10/13/11

Mad Monsters, Fat Alberts, and General Grinchiness: Classic Halloween Specials I'd Missed

Back when I was a kid, and even through the late 80's, every holiday season meant a few new Halloween specials nestled in between classic offerings like It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. While I tried to catch as many growing up as I could, there were quite a few I never got around to seeing. One was a glaring omission on my part, the Rankin-Bass Halloween special, Mad Monster Party. 


At least I thought it was a glaring omission. Without nostalgia to blind my judgement, I found the animation amazing, the script (penned in part by Mad Magazine's Harvey Kurtzman) was fairly droll, and the voice actors, especially Phyllis Diller and Boris Karloff very entertaining, but as a whole the film was a bloated mess. Clocking in at an hour and half (double the time of Rudolf), Mad Monster Party feels like Rankin/Bass' foray into Ray Harryhausen territory. Ultimately I enjoyed the flick, but felt like a judicious  editing hand could have made it a really punchy fun special. (Note: This was released in the spring and technically not a Halloween special, so sue me.)

Next up comes a special I didn't even know about until yesterday. In the intervening years between How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Halloween is Grinch Night, the green grumps heart hasn't shrunk back to original small size, but might only retain half of the size Christmas magic bestowed upon it. Because the Grinch is back again, this time to scare the Whos in Whoville presumably because it's fall.


Watch (T.V.)Childhood Favorites - Dr. Seuss - Halloween is Grinch Night.avi in Family  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

This one is a real head scratcher. What exactly was the Grinch's plan?  Why do Whos have to use the euphemism so badly? And why can't they just use the bathroom? Why does the special have to have one of the most depressing songs ever in which the Grinch's dog regrets his life of slavery? Why is the Grinch's paraphernalia van full of psychedelia? The last one I suppose answers itself.

Hey Hey Hey. I had one more special I watched, the heartwarming Fat Albert Halloween Special. Bill Cosby manages to push in lessons about judging others, minding one's parents, eating only wrapped candy, and how it's not cool to go around scaring people, all without being preachy. Ok, too preachy.

Both Mad Monster Party and Fat Albert are streaming for Netflix customers, and I'll be back tomorrow with more cinematic thrills and chills. 

1 comment:

  1. My age now shows: I saw both Halloween Is Grinch Night and The Fat Albert Halloween Special on their network premieres when I was a kid. I still have vivid memories of both, especially the "trip" finale of the Grinch, which is a bit like "Pink Elephants on Parade" from Dumbo.

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