Black October 28: It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

October 28, 2009

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.


  1. I am a “Peanuts”-o-phile, or whatever you call them/us. I have a Snoopy coin bank. I have mulitple coffee table books on Peanuts. I have Schulz’s new biography on audiobook and in print. Every year I get a Peanuts calendar from my mom. When I was a little kid, long before the Internet, I found a book at the library that had addresses of authors. I wrote a letter to Charles Schulz, and he sent a nice, autographed package back! Minnesota is very proud of Schulz, and the Twin Cities is still populated with Peanuts statues from various past celebrations. Camp Snoopy used to be the big theme park at the Mall of America, until some new contract couldn’t be negotiated. I bought lots of cool Peanuts stuff when they had the Camp Snoopy store at the MOA!

    • The kids’ area at Canada’s Wonderland in Toronto is being remodelled as a Peanuts theme park for next year. Now you have to come to Canada.

  2. This post has me one again considering the Peanuts ’60s Specials DVD set.

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