220. Scaredy Cat – Chuck Jones

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SUMMARY: Porky Pig and his cat Sylvester move into a creepy old house ‘haunted’ by psychotic mice. Sylvester sees what is going on but can he convince his master in time?

WHY IT’S HERE: Chuck Jones’s ‘Scaredy Cat’ is the best of the few pairings of Porky Pig and Sylvester. Casting Porky as Sylvester’s owner (Sylvester is more cat-like than usual, remaining silent for the whole cartoon), ‘Scaredy Cat’ finds the pair moving into a spooky mansion which terrifies Sylvester from the outset. Rather than ghosts, however, the mansion is populated by murderous mice who ritually execute their victims. Somehow this makes ‘Scaredy Cat’ all the more frightening. And it is frightening! There are several morbid sequences including a scene of a cat being carted off to his death by a mousey executioner and a moment in which Sylvester attempts suicide rather than being sent out to face the vicious vermin alone. Most terrifying of all though, is an infamous sequence in which the mice take Sylvester to the basement. We never see what they do to him but he emerges nearly three hours later, a pale white zombie scared rigid by what he has experienced. It’s a classic example of the human mind conjuring up far worse scenarios when the details are left to the imagination. All in all, ‘Scaredy Cat’ is an indelibly creepy and extremely well staged cartoon which relies on horror as much as laughs to achieve its impact.

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