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Western Animation / The Devil and Daniel Mouse

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Guess which half of the title he is.

The Devil and Daniel Mouse is a 1978 Halloween Special from world-renowned Canadian animation studio Nelvana, loosely based on The Devil and Daniel Webster.

It is about a pair of folk-singing country mice, Dan and Jan, who aren't pulling in money. However, Jan makes a contract with a shady Louis Cypher-type named B.L. Zebub and becomes a rock superstar. It turns out B.L. is really The Devil, and after Jan's greatest success, he comes for her soul at midnight.

The special inspired Nelvana to make the slightly better-known Rock & Rule - and the special is included in the deluxe DVD release of the film as well.

Fun fact: This is the very first production by Nelvana to feature their now-iconic polar bear logo.


  • Animation Bump: Though the film's already fairly good by the standards of The Dark Age of Animation, B.L.'s animation is especially detailed, with a multitude of complicated facial features that makes him seem especially distinct to the more simplistic Funny Animal designs of the main characters. This is particularly shown during his Villainous Breakdown, where B.L. undergoes a series of monstrous, incredibly fluid transformations.
  • Berserk Button: B.L. flips out whenever a technicality is used against him.
  • Big Red Devil: B.L. takes the form of a reddish-pinkish horned reptilian creature.
  • Blood Oath: Jan signs her contract with her own blood. It's the one thing in her first encounter with B.L. that makes her hesitate, but only until he basically threatens that it's now or never.
  • Camp Straight: Weez Weezel, B.L.'s henchman, seems to be rather flamboyant in a Paul Lynde-ish manner! He even sounds like him! However, he is shown with women hanging off of him during the montage sequences.
  • Cartoon Creature: B.L. is a rare reptilian variant.
  • Cats Are Mean: B.L. shapeshifts into a cat while chasing Jan.
  • Clothing Damage: Jan's fancy outfit becomes more and more tattered as she tries to escape B.L.
  • Comically Wordy Contract: Exaggerated. B.L.'s "standard" contract, which he uses to get Jan to unwittingly sign away her soul, is literally endless. Jan tries to read the whole thing, but it just keeps stretching out (without mentioning the part about her soul) until she gives up and agrees to sign, upon which it immediately shrinks back to the size of a normal paper.
    B.L.: (smugly) Take your time, read it all.
  • Creepy Jazz Music: B.L. has a minor-key swing tune as his Leitmotif, playing almost every time he appears in his "default" form.
  • Deal with the Devil: Obviously.
  • Death from Above/Feathered Fiend: When he arrives to claim Jan's soul, B.L. has shapeshifted into an owl.
  • Delayed Reaction
    Jan: "What have you been doing?"
    Daniel: "Traveling around. Writing songs. How 'bout you?"
    Jan: "I sold my soul to the Devil!"
    Daniel: "Yeah?" (Beat) What!?
  • The Dragon: Weez.
  • Easily Forgiven: Perhaps out of pity, Jan seemed so pathetic that Daniel was willing to help her and comfort her even though she left him.
  • Efficient Displacement: Occurs when B.L. crashes through a stadium wall while in bird form.
  • Evil Laugh: B.L. and Weez both laugh during a brief exchange after making the deal with Jan.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: B.L. has a suitably demonic voice, which gets much deeper when he decides to do away with his facade of a suave businessman is broken out of sadism or amidst his Villainous Breakdown.
  • Exact Words: Jan manages to buy a little more time by saying her soul isn't forfeited until midnight, which fortunately gives her enough time to find Dan.
  • Facepalm: B.L. does this twice in the special due to Weez's bumbling.
  • Fat Bastard: B.L. is rather portly.
  • Faux Affably Evil: B.L. is smiling and pleasant even when hunting someone down to take their soul to Hell, but if even the smallest thing doesn't go his way, the mask comes off.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: When B.L. first emerges from the underworld, he's a glorious but terrifying dragon thing made of golden fire. Wisely, he takes a less imposing form when he approaches Jan.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: Weez and the other damned souls are clearly enjoying Dan's performance for them, but it's not enough for them to be saved from B.L. dragging them back into hell. Weez even gives Dan and Jan what looks like an apologetic smile when he briefly pops back up.
  • Heel–Face Turn: It's not certain if Jan's backup band is made up of damned souls or demons or what, but in the end they provide encouragement to Daniel and Jan, and even play back-up during Daniel's song. Redemption apparently earns them a ticket out of Hell. But to be fair, some dialogue suggests the backup band really is just a backup band; they at one point abandon Jan after their paychecks bounce, which even suggests B.L. has no claim over them.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: B.L. mockingly agrees to a trial, and in spite of cheating in order to get around certain technicalities is forced to abide by the jury's verdict.
  • Hope Spot: As Dan and Jan desperately search through the law-book for a reason to dismiss the trial, they find that a proper trial cannot be held with only three jurors. B.L. angrily duplicates the jurors threefold and the trial continues.
  • Improbable Hairstyle Sequence: Jan is a redhead with a typical late 1970s-style curly hairdo. At one point during her period of peak fame, she is shown giving an interview sporting an altogether different look, platinum blonde and heavily styled. In the very next scene, however, her hair looks exactly as before (while another character holds a magazine with her picture from the interview on the cover). It's possible that she was wearing a wig or that, this being a cartoon with a metaphysical theme, magical shapeshifting was involved, but this is never explained.
  • Insane Troll Logic: How does Daniel argue his way out of B.L.'s contract? By playing a tune and claiming "Music can save your soul, and a song from the heart beats the Devil every time."
  • Judicial Wig: Weez dons one of these when he acts as the judge at the climactic trial.
  • Jury of the Damned: Weez summons three damned souls to act as the jury for Dan's trial.
  • Kangaroo Court: B.L. attempts to set one up, and it would've worked out too but for plot-driven Insane Troll Logic.
  • Kick the Dog: B.L.'s intense chase of Jan out of her concert in the form of various dangerous animals putting her life in danger while understandably terrifying her. He already had a claim to her soul anyway, so B.L. doing the brief cat-and-mouse chase comes cross as unnecessarily cruel and pointless except for his own sick amusement.
  • Laughably Evil: Weez is this, for the most part.
  • Leitmotif: A few characters have them:
    • B.L. gets a swanky, minor-key jazz theme, fitting his Smug Snake personality.
    • Weez has a more fast-paced, bouncy tune that almost sounds like a minor-key version of "Pop Goes the Weasel", fitting his personality as a Laughably Evil weasel.
  • Lonely at the Top: Jan finds this to be true, and even devotes one of her songs to it after hitting it big.
  • Loophole Abuse: Subverted. Dan tries to find loopholes in Jan's contract, but they're all flimsy and get shot down immediately. The plot has to resort to Insane Troll Logic to get the obligatory happy ending.
  • Louis Cypher: The devil calls himself B.L. Zebub.
  • Morphic Resonance: Zigzagged. In the chase scene, all of B.L.'s different animal forms resemble his "default" form, with a white and reddish-pink color scheme and a similar face. However, he takes a few forms in other scenes that look completely different.
  • Mr. Exposition: Dan is able to identify the members of the jury and their crimes, pointing them out for Jan (and the audience).
  • Never My Fault: Used subtly near the beginning. When Jan tells B.L. that she's interested in making a deal with him, he says "You talked me into it." Never mind the fact that he deliberately sought her out and manipulated her into signing.
  • Perpetually Protean: B.L. has a habit of constantly changing his form when excited or in the midst of a mental breakdown when he isn't attempting to keep himself stable in a suave facade.
  • Read the Fine Print: Jan at least tries to do this.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: B.L. is definitely some sort of reptile.
  • Satan: B.L. Zebub.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: Or rather, singing.
  • The Dragon: Weez, more or less.
  • The Power of Rock: Dan saves Jan by singing a song about how music can "save your soul." The demons all love it, except B.L., but even he is forced to surrender from this.
  • The '70s: And does it ever show in the wardrobes, the songs, the art style, the slang - basically everything.
  • Slimeball: Fittingly for a depiction of Satan, B.L. is depicted as the most sleazy, unscrupulous person imaginable. He seems rather disdainful of his loyal henchman Weez, he tricks an innocent girl into giving her soul to him (and seems to deliberately hide the part of the contract about her soul from her), and shifts the blame away from himself every time. He also gets furious when things don't go his way, and when he loses at the end, he throws a fit and drags Weez and the other damned souls back to hell with him against their wishes.
  • Toothy Bird: In his owl form, B.L. retains his teeth in some shots.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: When Dan tries to talk to Jan one of the doorknockers in her mansion shapeshifts into Weez Weezel's face, which taunts him and tells him to go away. Dan reacts with annoyance instead of the shock and confusion most people would.
  • Villainous Breakdown: When Dan outsmarts him via the Insane Troll Logic of his song, B.L. first punishes Weez and the jurors out of spite of siding with Jan and Dan before making a threat about not playing the nice guy anymore. It's also reflected in his physical appearance as he's so infuriated that his face is warping at a rapid pace.
  • Vile Villain, Laughable Lackey: In contrast to B.L., the Devil, who is frightening and callous, Weez Weezel gets involved in more comedic antics.
  • Villain in a White Suit: B.L. Zebub.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: When he's chasing Jan to claim her soul, B.L. shapeshifts into an owl, a cat, a piranha, a rhino, and a tree.
  • Weirdness Censor: Daniel doesn't seem to find anything out of the ordinary when a door knocker at Jan's mansion morphs into Weez's head and starts talking to him.
  • Wicked Weasel: Weez Weezel, B.L.'s right-hand man.
  • When Trees Attack: B.L. finally catches Jan by turning into a tree.
  • You Have Failed Me: Implied. When Weez declares Jan free, B.L. says to him (and possibly to the other souls from Hell as well) "I'll tend to you later," in a very menacing tone, before sending them all back to hell. Based on the circumstances, it seems like B.L. has horrible plans for Weez and the other souls.