Monday, October 31, 2011

Vintage Halloween Specials - Disney's Halloween Treat

Disney's Halloween Treat first aired in 1982, and was one of my favorite parts of The Halloween Video. It features a series of clips from various Disney films and cartoons, vaguely centered around the theme of Halloween parties.

Not to be confused with A Disney Halloween (which contains much of the same content and the same theme song), Disney's Halloween Treat is narrated by a deep-voiced foam rubber pumpkin puppet. He never gives his name, but I'm going to refer to him as Jack. Jack and I will spend the next 47 minutes teaching you about the history of Halloween parties, and what constitutes a really good one.

Jack's favorite witch of all time is Mad Madam Mim from The Sword in the Stone. She is Merlin's rival, and angrily (and perhaps drunkenly) challengers him to a Wizard's Duel: a fight between wizards where they use shape-shifting magic to attempt to outwit (and presumably kill) each other.

I say "presumably kill" because that's what I assumed happened when I was a kid. The clip cuts off after Merlin in billy goat form headbutts Mim off a cliff. It wasn't until years later when I actually watched the full movie that I realized there's a bit more to it afterwards.

Next is the Night on Bald Mountain sequence from Fantasia. Jack claims this is the site of the first Halloween party. That must have been really intense. There's everything to love about this sequence; the visuals and music are perfectly spooky, and it's pretty great to see Disney really get down with the devil.

There are two short clips from some Mickey and Minnie cartoons: "Pluto's Sweater" and "Mickey's Parrot".

"Mickey's Parrot" features rifle-toting Mickey letting his imagination get the better of him. This was always one of my favorite clips, but watching it now, it's a little disturbing. Mickey's deep-seated paranoia could lead to serious injury.

Next up is "Donald Duck and the Gorilla" or "Example #347 of Donald Duck being a complete dick to his nephews." It's a great short, but I can't help thinking about how, in real life, there's probably no way you could stick your head down into a gorilla's mouth and come out of it alive.

There's a lot of fun quirks in this short that make me smile. One of Donald's nephews accidentally dripping candle wax on his tail (which he pulls off in one solid piece), the final chase scene where they run across a long table, knocking out all the boards, and of course, the hilarious effects of tear gas!

The best part is definitely the Pluto's Judgement mash-up. It's mostly an edited version of "Pluto's Judgement Day" (which is a fantastic cartoon), with some clips from "Puss Cafe" and "Cat Nap Pluto" spliced into the beginning and end (the common theme is Pluto being tormented by cats, naturally.)

If you haven't seen "Pluto's Judgement Day", you're missing out on one of the most fucked-up shorts in cartoon history. Pluto is lured by a feline specter into a bizarre courtroom where he is shackled by the legs, neck, and tail by sentient ball and chains.

Pluto is mocked and abused (the cats swear him in with a booby-trapped telephone book that snaps his paw in a mousetrap when he touches it) and immediately found guilty despite lack of evidence. He is then carried off and burned alive in a kind of swing/chair contraption.

Some respite after that ghastly tale is offered in a silly clip from Peter Pan. They keep trying to play up Captain Hook as a scary, murderous pirate, but I'm not really buying it.

He clearly runs a very tight ship.
The funny thing about the ridiculous number of times I watched this video is that I saw these movie clips far more often than I ever saw the films themselves. I still think I've seen Peter Pan all the way through maybe twice, but I can recite this scene by heart.

Ah, 101 Dalmations. This clip starts with the dogs getting the brilliant idea of cover themselves with soot as a disguise and goes to the end of Cruella's pursuit/car crash.

This film is cute, but really disturbing: it's about the potential murder of over 100 adorable, fully cognizant puppies for the sake of fashion.

That's gonna hurt come winter.
There's a short clip of the poison apple/queen's death scene from Snow White. I guess it doesn't matter, but I have to wonder if the queen's transformation into the old hag was permanent. If so, you have to admire the dedication she had to murdering Snow White.

Next up is the Siamese cat scene from Lady and the Trap. Sorry, I mean the incredibly racist Siamese cat scene from Lady and the Tramp. Cats get a pretty bad rap in a lot of Disney franchises (their horrible abuse of Pluto in the above tale is another example), but, seriously? The cats are named Si and Am, have slanted eyes and buck teeth, and speak in broken English. Classic!

Disney's Halloween Treat finishes up with an extended sequence from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, a great movie narrated by Bing Crosby. It starts with the rival Brom Bones' attempt to frighten Ichabod with a scary song about the Headless Horseman, and goes all the way to the end. Jack adds a bit of commentary, and then it's off to the ending credits!

...the ending credits that feature live clips from the real Haunted Mansion! I think the credits were cut off on the recorded from TV version I always watched, so it was a surprise to me to see this when watching the one on Youtube.

I'm pretty sure these clips are from the Disneyland/New Orlean's Square version (not that it matters, as I think these areas are pretty similar in the Orlando park.)

Disney's Halloween Treat begins and ends with some orange-colored clips from The Skeleton Dance, which is a delight to watch. Disney's Halloween Treat has never been released on DVD, but it is available on VHS for a moderate collector's price.

See you tomorrow...maybe.

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