1982: Disney's Halloween Treat / A Disney Halloween

This anthology of Disney clips introduced a generation to such clips as "Donald Duck: Trick or Treat" (featuring the venerable June Foray as the witch) "Lonesome Ghosts," "The Old Mill," "Pluto's Judgement," and that thing with Donald Duck and the Gorilla. It also, using that Fantasia clip featuring Chernobog the Demon dancing to Mussorgsky's "Night on Bald Mountain," taught us that classical music could be just as evil as heavy metal. No wonder you hear so much more about this one nowadays than its companion, "Disney's Christmas Gift."

 There are two versions of this - Disney's Halloween Treat, the one that I remember seeing on TV in the early 80s, which was narrated by a live action talking jack-o-lantern (which my brother and I called The Great Talking Pumpkin). The next year there was a another with many of the same clips (but lacking the Headless Horseman sequence), and with a section of “villain” clips narrated by the Magic Mirror in the middle. The Magic Mirror was played by  Hans Conried, who is also the voice of Captain Hook, not to mention the Grinch in Halloween is Grinch Night - Halloween Special royalty!).  This is mostly footage from the 1977 Disney’s Greatest Villains special.
This version was retitled A Disney Halloween (though it still used the "Halloween Treat" song in the intro). The VHS tape I have of it is from a Magical World of Disney airing from the late 80s or early 90s (not sure which, but Roger Rabbit is in the intro, so it’s at least that recent). It features an introduction by Michael Eisner in which he refers to it as “A Disney Halloween Treat,” mashing up the two titles and confusing things further.

To the chagrin of Disney fans everywhere, it's never been remastered and put on DVD in either incarnation (though the 1982 version was put out on VHS; copies command big bucks now). 1970s and 80s nostalgia is not something Disney is that concerned with at the moment - they've also never released their terrific 1980s made-for-tv movies on DVD.

Other than the framing devices and a few different clips, the specials are more of less the same: a compilation of spooky, Halloween-oriented Disney shorts. And almost every clip's a winner. The part about the "mean chapter in history" that talks about superstitions and hanging witches in the later version (using clips from the 1956 Great Cat Family) is especially nifty. Finding the original “cat” clip, which has the same lines read by Walt Disney himself, and goes on a bit longer with stories of witch hunting, was a similar feeling to the one I got upon finally seeing that deleted Return of the Jedi scene when Luke builds a new lightsaber.

Having reviewed both versions recently, I'll say without much hesitation that, except for the title screen, the later, longer version is a lot better - just having the "mean chapter in history" section gives it a major edge (though not having the Headless Horseman sequence is a major oversight). The narration is a lot better, too - the talking pumpkin special effect in the first version just isn't very “special” at all - it's not even a very good puppet. No wonder they replaced it for the later TV airings. The later version is the one that should get a DVD release, with the talking pumpkin bits and original opening mixed into the "special features." They could even throw in the Jonathan Winters stuff from the "Halloween Hall o'Fame," which is essentially "Disney's Halloween Treat version 1.0."

In 1984, there was actually a version 2.2 - "Disney's Haunted Halloween," an 8 minute thing about the history of Halloween made of various old Disney clips giving the history of Halloween customs (crediting most things to the Druids, which isn't exactly accurate) and giving a lot of hardcore Halloween safety tips. They made it look like the Great Talking Pumpkin (from version 2.) is the narrator, but I'm about 90% sure they just overdubbed new dialogue over the old footage of the pumpkin puppet (Goofy's dialogue in the clip is all just new dialogue over old clips).

Of all the Halloween specials, I think I have the most vivid memories of watching this one - or the most specific memories, anyway. Some, like It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, I have no specific memory of watching as a a kid, though I know I must have. Most of them I remember watching in my living room or at my grandparents’ house or a friend’s house. This one I remember watching many places - it the living room of the house where we lived until I was three. In the living room of the house we moved into later. At my grandmother’s house. At our house in Atlanta as a teenager. At the first house I lived in on my own with my Disney-obsessed roommates. And now at my apartment with my wife and stepson.  I remember being five years old on my first Disneyland trip and being afraid of the Haunted Mansion until my dad told me the narrator was the same guy who did The Great Talking Pumpkin.  Disney is obsessed with creating memories nowadays…. sometimes I wish they’d do more to help relive the ones we already have.

BUT, both versions 2.0 and 2.1 are now on youtube; here's the opening of each:

INTRO / PART 1 (talking pumpkin version - Version 2.0)

INTRO / Part 1 (later, Magic Mirror version with michael Eisner intro, titled "A Disney Halloween" - version 2.1)

Part 2 (with The Old Mill)

Part 4 (with the awesome "mean chapter in history" portion)

Disney's Haunted Halloween - "the Disney Halloween clip show version 2.2."

And here's the relevant part of The Great Cat Family
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Mike said...

The very beginning of the "mean chapter" section (where the clouds form hands around the moon) is lifted from Disney's version of the Headless Horseman. The remainder is from a 1956 Disneyland episode called "The Great Cat Family". At least some portions of this show (including the footage used in this section) are available ou YouTube.

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Unknown said...

I really like halloween, the party and i love to go out with my litle girl, she really enjoy to ask in every house for a candy.
In the night the party is only between my husband and i, usually i buy viagra and my husban is a real machine.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for posting all of these links! They have brought back so many great memories!

C-Man said...

Poor Donald

Unknown said...

My parents used to play it on VHS for me all the time, the extended version "A Disney Halloween" Unfortunately I found that everything from the magic mirror on was lost to the void. I've been trying to mix and merge a few versions I found online w/ the version I had on VHS, and it's coming along really well. Should I ever complete it, and it lives up to a proper standard, I'll find a way to share what I can.


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