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Mickey Mouse teases new animated horror film

by Stewart Cole

Since entering the Public Domain, Mickey Mouse has gone through a massive identity crisis Steamboat Willie (1928) transcends genres and media. While a new teaser trailer changes things up in animation, it's a far cry from the cute cartoon character we all know and love.

Don't let the graphics fool you. The Return of Steamboat Willie may look like another Mickey Mouse horror project, but it's actually an animated film using the Unreal engine. The trailer depicts a first-person exploration of a traveling riverboat in a pastoral scene worthy of an early Disney short, but things take a sharp turn when the perspective climbs aboard.

Related: Walt Disney Joins Mickey and Pooh in the Horror Genre

There is not much information about the project, but comesoon.net shared the following in their coverage,

“Return of Steamboat Willie is directed by Kai Henry, TxREK and Joe Smith, with a screenplay written by Smith. Yonatan Hagos, Kelvin Craver and Darron Ross are producers, while VFX comes from TxREK and Henry Gonzalez. The music comes from Omar Habbak, while Zac Brunson is the sound designer.”

While the animated film element is indeed something new to the growing slasher-Steamboat-Willie phenomenon, many may be surprised to learn that this isn't the first Killer Mickey we've seen.

Mickey Mouse is getting horrible

Credit: Disney

As @charliemacsart points out in the trailer comments, “at this point, it would be more original to do a non-horror adaptation of Steamboat Willie.” While that may be true to a point, it's surprising to see that this was one of the first choices many creators made when Mickey was released into the public domain.

Related: 'Plane Crazy' Shows Disney Icon's Dark Side

That said, Mickey's cartoon outings have entered the horror genre several times before entering the public domain. Even early entries like The haunted house (1929) and The Crazy doctor (1933) gave the audience a serious case of the creeps.

Additionally, the modern Walt Disney Animation Studio has played with Mickey's ability for horror on more than one occasion. Participations such as Mickey's House of Villains (2002) and Ghoul Fiend toes the line between Disney and dementia.

Mickey becomes a villain in Runaway's brainMickey becomes a villain in Runaway's brain
Credit: D23

Even the short film, Fugitive brain (1995), made Mickey so terrifying that Disney has gone to great lengths to keep him out of the limelight. Then again, a raging and lustful version of the beloved character doesn't exactly represent the studio's brand.

Related: Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse is not public domain, it's by Ub Iwerks

With all of that in mind, is it really such a big deal that this new film can only revisit the character's creepiest previous work? It's not like Mickey hasn't walked a dark path before.

What do you think about this upcoming one? Steamboat-Willie-inspired work? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments below!

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