Walt Disney (1929)

The Haunted House, also known as Phantom House or simply Haunted House, is a Mickey Mouse short animated film first released on December 2, 1929, as part of the Mickey Mouse film series. The cartoon was produced by Walt Disney Productions and distributed by Celebrity Productions.

The film follows Mickey Mouse trapped in a haunted house and forced to play music. It was directed by Walt Disney, who also provided the voice of Mickey. Ub Iwerks was the primary animator and Carl Stalling wrote the original music.

The Haunted House borrowed animation from Disney’s first Silly SymphonyThe Skeleton Dance, which was released earlier in 1929. The Haunted House was Mickey’s first cartoon with a horror theme and led the way to later films such as The Gorilla Mystery (1930), The Mad Doctor (1933), Lonesome Ghosts (1937), and Runaway Brain (1995).

Tim Burton (2005)

Inspired by Walt Disney’s and Ub Iwerks’ Silly Symphonies animated short The Skeleton Dance,
Tim Burton pays homage to the frolicking skeletons of swing in this fun little diddy, Remains of the Day.

Remains of the Day

Danny Elfman (2005)

Hey!
Give me a listen, you corpses of cheer.
Least less of you who still got an ear,
I’ll tell ‘ya a story, make your skeleton cry,
of our own judiciously lovely corpse bride.
Die, die we all pass away, but don’t wear a frown ‘cuz it’s really okay.
You might try n’ hide, and you might try n’ pray,
but we all end up the remains of the day.

Die die die yeah yeah, die die die.

Well! Our girl is a beauty known for miles around.
A mysterious stranger came into town.
He was plenty good lookin’ but down on his cash,
and our poor little baby she fell hard and fast,
when her daddy said no, she just couldn’t cope,
so our lovers came up with a plan to elope.

Die, die we all pass away, but don’t wear a frown ‘cuz it’s really okay.
You might try n’ hide, and you might try n’ pray,
but we all end up the remains of the day.

Die die die yeah yeah,
die die die yeah yeah
die die die yeah yeah
die die die yeah yeah

Yeah, so they conjured up a plan to meet late at night,
they told not a soul kept the whole thing tight.
Now her mother’s wedding dress fit like a glove,
you don’t need much when you’re really in love.
Except for a few things or so I’m told,
like the family jewels and a satchel of gold.
Then next to the graveyard by the old oak tree,
on a dark foggy night at a quarter to three,
she was ready to go, but where was he?

(And then?) She waited
(And then?) There in the shadows, was it a man?
(And then?) Her little heart beat sooo loud!
(And THEN?) And then baby, everything went black.

Now when she opened her eyes, she was dead as dust, her jewels were missin’ and her heart was bust, so she made a vow lyin’ under that tree
that she’d wait for her true love to come set her free.
Always waitin’ for someone to ask for her hand, when outta the blue comes this groovy young man, who vows forever, to be by her side, and that’s the story of our own, corpse bride

Die, die we all pass away, but don’t wear a frown ‘cuz it’s really okay.
You might try n’ hide, and you might try n’ pray,
but we all end up the remains of the day.

Silly Symphonies (1929)

The Skeleton Dance is a 1929 Silly Symphony animated short subject produced and directed by Walt Disney and animated by Ub Iwerks. In the film, four human skeletons dance and make music around a spooky graveyard —
a modern film example of medieval European “danse macabre” imagery.
It was the first entry in the Silly Symphony series.

The origins for The Skeleton Dance can be traced to mid-1928, when Walt Disney was on his way to New York to arrange a distribution deal for his new Mickey Mouse cartoons and to record the soundtrack for his first sound cartoon, Steamboat Willie. During a stopover in Kansas City, Disney paid a visit to his old acquaintance Carl Stalling, then an organist at the Isis Theatre, to compose scores for his first two Mickey shorts, Plane Crazy and The Gallopin’ Gaucho. While there, Stalling proposed to Disney a series of “musical novelty” cartoons combining music and animation, which would become the genesis for the Silly Symphony series, and pitched an idea about skeletons dancing in a graveyard. Stalling would eventually join Disney’s studio as staff composer. Animation on The Skeleton Dance began in January 1929, with Ub Iwerks animating the majority of the film in almost six weeks.

Walt Disney (1957)

The multiplane camera is a motion-picture camera used in the traditional animation process that moves a number of pieces of artwork past the camera at various speeds and at various distances from one another. This creates a sense of parallax or depth.

An early form of the multiplane camera was used by Lotte Reiniger for her animated feature The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926).

In 1933, former Walt Disney Studios animator/director Ub Iwerks invented the first multiplane camera using movable layers of flat artwork in front of a horizontal camera using parts from an old Chevrolet automobile.

Various parts of the artwork layers are left transparent to allow other layers to be seen behind them. The movements are calculated and photographed frame by frame, with the result being an illusion of depth by having several layers of artwork moving at different speeds: the further away from the camera, the slower the speed. The multiplane effect is sometimes referred to as a parallax process.

An interesting variation is to have the background and foreground move in opposite directions. This creates an effect of rotation. An early example is the scene in Walt Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs where the Evil Queen drinks her potion, and the surroundings appear to spin around her.

The most famous multiplane camera was invented by William Garity for the Walt Disney Studios to be used in the production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The camera was completed in early 1937 and tested in a Silly Symphony called The Old Mill, which won the 1937 Academy Award for Animated Short Film. Disney’s multiplane camera, which used up to seven layers of artwork shot under a vertical and moveable camera, and was used prominently in Disney films such as Pinocchio, Fantasia, Bambi, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty and The Jungle Book.

The Little Mermaid was the final Disney film to use a multiplane camera, though the work was done by an outside facility as Disney’s cameras were not functional at the time. The process was made obsolete by the implementation of a “digital multiplane camera”. Three original Disney multiplane cameras survive: one at The Walt Disney Studios, Burbank, California, one at the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco, and one in the Art of Disney Animation attraction at Walt Disney Studios Park in Disneyland Paris.

Ub Iwerks (1934)

The village of Sleepy Hollow is getting ready to greet the new schoolteacher, Ichabod Crane, who is coming from New York. Crane has already heard of the village’s legendary ghost, a headless horseman who is said to be searching for the head that he lost in battle. The schoolteacher has barely arrived when he begins to pursue the beautiful young heiress Katrina Van Tassel, angering Abraham Van Brunt, who is courting her. Crane’s harsh, small-minded approach to teaching also turns some of the villagers against him. Soon there many who would like to see him leave the village altogether.

Walt Disney & Ub Iwerks (1927)

Trolley Troubles is a 1927 animated short subject film, produced by Charles Mintz and George Winkler and directed by Walt Disney. Since Poor Papa, the cartoon is noted for being the first appearance of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, a character that Disney and Ub Iwerks created for Universal Pictures and Charles B. Mintz.

In January 1927, Winkler Pictures head Charles Mintz told Disney and Iwerks to create a cartoon character they could sell to Universal Pictures. Universal wanted to re-enter the cartoon business and needed a character of it’s own. Disney began working on both the character and the films shortly after he moved his studio to Hyperion Avenue.

Disney opted to make the character a rabbit at the suggestion of Carl Laemmle, Universal’s founder. Universal’s publicity department chose the name of the character by drawing it out of a hat filled with slips of paper with different names on them. An early press release from Universal Weekly called the character “Oswald, the Welsh Rabbit.”

The first Oswald cartoon, Poor Papa, was poorly received by the Universal executives and Mintz. Universal initially did not distribute it to theaters. Disney and Iwerks created a younger and neater Oswald for their next cartoon, Trolley Troubles. It was well-received and Universal released it to theaters on September 5, 1927. Universal continued to push advertising for the character.

As time passed, Disney feared that Mintz would forgo renewal of the contract, partly due to Iwerks informing Disney that George Winkler, at the behest of Mintz, had been going behind Disney’s back during pick-up runs for Oswald reels and hiring away his animators. Eventually, Walt traveled with his wife Lillian to New York to find other potential distributors for his studio’s cartoons, including Fox and MGM, prior to meetings with Mintz. As Walt later recalled, he placed two Oswald prints under one arm and—feeling “like a hick”—marched “one half-block north” on Broadway to MGM to visit Fred Quimby and showcase his studio’s work on the series. During this period, Walt and Lillian attended the premiere of the Oswald short Rival Romeos, which debuted at the Colony on 53rd and Broadway.

In the spring of 1928, Disney traveled to New York City in hopes of negotiating a more profitable contract with his producer Charles Mintz. But as economic problems were apparent at the time, Mintz figured Disney should settle for a 20% cut, although large turnarounds were promised if the studio’s finances showed considerable growth. While most of his fellow animators left for Mintz’s studio, Disney decided to quit working on the Oswald cartoons. On his long train ride home, he came up with an idea to create another character and retain the rights to it. Walt recalled most of what had happened in an interview and some stories claim the copyright to the character had been “lost” to Winkler/Universal.

Disney and Iwerks would go on to develop a new cartoon in secret, starring a new character called Mickey Mouse. The first Mickey Mouse cartoon to be filmed was Plane Crazy in the summer of 1928, but it was produced as a silent film and held back from release. The first Mickey Mouse film with a synchronized soundtrack, Steamboat Willie, reached the screen that fall and became a major hit, eclipsing Oswald.

In early cartoons, Oswald was very similar to the early incarnations of Mickey Mouse, that being the mischievous but well-meaning character made popular among cartoons in the 1920s. He was energetic, inventive, adventurous and almost always caused trouble, but found his way out through cunning and wit. Oswald loved to play and make others laugh, but despite his flaws, he has morals and always tries to do the right thing. His personality traits were something never seen at the time, as most cartoon stars had no personality, and he favored the new “emotion” gag over slapstick.

In his current revival, Oswald is portrayed as more aggressive, serious, and short-tempered than Mickey, though he does have a sense of fun and humor. Oswald is not welcoming towards strangers and even comes across as spiteful towards people he doesn’t trust. He is very brave, but overconfident, which makes Oswald impulsive and bordering to the point that Oswald can be ignorant and ultimately fumble. Ironically, despite having the moniker of “lucky,” Oswald is prone to bad luck as much as good luck, which has led him into many unfortunate situations often caused by his own overconfidence — he can only escape from these by his own good luck.

Despite his less-appealing traits, Oswald remains fundamentally good-hearted. He is motivated by a love for adventure and heroism. A recent interview with Disney historian David Gerstein has highlighted the difference between Mickey and Oswald in terms of personality:

You might say that Mickey’s personality is a bit less inherently funny, but you still have just as much fun with him by putting him in incredible jams. Oswald … let’s put it like this: imagine Mickey if he were a little more egotistical or fallible, or imagine Bugs Bunny if he talked the talk but wasn’t as good at walking the walk.

Oswald has also been shown harboring a strong jealousy towards his “replacement” for effectively stealing his life. Some materials indicate this relationship outside of spin-off material; pictures were approved by Walt himself that depicted Mickey and Oswald meeting for the first time and support these sentiments.

With luck on his side, Oswald is willing to take risks and will attempt to do what’s best for his family and friends. Though he doesn’t appear to be, Oswald can be quite friendly if he wants to. His love for Ortensia is just as strong as Mickey’s love for Minnie.