Movies, Television

Celebrating 90 Years of Mickey Mouse with Some of His Spookiest Cartoons

Last year, Mickey Mouse turned 90. November 18, 2018 marked the 90th anniversary of the release of “Steamboat Willie” and Disney has been celebrating with various product tie-ins, and this month it kicked off its Get Your Ears On: A Mickey and Minnie Celebration at The Disneyland Resort. Disney has produced a number of great spooky cartoons and movies over the years, but for this post, I’ll be focusing solely on spooky cartoons starring Mickey Mouse to celebrate his allustrious 90-year career.

The Haunted House

In the 1929 Mickey Mouse cartoon “The Haunted House,” Mickey Mouse finds himself stuck outside in the midst of a terrible storm. Rather than brave the elements he seeks shelter in a nearby house, unaware that the only residents are bats, spiders, spectres, and skeletons. Forced to perform for the ghosts and ghouls a dance sequence similar to that of “The Skeleton Dance” ensues. You can catch the entire black and white cartoon below.

The Mad Doctor

Premiering in 1933, “The Mad Doctor” finds Mickey Mouse in another creepy house filled with playful spooks, this time after his dog Pluto is kidnapped by a mad scientist looking to splice together a chicken and a dog. As you watch, see if you can catch some of the elements and gimmicks from “The Haunted House” that appear to have been re-purposed in “The Mad Doctor.”

Lonesome Ghosts

Premiering in 1937, “Lonesome Ghosts” is by far one of the most memorable Mickey Mouse cartoons from my childhood. Growing up watching The Disney Channel I always loved when this Mickey Mouse cartoon came on. For those unfamiliar with it, “Lonesome Ghosts” stars Mickey, Donald, and Goofy as members of The Ajax Ghost Exterminators. When a group of ghosts sees an ad for the exterminators they decide to have some fun with them and hire Mickey in his crew by phone. Excited for work in a rather slow business, Mickey and the gang have no idea they were hired by the ghosts they were supposed to chase. A lower quality version of the full cartoon can be watched below. A shortened, higher quality version of the cartoon was released on YouTube by Disney in 2015, which can be seen here.

An interesting side note: Last year I wrote about the tradition of ghost stories at Christmastime. Two of the three above spooky cartoons were released around the holidays. “The Haunted House” was released on December 2, 1929 and “Lonesome Ghosts” premiered on Christmas Eve in 1937. While not in the month of Christmas, “The Mad Doctor” still debuted in the winter and was released on January 21, 1933.

Runaway Brain

Born in the era when Disney began creating animated shorts to run before their feature-length films, “Runaway Brain” was paired with the release of A Goofy Movie in 1996. The short finds Mickey again in the presence of a mad doctor who is experimenting with a Disney-fied Frankenstein’s Monster played by Pete. When the mad doctor swaps the brains of Mickey and the Monster and evil version of the wholesome mouse is unleashed on the world and chaos ensues. The start of this one feels a little too on point, while I’ve never missed an anniversary to video games I’ve definitely got a tongue lashing or two from the wife because of them.

Ghoul Friend

Part of the new series of Mickey Mouse shorts that Disney began releasing in 2013, Mickey Mouse runs into car trouble in front of a cemetery. After a failed attempt to fix the car Mickey is pursued by a hideous ghoul played by Goofy. This ws the first of the new Mickey Mouse shorts I ever saw and what got me on board with the new less “vanilla” representation of Mickey and the rest of the classic Disney characters.

The Scariest Story Ever: A Mickey Mouse Halloween Spooktacular!

Premiering in October of 2017, “The Scariest Story Ever: A Mickey Mouse Halloween Spooktacular!” was a Halloween special released as part of the new Mickey Mouse shorts. The special features Mickey, Donald, and Goofy, as they try and make Halloween scary for Donald and Mickey’s nephews who are initially unphased by their attempts. The special was really fun and featured a number of horror and Haunted Mansion easter eggs, which I previously highlighted here. You can stream “The Scariest Story Ever: A Mickey Mouse Halloween Spooktacular!” for free on Disney Now.

While Mickey Mouse might not be a favorite among horror geeks, there’s no denying his place in pop culture and even if you’re not a Mickey fan any Halloween or horror geek can get behind the themes behind these favorites of mine.

1 Comment

  1. How fun to rewatch all these fun spooky Mickey classics! (Although I still haven’t gotten around to watching the most recent, “The Scariest Story Ever” yet.) Mickey is definitely a pop culture icon who crosses so many genres, so it’s great to see some light shed on his more “scary” shorts. 🙂

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