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Mickey's House of Villains DVD Review

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Movie & DVD Details

Voice Cast: Wayne Allwine (Mickey Mouse), Russi Taylor (Minnie Mouse), Tony Anselmo (Donald Duck, Huey, Dewey, Louie), Bill Farmer (Goofy), Tress MacNeille (Daisy Duck, Queen of Hearts, Si, Am, The Fates), Jonathan Freeman (Jafar), Susan Blakeslee (Cruella De Vil), Corey Burton (Captain Hook, Chernabog, Narrator, Chief O'Hara), Pat Carroll (Ursula), Gilbert Gottfried (Iago), James Woods (Hades - speaking), Rob Paulsen (Hades - singing), Scott Weinger (Aladdin), Rod Roddy (Mike)

Running Time: 70 Minutes / Rating: Not Rated
1.33:1 Fullscreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 (English)
Subtitles: English; Closed Captioned
Release Date: September 3, 2002
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $19.99 (Was $29.99); White Keepcase


By Lester Medina

I remember the first time I saw a poster for Mickey's House of Villains. I was shocked! I mean, all the Disney villains against Mickey Mouse and the gang? Who wouldn't want to see that?! Even though I didn't know what "House of Mouse" was, I imagined it could end up being a compilation of Disney shorts, which it is.

The plot goes just like this: it's Halloween at the House of Mouse and, as such, all the villains show up along with the rest of Disney's animated characters for a night of fun. Once there, the antagonists decide to make the House of Mouse theirs and turn it into the House of Villains.

With that said, let's go deeper into the DVD. Disney fans out there may be wondering, "why would I buy this DVD if I already have the Treasures line?" Well, the majority of these shorts are relatively new and not otherwise available on disc. And in fact, they are very good ones at that.

Huey, Dewey, and Louie enjoy traditional Halloween fun in "Trick or Treat." Donald is Goofy's target in "How to Haunt a House."

The first short is: "Trick or Treat" (1952), which previously appeared as an extra on The Black Cauldron DVD. It's Halloween and we get to hang with Donald Duck and his nephews. Huey, Dewey, and Louie go to their uncle's door for the title act, and true to his nature, Donald tricks them. The witch Hazel decides to help the triplets by forcing Donald to give them the candy.

The second short presented is "Mickey's Mechanical House", which made its debut on the short-lived late '90s/early '00s cartoon anthology TV series "Mickey Mouse Works." This cartoon will remind most of a Dr. Seuss story since it is narrated in the same poetic way. Here, Mickey gets tired of not being able to sleep in his house because of all the noises it makes for being so old so he decides to buy a new one. This new house he buys is a futuristic one where everything seemed perfect...until something goes wrong and then the house goes crazy and Mickey must escape it.

The program's third short is "How to Haunt a House" (also from "Mouse Works"), my favorite and I think most viewers would agree with that. Goofy stars and gets killed (just for this, of course) and turned into a ghost in order to show, step by step, how to perform the title act. His victim for the instructional haunting turns out to be Donald! Obviously, you don't need to be told that Goofy's schemes get spoiled each and every time by Donald. Mentioning anything more specific would ruin all the good laughs it provides the first time around.

Bored spirits get their jollies in "Lonesome Ghosts." That gorilla has a nephew in his chest "Donald Duck and the Gorilla."

By now, you're probably wondering "where are the Disney villains?" Well, they appear with extremely brief dialogues in between the shorts and receive more screen time later. Though the title leads you to expect much more of them; their time will arrive, and appears later in this review.

Next is another vintage short: "Lonesome Ghosts" (1937). In this one, Mickey, Donald, and Goofy work as ghostbusters...with no clients. (Where's Dana Barrett when you need her?) That is until they receive a call from a group of ghosts who are very bored in their haunted house and in search of some fun. Hilarity ensues as Mickey and friends get caught in the ghosts' tricks.

"Dance of the Goofys" (another "Mouse Works" Creation) is fifth. Fans of Fantasia and its follow-up will love this one, as it is presented in the same way as those movies. Music blends with the animation to show how a group of Goofy faires close and open flower buds at night. Things go wrong when a mean kid traps the king of the Goofy fairies and it is up to Goofy to save him.

Sixth and next is "Donald Duck and the Gorilla" (1944), the last of the old shorts. In this one, Donald and his nephews are at his house when they hear on the radio that a very dangerous gorilla is roaming free. Donald fools his nephews into believing the gorilla is on the house and after they figure out his trick, they do the same to him. Then, the real gorilla shows up and the amusing problems really start.

Jafar seems to be running things now. Mickey goes wild in "Donald's Halloween Scare."

Now, finally, finally, FINALLY...the villains take over the House of Mouse in their musical number "It's Our House Now." This very catchy song describes the Disney villains kicking their more benign counterparts out. For what it is worth, every single fan of Disney villains will be pleased with this sequence because even if your favorite villain doesn't receive a mention in the song, almost all are seen at least once, even less popular ones like Madam Mim. One exception worth noting is Madame Medusa, but I guess that's not a great surprise.

Following this, we stay at what is now the House of Villains. How big was my surprise when I saw that Jafar is the one leading them all! From here on, the Disney villains are interrupted in between each segment by Mickey and friends trying to get the House of Mouse back.

In the meantime, we're presented with "Donald's Halloween Scare", another of the great "Mouse Works" shorts included. What makes it great isn't just the animation and music, but because of the fun poked at slasher horror movies with a character that resembles the killer from I Know What You Did Last Summer and borrows from Jason of the Friday the 13th films.

The final short presented (again of the "Mouse Works" variety) is "Hansel and Gretel" with Mickey and Minnie. We get to see them in this famous story in another Fantasia-like segment.

The program concludes with a funny and very brief confrontation between Jafar and Sorcerer Mickey to restore order at the House of Mouse.

"Mickey's Mechanical House" takes things into its hands. Tinker Bell? Nah, that's just the "Dance of the Goofys."

VIDEO and AUDIO

The entire "movie" is presented in 1.33:1 full frame. You might think that this the proper aspect ratio for a direct-to-video creation, but it was pointed out to me that the new shorts appear to have been made in widescreen. Right before they fill the screen, we are provided with a glimpse which suggests that they are somewhat cropped to fill standard television dimensions. The transfer itself is fine, as you'd expect. Colors are vibrant and not at all washed out. The old shorts have been properly restored as well, looking nearly as pristine as the new ones.

As far as audio goes, there is just an English audio track with captions in English "for the hearing impaired." The back of the DVD establishes that it comes in Dolby Digital 5.1, with an asterisk pointing out that it applies to only some of the programing. You can figure which: the new shorts and the song "It's Our House Now." The "House of Mouse" segments are presented in stereo and the vintage shorts in mono. But everything sounds great and clear.

Minnie and Mickey are Gretel and Hansel. The Main Menu for "Mickey's House of Villains."

BONUS FEATURES

There's not much to find here. "Reel of Misfortune" is a game where a wheel spins like "Wheel of Fortune" and you get asked questions regarding the villain it stops on.

Pretty useless is "Fright Delight", which presents a single compilation of Disney movie clips with audio in 5.1. "5.1 House Mix" allows you listen to it with music, while "5.1 Villains Mix" is just the sound effects.

Other than that, you get the standard (and now-dated) "Sneak Peeks" section, with trailers for Treasure Planet, Beauty and the Beast: Platinum Edition, Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year, Lilo & Stitch, 101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure, Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas Special Edition, The Country Bears, Inspector Gadget 2, and "Teamo Supremo."

As Easter Eggs, there are three posters of Disney villains you can select from the Main Menu: Hades, The Queen, and Ursula. Clicking on any one leads to a clip of animation of the featured villain.

A large chunk of the program is made up of old school cartoons like Mickey, Goofy, Donald: The Original Ghostbusters (or "Lonesome Ghosts", as it's more widely known). The rest is made up of "House of Mouse" style antics with the most famous villains of Disney's animated films.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

A compilation of shorts is not to everyone's DVD tastes, much less one which is advertised as spotlighting Disney's villains when they hold a fairly small role. Given the fact that most of these shorts are recent, stemming from the "Mickey Mouse Works" series, and are not available elsewhere on DVD, this is a viable collection for Walt Disney Treasures enthusiasts as well as other animation fans. Furthermore, it should tempt those who admire the Disney villains to see the entire gang interact with each other plus Mickey and friends and perform the song "It's Our House Now."

In reality, Disney could have done so much more with this premise, like showcasing the villains taking over the house from the start or filling the disc with lots of content related to the Disney villains. Sadly, this isn't the case, which is a shame in light of how popular the Disney villains are with fans.

So, can I recommend the House of Villains DVD? If Disney shorts are your cup of tea or you're interested to see contemporary cartoons in this mold, then go ahead and check it out as most are worth your time. Other Disney fans owe it to themselves to at least rent out of curiosity.

More on the DVD / Buy from Amazon.com

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Reviewed October 30, 2005.

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