Black Cats and Broomsticks (1955)

“Each year a hundred Americans die because they go to a wizard instead of a doctor.” Ah yes, the great Wizard epidemic of 1955, I read about that in the text books. Americans had wizards and sorcerers, where as today we have Goop. Oddly enough, this short subject PSA for Americans fearing witches and Satanism confuses pseudo-science and superstition with actual witchcraft. A lot of Americans were under the idea that sacrificing animals to Satan was just the same as crossing your fingers for a dose of good luck. Those wacky Americans!

“Black Cats and Broomsticks” is a condescending but oh so funny eight minute short that takes itself very seriously. It pretends to warn you about black magic and evil, but it makes everyone out to be scheming witches plotting against each other. Don’t step on a crack, lest your break your mom’s back. Your neighbor might be hanging a horse shoe over his door to hurt you, and your pal from work might be using rocks as a marker to hurt your cattle. Always be on the look out, you sap. “Black Cats and Broomsticks” is a fun precursor to the Satanic panic of the seventies and eighties, lumping everything from superstitions, hoodoo, voodoo, normal idiosyncrasies, and pseudo-sciences in to one whole big melting pot of evil stew.

And it’s a riot to see them pretty much demonize everything that is pretty much innocent in origin, if you’re willing to do your research, that is. Little Tommy is rubbing his rabbit’s foot, what a wicked child. Be careful for the black cat crossing your paths, and that deserted house in your neighborhood? It might be a home to a witches coven coming to take your life force in the middle of the night. The people featured in this PSA are so paranoid that it ends on a group of men committing a ton of weird rituals to win a card game. In the end the owner of said pack of cards throws the deck in the fire. You can never be too cautious for those cursed card decks.