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OnTV Today's Date:

Mickey's House of Villains
Rating: G
Release Date: September 3, 2002
Running Time: approximately 70 minutes
Ten-second Rundown: A crisis brews in Duckburg as pure evil congregates at Mickey Mouse's supper club - will Donald be permanently bonded to his devil suit?

  • Fright Delight: A Spooky Sound Effects Collection
  • Sneak Previews of upcoming Disney productions
  • Escape The House of Villains Trivia Game
  • The Villains' Gallery

    Choice Scene:Huey, Dewey, and Louie lob an everyday household tear gas grenade at a killer gorilla.

    Tech Specs: Full Screen (1.33:1), English and French Dolby DTS 5.1 surround sound, English subtitles
    Type of disc: Dual Layer Format

    Maybe it's too many years of reading comic books, but the idea of a shared universe for all the Disney characters has always appealed to me. So even though it's really a framing device for short cartoons, the Saturday morning show House of Mouse seemed long overdue. It serves a few purposes, really: building the concept that all the characters know each other, proving that Disney still knows how to do a cartoon short (Just in time, too, because Cartoon Network threatened to corner that market), and with Mickey owning a nightclub, reasserting the mouse himself as the Sinatra of cartoon characters.

    The second home-video release using the nightclub backdrop, Mickey's House of Villains has a vague plot about all the villains banding together to overthrow the lawful tyranny of the mouse. Led by Jafar, several classic Disney evildoers (including the hitchhiking ghosts from the Haunted Mansion) glower at their tables. One might quibble with the hierarchy or even the likelihood that some of these villains hang out and drink.

    Ursula the Sea-Witch? Definitely a boozehound, trolling for her next husband with Cruella DeVille. Captain Hook? Sure, but only if it's Captain Morgan. (Take that as you will.) Jafar? Likely a Muslim, therefore a teetotaler. Alright, he may not be that observant of his religion.

    But Chernobog, the demon lord from Fantasia? What the heck is he doing waiting for the signal from a reedy vizier anyway? And wait a minute - would he be caught dead in the same room as Hades? They're completely different theologies; one more character and you'd have a Neil Gaiman short story.

    Okay. The plot is thinner than Jack Skellington (sadly absent). But really, it's an excuse to show a bunch of Halloween-themed shorts. On that count, the DVD (or videotape - if you must) works well.

    The classic strange love/hate relationship between Donald and his nephews takes up three cartoons. Two from the forties throw a musical witch and a killer gorilla into the mix. Don't think too hard on the logic of them, though, because there's something a little disturbing about the amount of heavy ordnance the Ducks seem to have just lying around the house, not to mention the coincidental gorilla costume. Disney's Television Animation division contributes a surreal updating to the conflict, as the boys go trick or treating at the houses of all the big guns (Mickey, Goofy, and Donald). In order to snag their candy, Unca Donald disguises himself as Jason Voorhees. When the tables are turned, he falls into a Duckburg zombie movie. It's never too early to introduce children to the terrors of the living dead.

    Among the other new pieces is Mickey in a Twilight Zone-ish tale of a too perfect house. It's clever enough, but really notable because John Cleese provides the narration. Almost all of the new work has an interesting '50's retro vibe to it, though the limitations of a television budget do occasionally betray its modern origins.

    Finally, when the villains make their move, it's only to change the name of the place, kick the goodie goodies out, and show an update of Hansel and Gretel with Mickey and Minnie in the lead roles. PURE EVIL. Actually, they sing a weak "showstopping" number that could only be from Hell. But the kiddies will love it again and again, and if you ignore the framing device, the cartoons will keep you amused. (My favorite: Goofy in "How To Haunt A House.")

    As for extras, they're appropriately sparse, with the usual trivia game and an okay sound effects track just in time for Halloween. Mickey's House of Villains isn't a Disney classic, and they know it. But it is better than you might have thought.

    Order Mickey's House of Villains at Amazon

    Derek McCaw


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