Halloweenathon 2023 · Horror · Microreview · Movies

Halloweenathon 2023: The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad (1949): The Horror of Industrialization vs. Folk Horror

On the sixth day of Halloween: The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad (1949)

I haven’t seen The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr Toad for many years and I was stunned by how disturbing this duo of tales is, even now decades since it was released in 1949. I’d also forgotten the title is a reversal and Mr Toad’s adventure comes first.

And WHOA. Mr Toad’s story is about the horror of industrialization as Mr. Toad’s need for speed leads him to steal horse-drawn caravans escalates into a crazed “motormania” the moment he experiences driving a car for the first time. Mr Toad’s madness prompts his friends to hold him prisoner in his own house, under the guise of “saving Toad from himself.” But by moto-blocking him, Toad’s obsession grows exponentially and he secretly trades his entire ancestral mansion for just one car.

Fans of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? will recognize the weasel henchmen in their dastardly debut appearances. Incidentally, Roger Rabbit is also about the damaging effects of cars on people and places as it mirrors real-life Los Angeles history when the street cars that provided amazing public transportation were bought out by General Motors to build freeways and encourage car consumption. Mr Toad’s adventure ends well, but it’s a surprisingly harrowing journey with a lot of subtext. And an important content warning is necessary for the slur against Romani people.

And all of that’s before we get to the iconic folk horror tale of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman. I had lost many of the details of this cartoon, so I had my jaw on the floor for a lot of these 40 minutes.

For example, Ichabod Crane is rather a pervert, highlighted by his phallic nose and erect hair. Why, Disney?! Gagging in the worst way. Ichabod’s manipulations of the women around him are as unsettling as the eventual Headless Horseman who, in fact, by the end competes with Ichabod for who is creepier. Brom, his rival, is actually far more the gentleman as he tries to protect Katrina from Ichabod’s machinations. That is, until he attacks Ichabod in the woods and disappears him—I’m sure Brom was responsible for the showdown with the ghost rider and his flaming pumpkins.

There were a lot of uncomfortable moments that were hard to ignore, especially putting into context the fact that this movie is marketed to children. Katrina herself is presented pornographically with a beyond huge rack and pinky-sized waist.

However, what’s fascinating about pairing Mr Toad’s story with Ichabod’s is the contrast between the horror of industrialization and folk horror. Very clever and another aspect that’s just not fit for kids.

✨4/5 stars. Recommend for adults, sans children.✨

P.S. If you’re interested in learning more about the real-life history behind the trolley wars of Roger Rabbit, here you go.