The Eerie Connection Between Skinamarink And Twilight Zone: The Movie

The main connective tissue between “Skinamarink” and “Twilight Zone: The Movie” is the 1931 cartoon “Bimbo’s Initiation.” Both films feature scenes with the cartoon playing on television, intermittently in “Skinamarink” and at a certain moment in Joe Dante’s segment of “Twilight Zone,” a remake of the episode entitled “It’s a Good Life” from season 3 of the original series.

“Bimbo’s Initiation” is a remarkable piece both in and of itself as well as within the realm of the uncanny. A “Talkartoon” made by Fleischer Studios, the short (directed by Dave Fleischer) involves the studio’s “Bimbo” character, a mostly innocent, bumbling anthropomorphized dog who served as the main love interest to Betty Boop during her early years. Walking blissfully on the street, Bimbo accidentally falls into an open manhole (which is then locked shut by a character who looks suspiciously like Mickey Mouse) and finds himself in the lair of a secret society that continually asks if Bimbo would like to be a member. Each “no” from Bimbo sends him to a new room and a new death trap, which Bimbo narrowly avoids.

“Bimbo’s Initiation” sends all laws of physics and any semblance of reality packing, with even the lair Bimbo finds himself trapped in changing shape at will, the space endless and claustrophobic all at once. Like many cartoons of the era, “Bimbo’s Initiation” is chock full of sadism. The character is tortured by unknown forces for no good reason since he’s not, for instance, an arrogant buffoon like Daffy Duck.

The secret society turns out to be hundreds of clones of Betty Boop, an early version of the character who sports dog-like features, which is a bizarre sight by itself for those who only know her more human look from later in her history.

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