The Horror Honeys: Hexmas Cartoon ~ Ichabod and Mr. Toad

Hexmas Cartoon ~ Ichabod and Mr. Toad

A Head Honey Hexmas Memory by Kat

Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949)

When this Head Honey was a wee Honey Bee, every Halloween meant that all I wanted to do after trick r' treating was RUN home to sort through my candy and watch Disney's Halloween Treat on PBS. Yes... PBS. It was the same every year, but that didn't make no nevermind to me, because I was in it for the villains. Prince Charming could fall off a cliff for all I cared; for me, Disney was all about villains; they're way more interesting anyway, aren't they? Exactly. My favorite part of Halloween Treat was always The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and I loved pointing out the flaming pumpkin flying at the screen when it appeared in EVERY Disney opening credits sequence.

It's only now when I watch it as an adult that I can appreciate more of what's happening with this piece of animation  - and really, Bing Crosby and Basil Rathbone? COME ONNNN.

Mr. Toad - I have to be honest with you, I never liked Mr. Toad. Even as a child he annoyed me, and you couldn't pay me go on his "Wild Ride" at Disneyland.

So, you can just skip ahead and miss all of the morality tale happening here wherein Mr. Toad learns no lessons, and is just as much of a fuck up as he was at the beginning of the story, thus inviting more calamity and drama in subsequent tales. *sigh* If you're going to have a morality piece, at least have SOMEONE learn a lesson; even South Park figured that out.

Shut up, Mr. Toad.

NOW - the reason we're all here:

Ichabod - Obviously we all know this story as The Legend of Sleepy Hollow - and whether you think of this version or Johnny Depp's pasty face, it doesn't matter, as long as you KNOW the story... but then again, it might not be quite as you remember it.

Our story opens on Ichabod Crane, who, despite his quirky mannerisms and decidedly strange appearance, "Kind of odd, but nice just the same..." becomes the toast of the small town of Sleepy Hollow shortly after his arrival to assume the post of schoolmaster. Brom Bones (looking and acting a lot like an early version of Beauty and the Beast's Gaston) is set up as the villain right away, and Ichabod is somehow able to avoid or ignore his taunts and bullying, because he's really only focused on food, and wooing the ladies who also happen to have mothers that are brilliant cooks. Let's face it, that's some decent planning.

Predictably enough for Disney, Ichabod falls in love with Katrina van Tassel who really has nothing else to recommend her to anyone except the fact that her father is super rich, and she's REAL pretty. Again, obviously, Katrina is also the focus of Brom's affections, but being somewhat of a "coquette," (which is Disney-speak for being kind of a ho) even without any spoken lines, we discover that Katrina is using Ichabod to make Brom jealous. Why? Because she can. Thanks, Disney.

When Brom discovers that Ichabod is the "superstitious" type - the usual things cluing him in (tossing a pinch of salt over the left shoulder, not walking under ladders, avoiding black cats...) he decides to spook his rival with a tale of the Headless Horseman. A dark turn for Disney even in this era of filmmaking - in this story, the Headless Horseman was beheaded by a cannonball (the Revolutionary War happened not too long ago in this setting, so this is a super legit detail BTW). Each year on Halloween, while the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest, the Horseman rides in search of a head to replace the one he lost in battle. Of course, everyone except Ichabod finds this super amusing. 

Riding home in the dark night after this fateful dinner, Ichabod is terrified out of his skin, and is confronted by the Horseman. In one of the more memorable pieces of early Disney animation, Ichabod is chased by the Horseman and catches a flaming pumpkin in the noggin for all of his troubles. The next morning, no trace of Ichabod can be found except for his hat. Did the hapless schoolteacher run away in terror, or was he taken away by the Headless Horseman? 

First I was afraid, I was petrified...
and then I wanted to watch it every day forever.
So, what is there to take away from something like The Legend of Sleepy Hollow? Aside from the obvious Disney-isms - ie: pretty rich women are shallow, untrustworthy creatures who are most likely only interested in you for their own nefarious purposes, so maybe just stick with the chubby girl instead because she's more your league - which are usually couched in a language of "being true to yourself" and other barf-worthy dogma, Sleepy Hollow is a ghost story, and a pretty damn good one at that. Does it need a moral? Not really, but Disney's really good at that kind of stuff, so it's fairly easy to let it slide by without much notice. But here's the thing: an outsider (and a funny looking one at that), Ichabod is punished for attempting to reach beyond his perceived limits and station in life. Our villain Brom, who ends up marrying Katrina sometime soon after Ichabod's disappearance, is rewarded for being a douche. But hey... boys will be boys, amirite, and Brom is the town equivalent of the star quarterback hooking up with the head cheerleader, Katrina. It's like, the rules of small town life. *head toss* Disney has always been big on status quo, and in 1949, this is especially obvious, even in this Halloween short.  


Do you have a favorite Hexmas cartoon?