B2 High-Intermediate US 30 Folder Collection
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- Most of us got into horror
long before it was appropriate
for us to be into horror.
And while "Are You Afraid of the Dark,"
"Hocus Pocus," and whatever your older siblings
or babysitters let you watch probably laid
a lot of ground work,
it was likely some spooky animation
that helped pave the way for your love of the genre.
Walt Disney's "The Skeleton Dance" from 1929
is probably the best early example of animated horror.
Also, I guarantee you've seen it.
It's chock-full of incredible Halloween imagery,
like black cats, an owl and, of course, dancing skeletons.
It would be the first in a long line
of spooky Disney shorts that included
"The Haunted House" and "Hell's Bells,"
which both came out the same year,
and the Mickey Mouse classic, "The Mad Doctor,"
which four years later would show just how far
the animation studio had progressed in such a short time.
"Lonesome Ghosts" would double down on that
with Mickey, now joined by Donald and Goofy,
as ghost exterminators hired by four bored ghosts.
This one became a staple of the Halloween season,
in particular thanks to its inclusion
on the 1982 VHS release of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow."
I don't know about you guys,
but growing up as a Monster Kid
in the '80s and '90s meant tracking down
that tape in the video store every year
as must-watch Halloween viewing.
The Disney version of "Sleepy Hollow"
remains the definitive of the tale,
while modern adaptations have made Ichabod Crane
a detective or soldier,
this held true to Washington Irving's story
and introduced him as the superstitious schoolmaster who,
following a Halloween party,
is chased by The Headless Horseman.
This was it for me.
I was hooked on horror from this point on.
But it wasn't just Disney getting in
on the shaping of young horror fanatics.
Pretty much any major animation house was doing,
at the very least, some Halloween-inspired stuff,
dark fairytales or stories about a friendly ghost
just trying to fit in.
The late '60s and '70s would see a huge spike, though.
First off, with what might be the greatest
animated horror series of all time, "Scooby-Doo."
Now, I'm not locking in on the original series,
"Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!" that premiered in 1969.
I'm talking about the franchise as a whole.
Some version of Scooby and the Gang
have been on television almost consistently since 1969.
There have been low points, there have been high points.
There were people in masks.
There were actual ghosts and monsters.
Regardless, Scooby-Doo has been a staple
in the world of animation and inspired
a bunch of other creepy cartoons, like "Groovie Goolies,"
which was sort of like an animated,
horror-themed "Laugh-In."
Scoob was still going strong as the '80s
saw competing "Ghostbusters" cartoons.
You see, Filmation made a live action kid's show
in the '70s called "The Ghostbusters,"
and then they licensed the name
to Columbia for the 1984 movie.
But then, both sides decided to make cartoons in '86,
and a whole bunch of confusion ensued
to the point that Columbia indeed opted
to call their series "The Real Ghostbusters,"
even though the other one was around first.
Another horror comedy from the '80s
got a cartoon adaptation too.
Now, a lot of people don't remember the "Teen Wolf" cartoon,
but it was my jam.
Literally, there's a cassette tape
of a three-year-old me singing the theme song
to this kickin' around somewhere.
Now, I actually think my whole fascination
with werewolves comes from this series,
and I recently found it on Amazon Prime.
And I don't care what you say, it holds up.
Other adaptations of movies like "Beetlejuice"
and "The Addams Family" were also big
during the '80s and into the '90s,
but you didn't have to be adapted from a movie to work.
Just ask Count Duckula.
The '90s blew up animated horror.
There was "Toonsylvania,"
the Chipmunks met Frankenstein and the Wolfman,
and there was "Freaky Stories,"
an anthology series of tales
that really happened to a friend of a friend of mine.
Of course, there was also the cartoon adaptation
of "Tales from the Cryptkeeper."
This one was huge for upcoming Monster Kids,
giving them a more palatable, PG-version
of the HBO series that revisited the stories
from the EC comics of the '50s.
But what might have actually been
the most important cartoon horror
over the last while is
the "The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror" series.
It's been around for as long as the show itself.
Also drawing inspiration from the EC Comics tales,
the annual trio of shorts provides
a pretty good history lesson for upcoming horror fans.
The parodies and references of each story
are the sort of thing that as you grow
into your genre fandom,
you begin to recognize more and more.
And as you can see, animation has always been
a huge part of the genre,
and bringing new fans to it,
whether it's classic cartoons from Disney,
different iterations of "Scooby-Doo,"
of even the CG, stop motion hybrids like "ParaNorman,"
there's always something to catch everyone
and pique their interest.
In fact, there's a new "Scooby-Doo" series
called "Scooby-Doo and Guess Who?" coming later this year.
I don't know if it'll be as good as "Mystery Incorporated,"
but we can all hope, right?
So what's your favorite cartoon horror?
Let us know in the comments,
and remember, Fright Hype and Crypt TV
are all over the internet.
Until next time, keep the horror
on the screen and off the streets.
I'll see you then.
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FRIGHT HYPE | "History of Animated Horror" | Crypt TV Culture

30 Folder Collection
Amy.Lin published on March 9, 2020
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