Halloween is Grinch Night
Distributed by: DePatie-Freleng Enterprises
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
When you think of the Grinch, you think about Christmas and how the Whos of Whoville almost lost their sacred holiday to a funky, green, furry individual dressed in a Santa suit with a dog for a reindeer pulling a humongous sleigh. You know the guy - the one with the heart that was two sizes too small until the Whos straightened him out. But did you know that Halloween is Grinch Night?
I had never even heard of this cartoon special until yesterday, when I was looking for animated Halloween specials to review. Apparently, Halloween is Grinch Night first aired on ABC in 1977 and earned an Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program that year. Just as in How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, this story is set in Whoville and is an animated musical. At twenty-six minutes in length, I figured I should check it out.
In this holiday special, Whoville is hit with a Sour-Sweet Wind, a wind that agitates the animals around Whoville which, in turn, annoys the Grinch (Hans Conreid). And when the Grinch gets to growling, all Whos had better batten down the hatches, because when the Grinch is annoyed, Whoville is one of his favorite targets. Poor Max (Henry Gibson) is enlisted into service again, this time harnessed to a huge cart filled with spooky paraphernalia.
While the citizens of Whoville are busy hiding themselves away, one incredibly inquisitive Who named Euchariah (Gary Shapiro) discovers that he has to use the euphemism, known to you and me as the outhouse (Gotta love the use of this word to describe an outhouse. The definition of euphemism is "less offensive synonym," which, I suppose is the point of substituting this word for toilet.). Unfortunately, that Sour-Sweet Wind is pretty strong about now and Euchariah gets swept away from his home.
Lost and confused, Euchariah finds himself right in the path of the Grinch and his dog Max, who by now is feeling pretty sorry for himself. After showing Max some positive attention and offering to take Max home with him, Euchariah realizes that he is about to find out just what it is all the Whos are so afraid of.
Unimpressed with the small Who, the Grinch gives him a tiny scare and then heads back on his way, but Euchariah is not so easily scared. In fact, as Euchariah realizes he is all that stands between the Grinch and Whoville, he realizes it is up to him to save his beloved town and his family. But can one small inquisitive Who from Whoville go up against a mean, grouchy, monster of a Grinch and come out on top?
I can't believe I never saw this special...well, actually, I can. Despite laughing at quite a few moments in this cartoon, I have to admit that it certainly is not on par with How the Grinch Stole Christmas! I wonder just what it was that the animators were tripping on when they made this special. The psychedelic quality of the weird looking ghosts and monsters (some of whom take on a wriggly sperm-like quality) are enough to leave you scratching your head. They may be scary to some kids, but most will simply shrug the monsters off.
The songs are on par with those of the original holiday special and this time, we get to hear Max sing...well, his inner voice anyway. Max is my favorite character and I loved his portrayal in this cartoon. I don't want to give away the ending, but I will say that I was laughing quite heartily at Max's shining moment.
Overall, Halloween is Grinch Night is one of those animated specials that only really young kids, or adults who grew up in that era, could really enjoy. It just isn't a strong enough cartoon to market to older kids and it really isn't all that memorable. In fact, friends of mine who are of the age to have seen this cartoon when it first aired didn't remember its existence when I asked them about it today. If you have never seen it, Halloween is Grinch Night does have its funny moments and will be well worth a watch, especially if you are a Max fan. But if you don't get to see it, you really aren't missing much.