The Haunted House, or simply Haunted House, is a 1929 animated short film produced by Walk Disney Production 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.
It’s a dark and stormy night and poor Mickey is forced to seek refuge in a dilapidated old mansion. Unfortunately for the corporate mascot, the house is populated by a cruel, hooded figure and his army of skeletons. All they want to do is get down with their dead selves and aren’t above forcing Mickey to play the organ for all eternity.
Sadly, like much of Iwerks’ vintage accomplishments, The Haunted House has been deemed “unsuitable for modern audiences” by the contemporary Walt Disney Corporation and relegated to “Vault” status. Even its one DVD release that I know of (on Walt Disney Treasure’s Mickey Mouse in black-and-white Vol. 2) comes with a mandatory, unskippable disclaimer by Leonard Maltin, apologizing profusely for the short and all others of its ilk as ignorant products of their time.
It’s grand offense? A brief sequence where the lights go out and Mickey screams “Mammy!” (a gag made famous in the 20s by Al Jolson, who performed a song called “Mammy” while wearing black face).
Still, even though Disney is content to sweep much of Iwerks’ contributions under the rug, that doesn’t change the quality of his work in the least. There’s a great moment in the short where the hooded figure slowly encroaches upon the cornered Mickey and (with the audience sharing Mickey’s POV), slowly pulls back his cowl to reveal a chattering skull. It’s very effective use of perspective at a time where animation was pretty content to simply move from the left to the right as though any other dimensions did not exist.
What is your favorite vintage Halloween video?