We're back with more of the Annual DWS Halloween Havok. I've been kicking ideas around for a while, even dating back to last year, and honestly, was having a hard time on settling on one major item. Then it got me thinking... I love Halloween. I love Looney Tunes. What happens when you mix Halloween and the Looney Tunes? You get Daffy Duck's QUACKBUSTERS, a "Feature Film" that consists of maybe 20 minutes of original content. You may scoff at the idea of having to pay to see a bunch of shorts that are loosely tied together based on a common theme, but unless you were a VCR wizard, this was as close as you would get to such a Looney Tunes compilation.
The feature opens with a cartoon created specifically for this film, titled The Night of the Living Duck. I always tried to pause and frame-by-frame catch all the kooky comic book and supernatural titles that are spread across Daffy Duck's bed, with such names as UFO Today ("It landed in my wheat field, sez farmer Bob Givins"), The Pachyderm (with a deranged Elephant on the cover), Horror D'oeuvres, Blood and Gore, Creeps In The Deep, and Freak Show (along with a partially covered up Mad Magazine cover).
Daffy's over-anxious effort in finding the continuing story of Smogzilla in Hideous Tales #177 (one guess what this is a cheap knock-off from) results in a clock to come crashing down on his head and sending us into a dream sequence.... Daffy Ducks is awoken by an un-seen hairy-knuckled creature and send on stage, to perform in front of a who's who of monsters and monster knock-offs (Dracula and his Bridges, the Frankenstein Monster, Bride of Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, The Fly, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, a Mummy, a Werewolf, a Cyclops, Skeletons, Medusa, the Headless Horseman, a Two Headed-Geek, The Blob, and... a Chainsaw wielding maniac obviously inspired by the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. There's also a quick cameo of Alfred E. Newman.
Daffy, in his infinite wisdom, decides the best route to choose is to sing, and chugs an entire bottle of Eau de Torme to give him the proper range. When I first watched this... heck, through the age of probably 20, I honestly had no idea what the joke was with Daffy Duck's singing voice. I understood what it meant, but I didn't know the reference. Then I started watching re-runs of Night Court on TV Land, and suddenly I realized who Mel Torme was and thought "wow, had I known the gag, I probably would've appreciated a lot more than I did with only a vague understanding of where the joke was going on its own."
Daffy, with confidence but out of the juice, starts to go table to table striking conversation (or at least acknowledging individual guests) until making the mistake of insulting Smogzilla, which results in Daffy becoming an amuse-bouche... but then he wakes up from the dream, and all is right in the world... or is it?
After the opening credits, we see Daffy is working as a street vendor, trying to sell ridiculous items such as a back scratcher, electric hand-buzzer, and a chicken inspector badge, to name a few. Suddenly a TV Report comes on and there's a dying millionaire named J.P. Cubish who is offering an inheritance to whoever can make him laugh. Despite the numerous attempts of Cubish's butler to prevent Daffy from reaching the old dog, Daffy finally outwits him and becomes Cubish's own personal entertainment. A never-ending target for thrown pies. Cubish eventually dies laughing (literally, that's what the newspaper headline reads) and his entire estate is left to Daffy, as long as he uses the money to do good in the world.
Daffy being Daffy, decides he's going to do whatever he wants with the money, which summons the spirit of Cubish, who slowly but surely, starts taking his money back in magic poofs of air. Daffy finally relents to Cubish's original demands, and decides to open a Ghostbusters-type office, (Ghouls R Us), to rid the world of "ecto-plasmic slime like J.P. Cubish." Yes, with the threat of more money being taken away, he changes it into another moment of shameless butt-kissing. Daffy, not wanting to do any actual work himself, bolsters his roster with the acquisitions of Bugs Bunny (who can't stop whining about wanting to go to Palm Strings) and randomly opens the phone-book to find his stooge, Porky Pig ("you couldn't find a better pigeon than that.")
Following snippets from the cartoon "The Prize Pest", where Daffy recruits Porky by scaring the bejesus out of him with novelty fangs and a split-personality gag, its back to the office. Porky has brought along his scaredy-cat Sylvester, who doesn't waste time in bothering Daffy, to the point he is thrown out of the office and forced to hang out on the window-sill of a 13th story office. The newfound peace and quiet is just in time for their Paranormalists commercial, featuring bits from "Water, Water Every Hare", with Bugs Bunny trying to outwit a creepy scientist and a giant red monster known as Gossamer (an ironic name, to say the least).
"Spooks Spooked, Gobbilns Gobbled, UFOs KO'd, Aliens Alienated, Vampires Evaportated, Monsters Remonstrated. Just call 555-5925, that's the same as 555-KWAK."
We segue into the next recycled short, a Jekyll and Hyde re-telling featuring Sylvester the Cat and Tweety. Sylvester chases Tweety into the office of a "Dr. Jekyll", hoping to make him his next meal. Tweety, in a desperate search of a hiding spot, finds himself in a bottle of "Hyde Formula." The rest of the cartoon consists of Sylvester chasing down the pip-squeak bird when in normal condition, and running for his life when the transformation is made and Tweet is suddenly a 6-foot tall, deranged looking monster. Sylvester, the only living creature incapable of figuring out Dusty Rhodes and the Midnight Rider are the same person, decides it's safe to lock himself in a room with the normal-sized Tweety. He doesn't realize a transformation is made while he frantically searches for ketchup. He wakes up to realize it's all a dream, but the site of Tweety approaching sends Sylvester crashing through a BRICK WALL, much to the disgrace of on-looking cats.
The constant annoyance of Porky and Sylvester almost leads to Daffy giving Porky his walking-papers, but a not-so-surprisingly change of heart (thanks to the threat of losing more money) means Porky gets to keep his job, and is assigned a trip to the town of Dry Gulch. It turns out to be a haunted ghost town over-run by creepy, homicidal mice who do everything in their powers to try and MURDER Porky Pig. From noose-hangings, razor-blade decapitations, and a shotgun through a Moose's head, Sylvester puts himself in the line of fire every time, and for nothing, as Porky is so stupid he doesn't realize how close he's come to being killed, and continues to treat Sylvester like a crazy coward. As a kid, I actually found this short to be a bit creepy by cartoon standards. This wasn't "Elmer Fudd hunting Bugs Bunny, comedy ensues", this was Mice trying to murder Porky Pig for the sake of doing it. Sylvester ends up being the one snapping, bashes Porky over the head after hearing the potential of having to stay for an extended period of time due to how peaceful and relaxing the night was, and drives off as the sun rises to get as far away from Dry Gulch as possible... but the trouble doesn't appear to be over.
Daffy ends up taking on a case himself, one that offers the chance of finding himself alone with an attractive female duck. The only problem is she's possessed, as well as most of the appliances in her home (the North Pole in her Oven, an Inferno in the Fridge, and so on). The demon side of his unnamed customer finally takes over and gives him this message: "Ou-yay upid-stay erk-jay." Daffy responds with "And I thought French was a romantic language." Daffy's first attempts to exercise her demons goes unsuccessful, as he figures out that he's been reading from an actual book of exercising. He finds "the real McCoy", "How To Exorcise by Dr. McCoy." The book suggests to keep the spirits amused, so he starts telling some awful jokes. He eventually has them all removed from her body, but now they chase him down for a host body.
When Daffy returns to his office, he finds all but a million dollars has been removed from his vault. Porky Pigs (sporting a giant lump on his head) calls in for assignment, and gets sent to the Superstition Mountains. Daffy sends him on a wild goose chase, then gets a creepy call from "Outer Transylvania." What do you do when you're not willing to take the job? Call Bugs Bunny, who is disappointed to know it won't send him to Palm Springs. We follow with the majority of one of my favorite shorts, Transylvania 6-5000.
There's a two-headed Vulture that take a liking to Bugs (likely for a meal), but Bugs casually passes them by and heads for the castle. He rings the door-bell, and it plays a few notes from the Hearse Song. Bugs is greeted by the mysterious Count Bloodcount. Bugs is only interested in making a phone call, but Bloodcount insists he stay for the night because "rest is good for the blood." Bugs takes up the offer, being "fatigued" (pronounced fatty-gewed by Bugs) from his trip. He thumbs through a book of Magic Spells and Phrases to make himself fall asleep and without noticing a creeping Count Bloodcount, turns him into a bat with the incantation "Abracadabra." Then he turns him back to human form with "Hocus Pocus" as he's flying over the moat. The Count eventually makes his intentions known, leading to a back and forth of incantations, most of which leads to Count Bloodcount being crushed by a boulder removed from the floor. Bugs mixed around the words to create bizarre results, like "Newport News" turning him into Witch Hazel, and Walla Walla, Washington making him a two-headed vulture. With Count Bloodcount run off by the female two-headed Vulture, Bugs checks in reporting nothing suspicious to Daffy. Shucks.
Daffy, in desperate need of some kind of cash flow (other than losing his due to magic from a dead dog), recruits Bugs for another task, and even joins him, after receiving a call from the Himalayas. Apparently an Abominable Snowman is causing trouble for the Eskimo community. Bugs and Daffy arrive, and you guessed it, the snowman is a complete dumbass, constantly fooled by Bugs into thinking Daffy is a bunny rabbit and Bugs isn't. No matter how dumb that character is, who can't appreciate the "I will name him George, and I will hug him and pet him and squeeze him" line?! This goes back and forth until the Snowman, determined into having a bunny rabbit, goes chasing after Bugs, only to find himself in too hot of an environment and melts away. I guess that means they took care of the problem of the Himalayas, but do they pony up the dough? We don't find out, actually.
The final recycled short involves a baby elephant causing panic and freaking people out... except for a Wino who just gives him a dirty look and kind of tells him off. You tell him, Hobo Joe! Daffy is interviewed about the mysterious creature, and blows it off as some kind of illusion to the sick, demented freaks of the city. And then the fucking Elephant walks onto the set in full view of the camera and Daffy is laughed off the air by a Ted Koppel-wanna-be "creatively" labeled Zed Toppel. With all his money gone for being an awful businessman, Daffy is evicted from the premises courtesy a Singing Telegram.
The epilogue acts as our looking-glass into whatever happened to everyone. Bugs Bunny is enjoying his vacation in Palm Springs, Porky Pig and Sylvester are lost in the Superstition Mountains, J.P. Cubish is still dead, and Daffy Duck is back to being a street vendor. He manages to sell a wind-up doll of Gossamer, but the money instantly vanishes. Now that's just mean. Cubish had every right to steal back his own money, even though dead people have no use for it, but is now stealing Daffy's hard earned buck? Why? Because the doll is from an idea that was originally financed by Cubish's fortune? Had Daffy sold a chicken inspector badge, would that have been OK?
And so ends the last Looney Tunes feature film to follow the formula of blending together a series of shorts with brief bits of new material to somehow make a cohesive storyline, and also the final theatrical Looney Tunes feature to star the voice talents of Mel Blanc. Like all the other compilation movies (Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie, Looney Looney Looney Bugs Bunny Movie, Daffy Duck's Fantastic Island), the new material is only there to serve as glue for the classic shorts, most of them entertaining, if not spectacular. Quackbusters was the first of the movies I remember watching as a child, and I'm sure it's the reason why I hold it at a higher standard than the other three. Throw in the theme of scary movies and homages, and you have an enjoyable 80 minutes that not only fits the Halloween season, but is a very entertaining film no matter what time of year it is.
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