Sunday, October 12, 2008


I'm not sure if I should mention this one or not, but it's a personal favorite of mine for a lot of reasons. The reason I'm wondering if I should mention it is because it's not out on DVD yet, and I would like to avoid you having a headache trying to track it down, but you might be able to find it at your video store. It's Ray Bradbury's The Halloween Tree, a novel originally published in 1972 that was made into an animated film in 1993. For awhile it was available on video from Cartoon Network. It is still available from certain sellers on and can probably still be found on Ebay, but I would start at the video store first.

I first heard about this from an essay in a book called October Dreams: A Celebration Of Halloween. The
essay was by Gary A. Braunbeck, "First Of All, It Was October: An Overview of Halloween Films." This essay was not only informative but launched a personal quest to make a collection of Halloween films. Note I said Halloween films, not horror films. One of Braunbeck's criteria of a "Halloween" film was that the story took place on or around Halloween, which makes a difference. Some horror films are Halloween films, but not many. Less than you'd think, actually.

In the film, four friends making joyous preparations for a Halloween night learn that their best friend Pippin is being taken away in an ambulance, and will not be able to make their Halloween celebration as planned. Shortly thereafter, a mysterious character known as Moundshroud shows up and informs them that Pippin has been taken by spirits of past Halloween, and that they must come with him to save him. Moundshroud leads them on a journey through time and space, showing the four children (who are all dressed as classic Halloween characters) the origins of the holiday and how mankind's fear of death has shaped how we look at Halloween. The story is narrated by Bradbury himself, and Leonard Nimoy provides the voice of Moundshroud, of all things. This film, produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions (when they still were Hanna-Barbera instead of Cartoon Network) moves along fairly quickly and gives not only a history lesson of Halloween but also some lessons about friendship and sacrifice. It is a wonderful film and would be acknowledged as a classic Halloween special by anyone who would view it.

And of course, the damn thing is not out on DVD, which I think should probably be regarded as a prime example
of corporate crime. (Yeah, I'm talking to you, Warner Brothers. You and Cartoon Network.) As I said, the avenues I listed are most likely your best bets for seeing this film, but a videocassette will probably not be much good if you have gone completely digital. A search I did on Youtube has turned up the film in parts, and here is the link to that. Though I should hate for you to go to such trouble, I can tell you this: the film is worth whatever trouble it might be to see it. If you have no luck, then read the original novel. There are substantial differences, but in either form, the story is perfect for this Ghost Wonderful Time Of The Year. Whichever you get, enjoy.