Stills from Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey and Mickeys Mouse Trap.
Stills from “Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey” and “Mickey’s Mouse Trap.”

Winnie and Mickey: Childhood pals turned grownup nightmares

In 2023 two of the most iconic children’s characters entered the public domain and now, the horror film genre

When people think of horror movie icons, who comes to mind?

Michael Myers from “Halloween,” Ghostface from “Scream,” or even Pennywise the Dancing Clown from “IT.” All of these villains love to be brutal and gruesome, as they prey on children, high school students, or adults in a local town. All of these characters share a distinct creepy look, as they were created to scare you, but that look could soon change.

As beloved childhood cartoons enter the public domain, the next big horror movie villain could look more like a demented version of a favorite character from childhood.

Behind the scenes still from “Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey”

Last year, Winnie the Pooh became a part of the public domain, meaning that the character is no longer under restricted use due to laws like copyrights or trademarks. This occurs either 95 years after publication or 70 years after the author’s death.

When this news dropped, a movie titled “Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey” followed not long after in 2023. The film generated a ton of excitement from horror fanatics intrigued by the idea of a character made for children, going on murder sprees which was something they hadn’t yet been able to see.

“Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey” was directed by British filmmaker Rhys Frake-Waterfield, and follows an alternate story of Winnie the Pooh and Piglet going on a bloody rampage after they were abandoned by Christopher Robin. 

The film was received very poorly as it was given a 2.9/10 on IMDb and a 16/100 on Metascore. Critics gave negative reviews on the film’s visuals, characters, and rhythm saying that the film is not for fans of horror movies, Pooh, or even irony. While the film was bashed by critics, it didn’t stop Frake-Waterfield’s rapid turnaround in making an upcoming sequel titled “Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey 2.”

This time, the film follows Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Owl, and Tigger who have grown tired of living in secret and proceed to reek mayhem and cause death throughout the town of Ashdown. The film is set to be released on March 26, 2024. 

Still from “Mickey’s Mouse Trap.”

Everyone knows about the classic Mickey Mouse adjacent short “Steamboat Willie.” The iconic mouse that started it all hit the public domain market at the beginning of this year. Much like Winnie the Pooh, two Willie-themed horror movies were announced for release at some point this year.

Again, this caught the attention of horror lovers, but after the outcome of “Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey,” fans are expecting another low-budget dumpster fire.  

The first film to be announced was “Mickey’s Mouse Trap” directed by Jamie Bailey, who’s previous work includes movies like “Deinfluencer,” another low budget horror film. The film follows a woman named Alex who is celebrating her 21st birthday working at an amusement arcade where her friends plan to surprise her. To their surprise, a man wearing a Mickey Mouse mask roams the arcade instead as he plays his own game of cat and mouse.

The film is currently in post-production and is set for a 2024 release.

Another film using the “Steamboat Willie” character is in the works directed by Steven LaMorte, the man behind the horror cult classic “Terrifier” series. All we have at the moment is a synopsis, which is a late-night boat ride takes a deadly turn when Mickey Mouse becomes a nightmare for those on board. While horror fans are expecting a horrible, campy, and cheap time from “Mickey’s Mouse Trap,” they’re excited for a new LaMorte’s film after releasing memorable bloodbaths in the “Terrifier” collection.

This film is also set for a 2024 release. 

So, does this mean that other cartoons will become horror movie icons? At some point in the not-so-distant future, yes. Will they make good horror villains? Maybe. Will they make good movies? Probably not, but only time will tell.

In the distant future, there’s a chance of other famous cartoon characters such as SpongeBob Square-Pants, Timmy Turner or even Mordecai and Rigby from Regular Show getting their own horror debut. It’s possible that production companies like Blumhouse will even pick a childhood character to be the next face of their company, but it is unlikely.

No matter what, the future is bright for the horror genre as possibilities for new content continue to expand.

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About the Contributor
Zach Jones, Reporter
Zach is a sophomore film and moving image student from Bear, Delaware. In addition to writing entertainment and reviews for The Villager, Zach is a student filmmaker himself who aspires to work in the film industry after college as either a director, writer, or editor. Although film is Zach's primary passion, he also wouldn't mind working with his favorite NFL team, the Baltimore Ravens.
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