Saturday, September 8, 2012

Halloween is Grinch Night!

The Grinch
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 Yesterday I wrote a awesome horrible piece about toothpaste. Today I am making up for yesterdays fiasco the only way I know how, with The Grinch!

Are you familiar with Dr. Seuss's classic story 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas'? Chances are you've seen it countless times as a child and many more as an adult. In terms of classic Christmas cartoons I rank the Grinch all the way up into my top three of all time.

What you might not know is that Christmas is not the only holiday to receive a Grinch related special, Halloween has one too. Released back in 1977 Halloween Is Grinch Night is sort of the oddball stepchild of Halloween related TV specials.

It gets practically no airtime on television, as a matter of fact I don't even know the last time it aired nationally, and has never received its own stand alone release on DVD (though it does have a VHS version available). If you want to watch it you'll have to track down a copy of Dr. Seuss's 'Green Eggs and Ham' ... Grinch Night is stuck on that disc as a bonus special feature. Unless you know what to look for, there is a good chance you'll accidentally pass it up.

As you'll soon see, Halloween Is Grinch Night acts as an interesting side journey into a Grinch character that we've all grown to know and love from his Christmas outing.

Most importantly, since Halloween Is Grinch Night was produced back in 1977 the entire cartoon feels like one gigantic acid trip. Complete with all sorts of strange dancing skeletons and gigantic Grinch eyebrows that fly around because why wouldn't this cartoon have gigantic Grinch eyebrows that fly around.. Halloween Is Grinch Night is fantastic in the weirdest way possible. If you only know and love the character from his Christmas special, you are in for a special treat. Read on as we take an extra special in depth look at the Grinch's Halloween special that time has forgotten....
The Grinch
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Our cartoon begins in the town of Whoville, which looks a far cry smaller and a lot less festive than how it seemed in the Christmas episode. Never the less here it is in all its Whoglory. Our narrator tells us that we are overlooking Whoville right at sunset, clearly on a fall night as we can see Who's out raking leaves. Everyone is having a grand old Whotime, that is until a strange 'sour sweet wind' starts to blow into town.

This 'sour sweet wind' sends every Who down in Whoville into a bit frenzy. Children are grabbed, doors are locked, the fun and festivities are over. Shit is about to get real.

The Grinch
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The important thing to take away from this wind, is that apparently it pisses off all the animals that live in or around Whoville, so much so that they start to howl and create enough of a fuss that it travels all the way up Mount Crumpet and awakens...The Grinch!

I must admit, it is a pleasure to see The Grinch back on screen in animated form. Especially out of the situations that we are so used to seeing him in. There is no snow, no gifts, no toys, and he is really pissed off.

The Grinch
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Max the dog makes an appearance in Halloween Is Grinch Night, and serves as one of the few direct ties from this cartoon to 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas'

The Grinch is back to his old ways of basically abusing the shit out of Max. Depending on how you interpret this, Halloween is Grinch Night is either a prequel story, The Grinch simply reverted back to being an asshole, or we are looking at an entirely different character than the Grinch we came to know from the previous cartoon.

The Grinch
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"It's a wonderful night for eyebrows. Max? Now where is he? MAX! It's a wonderful night for eyebrows. Its a wonderful night for teeth! Its a wonderful night for Grinch Night!" This is said as The Grinch's eyebrows literally fly off his face and do a little dance about three feet above his head.

I'm no Grinch expert but I've thought about this longer than most people probably have and I am convinced that this is not the same character we seen in the Christmas episode. This version of The Grinch is beyond strange, often spending large amounts of time talking about complete and total nonsense. 

Not your typical Dr. Seuss 'rhyme back and forth' dialog but literally baffling exchanges in which he talks about eyebrows and other things of the sort. At certain points The Grinch literally stands around and talks complete jibberish, to the point that other characters don't even respond back to him.

The Grinch
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Back in Whoville we meet our main character, Eukariah, who wonders just exactly thefuck the plan is with the apparent coming Grinch attack. Up until this point he and his parents have literally been standing around next to the front door. 

He suggests no longer standing around like idiots and simply waiting to see if The Grinch will indeed come to town and murder them. Perhaps they could call the Whocops and find out if The Grinch is actually making his way down the mountain.

The Grinch
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Of course it wouldn't be much of a special if The Grinch decided to go back into his cave and masturbate to a Sears catalog for the evening, so naturally he is making his way down the mountain.

I should also mention that this Grinch (I'm still sticking by it being a different character) has the ability to manifest lightning by simply flicking his fingers together. Thus giving him some sort of pseudo-god like powers. This cartoon has all sorts of strange overtones like that.

The Grinch
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Chief among them, animal abuse. The Grinch has always been a bit of a prick towards his dog, Max. In this cartoon, Max appears visibly shaken pretty much any time he is confronted by The Grinch. At no point does The Grinch ever seem to enjoy his company and at the end of the cartoon, Max takes the first opportunity to leave and never even contemplates going back.

Then there is the subplot of the Random Pink Thing, which shows up at roughly the 9:30 mark into the cartoon. It is mentioned that whatever this Pink Thing is, it is the last of its kind... so naturally The Grinch decides that the best course of action is to attempt to kill it. 

Christmas this is not folks, we are not just simply breaking into peoples houses and stealing presents. Halloween Is Grinch Night is not so subtly about how the Grinch wants to murder everything that lives in Whoville. Watch it for yourself and try to say otherwise.

The Grinch
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Meanwhile, Eukariah goes outside to take a shit. A plot point that I wish I was making up but honest to god that is what happens next. 

Unfortunately for him, he'll never get to take that dump. Remember the 'sour sweet wind' from the beginning of the cartoon? Apparently it has turned into a full blown, full force hurricane.

Halfway to the outhouse Eukariah gets hit by a falling tree branch, which somehow leads to him getting swooped up by a gust of wind and blown off into the distance. Thus giving us our plot device that brings Eukariah and The Grinch together and... hell literally breaks loose.

The Grinch
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After a brief exchange The Grinch invites Eukariah on top of his wagon, which here in 2012 has taken on an entirely different 'creepy child abduction'  vibe that there is no possible way the producers of this show could have predicted back in 1977.  

I hope you guys are ready for this because we have reached the climax of this cartoon. This is the sweet spot. The meat and potatoes of Halloween is Grinch Night. The Grinch opens up a small wooden door and out comes this thick green smog....

The Grinch
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The smog wastes no time turning into a deformed sort of Grinch head with huge eyebrows (this cartoon has a strange eyebrow fetish) and this opens up the weirdest musical number I've seen in a cartoon... probably ever. 

It's going to be impossible to detail everything that happens in this musical number but this is clearly the best idea they had when creating Halloween Is Grinch Night. It is also beyond strange, just look the following screen grabs:




Remember you can click on any of the above images to get a much larger version of the picture. The above scene is hands down the best part of the cartoon and honestly the only part of the special that really has anything to do with Halloween. 

The problem that most seem to have with this special is that with the exception of this specific scene, it is not much of a Halloween special. No candy. No pumpkins. No costumes. No scares. Just a stinky wind and The Grinch spending the entire cartoon walking halfway down a mountain.
The Grinch
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Eventually Eukariah makes his way out of the hellish Halloween world The Grinch (somehow) sent him to and... the cartoon sort of gets anti-climatic. Instead of running in fright because holy shit I was just attacked by a gigantic lobster... Eukariah just tells The Grinch that the jokes on him the 'sour sweet wind' has quit blowing and therefore Grinchy cannot finish his decent into Whoville and murder its inhabitants.

The cartoon is admittedly far to short, clocking in at only 25 minutes in length. I don't know exactly what they could have done to make the show longer, perhaps maybe focusing more on making the beginning part of the special more Halloween related would have been the route to go.

A scene in which Eukariah dresses in costume and gets candy, via musical song would have been interesting. Perhaps they could have showed the Who's carving pumpkins in the town square or having some sort of fall festival. What would the Grinch have done had he actually reached the town? These are all opportunities that are missed in Halloween is Grinch Night.

The Grinch
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What actually happens is Max, the Grinch's dog, runs off with Eukariah leaving old Grinchy to carry his cart of... well, its never really explained what that cart is for, but he still has to carry it back up the side of the mountain. Grinch proclaims that one day "the wind will return" and then laughs maniacally to himself. He'll murder Who's on another occasion. The End!

Halloween Is Grinch Night is clearly not in the same ballpark as 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas' ... the songs are not as catchy, the animation is not as good, the voice overs fall kind of flat, and the plot doesn't really make much sense. 

Heck, The Grinch does not even go through any sort of transformation or learn any kind of lesson in this cartoon. He is an asshole at the start of it and is still just as big of a dick at the end, vowing to come back and kill Eukariah for stealing his dog (maybe not in those exact words, but reading between the lines that is exactly what he plans on doing).

Despite all of this, I still enjoy the cartoon. Halloween does not have near as many specials as Christmas so I've learned to adopt a 'take what you can and love what you get' approach to anything willing to dawn the orange and black for the month of October. The Grinch is a fun character and one I would gladly revisit in as many different specials as possible. If you have never seen the cartoon, I suggest finding a copy and checking it out for yourself!

1 comment:

  1. I believe it was originally called "It's Grinch Night" and was not considered a Halloween special. It was later re-branded as such. It is available on this DVD called Seuss Celebration which is excellent and can be bought for less than $1 if you don't mind a used copy:

    http://www.amazon.com/Seuss-Celebration-Grinch-Grinches-Green/dp/B0009ZE9XA/

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