When it comes to Halloween I’m a very old fashioned sort of fellow. I approach it with a childlike sense of awe and enjoy the old world innocence of it. I love thinking that just maybe the veil between this world and another more ghostly world is thinner for just one day and anything could happen.
Part of my sense of wonderment and innocence of a day that some view as evil comes from another source of wonderment and innocence that some view as evil, Disney.
Ever since I can remember The Disney Halloween Special was a yearly staple growing up.First airing in 1982 as Disney’s Halloween Treat on The Wonderful World of Disney, A Disney Halloween was expanded the next year to include Disney’s Greatest Villains (1977). At a run time of 90 minutes, I was whisked away to a world of Halloween that spanned decades. From 1929’s Silly Symphony short Skeleton Dance to footage from 1977’s The Rescuers. With a span of almost 50 years, everything blended into one great, big HALLOWEEN. Granted some segments were black and white and the looks of some of the main players changed over the years but the spirit never changed.
Out of the whole special, three segments are what my mind goes too when I think of Halloween. That’s not to say there aren’t more awesome Halloween treats inside of the Disney Special. It’s just these three are nestled deep inside my Halloween soul.
The first is an old Silly Symphony from 1937 titled, The Old Mill. The Old Mill tells a story of an old mill and the animals that call it home during a violent thunder storm. Like most of the Silly Symphony’s the story is told threw song, this time incorporating “One Day When We Were Young” from Johann Strauss II’s operetta, The Gypsy Baron. Utilizing the new technology of multiplane cameras, The Old Mill has very realistic depictions of thunder, lightning, rain, and animal behavior.
What I love the most about this cartoon is the quiet moments before and after the storm. It really hits me somewhere deep within my soul and is reassuring that everything is going to be ok. Silly I know, but I never said I was right in the head. Paired with the music it is a perfect balance of peace and fury. I also love the animals in this short and how they weather the storm in some of the beautiful ways. At almost 80 years old, this is still one of the most beautifully animated cartoons you’ll ever see.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a tale that is the true definition of Halloween to me. It’s the tale of an ordinary man who has a run in with the supernatural. A tale with an open ending that forces the viewer decide Ichabod’s fate while also concluding if their mind sees the dark or light of a situation.
Based of Washington Irving’s 1820 published short story, Legend of Sleepy Hollow has endured the test of time as a Halloween classic. The Headless Horseman is as an iconic figure as any literary hero or villain. He is the true embodiment of Halloween to me as much as the Sleepy Hollow story is.
Starring Bing Crosby, the 1949 animated version defiantly has the Disney spin on it but also has enough frightening moments to scare a little dude such as myself. The imagery of the Headless Horseman’s Jack ‘o Lantern flying down the covered bridge at Ichabod is an image that is seared into my brain for the rest of my life.
As iconic as the holiday itself to me, Donald’s “Trick or Treat” is one of the best Donald Duck cartoons ever. As a long time Donald Duck fan this short has so many of the things I love rolled up into one cartoon.
As soon as I hear the music for this cartoon come on I am instantly taken back to my childhood. There are so many things about this 1952 classic that stand out to me as HALLOWEN.I love everything from the design of the bats that we only get a quick glimpse of, too the ghost costume one of the nephews are wearing (Huey, Dewey, and Louie were a bit indistinguishable back in the day).
Witch Hazel, the ghosts, and the Jack O’ Lantern are perfectly brought to life with Disney magic and are sadly overlooked in today’s Disney cartoons.
Like I mentioned I love the innocence of Halloween. The superstitions and folklore out weigh the spectacle and gore for me. Don’t get me wrong gore and scares have their place but I just love the magic of it all. Halloween is a day when anything can happen and the Disney Halloween specials of my childhood is testament to that.
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