions of the Devil in popular culture and many of these depictions are based on very early writings.  Before I start digging into some of the more modern and fun versions of the devil in popular culture, lets take a look at some of the beginnings of his appearances.  These are the classic depictions of Satan or the Devil that many of the things I will be looking at this month will be based on.

One of the earliest appearances of Satan in popular writing was from John Milton’s Paradise Lost.

In this epic poem, Satan was the original bad boy anti-hero.  He is the most beautiful of all of God’s angels.  It is here in Milton that Satan declares that it is better to “reign in Hell” than to “serve in Heaven”.  Satan and his followers are expelled from heaven.  Satan argues that God rules as a tyrant and the angels themselves ought to rule as gods.  He also argues that since angels are self raised, they deny God’s rule over them.  Satan is portrayed as very charismatic.  He continues to persuade angels to follow his cause even after his group is soundly defeated in the first Angelic War.  This particular Satan is a classic character and i really enjoy Milton’s epic poem.  This particular Satan could be considered to be the basis for much of what will follow.  Specifically, DC Comic’s version of Satan, Lucifer Morningstar, is based on Milton’s version.

The next classical depiction of the devil in fiction that I want to bring up is Mephistopheles from Goethe’s Faust.

Written in the late 18th Century, Faust is also a classic devil in fiction tale. It’s even become terminology for a deal with the devil (Faustian bargain). Many deal with the devil stories are traced directly back to this gothic tale.  German doctor Faust is unsatisfied with his life.  He wishes to possibly end his suffering.  Mephistopheles, bored with ruling Hell, asks God (yes, they actually have a semi-regular gossip session in the story), well, he actually bets God that he can corrupt Faust and make him turn away from God.  God says sure because he is absolutely positive that even someone so disillusioned with his life as Faust seems to be, wouldn’t turn their back on Him.  So Mephistopheles appears to Faust and makes him a deal; he will be Faust’s servant on Earth, but when Faust dies, he has to do the same for Mephistopheles.  In this story Mephistopheles, like Milton’s Satan, is also portrayed as very charismatic.  He is cunning and easily convinces Faust to go along with whatever idea he can think of until ultimately Faust can’t see how far he has gone down the path of damnation.  It’s a very good classic story, but if you’ve never read Goethe, it can be a little melodramatic.  Faust is kind of emo about his despair.  It gets a bit old and I’m sort of glad Mephistopheles comes in to put him through the ringer.  Many versions of this story exist.  FW Murnau, who directed Nosferatu, directed a movie version of Faust in 1926.

Next up is a story by Washington Irving called The Devil and Tom Walker from 1824.

The story was originally published in Irving’s 1824 Tales of a Traveller collection.  The story starts off telling us about the notorious pirate William Kidd who made a deal with the devil to protect a large treasure of gold. Kidd died before he could reclaim his riches so the devil has been protecting it ever since.

The story then shifts to Boston, Mass around the year 1727. Tom Walker meets this version of the devil, Old Scratch, in the woods. The devil tells Tom that he knows where Kidd buried his loads of treasure and he’ll reveal it under certain conditions. Tom eventually goes back out and strikes a deal with the devil for the gold. One of the devil’s conditions was it had to be used in service of the Devil. So Tom agrees to become a money lender and loan money for exorbitant fees. He opens a shop a few days later and becomes very wealthy off the backs of the people he’s lending money to.

Needless to say, things don’t end well for good old Tom.  The end of the story tells us that people often see a spectral rider on a black horse in the woods of Boston.  I originally wondered if that was a call out to Irving’s Headless Horseman, but Sleepy Hollow arrived four years after this story.  As for Irving’s Old Scratch, he appears as a woodsman, or lumberjack, chopping down trees.  He’s also called “The Black Man” in the story, which I believe is referring to all the black ash on his skin from the fires of Hell.  He’s cunning and persuasive, as he needs to be, to convince people to do his bidding.

One last story I want to talk about today.  It’s actually inspired by the previous story, but it’s very well known by it’s own right.  I’m talking about The Devil and Daniel Webster by Stephen Vincent Benet.

This story was first published in The Saturday Evening Post on October 24, 1936. It takes place in New Hampshire.  The story opens up by telling us about Daniel Webster.  Benet’s Webster is based on an actual lawyer named Daniel Webster.  The story’s version of Daniel Webster is made out to be this hugely hyperbolic man.   It says that when he spoke, “..stars and stripes came out of the sky.”  When he walked in the woods with his fishing rod (of course named KillAll), trout would jump out of the streams into his pockets because they knew it was no use putting up a fight with him.  On his farm, the chickens were all white meat down to the drumsticks, and he owned a big ram called Goliath that had horns that could butt through an iron door.  It’s really funny how much the story builds up Mr Webster.  It reminds me of those Saturday Night Live skits about the exploits of the greatest salesman alive, Bill Brasky.

Anyway, the story is about Jabez Stone, who’s farm is not doing well.  One night, after being so frustrated he yells that he’d sell his soul to the devil for good luck, he is met by a polite, refined man in a dark suit going by the name Old Scratch.  Jabez makes a deal with Old Scratch for good fortune for the next four years after which, the black suited gentleman will return to collect.  For the next 3 years Jabez enjoys fabulous wealth and luck, but during the fourth year, he becomes so anxious about the end of his deal, he can’t enjoy his fortune.  He writes to noted New Hampshire attorney Daniel Webster who visits Jabez, listens to his story and agrees to take his case.  Webster tells Jabez that “…there’s a jug on the table and a case in hand. And I never left a jug or a case half finished in my life.”

This is when Old Scratch arrives, and Daniel must use all of his lawyerly wits to argue for Jabez’s, and ultimately his own, soul.  To combat Webster, Scratch calls in a murderer’s row of jurors to try the case including  Blackbeard the pirate, an American Indian scalp hunter and a judge from the Salem Witch Trials.  It’s a fun story, I enjoyed the tall tale and the ultimate conclusion.  The Devil is a soft spoken but cunning adversary in the story.  You’d be surprised how many other stories, movies, and TV shows are based on this particular tale.  Most recently in Shortcut to Happiness, Alec Baldwin did a turn as the Jabez Stone character, Anthony Hopkins was Daniel Webster, and Jennifer Love Hewitt was the Devil.

So these stories are the bedrock of fiction featuring the Devil.  We will come across many stories, movies, and books this month that are based on or derive inspiration from one of these stories.



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

The Devil Comes to AWESOME-tober-fest 2020!!

Posted in AWESOME-tober-fest, Blog Series, comic books, Halloween, holiday, pop culture with tags , , , , , , on September 23, 2020 by Paxton

So here we are. We are about a week away from October. I know Matt over there at Dinosaur Dracula has started his epic countdown to Halloween, so I want to inform you that, yes, I will be doing AWESOME-tober-fest this year and that it will start next week!

And the topic is going to be THE DEVIL!

Awesometoberfest 2020

I’ve always been fascinated by the depiction of the Judeo-Christian “Devil” or “Satan” in popular culture. I presaged this as a topic for AWESOME-tober-fest back in 2017 when I did an article for that year’s final week of AWESOME-tober-fest on my favorite movie and TV devils.

So, now I’m going to do the Devil as a full-on Halloween topic. There’s lots of pop culture to mine when it comes to the devil. I’ve been planning this since before the COVID crackdown and I’ve asked a few people what they think. I got several suggestions like Exorcist, The Omen, Rosemary’s Baby, etc.  You know, the absolute classics, but low hanging fruit nonetheless.  The problem with those is that they don’t deal directly with the “devil” as a character.  They deal with other demons (I don’t see Exorcist’s Pazuzu as the traditional Devil) or the Devil’s offspring (aka, Anti-Christ), but not really the man himself.  What I want to do this month is showcase different depictions of the devil, or Satan, or Scratch, as a character in popular culture and sort of see how a particular writer deals with the “Father of Sins”.  How does he get characterized?  Is he scary?  Charming?  Sexy?  There are lots of ways to go and I love seeing what way is chosen for a particular adaptation.

As usual I’ll be looking at movies, books, TV shows and comics for my topic.  Plus a few other surprises.  Updates should start happening next Thursday and Friday (Oct 1-2), and every week after that will have updates Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays through to Halloween.

So hopefully you’ll join me for another month of AWESOME-tober-fest!