It is that time of year again: Autumn is in the air, Halloween costumes are coming out of closets and boxes, and everyone is stocking up on Halloween candy. I have not passed out goodies to little trick-or-treaters for a few years but I am looking forward to doing that this year. I am also one of those Crazy Cat Ladies who occasionally dress up their cats in silly costumes. My Cat #2, Sugar, has always been a good sport about it but this year I have a new furry member of the household: Baby Stormy. Poor little thing does not know what she has to look forward to but she is an opinionated kitty so I am sure she will make her opinion of Halloween costumes for cats known petty quickly. We have a few weeks to go until Halloween so I found some more FREE fun Public Domain cartoons on the Internet Archive to help trick-or-treaters everywhere get in the Halloween mood.
First up is a silent black and white animated short from 1923. Felix the Ghost Breaker is part of the Felix the Cat series. Felix the Cat first appeared in a theatrical short in 1919 and “was the first character from animation to attain a level of popularity sufficient to draw movie audiences”. By the twenties and the arrival of sound cartoons, Felix’s popularity was fading. The studio eventually added sound to their Felix shorts but the Felix talkies were never as popular as the original silent shorts. By the mid-1930s, Felix theatrical shorts were done. Fortunately, Felix made the jump to television and renewed popularity in 1953. Felix the Ghost Breaker is a cute little cartoon. Poor Felix is harassed by a ghost in a cemetery. The gutsy feline follows the ghost to a farmhouse and watches the ghost wreck all kinds of havoc. Felix is determined to put an end to the ghostly shenanigans. Felix the Ghost Breaker runs six minutes and 27 seconds and is beginning to show its age. There is some scratch damage but not enough to detract too much from the cartoon. For added fun, the IA version has an added soundtrack.
Spooks is a black and white cartoon that premiered December 21, 1931 and stars Flip the Frog. Flip was created by Ub Iwerks. Iwerks was an animator at Walt Disney Studios and a friend of Walt Disney. Disney and Iwerks had a falling out and Iwerks left Disney Studios to start a studio of his own. Flip the Frog was the first series he created. Over time Flip’s appearance became less Frog-like and he developed a down-and-out Charlie Chaplin-like character. The Flip the Frog series ran from 1930 to 1933. Most of the Flip the Frog animated shorts are still owned by the Iwerks estate although a few have fallen into the Public Domain. In Spooks, Flip seeks out shelter from a storm in a spooky old house. Poor Flip discovers the house is full of crazy skeletons, especially one skeleton who plans to add Flip to his boney collection. Spooks runs eight minutes 16 seconds, is in black and white, and has sound. The IA version looks and sounds very good for its age. I really enjoyed the skeletons but there are a few slightly weird scenes that young film fans might not like.
Betty Boop’s Hallowe’en Party
Who does not love Betty Boop? I think she is just the bee’s knees. Betty was a “caricature of a Jazz Age flapper” created by Max Fleischer. She first appeared August 9, 1930 and was originally supposed to be a French poodle but she quickly transitioned to full human appearance. Betty is “regarded as one of the first and most famous sex symbols on the animated screen” although the Production Code of 1934 saw her sexy image toned down. Betty Boop’s Hallowe’en Party is from the Pre-Code time and showcases Betty’s original innocent sexuality. In this animated short from November 3, 1933, Betty is having a Halloween party but a nasty gorilla is a very unwelcome party crasher. Fortunately Betty has all kinds of friends and this is one party the gorilla will regret crashing. In black and white, Betty Boop’s Hallowe’en Party runs six minutes 29 seconds. This is another cartoon that looks and sounds pretty good for its age with only a little blurriness. Of course, Betty is a true classic and this is a great Halloween cartoon.
A Haunting We Will Go
Next up is a collection of Casper the Friendly Ghost cartoons. The first short, There’s Good Boos To-Night, was reviewed in one of my earlier posts, Casper: Desperately Seeking Friends, so we will start here with short #2: A Haunting We Will Go. Casper the Friendly Ghost is another classic animated series . Casper was originally created in the late 1930s as a children’s book. He made his first appearance as an animated short in 1945. Eventually Casper went on television, home video, and feature films. A Haunting We Will Go is from May 13, 1949 and features poor lonely Casper befriending an orphaned duckling named Dudley. Dudley is adorable but constantly gets into trouble and must be rescued by Casper. Tender hearted cartoon fans beware, like There’s Good Boos To-Night, the short takes a darker turn when Dudley gets into deadly danger. This short runs eight minutes 19 seconds and is in color. Unfortunately, while the sound is excellent, the video suffers from age. There are some scratches but the biggest problem is fading of the colors. I know he is a ghost, but poor Casper fades almost entirely out of sight in spots. Luckily he is visible in the most important places.
Our third Casper the Friendly Ghost cartoon is 1954’s Boo Moon. This short was originally released in 3D format as a Stereotoon. It was the second such short; Popeye; the Ace of Space was first. Boo Moon is a ghostly SciFi retelling of Gulliver’s Travels (1939) and even features a reappearance of King Bombo this time as King Luna. Casper decides to visit the Moon. The poor lonely little ghost is disappointed to discover the Moon Men, who have never even seen a ghost before, are afraid of him just like everyone else. Then the Moon Men are attacked by the Tree Men and Casper must come to the rescue. The audio is very good but this cartoon also suffers from video aging. There are scratches and some edge damage but the colors are very blurry and faded. Boo Moon runs seven minutes 34 seconds and is in color.
Spooking About Africa
Our fourth and final Casper the Friendly Ghost animated short is Spooking About Africa from January 4, 1957. In this cartoon, the lonely little ghost is looking for friends in Africa when he discovers Wheezy the Elephant. Wheezy has a big sneezing problem and Casper tries to help him. Spooking About Africa runs six minutes 14 seconds and is in color. The audio is very good unfortunately, this cartoon also has some video problems. There are some scratches and the color really suffers during the jungle fire scenes and becomes dark and blurry. Fortunately, the color is quite good and bright, if a bit blurry, during most of the film.
Milton the Monster in Zelda the Zombie
Milton the Monster was an animated television series that ran from October 9, 1965 to September 8, 1968 on ABC channels. Each of its 26 episodes ran for 30 minutes and featured short segments starring Milton the Monster and six other cartoon characters. Milton the Monster in Zelda the Zombie was the third segment in the very first episode of the show. In this cartoon, which is in color and runs six minutes 23 seconds, Professor Fruitcake has created a new monster, Zelda the Zombie, and comes to Professor Weirdo and Milton the Monster looking for a suitable monster mate. Milton and two other monsters try to woo Zelda by breaking into song but Zelda has her zombie eye on an entirely different mate. There are actually two songs in this animated the short. The first is the title song and then the monster dating song. Both are simple but cute and funny and young cartoon fans may start singing along. Audio is excellent. The color is also very good although there are some border problems which, fortunately do not distract from the film at all.
All of these animated shorts are available FREE to download or view online at the Internet Archive just click on the links:
Felix the Ghost Breaker
Betty Boop’s Hallowe’en Party
Casper the Friendly Ghost Theater
Milton the Monster in Zelda the Zombie
Get in the Halloween spirit with these spooky posts by Gen, Sylliebee, and Dileas:
House on Haunted Hill: Whose Murder Is This, Anyways?
Hauntingly Good! The Empty House and Other Ghost Stories, by Algernon Blackwood