My earliest conscious memories involve a (harmless) deep intrigue and love of darkness. As a very young child I used to enjoy traipsing around my local library, looking for spooky goodies. Still do.
Given my innate radar, I was drawn to this box immediately, as it was the only one in the kids section that had a black spine and cover with ominous writing instead of the usual kid-friendly color schemes and bubble letters.
I was further entranced by the Devil’s voluminous neck folds. Admit it…you can’t look away.
The Devil and Daniel Mouse (loosely based on the Faustian short story The Devil and Daniel Webster), was released as a Halloween special in 1978. Once I found this in the video section, I got my parents to rent it for me multiple times.
The plot (via IMDB):
Finding their audience drying up in favour of rock music, two young mouse folk singers find themselves with a bleak future. Desperate for a better career and life, the female vows that she would do anything to become a rock star. Instantly, the Devil arises to take advantage of that and offers to make her a star in exchange for her soul. She agrees and she quickly becomes the star she’s dreamed of while her boyfriend, Daniel Mouse, is left behind. On the night of her greatest triumph, the devil comes to collect on her soul. In desperation, she turns to Daniel who must attempt the impossible task of trying to find an escape loophole for his girl’s release.
I’ll be straight with you here…The ending is pretty lame. Spoiler alert:
Despite a deep belief in the transformative power of song, I couldn’t get behind this. Perhaps a testament to the cynicism of my old age, I found myself thinking “A song does not negate a legally binding contract. Oh, come on Dana…it’s a cartoon! Suspension of disbelief! Think of it metaphorically, or something.” And even as a 4 year old I fast forwarded through the (intensely 1970’s) musical interludes. But this whole cartoon is worth it for the perpetually shape-shifting Devil, who is an absolute delight.
There are many fists of fury poses…
If you dig retro animation, watch this for good ol’ B.L. Zebub. Let me know what you think!
[Edit] Thank you, Bettie, for reminding me that this was sampled in Bauhaus’s “Party of the 1st Part.”