Boo! It’s a very spooky Cartoon Friday.

An unaware photographer is menaced by a headless figure holding a pumpkin head.

Perhaps that haunted spirit still lurks …

Much like msmolly in today’s Over Easy, I can’t limit my enjoyment of Halloween to just a single day. Of course, I had to select something especially scary for tonight. Here is Disney’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

Originally appearing in 1949, it began life as a double feature called The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad where it was combined with a short version of The Wind In the Willows. Rumors that it was later banned are untrue. It saw new life in the television format, which is friendly to its half hour length, and I remember seeing it growing up. The chilling, nightmarish animation of the Headless Horseman is a wonderful tonal shift from the more traditional, though beautiful, hand-drawn Disney animation work of its era: Oh My Disney points out how much the love interest, Katrina, looks like the heroine of Cinderella (1950).

From feature film to Halloween special, nowadays Sleepy Hollow is a retro-favorite. Neil Drumming, writing for Salon, recommended it to fans of the FOX Sleepy Hollow live-action drama, which went on between-season hiatus just before the holiday. In particular, he highlights the movie’s anti-heroic lead characters:

This is the stuff of cable, HBO, AMC — FX at the very least! Ichabod Crane, though animated and completely ridiculous, is an antihero not unlike Don Draper, Dexter or Walter White. Bing calls him the posturing pedagogue — a poor, physically unattractive schoolteacher with an obvious eating disorder who prays upon the lonely mothers of his charges and schemes on the family fortune of the local debutante by courting her.

The guy’s a creep. But who isn’t in this tale? Crane’s rival for the questionable affections of the rich — and let’s admit it — sexually manipulative “coquette” Katrina is a boorish, quick-tempered townie who uses violence as a form of conflict resolution, literally throws women around, and feeds alcohol to horses.

In the end, our so-called hero either forsakes Katrina for easier prey — a good cook down the road — or he is murdered by a ghost without a head. It sounds like a plot outline into which David Chase or Alan Ball might really have sunk their teeth. Once again, Walt Disney got there first.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention — it’s narrated by the immortal Bing Crosby.

Share a favorite scary thrill — or the macabre autumnal visions on your mind — in the comments of the Watercooler. What are your favorite Halloween cartoons?

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Photo by Brendon Burton released under a Creative Commons license.