Posts Tagged ‘Nearly Unwatchable’

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Cartoon Hell #34 – “Felix the Cat and the Goose That Laid the Golden Egg”

January 19, 2010

Cartoon Hell is Nicholas Merlin Karpuk’s attempt to review every single installment in an awful $5 collection called “150 Classic Cartoons” purchased at his local Wal-Mart. Your prayers are welcome. 

Pinching out gold might be rough on the insides.

Felix the Cat is about as close as animation gets to a hipster icon. He’s obscure, but vaguely recognizable, and iconic enough that people keep trying to revive the franchise. It gives you that extra bit of cred to have his merchandise, but ask anyone what their favorite Felix the Cat moment is, and you’ll be treated to blank stares. There’s a reason for that: No one watches silent cartoons, and all the talkies with Felix are awful. They resuscitate the corpse of Felix every couple of decades to try and recapture the magic, but I’ve never seen the appeal. Apparently there’s brewing right now.

 Felix the Cat and Mickey Mouse both started as silent film characters. They both functioned as mimes going through a series of stream of consciousness animation experiments. Adding voice to a silent character sank a lot of careers, and if you listen to Mickey Mouse, he’s boring as hell, which is why he became the straight man to the antics of characters who actually possessed specific personalities. He was the Zeppo Marx of animation.

 You can’t take an existing character and betray peoples’ expectations, which is probably why the studio that made Felix resisted doing talkies for so long. This particular cartoon was an attempt by Van Beuren to revive the popular character, and they missed the point entirely, which is why only three were ever made.

 The reason so many characters of yesteryear fail is because they either had no personality, which later technology revealed, or the owners of the rights no longer have the courage to let them behave that way. Popeye isn’t hyper-destructive, Bugs Bunny isn’t obnoxious, Donald Duck no longer has a rage problem, they all become paper stand-ins with nothing more than a recognizable profile and an annoying voice.

 The voice is indeed the biggest problem here. From the first line, Felix’s talking cuts like a knife, a shrill, kiddy tone only replicable by having a child yell half an inch from your ear.

Good to see we've moved to a goose-based economic model.

Felix is running a relief stand powered by the Goose and its golden eggs. Maybe I’m just being a nerd, but wouldn’t you rapidly devalue the local currency doing that? Damn it, Felix, do you not understand scarcity, quit squeezin the goose! 

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Cartoon Hell #32 – “Little Hawk”

January 11, 2010

Cartoon Hell is TheKarpuk’s attempt to review every single installment in an awful $5 collection called “150 Classic Cartoons” purchased at his local Wal-Mart. Your prayers are welcome. 

Brother to Fat Dove and Trifling Pigeon.

The titles for this cartoon don’t make things very clear. After the title, the words “Young Peoples Records” appears. I wish it had a possessive, which would make it sound like an old person describing a music collection they’d just stolen. 

This map gives the impression of Lord of the Rings set in Detroit.

As far as opening images go, this one is damn confusing. Am I looking at a leaf, or a poorly drawn depiction of the Great Lakes? Fortunately, the narrations clarifies that our story takes place by Lake Michigan. I should learn to trust my keen eyes.

 The story is about an Ottawa boy that everyone calls Lazy Bones. He’s a watches people do common activities, suggesting that thoughtfulness is correlated with laziness, which let’s be honest, isn’t entirely unfair.

 As far as shoddy limited animation techniques go, Little Hawk’s is one of the worst. They took real pictures of natural scenery and cut them to fit their forest areas, drawing a few crude trees on top to give the appearance of depth. The Ottawa boy isn’t the only lazy one here. 

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Cartoon Hell #31 – “The Snow Man”

January 7, 2010

 Cartoon Hell is TheKarpuk’s attempt to review every single installment in an awful $5 collection called “150 Classic Cartoons” purchased at his local Wal-Mart. Your prayers are welcome. 

Warning, there is no snowman resembling this one in the short.

Snowmen sucked where I grew up. Seattle weather didn’t lend itself to thick, rollable snow. If it fell at all, it carried too much moisture to make a snow man that didn’t look like a slouched, misshapen derelict. The snowmen of my childhood looked like they’d sooner stab you than give a proper smile. As bad as this cartoon is, it reflects those awful snowmen surprisingly well.

 The Snow Man starts off with an Inuit sending his seal off to it’s own little seal-house igloo. Considering what Inuit usually do to seals, this seems a bit dishonest. The seal complains until the man hands it a hot water bottle, which would only satisfy someone who’s never tried that. 

How hard would you have to turn a gear with that kind of timing?

Back inside his igloo, which looks suspiciously like a normal lodge created by someone with no interest in finding reference material, the man says prayers to his heathen gods, and then sets his clock to wake him up in six months. Apparently them Eskimos hibernate like bears.

 We watch the hands pass through the months with an urgent voice whispering “tick tock” in a way that felt too intimate for the setting. The scene doesn’t change to skeleton in a parka as I would have expected. At this point I wish I could travel back in time and tell the animators, “You realize Eskimos aren’t bears, right? Even the fattest one couldn’t sleep through the winter.” 

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Cartoon Hell #30 – “Betty Boop’s Ker-Choo”

January 2, 2010

Cartoon Hell is TheKarpuk’s attempt to review every single installment in an awful $5 collection called “150 Classic Cartoons” purchased at his local Wal-Mart. Your prayers are welcome.

I guess the old titles were supposed to imitate sitting in a classy theater. Mission accomplished?

Once again we’re following the antics of America’s favorite elephant woman, Betty Boop. As I suggested in a previous entry, there are really two Boops. The original, with her suggestive attire and flapper dancing, and Frau Boop, wearer of long dresses and participant in wholesome activities like running pet shops.

Since Boop’s appeal was mostly sexual, removing that makes about as much sense as taking Bugs Bunny, removing his sense of mischief, and making him play some mundane activity like, oh, I don’t know, basketball perhaps.

What’s more, this is another episode where Betty Boop has been saddled with helpers, namely Bimbo and Koko. It keeps up the tradition of Boop cartoons featuring Fleischer failures, as a Disney knock-off dog and a clown never really caught fire.

I think it might just be a race, people!

This one starts off with a race! How do we know this? Because it starts with people running towards a big sign that says “Race”, whose words also have little racing feet just to hammer the point home. The horn is blown, the car pant at their gates like animals, and lo and behold, a halfway decent joke appears.

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Cartoon Hell #28 – “Uncle Tom and Little Eva”

December 24, 2009

Cartoon Hell is TheKarpuk’s attempt to review every single installment in an awful $5 collection called “150 Classic Cartoons” purchased at his local Wal-Mart. Your prayers are welcome.

Don't let the animals fool you, it's exactly what it sounds like.

Don't let the animals fool you, it's exactly what it sounds like.

The first feeling I got when I looked at this title was utter dread. It has “Uncle Tom” in the title, and as previous entries have shown, this Mill Creek collection isn’t shy about throwing in some blatantly racist cartoons. Seeing a title surrounded by friendly animals gave me some hope that they were referencing an entirely different sort of uncle.

 It begins on a steamboat, which of course moves to the music. A perilously familiar looking mouse is playing a series of wiener dogs like a musical instrument. I was going to include that innocuous image, but it was immediately replaced by this: 

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the "good old days" of cartooning.

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Cartoon Hell #23 – “Crazytown”

April 19, 2009

Cartoon Hell is TheKarpuk’s attempt to review every single installment in an awful $5 collection called “150 Classic Cartoons” purchased at his local Wal-Mart. Your prayers are welcome.

Because Schizophrenaport was taken.

Because Schizophrenaport was taken.

As a warning, this is in no way a discussion of the one-hit-wonder Crazytown, or their song, “Butterfly”. For that there’s no better explanation of their fall from grace than to look up, “Hurt You So Bad” on Youtube. I’m half tempted to start quoting lyrics, but that would be a digression on top of a digression.

Crazy is a troublesome adjective. Normally when anyone refers to themselves as “crazy” it’s really just affectation code for “annoying”.

Whoa ho, they're all on goofballs!

Whoa ho, they're all on goofballs!

The first shot of Crazytown plays to my suspicions. The sight of people walking on the streets and cars driving on the sidewalk screams, “Oh my, how harmlessly zany!” I fear the levels of wackiness will only increase.

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Cartoon Hell #19 – “Mr. Piper and the Story of The Magic Horn”

March 23, 2009

Cartoon Hell is TheKarpuk’s attempt to review every single installment in an awful $5 collection called “150 Classic Cartoons” purchased at his local Wal-Mart. Your prayers are welcome.

If this cartoon were done today the title would have been designed with MS Word Art.

A stunning display of minimalism in title design.

It doesn’t take very long to spot a formula in a cartoon series, especially in the wasteland of the 60’s and 70’s. The Mr Piper series of cartoons left a nasty taste in my mouth after the first viewing. Going into the second, a lovely tale called “The Magic Horn,” I knew a few of the things I could expect.

  1. A introduction by creepy Mr. Piper himself.
  2. Art that barely qualifies as animated.
  3. A public domain fairy tale story that limits the amount of creativity needed without having to pay anyone for the rights.
  4. A crappy closing remark from Mr. Piper, completing the cycle.
He almost looks mafioso.

He almost looks mafioso.

Finding out that Alan Crofoot, our Mr. Piper, killed himself at the age of 49 puts an extra uncomfortable spin on the action.

Mr. Piper gives an unneeded explanation of the story to come, and we’re whisked off to the world of stiffly animated make believe.

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