Five More of the Best Spooky Looney Tunes Shorts

Remember not too long ago when I did a massive post discussing the ten best spooky Looney Tunes shorts from the classic era, and I mentioned that there had been a few that I forgot? Well, the time has come to correct that oversight, so sit back and relax as I pick out five MORE of the best horror-adjacent shorts from Bugs, Porky, Sylvester, et al.

Claws for Alarm

On my last list, I featured a cartoon called “Scaredy Cat,” in which Porky Pig buys a creepy old house that’s full of murderous mice, and only Porky’s cat Sylvester is aware of it. I also mentioned that there was another, even scarier short along these same lines that I totally forgot about, and that short is 1954’s “Claws for Alarm.”

At the beginning of the cartoon, Porky is driving with Sylvester; they’re apparently on a road trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico, but because Porky is getting sleepy, he decides to stop for the night in what he thinks is a quiet country town called Dry Gulch. In reality, the place is a decrepit ghost town, a fact which makes Sylvester intensely nervous from the get-go.

The pair pull up to a hotel, and Porky cluelessly heads for the entrance. Sinister eyes peek from cracks in the walls, causing Sylvester to stay very close to his master, and his fear spikes exponentially upon seeing what appears to be the shadow of a gigantic spider inching along the outer wall of the building. He jumps into Porky’s suitcase and hides inside one of the pig’s folded shirts, but upon looking to see what frightened the cat so severely, Porky only sees a teeny spider which was casting an oversized shadow. He scoffs at Sylvester for being such a coward.

For some reason, Porky isn’t even fazed that there’s no one at the front desk, and he cavalierly signs the register book and figures they can find their own room. Meanwhile, Sylvester watches in horror as a noose descends toward Porky from inside the mouth of a mounted moose head; seems the killer mice from the “Scaredy Cat” short are at it again! Sylvester bodily shoves Porky over the desk to save him, but even after Sylvester attempts to mime what was going on (the cat can’t talk in these shorts, remember), Porky thinks Sylvester is just kicking his ass for no reason and sputters indignantly at him. Then as they’re going up the stairs, a rifle barrel emerges from the same moose’s mouth (pretty multi-purpose, that moose head) and aims at Porky’s retreating back. Sylvester leaps onto the moose head and tangles with it, causing the rifle to go off, narrowly missing Porky. The pig is beside himself, and I always laugh at his utterly contemptuous tone as he excoriates Sylvester for “fighting with stuffed animals.”

The night goes on pretty much like this, with the mice attempting to hang, shoot, and behead Porky with a knife. Every time, Sylvester gets blamed (“WHAT are you doing with that rope…a-a-a-nd that razor?”), until finally Porky chucks him out the room. In the hall, Sylvester is petrified with fear at the sight of a ghost making its way down the hall (and I absolutely love the weird, seasick music that accompanies this sequence), though when the purported spirit passes in front of a window, we see that it’s just a bunch of mice standing on one another’s shoulders under a sheet. Because Sylvester is so terrified, Porky finally concedes that Sylvester can sleep in the bed with him, but since the killer mice are so relentless, Sylvester feels the need to appropriate the rifle and stand guard over the pig all night.

In the morning, a refreshed Porky happily proposes that they stay in this wonderful, restful place for “a week or ten days,” at which point an exhausted Sylvester straight up bashes him in the head with the rifle butt, throws him in the car, and peels off (just because the cat can’t talk, doesn’t mean he can’t drive). At the end of the short, though, we see the sinister eyes appearing behind the car’s instrument panel, though, confirming that the killer mice are going along for the ride.

As you can imagine, this cartoon has had its fair share of run-ins with the censors; prior to 2002, most networks that aired it would remove the scenes where Sylvester sticks his finger into the rifle barrel and the bullet goes through his body and out his tail; the one where the cat mimes the noose coming out of the moose head; the one with the rifle barrel coming out of the moose head and aiming at Porky; and the one in the bedroom where Sylvester cuts the noose around Porky’s neck with a straight razor and then has Porky wake up and suspect the cat is tying to murder him. The version I watched on HBO Max, however, leaves all those scenes intact.

Bye, Bye Bluebeard

Another Porky feature, this one involves a devious mouse and a serial killer who also looks like the Big Bad Wolf. It first aired in 1949.

At the beginning, Porky is supposedly doing a “workout routine,” following along with the announcer on the radio, but as we pan over, we see that Porky isn’t actually exercising; he’s scooping food into his mouth in time to the announcer’s commands. Incidentally, this is also my favorite way to exercise.

So Porky’s apparently been having trouble with this mouse who lives in his house, and on this particular day, the mouse sneakily places Porky’s finger on a slice of bread, slathers it with mustard, slaps another slice on top, and fools Porky into biting into his own hand sandwich. In retaliation, Porky hammers just a ridiculous amount of boards, locks, and metal shit over his mouse hole to keep the “unsanitary” little rodent from coming out.

That done, though, Porky then hears a special bulletin on the radio that a murderer named Bluebeard is on the loose in the area. The terrified pig piles all the remaining shit in his house up against the front door, closing all the windows and pulling down the blinds.

The mouse, meanwhile, smells an opportunity, and since it just so happens that he has a Bluebeard getup stashed away in his mouse hole, he emerges with an evil laugh, frightening poor Porky right out of his body momentarily. Porky, you see, is apparently too dim to realize that the tiny “Bluebeard” is actually just the same mouse in disguise. To placate him, Porky gives the cackling mouse all the food he wants.

This goes on for a couple minutes, until the radio broadcast clarifies that the actual Bluebeard is six-foot-eleven and weights 350 pounds. The hilarious thing here is that Porky actually has to get out the ruler to confirm that the mouse he thought was Bluebeard is considerably less than nearly seven feet tall; he stands, specifically, only three inches high.

Porky gets real smug about (finally) catching on to the mouse’s game, and chases the mouse, but in the course of doing so, actually pulls the read Bluebeard out from under the table. Porky goes out of body with fear again, Bluebeard straps Porky to a rocket that he’s going to blast out the window, and then Bluebeard sits down to eat, because all anyone wants to do in this short is stuff their faces, which I can relate to, actually.

The mouse actually fucks with the real Bluebeard while he’s trying to eat, and there’s a hilarious repeating gag where the mouse keeps hiding in various receptacles like vases and coffeepots and such, and when Bluebeard peeks inside, he gets hit in the face with a pie that just happened to be in there, even though most of the objects are obviously too small to have whole pies inside them, even taking it for granted that there would be a pie at the bottom of a flower vase in the first place. Seriously, the absurdity of that just made me laugh and laugh.

Meanwhile, Porky has managed to extinguish the fuse on the rocket, so Bluebeard decides on another (very convoluted) way to kill him. We see things from the mouse’s perspective inside his hole, and we hear Porky screaming in agony as though Bluebeard is chopping him into ham steaks, but then we see that Porky is actually just tied to a chair while Bluebeard actually builds a guillotine to behead Porky with. Labor-intensive, sure, but I guess Bluebeard takes pride in his craftsmanship and always goes that extra mile.

Just as Porky is about to have his head sliced clean off, the mouse, in a fit of conscience, decides to intervene, luring Bluebeard away by ringing a dinner bell and serving the killer a pile of lit bombs that Bluebeard mistakes for “popovers.” Bluebeard gobbles them all down, has some immediate digestive distress, rushes to the medicine cabinet and makes a concoction out of just about every random liquid he finds in there, guzzles it all down…and then straight up explodes.

Later on, Porky is shoveling food in his mouth again, but this time we see that he’s set up a little fancy dining table piled high with food for the mouse as well, in appreciation for the mouse saving his bacon (heh).

Not surprisingly, the censors originally took issue with the scene of Porky in the guillotine, and also the bit where Bluebeard mixes together all the medicines from the bathroom into a drug cocktail and quaffs it all down. Strangely, censors had no problem with Bluebeard actually being blown to smithereens seconds later, though. Again, the version on HBO Max is uncut and complete.

Life With Feathers

Originally aired in 1951, this one is the first short to feature a talking Sylvester, if I’m remembering correctly, and the whole concept behind it is pretty fucked up, to say the least.

So there’s a lovebird who gets thrown out of his birdcage by his wife, who is chucking all the crockery in the place at him as he mournfully leaves. He breaks the fourth wall and explains to the audience that because he’s a lovebird, he can’t actually live without love, so he decides he’s going to off himself. In a bit that was censored for some airings, he pictures himself blowing his own head off with a pistol, jumping off a tall building, and laying his head down on the train tracks. He dismisses all these scenarios, but then comes up with the brilliant idea to get himself eaten by a cat. He must be one of those vore fetishists I’ve heard so much about.

The bird sees Sylvester happily picking food out of a row of garbage cans as though it’s an all-you-can-eat buffet, but when he sees the bird, he’s super jazzed at a fresh kill. It only takes him a moment, though, to realize that the bird actually wants to be eaten, at which point he becomes suspicious that the bird is poisoned. The bird is bound and determined to be eaten by Sylvester, and Sylvester is just as adamant that if he eats the bird, he’ll die. So the whole short becomes a kind of war of attrition, where the bird continually tries to come up with ways to insert himself into the cat’s mouth, and the cat has to try to keep him out, all the while getting angrier and hungrier, since every time he tries to eat something else, the lovebird tries to fly inside.

There are so many great gags in here, like Sylvester puffing a pipe trying to smoke the bird out of his mouth. the bird inexplicably dressing up like Santa Claus and coming down the chimney, and the bird purposely trying to get Sylvester so hungry that he’ll eat him whether he wants to or not. I also love Sylvester’s sarcastic grumbling about poison while he’s opening a giant can of cat food and preparing to chow down.

At the end, there’s an ironic twist: the lovebird gets a telegram from his pissed-off wife saying that she changed her mind and presumably wants him back, so the formerly suicidal fowl has a new lease on life. At this point, though, Sylvester is so emaciated that he’s gonna eat the lovebird no matter what and chases him over a balcony. Once the bird gets back to his cage, though, his wife has changed her mind back to being pissed at him again and starts throwing dishes, so the lovebird leaves again, calling for Sylvester to come eat him again. It’s pretty messed up.

The Wearing of the Grin

Yet another short where Porky gets himself into dangerous shenanigans due to being completely clueless, “The Wearing of the Grin” has the pig on a business trip in Ireland. En route to Dublin, he gets caught in a storm, and decides to seek shelter in a creepy, isolated castle with a sign out front warning passersby to “Beware the Leprechauns.” Of course Porky doesn’t truck with any of that blarney, so he steps right up to the castle and bangs on the enormous front door with the shamrock-shaped knocker.

No one answers, and assuming everyone inside is asleep, Porky simply wanders in, only to be confronted with the sinister shadow of a man with a derby and a pipe. The fellow, dressed all in green, introduces himself with the most Irish name possible, Seamus O’Toole, and tells Porky that he’s the caretaker of the castle, though no one has lived there but the leprechauns for years and years. Porky scoffs, and Seamus tells him he’ll find him a bed, but wouldn’t you know it, a conveniently-placed mace over the doorway falls and bonks Porky in the head, knocking him out.

From that point on, it’s revealed that Seamus O’Toole is actually two leprechauns—O’Pat and O’Mike—masquerading as a full-size man, with one sitting on the other one’s shoulders. When Porky supposedly wakes up and sees the disembodied lower half of Seamus, he freaks the hell out and jumps into his bed, which sends him spiraling down a shaft and into a sort of courtroom-looking chamber. O’Pat and O’Mike, afraid that Porky is going to steal their pot of gold, sentence him to wear the Green Shoes, which make Porky dance crazily through a surreal, unsettling landscape featuring guffawing leprechauns and a giant pot of boiling gold that he falls into like it’s lava.

He then wakes up back by the front door again, with Seamus splashing water on him to wake him up from the mace falling. So we’re meant to think it was all a dream, but as Porky skedaddles out of the castle in fear, Seamus turns out to really be two leprechauns after all.

This one always really weirded me out for some reason; even though leprechauns aren’t inherently scary (no matter what those damn horror movies want you to believe), there was a real nightmarish vibe to this one that belied its somewhat innocuous subject matter. It sort of gives me the same feeling as the Heffalumps and Woozles bit from Winnie the Pooh, what with all the trippy imagery. Despite its creepiness, however, this one didn’t run into any censorship roadblocks, unlike pretty much every other cartoon I’ve discussed in this series.

Hyde and Hare

I mentioned this one briefly in part one of this post, when I was talking about the similarly-themed “Hyde and Go Tweet” short; unlike that one, which featured Sylvester and Tweety, “Hyde and Hare” pits Bugs Bunny against a Jekyll and Hyde character. The short first aired in 1955.

So Bugs lives in his rabbit hole in a park, and every day, a mild-mannered man comes to the park and gives him carrots, while Bugs pretends to be a meek, regular little bunny rabbit. On this particular day, though, Bugs decides to just cut to the chase and ask the man to adopt him, so he can have a warm house and all the carrots he wants. The little man seems delighted to have a pet bunny, and carries Bugs back to his home/office. which ominously bears a sign advertising the medical services of Dr. Jekyll.

While Bugs gets settled in, Dr. Jekyll goes to scare up some carrots, but is tempted by the red Fanta-looking Hyde juice sitting in his laboratory. He tries to resist, but like a drunk cruising past a delectable bottle of J&B, he’s unable to say no, and chugs some down. As expected, he turns into a hulking green monster with bugged-out red eyes who immediately goes on the prowl through the house.

The monster comes up behind Bugs, who has been very skillfully playing Chopin’s “Minute Waltz” (which he pronounces as My-noot Waltz by Choppin’) on the piano, and Bugs, sensing the danger, starts freaking out and playing the piano all discordant. The monster tries to kill Bugs with an axe, but Bugs manages to run away, yelling for the doctor, as he thinks the monster is a patient who REALLY needs medical attention.

Much like “Hyde and Go Tweet,” the bulk of the cartoon’s seven-minute runtime sees Bugs trying to “rescue” Dr. Jekyll and himself from the monster, not realizing that Dr. Jekyll is the monster. At one point, Bugs gives a convenient rifle to Dr. Jekyll for protection, but ends up getting shot at himself when the Doctor monsters out.

Bugs has finally had enough and says he’s getting the hell out of there, but the Doctor doesn’t want him to leave, promising he’ll pour the rest of the Hyde formula down the drain. But then he notices that the beaker that contained the stuff is empty, and asks Bugs if he drank it. Bugs is extremely offended at the accusation, and leaves in a huff, going back to his former home in the park. On the way to his hole, though, he turns all green and monstrous, and all the other elderly folks feeding pigeons in the park scream and flee from him in terror, though Bugs doesn’t quite seem to realize why.

As I stated in my other post, the Mr. Hyde in this short isn’t quite as terrifying as the monster Tweety from the “Hyde and Go Tweet” cartoon, but he’s still suitably frightening and murdery. This is another one that didn’t have any trouble with the censors, even though Mr. Hyde does menace Bugs with an axe at one stage, and shoots directly at him with a rifle.

Hopefully you guys have enjoyed reading about these Looney Tunes classics as much as I’ve enjoyed rewatching them and writing about them. Though I think I covered most of the “golden era” spooky cartoons, I realize there are a smattering of other horror-themed ones that came out during the 80s and 90s, so I might cover those as well at some time in the future if y’all are interested.

Until then, though, keep it creepy and cartoony, my friends.


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