October 27, 2009

Take Judd Hirsch (TAXI and NUMBERS) as Count Dracula, 1970’s TV spokeswoman and personality Mariette Hartley as the Witch, LAUGH IN”s Henry Gibson as Igor, and Broadway and TV character actor John Shuck as Frankenstein, and put them together for one live-action TV special, and you get THE HALLOWEEN THAT ALMOST WASN’T.  One of the funniest Halloween specials that seems to have unfairly fallen by the wayside.

This is not meant to be an attack on the classic GREAT PUMPKIN, so put the knives and slings, and pitchforks down.  I enjoy GREAT PUMPKIN very much, but I want to put the spotlight on HALLOWEEN THAT ALMOST WASN’T.

The story is simplicity in itself.  It’s almost Halloween, and all is not well in Transylvania.  There’s an ugly rumor going around that Dracula is going to end the holiday.  Dracula is furious about this (“Halloween is my national holiday!”).  He’s not the only one upset.  Two young kids who love this holiday as much as Dracula, have heard the news, and wonder what will happen to the fun they’re planning on having.  These kids don’t know it yet, but they’ll wind up being instrumental in bringing about the happy ending.

Back at Dracula’s castle, Drac has summoned his legion of monsters to discuss the crisis.  It is at this meeting that Dracula learns that the Witch is there to strike a blow on behalf of equal rights.  Either Dracula meets her demands, or she won’t fly over the moon, and that’s it for Halloween.  When Dracual refuses, the Witch leaves for her castle, and locks herself in.  It’s up to Dracula and the other monsters to get the Witch to do her job, by luring or forcing her out of the castle.

But like I said, this is all played for laughs.  Writer Coleman Jacoby and Director Bruce Bilson pack this 30 minute special with plenty of bits of physical comedy, pop culture (for 1979) references, and hilariously cringeworthy throwaway jokes.    I have a hard time picking out favorite lines and moments, because there are so many.  One moment, like Dracula and Frankenstein disussing how a popular movie made Frank take up tapdancing, will put a smile on myface.  Then another moment, like the Witch’s demands which include having the Witch’s picture replace Dracula’s on the souvenir T-shirts, makes me laugh.  Then ANOTHER moment, like Dracula abusing Igor or doing his “teeny tiny bat” incantation puts me away-you have to see this last one for yourself, what happens after he’s a teeny tiny bat is even funnier.

I wish I coiuld tell you where to get this on DVD, or which TV stations or cable networks will run it, but I can’t.  What I CAN do is tell you to get yourself over to YouTube, where someone had the good sense to upload it, and in very good quality, too I might add.  I’m not tricking you when I say that this HALLOWEEN is a real treat.


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