Of Course the First Steamboat Willie Horror Movie Is Already Here

Of Course the First Steamboat Willie Horror Movie Is Already Here

The start of 2024 saw a major milestone in U.S. copyright law as Steamboat Willie—and with it the very first versions of Mickey and Minnie Mouse—entered public domain for the first time. As with classics before it, in record time people took to announcing what is now inevitable for any new public domain work: what if this classic work was dark and twisted actually?

After Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey already turned A.A. Milne’s children’s tale into a gory, atrocious horror film, now Jamie Bailey’s Mickey’s Mouse Trap aims to do much the same for the 1928 animated short.



Although not on the release scope that Blood and Honey managed to achieve last year, Mickey’s Mouse Trap follows a young woman named Alex on her 21st Birthday, who finds herself working a late shift at an amusement arcade—only to find it haunted by a masked killer dressed as the Steamboat Willie star. It’s a bit Five Nights at Freddy’s, it’s a bit Saw, it’s very much a bit skirting around what you can actually do with Steamboat Willie. The movie’s name just about dances around what Disney still owns about Mickey as a character in trademark (i.e., his name), and it’s very telling that Mickey isn’t uttered once in the trailer—although we do get to see snippets of Steamboat Willie playing, of course.

Unless Disney has anything to say about it, Mickey’s Mouse Trap is expected to release some time in March, and it’s not the only Steamboat Willie-leveraging work to already make itself known. As we noted yesterday, Nightmare Forge Games’ Infestation 88 is bringing Steamboat Willie to the world of horror games, and as The Verge notes, people are already using the film to train A.I. image generators as well as re-upload the original short to Youtube (which Disney itself did 14 years ago). Even a second Steamboat Willie horror movie, about Mickey torturing ferrygoers, has been announced to start filming this Spring.

It’ll take time to see what people really want to do—and are emboldened to do given how much of Mickey Mouse Disney still has legal ownership of beyond that 1928 appearance—with Steamboat Willie now that it’s in the public domain. For now, we’re simply in the age of mousploitation. It just happens to be in the hands of the public this time, rather than from the House of Mouse itself.

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