33. Swing You Sinners – Dave Fleischer

SWING 4

SUMMARY: After unsuccessfully attempting to steal a chicken, Bimbo evades the police by ducking into a graveyard.. something he immediately regrets when the inhabitants turn on the terrified dog.

WHY IT’S HERE: The surreal, stretchy shape-shifting grotesques of the Fleischer studio cartoons often made them the most disturbing out there and during this period they often turned to dark, spooky themes in such celebrated shorts as ‘Minnie the Moocher’ and ‘Bimbo’s Initiation’. ‘Swing You Sinners!’, however, seems to have somehow slipped through the cracks which is bewildering since it is the scariest, most surreal, unforgiving and brilliant of the lot.

Casting Bimbo as a would-be chicken thief, it sees the poor dog terrorised for his crimes by the ghostly inhabitants of the graveyard. This being the Fleischer brothers, it isn’t just ghosts that Bimbo faces however, the inanimate objects such as the gravestones themselves come to life to join in the haunting. When he tries to take refuge in a barn, the cartoon becomes more surreal as more and more creatures appear or leap to life, surrounding Bimbo until the screen is filled with the shifting perspectives of their terrifying faces. As the cartoon reaches its climax, the background disappear to create a swirling, abstract disorientation and then the film abruptly ends, leaving Bimbo’s fate uncertain. There’s no lesson learned or it-was-all-a-dream redemption. We leave Bimbo in his nightmare with no idea if he lives or dies.

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