Less Than 24 Hours Since Mickey Mouse Entered The Public Domain & There’s Already A Horror Flick

It’s been less than 24 hours since Disney’s iconic short Steamboat Willie — featuring the very first glimpse at the beloved cartoon character Mickey Mouse — entered the public domain and there is already a slasher horror flick with a terrifying Mickey Mouse as the killer. I bet Walt Disney is rolling in his grave… or freezer, for the conspiracy theorists amongst us.

The first rat-like iteration of Mickey Mouse and his long-term partner Minnie Mouse first appeared in the short in 1928 and now —thanks to a nifty US law that allows copyright to be held for 95 years — these particular versions of Mickey and Minnie are available for use by the general public rather than just Disney.

Mickey Mouse
(Image: Getty)

The first cab off the rank to make the most of Mickey’s likeness is a horror film called Mickey’s Mouse Trap.

Branding itself as the “first-ever live-action Mickey Mouse comedy horror film”. Really rolls off the tongue, hey?

Mickey’s Mouse Trap follows a group of young people who turn up to an amusement park late at night to surprise their friend Alex. It’s her 21st birthday but she’s stuck at work. But instead of surprising her with some lighthearted fun, they soon discover that there’s a masked killer dressed as Mickey Mouse on the loose — and the masked killer is playing a twisted game with all of them.

You can watch the cooked trailer below.

Director Jamie Bailey said that the aim of the film was to “have fun with it all”.

““We just wanted to have fun with it all. I mean it’s Steamboat Willie‘s Mickey Mouse murdering people. It’s ridiculous. We ran with it and had fun doing it and I think it shows,” he said, per The Hollywood Reporter.

While Steamboat Mickey is now fair game, the “modern version of Mickey will remain unaffected by the expiration of the Steamboat Willie copyright”, according to a statement from Disney.

“Mickey will play a leading role as a global ambassador for the Walt Disney Company in our storytelling, theme park attractions, and merchandise.”

Incidentally, it’s not the first time a horror movie has used an iconic children’s character to terrify the masses.

In 2023, after A.A. Milne‘s character Winnie the Pooh entered the public domain, a director named Rhys Frake-Waterfield created a low-budget independent horror film called Winnie The Pooh: Blood and Honey.

It was about Pooh and Piglet’s violent rampage after Christopher Robin goes to college. Bone-chilling, no?

With such a doozy of a concept, it became a quick viral sensation, amassing a whopping $8.8 million AUD ($6 million USD) at the box office with a sequel on the way.

Man, oh man.

I’m not a horror fan in the slightest but I think taking a lovable character so ingrained in our childhoods and flipping it into something horrifying is an inherently compelling — and terrifying — concept.

Also, it’s pretty damn clever of the Mickey’s Mouse Mouse Trap team to release the trailer on the very same day the steamboat Mickey hits the public domain.