Poster

Haunted House

A Mickey Mouse Cartoon

Release Date : December 2, 1929

Running Time : 6:36

Synopsis

Mickey weathers a ferocious storm inside an old haunted house where he is compelled to play the organ for the ghost and skeleton dance.

Characters

Mickey Mouse

Credits

Director
Walt Disney
Music
Carl Stalling

Video

United States
Cartoon Classics : First Series : Volume 3 : Scary Tales

CED

Cartoon Classics - Scary Tales

Laserdiscs

Cartoon Classics : Scary Tales
Japan
Mickey Mouse: A Star is Born

DVD

United States
Mickey Mouse in Black and White Volume 2
Germany
Mickey Mouse in Black and White Volume 2

Television

The Ink and Paint Club: Episode 55: Oooh! Scary!
Mickey's Mouse Tracks: Episode 25

Technical Specification

Color Type: Black & White
Animation Type: Standard animation
Sound Mix: Mono : Cinephone
Aspect Ratio: 1.37 : 1
Negative Format: 35mm
Print Format: 35mm
Cinematographic Process: Spherical
Original Language: English

Released by Celebrity Productions, Inc.

Comments

From Ryan Kilpatrick at The Disney Film Project : With The Haunted House, I’m finally getting what I want out of Mickey Mouse cartoon. This is a truly great short, and one that I am hoping more people will come to recognize as a great Mickey Mouse vehicle. There’s everything one could hope for – story, music, great animation and funny gags. It’s all here.

Let me stop my gushing and get on with it. The Haunted House breaks the formula of putting Mickey into a setting and having the music start immediately. Instead, it starts off with an establishing shot of the titular house, which looks like a menacing face on the horizon. Then we see Mickey struggling through a storm trying to reach the house. The music, the rain animation and the blowing wind that moves the objects in the foreground all help to give a sense of foreboding.

Of course, Mickey enters the house, after being prodded by a nearby tree. Once inside, he is frightened by a succession of creatures, including bats that fly straight at the viewer, a spider that drops in and swings and finally the sounds of ghosts. The sound here is key, because we don’t see any ghosts, but Mickey gets progressively more frightened, and it’s the sound that puts him over the top. It’s a very clever use of the sounds to create more suspense.

The next sequence is particularly good, mainly for the skill in the animation. Mickey enters a hallway, where the lights almost immediately blackout.

Then, he is able to light a match, and look around to see what is going on.

The sequence is incredible, because it takes two different disciplines and makes one flowing scene. First, the ability to highlight only Mickey’s face and hands in an otherwise dark room and get across emotions and feeling is amazing. Then, to do the match light scene, and have the flickers of the match play with the lighting is another step up. This is the first time I have seen this level of craft in the Mickey shorts, but it’s a major step forward.

Of course, we have a musical number in this short, but it makes perfect sense. The ghosts corner Mickey, and we see him turn to the camera to express his fear.

The ghosts force Mickey to play the piano, so they can dance. And the next few minutes of the short are devoted to the skeletons around the house. Much of this is derivative of The Skeleton Dance. There is animation of four skeletons dancing that I would swear is lifted directly from that earlier film, if it didn’t end a different way. But similar ideas to The Skeleton Dance are all around, like a skeleton playing himself like a xylophone, for example.

Finally, Mickey finishes the song and makes a break for it, running into skeletons all along the way, even in the outhouse. Mickey’s run for the hills signals the end of the short.

With a simple twist on the musical number, The Haunted House manages to give meaning and purpose to the silly little dances that these early shorts have featured to this point. It will bear watching to see if this is the beginning of a trend or not, but it’s an encouraging sign to see the story provide the framing for the music.


From Mac : Nice review! I've got to agree about the unique use of sound early on in the short. Rather than using sound for music we get a suspenseful build of creepy sounds. It's a nice twist that for once Mickey doesn't want to be an entertainer and dance or sing - all he wants to do is get out of there! He constantly looks uncomfortable at the organ and the part where the hooded spectre holds his wrists to force him to play is delightfully squirmish!

The part where Mickey ends up in the dark with only his mouth, eyes and gloves showing and cries "Mammy" out of fear is a direct reference to the "Jazz Singer".

The other thing I'd like to mention is the titles for this cartoon. The ones on the DVD are recreations to match other shorts of the era. However, I'd love to see the originals which had at least some amount of animation. The initial gust of wind heard at the opening originally blew the letters which spell "The Haunted House" right off the screen. We know this because the reissue titles kept in the final frames of this effect.


From Jerry Edwards : When Mickey retreats from a storm into a "deserted" house, the skeleton inhabitants, including a Grim Reaper skeleton, force Mickey to play the organ while the skeletons dance. Finally, Mickey escapes by crashing through a window. One fun gag is when Mickey tries to open the door of an outhouse, it is already occupied by a ... skeleton. In an earlier gag, Mickey opens a closet door, only to encounter a fold-up bed, with "husband and wife" skeletons in their bedclothes. Another fun gag is that the door is barred and locked by itself (with no one doing the barring and locking) as soon as Mickey enters the house. One scary scene is soon after Mickey enters the house and is frightened by vampire bats and a huge spider. The special effects of the wind and rain storm are nicely done for such early animation. There is a bit of odd "ethnic" animation of the skeletons doing a "Jewish" dance while wearing "Jewish" hats. At least I perceive this scene as being "Jewish." This is one of my favorite early Mickey cartoons - due to the scary nature of the short and the fact that there is more of a story in this cartoon than most other early shorts.
From Ryan : It's a dark and stormy night. Poor Mickey is trudging through the rain with only an umbrella. He seeks shelter in an abandoned house. We see that the door closes on him and he makes a sick expression on his face (probably from butterflies being in his stomach). The scene where the grim reaper tells him to play was shown on the "Mickey Mouse Anniversary Show." One weird thing is that Mickey answer's "Yes ma'm!" Doesn't he realize that the figure in front of him is male? This is a great short to watch on Halloween or anytime of year.
From Kate : I have to say this is one of my favorite old Mickey Mouse cartoons. My Aunt taped this cartoon for me and my brothers when we were little and have had the video ever since. We used to watch the cartoon and dance around the living room attempting to imitate the skeleton's dance movements and it was great. In this animation, the music is great, and the special effects are also amazing for such an early cartoon. I LOVE IT!
From Nic : A fine cartoon that displays Mickey Mouse at his best.
From Phil S. Nagy : Very nice early short with scary elements. I love the atmosphere and the music. Long live Mickey Mouse and Walt Disney!
From Bill : This is a pretty scary short. The animation is well done, especially the storm scene in the beginning. This is classic Mickey, brave to a point but once in the house you can see he's losing his nerve a bit. The gags were well spaced out, and this short is well suited for a halloween viewing. There were no central villains for Mickey to battle, just a great collection of spooks. One of my favorites!
From Justin Gibson : I really liked this short, The Haunted House, it reminded me, of course, of a silly symphony that I saw The Skeleton Dance. Mickey is awesome in this short, playing the organ and ghouls and ghosts dance to his tunes. I just liked it, it's a real fun and entertaining short piece.
From Happy : I haven't seen this animated short in years! I remember it only piece by piece. I remember Mickey running into a long hall and the lights flicker out and you only see his scared face and his gloves as he cries "Mama!" When he lights a match he runs off in fright by the grim reaper ghost and into the room where the organ is. I was totally freaked out when Mickey backs away and the grim reaper approaches the camera and reveals himself to the viewer! EEK! Mickey tries to get away but the reaper stops him and demands him to play. I was also freaked out when Mickey tiptoes to leave and a loud shout startles him, causing him to run. I think that's there way of saying "Thanks now get out!" I liked it as a little girl but once again I haven't seen it in years.
From Chris Perdue : When my sister and I were growing up, (I feel we grew up together even though I am ten years older but matured more slowly), there was one video tape we had to rent each year at around Halloween. This was the Scary Tales video. The two main reasons we enjoyed this video were The Skeleton Dance and Haunted House. Though I am not a big fan of the black and white Mickey cartoons, this one is an exception. It has spiders, bats and skeletons and it is a lot of fun to watch and listen to. What more could you ask for in a classic scary cartoon? I enjoyed it then and still love it now. We have never outgrown our love for this and all the other Disney cartoons. And I hope we never will.
From Debby : When I was little we had a laser disc player and one of the discs I used to watch was "Scary Tales." I remember The Haunted House as the one short that scared me almost as much as The Skeleton Dance. I remember being so scared but loving it at the same time.
From Steven : This is a great Mickey cartoon, as a matter of fact it's one of my favorites. There was some reused animation from The Skeleton Dance but that's okay, after all budgets were really tight back then. Ub Iwerks' hand is all over this one and this cartoon has a great musical score by Carl Stalling. I give this one a ten out of ten.

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