31 Days of Hallowe’en 2019, Day 24: Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories [闇芝居]


Image result for yamishibai

Another anime! But, because these episodes are so short (<5 minutes with opening and closing credits), I’ll write about a handful of episodes that I picked or that were recommended to me.

Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories uses an interesting form of animation – to mimic the paper puppets of the kamishibai paper street theatre of the 1930s. So the characters barely move, but might move up and down or side to side – but it’s done so well that you don’t really notice. The minisodes are based on either Japanese folklore or modern urban legends, and aren’t averse to the odd jump scare.

Continue reading


365 Days of Horror, Day 9: INTO THE DARK: THE MONSTERS AND NIGHTMARES OF HORROR ANIMATION [Lecture: The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies]


“You coming to the pub, Chainsaw Phil?”

“I can’t – I’m going to a horror talk on animation at The Horse Hospital.”

“Look, man, if you don’t want to join us, just say so.”

It’s my first full season as a proper pass-holder, and my third lecture of this year’s winter semester of the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies. And not only was it on animation, but the venerable Robert Morgan (creator of the amazing The Cat With Hands), was there!

Continue reading

31 Days of Hallowe’en, Day 25: ¡Vampiros en La Habana! (1985)


Vampiros en La Habana Vampiros en La HabanaIn trying to mix things up this year, I stumbled across this ’80s Cuban animated vampire comedy that looks like if Fritz the Cat remade Count Duckula.Vampiros en La HabanaI’m ashamed to say I’ve never seen anything in the way of Cuban cinema, but if I’m allowed to judge their ’80s offerings on this, it’s comforting to know that its raunchy sense of humour is very European. If you can’t make a sex joke out of it,  you can always turn the odd bit of domestic violence into some slapstick cartoon violence.

Vampiros en La Habana

Our plot is surprisingly  nuanced: Count Dracula’s son has invented a potion that allows vampires to roam in daylight. Great job! Except a bunch of international cartels all want control of it, for insanely brilliant reasons (such as one wanting to keep it hush-hush so that they can continue to make bank from indoor vampire “sun” resorts). To further convolute things, Dracula’s son has been experimenting said potion on his nephew, an aimless, womanising trumpet player who has no clue he’s actually a vampire at all, or why everybody is suddenly after him.

Vampiros en La Habana Vampiros en La HabanaThe rest of the movie is an utterly madcap romp through the dodgy parts of 1930s Havana. The distinctive, devilish animation is wonderfully reminiscent of The Pink Panther and Chuck Jones-era Tom & Jerry, with the former comparison bolstered by some impressive trumpet-playing by composer Artruro Sandoval.