It’s October. The month of Pumpkin Spice, of sweaters, of the end of Daylight Savings Time. More importantly, October is Halloween month. This year I’m keeping to a Halloween themed Friday Movie night owl. To start it out comes a tiny made-for-TV animated special from Canada titled WITCH’S NIGHT OUT (1978).
It’s Halloween and two children, Tender and Small (yes, that’s their real names) just want to have a fun Halloween. But no one gets scared by their costumes and the adults just want to change the holiday to be more relevant to them. The only partially grown up who get them is their hippie babysitter, Bazooey. Meanwhile, the town’s resident witch is upset because Halloween just isn’t what it used to be. The witch and the kids stumble upon each other and *poof* the magic of Halloween can be recaptured. The kids get turned into real-life versions of their costumes, a ghost and a werewolf, while Bazooey gets zapped into Frankenstein’s monster. The townsfolk, like good townsfolk, freak out at the weird and unknown and start hunting down the “monsters” as a frenzied mob. It would be easy for the witch to just turn them back to their human selves…except she lost her wand, and it was picked up by a hoodlum named Malicious.
It’s a 20 minute kid’s cartoon so we know it will all end well, and quickly. In those few minutes the cartoon makes quite an impression. It has a completely surrealistic style, done in blocky, monochrome colors where the humans look as otherworldly as the monsters. I’m sure this was meant as a subtle way of establishing the “who are the real monsters” theme. That, or it could be that it’s an easier style to animate. The Witch was voiced by the great Gilda Radner and Malicious was voiced by Katherine O’Hara. Those two could read grocery lists and have it be fascinating.
WITCH’S NIGHT OUT is actually a follow up/sequel to THE GIFT OF WINTER (1974), using much of the same production talent and even the same bizarre character names. I haven’t watched it yet, but if it’s as good as WITCH’S NIGHT OUT I’ll use that during the holiday season.
For your viewing pleasure:
Question of the night: what was your favorite Halloween costume from your childhood?