Spook Sport (1939)

Article 4590 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 7-26-2014
Directed by Mary Ellen Bute, Norman McLaren, Ted Nemeth
No voice cast
Country: USA
What it is: Arty graveyard dance

It’s midnight, and the ghosts rise from their graves and cavort.

Here we have another cartoon, but this one is somewhat different from the ones I’ve been seeing recently; this one is an experimental art film combining music and animation into a ballet of sorts. I’ve seen some of these before, and most of them I cover because the abstraction of the animation places them somewhat into the category of fantasy. However, this one has a definite horror theme and setting; the shapes represent ghosts and bats cavorting through a graveyard to the tune of “Danse macabre”. In some ways, this is merely a more abstract version of the various “skeleton dance” cartoons that were popular during the thirties, several of which I’ve also covered. Nonetheless, the presence of a definite theme and the fact that the abstract shapes often take on recognizable forms appropriate to the theme make this one one of the more accessible of the abstract musical cartoons I’ve seen; it would fit in nicely in a collection of more conventional Halloween cartoons. I quite liked this one.


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