As the moon rises over an unnamed American town, children walk the night streets, costumed against the cold. In the darkness, a quirky loner waits in a dank field, watching for a forgotten spirit of Halloween, a strange, monstrous being. As the night wears on, and as a brave military hero struggles to reach safety across a surreal nightmare landscape, a young blonde seeks out the loner and stands vigil with him, waiting, watching, for … The Great Pumpkin.
It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is the only “scary” DVD I know of that features “It’s A Long Way To Tipperary.”
This film is a tradition for us. We make sure to watch it at least once every October, and more times, of possible. It isn’t easy; kids today don’t get the charm of Charlie Brown. The old-fashioned animation and clinky storytelling sends them back to Rugrats and SpongeBob every time. But we grownups keep watching it. I remember it fondly; I had the book, too, which was treasured for years. Elizabeth loves it as well, perhaps more than I do.
We talked about the “why” tonight, and decided that the rarity of prime-time animation in the 70s — cartoons were seen only on Saturday mornings back then, and VCRs didn’t exist — meant that shows like this were a big deal. This imprinted them into our memories, into our hearts, much more deeply than the shows kids watch today.
And let’s not forget the scare factor. I suspect a lot of the things I like about horror movies — mood, surreality, colour play — come from this show and book. Snoopy’s wartime fantasy sequences offer a shifting array of greys, blues, oranges and blacks, the colour of autumn, the colour of fear. Yeah, it’s a funny little kids’ cartoon. But it captures Halloween perfectly.
“I got a rock.”
- October is drawing to a close, and so is my series of daily reviews of horror movies from my shelf. Three more to go … no more cartoons, though.