Saturday, November 01, 2008

Cartoon a Day: Spooks

Directed by Walter Lantz
Available on: Woody Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection

Ah, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit...the rabbit with two Walts. You may know that Oswald was created by Walt Disney, but eventually the powers that be at Universal Pictures decided they could make Oswald without Disney. Eventually Oswald was handed over to another Walt, Walter Lantz, who later created Woody Woodpecker. Of course Disney created Mickey Mouse after his rabbit was taken from him.

In keeping with the Halloween theme, today's cartoon is "Spooks," and Oswald short from the Lantz era. The first few shots of the film are very reminiscent of yesterday's cartoon "The Skeleton Dance." There is a skeleton, and a black cat that look similar, and a swaying tree branch and an owl that are almost spot on of images from the famous Silly Symphony.

Eventually the story takes the form of a "Phantom of the Opera" parody. The phantom helps Oswald's girl be a better singer (with the help of a record player), but then he steals her off, so Oswald must come to the rescue. Like in many early cartoons, the characters seem to be made of rubber hoses. This makes for some fun animation, but still, it seems a bit held-back then what you might see in a film animated by Ub Iwerks. There are some good gags, but the timing seems off in a few places. And even though gag repetition was pretty common in early cartoons, one particular visual gag is repeated four times in a row, that's a bit excessive. Still, I like the design of the phantom and his strange, almost blob like movements at times.

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