[Revised for 2015] Have you seen all of The Simpsons “Treehouse of Horror” episodes several dozen times? They are pretty great, but there is more to Halloween-themed animation than those yellow suburbanites. Here are some of my favorite spooky animations spanning the past 90 years. Pop some corn and have yourself a spooky shorts matinee. [Note: not all suitable for minors].

The”R.I.P.” shorts by Bruno Collet for TCM

Collet RIPWith this series, genius stop-motion animator Bruno Collet plays gleeful homage to classic frights with a sensibility all his own. He’s like Tim Burton’s (cooler) French second-cousin. TCM either commissioned or licensed this series in 2006 for use as interstitials. I wish someone would release them on blu-ray, but all I can find is this poor quality DailyMotion playlist. If anyone finds them on disc or something, please drop me a line.

My Halloweenie Animation YouTube Playlist

Swing You Sinners

Fun and wild stuff curated by me. Includes:

  • “Spooks” (1930) Universal; Star: Oswald the Lucky Rabbit; Dir: Walter Lantz; Animation: Clyde Geronomi; Voice: Pinto Colvig. [(Disney lost Oswald in 1928.) Spoofs Chaney’s Phantom of Opera]
  • “Spooks” (1931) MGM; Star: Flip the Frog; Dir: Ub Iwerks
  • “Skeleton Dance” (1929) Walt Disney Co.; Silly Symphony; Animation: Ub Iwerks; Music: Carl Stalling
  • “Pink Panic” (1966) Mirisch Films; Star: Pink Panther; Dir: Hawley Pratt; Music: Henry Mancini / Walter Greene [a scream]
  • “The Haunted House” (1929) Walt Disney Co.; Star: Mickey Mouse; Animation: Ub Iwerks; Voice: Walt Disney
  • “Betty Boop’s Halloween Party” (1930) Max Fleischer; Dir: Dave Fletcher
  • “The Tell-Tale Heart” (1953) UPA; Dir: Ted Parmalee; Narrator: James Mason [super-cool modernist animation]
  • “The Mad Doctor” (1933) Walt Disney Co.; Star: Mickey Mouse; Dir: David Hand; Voices: Walt Disney, Pinto Colvig
  • “Hell’s Bells” (1929) Walt Disney Co.; Silly Symphony; Animation: Ub Iwerks; Music: Carl Stalling
  • “To Boo Or Not To Boo” (1951) Harvey Films; Star: Casper the Friendly Ghost
  • “The Cobweb Hotel” (1936) Max Fleischer; Dir: Dave Fleischer [Mr. and Mrs. Fly check in! Yikes!]
  • “Switches Witches” (1927) Pat Sullivan; Star: Felix the Cat; Dir: Otto Messmer [classic!]
  • “Trick or Treat” (1953) Walt Disney Co.; Star: Donald Duck; Dir: Jack Hannah; Backgrounds: Yale Gracey [Imagineer who worked on Haunted Mansion][Beware of infectious theme song]
  • “Shiver Me Timbers” (1934) Max Fleischer; Star: Popeye; Dir: Dave Fleischer [“Well blow me down, a ghost ship.”]
  • “Francis” (2014) – Dir: Richard Hickey; Writer: Dave Eggers [Gorgeously spooky CGI campfire ghost story]
  • “The Mascot” (1934) Dir: Ladislaw Starewicz [Famous Polish-Russian stop motion animator’s cute puppy “Duffy” goes through a very scary night!]
  • “Vincent” (1982) Walt Disney Co.; Dir: Tim Burton; Narrator: Vincent Price [Beautiful stop-motion animation from Burton’s early days]
  • “Water Way to Go/Cold Turkey” episode of Bump in the Night (1995) Dir: Ken Pontac, David Bleiman [Fun but short-lived ABC stop-motion cartoon about monster living under child’s bed. First half concludes with wild production number, “H2O.” Second episode, Mr. Bumpy creates a zombie turkey — plucked and headless.]
  • “Magic Mummy” (1933) Van Beuren; Stars: Tom & Jerry (human form); Dir:  John Foster, George Stallings
  • “Ugokie ko ri no tatehiki” (1933) Dir: Ikuo Oishi [Words cannot descibe… shape-shifting fox and raccoons show down in haunted temple!]
  • “Swing You Sinners” (1930) Max Fleischer; Star: Bimbo; Dir: Dave Fleischer [surreal graveyard shenanigans!]
  • “The Ghost of Stephen Foster” (1999) Squirrel Nut Zippers music video of retro animation. Nailed it! Dir: Matthew Nastuk, Raymond Persi
  • “Skeleton Frolics” (1937) Columbia; Dir: Ub Iwerks [Technicolor]
  • “Who’s Hungry” (2009) CalArts; Dir: David Ochs [Student film. Hansel and Gretel by way of Texas Chainsaw Massacre with a nod to “Steamboat Willie.” NOT FOR KIDS]

Warner Brothers Halloweenie Animation

Claws for Alarm
Doesn’t that expression just kill you? Chuck Jones, genius.

These routinely get pulled from YouTube and Daily Motion, so links break. I have a DailyMotion playlist here. A couple others (linked separately) were on YouTube. Some titles are also available via Warner Cartoons Classics YouTube channel for $1.99 each.

  • “The Phantom Ship” (1936) Dir: Jack King [Beans the Cat and his nephews explore a ghost ship and encounter ghosts]
  • “The Case of the Stuttering Pig” (1937) Dir:  Frank Tashlin [Creepy villain in this Dr. Jekyll-Cat and the Canary hybrid out to kill Porky and his siblings for their inheritance.]
  • “Have You Got Any Castles” (1938) Dir: Frank Tashlin [Books characters come to life at midnight, beginning with Mr. Hyde, Fu Manchu, The Phantom and Frankenstein’s monster.
  • “Sniffles the Bookworm” (1939) Dir: Chuck Jones [This time the books are nursery rhymes, until Frankenstein’s monster crashes the bash.]
  • “Jeepers Creepers” (1939) Dir: Bob Clampett [Porky the cop investigates a haunted house]
  • “Prest-O Change-O” (1939) Dir: Chuck Jones [Curious pups wander into magician’s sinister house featuring rabbit forefather of Bugs.]
  • “Ghost Wanted” (1940) Dir: Chuck Jones [Timid little ghost goes on job interview]
  • Hair-raising Hare” (1945) Dir: Chuck Jones [Bugs versus a Peter-Lorre-esque mad scientist and meets Gossamer the big red monster for the first time.]
  • “Scaredy Cat” (1948) Dir: Chuck Jones [First of three pairings of Porky and Sylvester in which they are in mortal danger that only Sylvester realizes. This one is a ‘haunted’ house.]
  • “The Wearing of the Grin” (1951) Dir: Chuck Jones [Porky Pig stumbles into a haunted castle on a dark and stormy night. Turns out it is haunted by leprechauns — leprechauns who, voiced vy John T. Smith, completely unnerved me as a child. In a twist on Powell-Pressburger’s The Red Shoes, Porky must wear the green shoes!]
  • “Water, Water Every Hare” (1952) Dir: Chuck Jones [Bugs Bunny meets Gossamer again, this time posing as a beautician.]
  • “Bewitched Bunny” (1954) Dir: Chuck Jones [First of three Bugs and Witch Hazel. Here he rescues Hansel and Gretel, though they don’t deserve it!]
  • “Claws for Alarm” (1954) Dir: Chuck Jones [Second Porky and Sylvester outing, this time in an Albuquerque ghost town. Moose with noose – hahahaha]
  • “Dr. Jerkyl’s Hide” (1954) Dir: Friz Freleng [First of three hilarious Dr. Jekyl mix-ups. Here, Sylvester, chased by dogs, drinks potion and turns tables, temporarily…]
  • “Hyde and Hare” (1955) Dir: Friz Freleng [Here Bugs is taken in by meek Dr. Jekyl, but there’s this creep lurking about…]
  • “Jumpin’ Jupiter” (1955) Dir: Chuck Jones [Third Porky and Sylvester outing, this time camping with aliens. “Sylvester! Have you been eating loco weed?!]
  • “Broomstick Bunny” (1956) Dir: Chuck Jones [Bugs encounters Witch Hazel again. Hilarity. “Who is the ugliest one of all?”]
  • “A Witch’s Tangled Hare” (1959) Dir: Abe Levitow. [Third Bugs and Witch Hazel. Fun with Shakespeare here.]
  • “Hyde and Go Tweet” (1960) Dir: Friz Freleng [This time it’s Tweety who drinks the potion and turns the tables on Sylvester]
  • “Translvania 6-5000” (1963) Dir: Chuck Jones. [The last Chuck Jones Bugs Bunny has the rabbit blithely wreaking havoc on Count Blood Count. “You wouldn’t hit a bat with glasses?”]

Longer Animations

Mad Monster PartyMad Monster Party (Rankin, 1967, Rankin-Bass) [trailer] – The crown jewel, in my humble opinion, of the Rankin-Bass canon, MMP was created and initially released as a feature film. It’s a madcap pop-culture mash-up, sixties style. All of the classic 1930s-40s monsters are here, but with twists. Dracula has a borscht-belt accent, and the monster’s mate is voiced by Phyllis Diller. Boris Karloff heads the cast as Baron Boris von Frankenstein. The music includes a “Goldfinger”-inspired title theme, a skeletal band sounds remarkably like The Zombies, etc. If you like classic horror and 60s pop culture, you’ll love this one!! [Available for purchase or rental via iTunes]

Ichabod Crane“Ichabod Crane” aka “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (Algar, Geronimi, Kinney, 1946, Disney)[clip] Narrated by Bing Crosby who also sings a swinging rendition of the “The Headless Horseman,” this long-short is a fun treat and scared the pants off me as a kid. Disney released this as half of a feature called The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, with the latter being their version of The Wind in the Willows. Very charming animation, particularly that of Braham Bones which foreshadows Gaston of Beauty and the Beast. [Available via Disney Movies Anywhere]

Monsters_vs_Aliens_Mutant_Pumpkins“Monsters vs Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins from Outer Space” (Ramsey, 2009, Dreamworks) – I know, you’ve already forgotten the feature on which this tv special was based, but this tv special is surprisingly fun. Gotta love the gleeful abandon of mutant pumpkins on a rampage.

Black-cauldronThe Black Cauldron (Rich, Berman, 1985, Disney) – [trailer] I remember being pleasantly surprised by this when it came out because it seemed so gleefully dark and contains no musical numbers. Looking at it now I still think it’s inspired in sections, but find the animation is oddly uneven – as if they had fun doing the ghoulish baddies, but slept-walked through the good-guy characters (I feel the same about Hercules, frankly). Nonetheless, this overlooked oddity might be worth watching if you’re looking for a G-rated swords-and-magic thing. [Available via Disney Movies Anywhere]

Others favorites that go without saying…

“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” Coraline, Frankenweenie, Monsters vs Aliens, Nightmare Before Christmas, Para-Norman, Monster House, Hotel Transylvania

Clearly I know nothing of Cartoon Network, but someone else had some ideas about more contemporary animation.

“Nighty Night… Little… Bunny… Rabbit.”

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