Scary Shorties: Swamp Thing – The Un-Men Unleashed

Ho-wdy, ho-rror ho-mies! It’s another Supernatural Saturday morning here in Horrorwood, so we got cartoon chiller to make your heart sing! See that figure lurching about the bog? The tall gentleman with the green thumb and the mossy hair? No, my freaky friend… that ain’t swamp gas. It’s…
That’s right, Kinky Kreeps! Ol’ Tall, Green, and Gruesome got his very scare-toon that aired from 1990 to 1991. Sure, it didn’t last long, but each episode is a slice of aged cheese that’s rich with all the radical ’90s flavor you krave.

Like Troma’s Toxic Crusaders, the Swamp Thing cartoon took a classic creature and Captain Planet-ed him up in a big, bad way! I  LOOOOOOVVVE super important environmental messages in cartoons, and this one certainly had one! Sure, like all programs of this nature (Ha!), Swamp Thing’s message probably wasn’t all that sincere… but these ‘toons always worked on me as a kid!  If Swamp Thing gives a hoot, than so do, muthafuckasI! 🙂

Despite only lasting 5 episodes, there was a plethora of glorious Swamp Thing mechandise swamping the shelves. This included a paint-by-number kit, a board game, T-shirts, children’s slippers, a bop bag, pencil sharpeners, and…wait for it… chalk! The line also had some kickass playsets that let you spread Swamp Thing’s message of environmental preservation… with violence! Check out these sweetazz commercials:

For your Saturday morning pleasure, we have the first episode of this swamp-tastic show! It’s exactly the kind of thing you should be watching with a bowl of Boo Berry and some monster pajamas. So, sit back and get swamped with Swamp Thing!

Like your wackily wonderful Wild Thing parody opening theme states, Swamp Thing… you are AMAZING! 🙂

Scary Shorties: Mickey’s Mechanical Man (1933)

Before Richard Matheson brought a robot into the ring and Toho had one rough up an ape, Disney gave us both of those wonderful things in 1933’s Mickey’s Mechanical Man, a knockabout cartoon caper that pits machine against beast. The short is about Mickey Mouse training a robot to fight an ape in a boxing match and… do I need to say anything else!? I mean, that’s pure monster movie magic as it is! Disney has produced more sophisticated shorts, but who needs sophistication when you have beastly brutes monster-mashing each other in glorious black-and-white?!

Mickey’s Mechanical Man is a fairly one-note short, but it plays that note so magnificently! There are gags aplenty and enough machine-on-monster action to satisfy  all you creature-craving crazies out there. Mickey and Minnie are always welcome, and the ape is as perfectly monstrous as one could hope for. As for the animation, it’s fluid, lively, and… well, Disney!
While there’s much to love about this ‘toon, the highlight is the tit-ular Mechanical Man. I’m a sucker for vintage/retro robots, and this affable automaton certainly fits the bill. Every bit of animation for the ro-boxer is brilliantly herky-jerky. The spasmodic, robotic pugilist moves like a wind-up toy with very little use for physics. It’s this kind of character and animation that make these cartoons such a blast to watch! Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto!

Check out the Battle of the Century below:


#SuperheroSaturday Cartoon Time: Captain America, Episode 1

Happy Free Comic Book Day, true believers! Question: who’s strong and brave, here to save the American Way?

That’s right, comic creeps! It’s Captain America, the Star-Spangled Man with a plan! I just love a man in uniform, especially one who knows how to work a (flag)pole! 😉

We all know Cap is a Hitler-punchin’, swear-hatin’ butt-kicker with a heart of gold, but how did he get to be that darn awesome? Captain America: The First Avenger gave us an origin story, but it wasn’t the first. Oh no, sir! That ho-nor belongs to first episode of Captain America from 1966!

Airing as part of  The Marvel Super Heroesthe first episode of Captain America was actually three chapters that made up a whole story. These chapters were The Origin of Captain America, Wreckers Among Us, and Enter Red Skull.

What makes this cartoon eXXXtra special for today is that, like all The Marvel Super Hero shorts, this superheroic adventure was taken straight out of the comics in every conceivable way! The animation consisted of photocopied images taken directly from the comic art and manipulated to created “motion.” These Marvel toons certainly didn’t move much, but what they did do is showcase the art of Marvel’s best and brightest. In this Cap Cartoon, you’ll see some art work from the legendary Jack Kirby come to life, and what could be more appropriate for Free Comic Book Day than that? Excelsior!

Check out Cap and his Mighty Shield below:

 

Scary Shorties: Minnie the Moocher (1932)

Hi-de-hi-de-hi, Cartoon Creeps! Today’s Terror Toon is a real swingin’ wake from the cats at Fleischer Studios and the Hi-De-Ho Man himself, Mr. Cab Calloway! The short is Minnie the Moocher and it’s a trip! And when I say “trip,” I sure-as-heck mean it!
Released in 1932 by the aforementioned Fleischer Studios, MInnie the Moocher represents everything Fleischer was and everything Disney wasn’t, Disney made (for the most part) safe, friendly cartoons for good little boys and girls. However, Fleischer’s toons were aimed at rowdy adults with a taste for the weird. Fleischer Studios was basically a dollop of Dali for animation admirers.
Minnie the Moocher is the quintessential example of that Fleischer surrealism. A rotoscoped Cab Calloway ghost walrus(!) leads the ever-popular Betty Boop and Bimbo through a nightmare world inhabited by inebriated skeletons, death row inmates in spectral form, and grotesqueries with little use for logic and physics.  It seems like a drug-fueled nightmare, and it very well could be! You see, Minnie the Moocher is named for the Calloway song that plays throughout the short… and it is unquestionably about drugs! The word “cokey” in the song means exactly what you think it does and “kicking the gong around” here refers to smoking opium, although it was later applied to smoking marijuana.

This short was one of three shorts Fleischer Studios made with Cab Calloway. While the other two (Snow White and The Old Man of the Mountain) are fantastic in their own right, they don’t have the same whacked-out magic of Minnie the Moocher. There really is no other cartoon of the era that is a masterfully wackadoo as this grand work of weird. Even as a ghost walrus, Cab Calloway is just the coolest cat around. Cab’s radness and the exquisite insanity of the whole thing make this one of the true clas-sicks of animation. 🙂

For a bit o’ Hi-De-Ho-rror delivered the Fleischer way, check out the short below:

Scary Shorties: Superman, The Mummy Strikes (1943)

Boils and ghouls, your attention please! Kinky Ho-rror presents an all-old cartoon program, featuring a thrilling adventure of an amazing and incredible personality. Faster than a speeding demon! More powerful than a loco maniac! Able to leap tall tombs at a single bound! Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bat! It’s a witch! No, it’s…
That’s right, boils and ghouls! We’re presenting a classic outing of the Man of Steel in glorious Technicolor! Of course, with our minds in the grave, we picked a short that’s a little on the fright side…
The Mummy Strikes (1943) is the fourteenth of seventeen Fleischer Studios/Famous Studios Superman shorts, but it almost feels like a condensed Universal horror film. There’s a dead Egyptologist. an assistant accused of murder, a terrible curse, and two very unfriendly mummies. The two mummies are actually rather unnerving for a superhero short. It may be rather silly to admit, but this scene still gives me the willies…
I mean, it ain’t Boris Karloff driving a man insane in The Mummy (1932), but that’s still one heck of a resurrection!
This short isn’t as heavy on the superheroics as the other 16 shorts, but it’s got ominous atmosphere in spades. It’s creepy, it’s thrilling, and it has the Big Blue Boy Scout  roughing up some ancient abominations. I’d say there are worse things to get WRAPPED up in on a Saturday Morning!
Hey, if you think that’s a groaner, this short ends on the most wonderfully ho-rrible pun imaginable. It’s a play on a line from Blues in the Night, and I can’t imagine a better way to end a mummy story!
For thrills, chills, mummies, heroes, and puns, click on the moving picture box below:

Have a Super Saturday, Kinky Ho-mies!! 🙂 xoxo

Saturday Morning Kartoon Kwickie: The Cobweb Hotel

If you are arachnophobic in any way, I implore you to click away from this article and find something more pleasant. The cartoon embedded on this page is 1936’s The Cobweb Hotel. It is a Fleischer bros. cartoon and it is quite horrible. Not in quality, mind you, but in subject. If you have any fear of spiders, this short will not only encourage it, but perhaps even justify it. Personally, I’m quite fond of spiders. However, this cartoon tests even me. It concerns a spider who runs the titular hotel where he traps unsuspecting guests. Do not be fooled by the whimiscal singing or the wiggly movements of its bug-eyed (quite literally) characters… this is a horror show. Innocent buggies are seen caught in the spider’s web, squirming and pleading for mercy. The Spider is an unimaginably repulsive creature, fiendish and slobbering throughout. I suggest you heed the warning of the young couple within the short:

“And now, as we go,
there is one thing we know:
Stay away from the Cobweb Hotel!”

If, however, you are the brave sort, we have provided the cartoon below:

Have a Spoopy Saturday, Kinky Kreepers!! 🙂 xoxo

Scary Shorties: Hell’s Bells (1929)

We’ve got a real hot one from Ub Iwerks, kids!

1929’s Hell’s Bells is undeniable proof that the Disney company wanted to inflict  irreparable psychological damage on your child. Directed by the brilliantly psychotic Ub Iwerks (Walt Disney’s first business partner and the man who animated the first Mickey Mouse shorts), this short is a typical Silly Symphonies affair with one considerable difference: it takes place in bloody Hell! What’s even more astounding about this is that this is actually a damn disturbing depiction of Hell! Iwerks’ Hell is essentially what happens when you allow Hieronymus Bosch to design family entertainment. Clocking in at just under six minutes, Mr. Iwerks treats us to images of The Devil feeding lesser demons to Cerberus, demons eating other demons to gain their attributes, and monsters dragged against their will by fiery hands. Fantastic!

Ub Iwerks was certainly a man after our black, rotten hearts. In this very same year, Mr. Iwerks unleashed The Skeleton Dance and The Haunted House, suggesting that the gentleman had a love for the odd and spooky. Though this short never got a follow-up, Iwerks’  grinning demons cavorted in The Goddess of Spring from 1934,  a short that lead to future development of Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

If you want black sensations up and down your spine, check out the video below:

#SuperheroSaturday Comic Book Review: He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Vol 3

(Happy #SuperheroSaturday, Kinky Ho-mies!! 🙂 Since we decided last week that He-Man does, in fact, count as a Superhero, I figured we’d give you another taste of his mighty sword this Saturday, too. Ho-nestly, it’s just an eXXXcuse to justify watching He-Man reruns as “work”, but whatev. 😉 This week’s cl-ass-ic ep rec brought to you by The Powers of All That is Awesome and Good in the Universe, and the actual comic review is brought to you courtesy of Prince Adam of Eternia…who ass-ures me he’s totally unbiased. 😉 Enjoy, and have a wild, wicked weekend, Kinky Ho-s! 🙂 xoxo)

“The hordes of Hordak attack Eternia! Eternia is under attack and a woman named Despara is at the lead. When He-Man discovers her true identity, one closely connected to him, it will take all of his power to stop her from destroying everything and everyone he loves. No one in Eternia is safe!” (DC Comics)

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So far I’ve read two He-Man and the Masters of the Universe graphic novels, which I have reviewed for this site. Both times, I came away extremely happy. Well, I’ve read another volume and absolutely LOVED it. This is most definitely my favourite story of the three so far. It picks up from the previous volume, at the funeral of the sorceress Zoar, aka Teela’s mother and namesake. Teela is still reeling and furious from the revelation of her maternal parentage. She is angry with her father for withholding this secret, and is resentful to her mother, for not being a mother to her. I was pleased to see that these story points carry over. I was also a little surprised, since I’m so used to the cartoon and its typical one and done episode format. While all the royalty of Eternia and Masters of Eternia are attending Zoar’s memorial service, Hordak’s army attacks the capitol city Eternos, led by Despara. The attack was so unexpected, surprising and forceful. The fact that this attack happened in the midst of a crowd of people, in a very peaceful and serene environment, hit very real chords. Most real life terrorists attacks occur when unexpected and in the midst of a large crowd. Maybe I’m more sensitive to this stuff, given the world we live in today, but these pages hit me harder than expected. For a brief moment, it made this fantasy world real. You can’t help but get emotionally invested, and want He-Man and company to kick some Hordak ass!

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When reviewing the first volume, I noted how it expanded and fleshed out the mythology. This volume takes that even further. I don’t remember much of Hordak from the cartoon but I like that in this book, he’s described as a vampire who’s exited long before even creation itself. There’s plenty of intrigue revolving around Hordak’s horde commander Despara. Despara is really Adora, who was a childhood friend of Teela. Their friendship was secret, because Adora was venturing to the gardens of Eternos from Etheria, which in this telling, is essentially the underworld of Eternia. Adora thought she was the human daughter of Hordak, but it is revealed that she is the daughter of King Randor, and twin sister of Prince Adam. She came to Hordak’s control because he believes that the children of King Randor were the literal manifestation of Eternia’s power. So he makes a deal with King Randor’s brother. In exchange for power, which transforms him into Skeletor, he would kidnap the children. Zoar managed to intercept him, saving Prince Adam, but not Princess Adora. The reason Adam and Randor don’t remember Adora, is due to Zoar erasing their memories. Writer Keith Giffen is clearly a fan of the property and borrows from the 80’s cartoon, the newer adventures from 2002, and putting his own conceits in to the mix. I thought a flashback to Adora’s origin being mixed in with the main story was a smart move. The juxtaposition between her past and present self is quite different. As a child, Adora was sweet and innocent. Picture one of the Olsen twins, or Lindsey Lohan, before they went batshit crazy. Her present self as Despara is a mix of Faora from Man of Steel and a dominatrix. What I find really smart about this story, is that it doesn’t have a completely happy or joyful ending. Hordak and his minions gain a stronghold on Eternia, and blow up Castle Greyskull. That and the continuous war make things very bleak for our heroes. The only positivity in the end, is He-Man saving Teela, Adora realizing her true parentage and joining He-Man and Teela to repel Hordak, at least temporarily. I compared the first volume to Star Wars: A New Hope. This volume is more along the lines of Empire Strikes Back. Despite being a more serious book, they have humor in the banter between Prince Adam and Teela! If you thought their interaction was hilarious in volume one, it’s even more funny the first time around. Another great choice was not to have Adora become full on She-Ra in this story. It’ll be better served when the character has fully come to terms with who she is, and the legacy and role she must assume. It makes no sense for the writer to blow this load all in one story.

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Pop Mhan brings this fantastic story to life with his drawings. He’s been a part of the art team on both of the other two He-Man stories I’ve read. With the other two books, he’s only drawn parts of the story, while here he’s the main man. I think the more he’s drawn these characters, the better his work has gotten. We get to see more of Eternia in this book. Two locations highlighted are Eternos and Etheria. Eternos looked like a blending of ancient Greece, ancient Rome and Asgard combined. Meanwhile, Etheria is very dark, technological, and sterile. Hordak looks somewhat like a giant bat, surrounded by some mechanical elements. He shares more in common with his 2002 animated counterpart. For the first time ever, I noticed that Hordak’s army looks a bit like Cylon’s from Battlestar Galactica. If you want to see how fierce and violent Adora is as Despara, the page where she stabs Teela who is in a cage is all the proof you need. In my previous review, it was clear that Pop Mhan is great at depicting action. There’s a great page featuring a full page spread of Eternia under attack with He – Man falling from a building above, towards all the chaos. It’s a spectacular piece of art. Seeing Castle Greyskull blown up broke my inner childhood heart. Over the course of reading 3 volumes of this title, I’ve seen Prince Adam hold up his sword and proclaim; I have the power”, many times. The depiction of it in this book is easily the best so far.

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I really hope that the filmmakers behind the Masters of the Universe reboot use this iteration as reference. It tells a story that appeals to all ages of He-Man fandom, and treats the franchise as something more than a tool to sell action figures. The art is very cinematic and already looks like highly detailed storyboards. If you’re not reading this series, you’re missing out on a fascinating story, and one of the best examples of fantasy super heroics being told today.

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