It’s a week to Halloween with a weekend of costume parties coming up, and the Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror has left you with that barren feeling. The Walking Dead just isn’t weird enough? What can you do to get that slice of comic macabre with a topping of visual ‘oomph’? Turn to animation from the early 20th Century.
Things were different then: we viewers weren’t so molly-coddled and kids weren’t being programmed to be perfectly PC. The legendary animators such as the Fleischer Brothers or Van Bueren Studios knew how to slice and dice a cat — or an eyeball, or a whole human — in ways so surreal it’s as if they had a way to tap directly into your own nightmares.
You could start off with Magic Mummy (1933) from Van Beuren, featuring the ‘original’ Tom and Jerry (cartoon human friends, not the later cat and mouse adversaries), who play policemen trying to recover a singing mummy (who looks like a combination of Cruella deVille, Morticia Adams, and Paula Prentiss’ character in What’s New Pussycat) that has been stolen from the museum by a large nosed-and-hatted warlock character who lives in a multi-level underground lair with a large theater and enough pianos to mollify Liberace. The short also begins with a surreal musical sequence (“The Cop On The Beat, The Man In The Moon, and Me”) featuring what seem to be twin Keystone Voodoo Eunuchs and a wickedly succinct spin on law enforcement.
Follow this with some mid-century sea maniacs in Popeye Fright To The Finish (1954) WATCH NOW. Here, Popeye and Bluto compete for Olive Oyl’s affections mostly through fear and deception. Features incantations, manglish, multiple headless double-takes, an almost-Noh puppet skeleton and, of course, wanton destruction.
There’s always more 100 proof mayhem streaming free at Kartoon Klassics via FilmOn: