Halloween is Grinch Night (1977)

“It’s a wonderful night for eyebrows. It’s a wonderful night for teeth! It’s a wonderful night for Grinch Night!”

Justin’s rating: I’d buy this for $6.60

Justin’s review: For those who thought that the animated Grinch was the sole domain of Christmastime, it might be an unsettling shock to discover that there was another TV holiday special featuring our favorite curmudgeonly ne’er-do-well. Indeed, in 1977, ABC produced Halloween is Grinch Night, a half-hour program that was a prequel to the 1966 How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I have no idea how popular or obscure it became after that, but I can say that I never saw it as a kid and only became aware of it due to frequent mentions around the internet as of recent Halloweens.

In any case, it’s definitely a must-see at least once in your life. Think about it: The Grinch’s anti-social attitude goes so much better with Halloween than Christmas. If you were upset at his eventual conversion to big-hearted floofiness in his Christmas special, it’s thrilling to return back to when he was a low-level terrorist who dedicated his life to scaring the who out of the Whos.

As Halloween — er, Grinch Night — approaches, the Grinch gets a wagon full of tricks together and heads out to bring terror to Whoville. Considering how much he’s probably troubled them in the past, it makes sense that the Whos have a Grinch task force to watch out for this green jerk. But it’s a little kid named Euchariah who attempts to stop Grinch — a noble action that lands him a tour right into the heart of monster country.

So basically the whole special is this kid trying to keep the Grinch from reaching the town before the bad weather lifts (and the Grinch, therefore, must return to his mountain). It’s… not a lot of plot to go on, and so the show’s creators pad it out with a lot of unnecessary narration and very lackluster songs. “You’re a Mean One, Mister Grinch” this ain’t. And if you’re really familiar with the narrator and Grinch voice of the Christmas special, it’s a little jarring to hear other voices taking over these roles here.

Yet despite those big flaws, this special pours a lot of energy in capturing the Halloween feel. It’s gorgeously animated and just oozes a blustery autumn with spooks and terrors around every corner. Add to that the distinctively Dr. Seussian look of the land, and you kind of want to continue to watch it just to see what weird and imaginative visuals the creators will come up in the next minute.

And those visuals are downright freaky at times as the animators attempt to fashion a nightmare landscape. What would the Grinch’s darkest dreams look like? You’re gonna find out when you watch this half-hour of surreal terror! Good luck, and I’ll see you on the other side.

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