The final 'toon in the Porky and Silent Sylvester Horror Trilogy is the least successful, least viewed, and least disturbing. Of the three, this 1955 production most resembles a conventional Warner Brothers cartoon. Whereas its predecessors, "Scaredy Cat" and "Claws for Alarm" harken to the traditional horror film, this one clearly grooves with the 1950s drive-in movie theater. Its terror comes from outer space, in a Jovian flying saucer.

En route once again to Albuquerque, New Mexico, Porky Pig and Sylvester camp in the desert. As in the other films of this series, Sylvester is incapable of speech and Porky, of reaching an obvious conclusion. While they try to sleep, the UFO arrives, piloted by a native of Jupiter who is virtually identical to the "instant Martians" who would appear in 1957's "Hare-way to the Stars." The cartoon is ahead of its time in other ways, too; seven years before Betty and Barney Hill, the Looney Tunes fall victim to an alien abduction. The alien takes not only Porky and Sylvester, but their tent, car, campfire, and a good slice of the surrounding territory, before blasting off. The scenes with the spaceship are pure Looney Tunes, and play crazily with the laws of physics.

Porky, this time around, sees the monster soon after Sylvester, but mistakes its nature. This encounter sends the baffled extraterrestrial back to his ship to peruse a book on earthling psychology. Nature takes its course, meanwhile, bringing about the cartoon's bizarre, somewhat nightmarish conclusion.

Once again, the great Chuck Jones directs a script by the prolific Michael Maltese, while the versatile Mel Blanc provides the voice characterizations. "Jumpin' Jupiter" isn't as good as its predecessors, but it has amusing moments. It can be found on in the third volume of The Looney Tunes Golden Collection and few other places.


Since that wasn't as scary as the first two Porky and Silent Sylvester pieces, I present the following postscript:

The Warner Brothers cartoons tend to be short, stand-alone pieces. Characters recur, but little thought is given to overall continuity. Still, the Porky and Silent Sylvester Horror Trilogy deviates so significantly from expectations, one must wonder if the hardline fans have addressed its place in the Looney Tunes oeuvre as they might anomalous stories from the world's great mythologies or unusual incidents in long-running series. This seems particularly important, given that the first chapter in this series represents the first use of Sylvester's canonical name. Consider the scholarly efforts Don Rosa put into The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, finding a place for every Barksian fact and an explanation for those that don't seem to fit. Don't Sylvester's lack of speech, which occurs in only a couple of other cartoons1, and his nervous disposition, unique to this series, demand an explanation?

One exists. If one views the trilogy in reverse order, and imagines these stories occur early in the cat's life, we find something like a coherent narrative.

Assume that Sylvester's other two non-speaking cartoons occur early in his life. He was young then. At some point, he becomes Porky's cat-- one of several, according to "Kitty Kornered"(1946). In "Jumpin' Jupiter," pig and cat head to Albuquerque, New Mexico, a city holding great significance in the Merrie Melodies mythos. They experience their interrupted journey when the Jovian being (on which, we can assume, the Martians have modeled their "instant" warrior/worker class) kidnaps them.

Through means as yet unknown, they escape the circumstances in which they find themselves at that tale's end, and continue on to their New Mexico destination-- mentioned again in "Claws for Alarm." Such an explanation would go a long way to accounting for Porky's fatigue at the opening of that chapter, and Sylvester's continued nervous disposition. There, they encounter their first group of psychopathic killer mice-- though Sylvester alone recognizes their nature and presence.

They eventually arrive in Albuquerque. This takes us to the opening of "Scaredy Cat," which depicts pig and cat taking possession of their new house. A second group of psychotic killer mice resides in that building; what connection (if any) they may have to the previous group remains a topic for future investigation. Here, at last, Porky finally experiences a moment of recognition, and learns, seemingly too late, to trust his cat.

Sylvester, too, experiences a reversal, after a discussion with his conscience. Bothered by his abandonment of his owner and, doubtless, spurred by his ritual abuse in the house's cellar, he grows tough and turns on the mice, rescuing Porky and tasting victory.

It is at that moment, I believe, that Sylvester finds his true voice.

We thereafter see a tougher, meaner cat, and one who speaks, albeit with some difficulty. As his life continues, he also spends a certain amount of time living as a feral feline, honing his hunting skills. Often, he seems driven to challenge his newfound mousing abilities, attempting to capture the unbeatable Speedy Gonzales and seeking to bring down a kangaroo, misidentified as a giant mouse. These tendencies continue, even after he has settled with Granny, and established his love-hate relationship with Tweety Pie. In his later life, opponents frequently foil Sylvester's aims, but he never again becomes the quivering cat of the earlier cartoons-- and his voice ever remains.

1. "Peck Up Your Troubles"(1945)-- his second screen appearance-- and "Doggone Cats"(1946).

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