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Halloween entertainments

2010 October 27

This is Halloween 2010

Great Halloween entertainment:

“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” is probably at the top of many Halloween movie lists, and deservedly so even though it’s actually an animated TV special rather than a movie. (Is it kind of weird, though, that they’re producing Blu-Ray versions of Peanuts cartoons now? I mean, part of the charm of Peanuts is the signature scribbly style of Charles Schultz. How much point is there to increasing the resolution past a certain level…? Oh well.)

Personally, as much as I love “Great Pumpkin,” I think I would place Garfield’s Halloween special right up there next to it. Apparently it even won an Emmy; I just know that as a youngster I found it not only entertaining, but (unlike “The Great Pumpkin”) actually more than a little scary. Understand, I was seven years old in 1985, and for years I’ve distinctly recalled the scene where the spooky pirate ghosts come roiling out of the fog giving me a serious case of the creeps.

Last fall I watched the show for the first time in probably close to twenty years, and y’know what? Those really were some creepy pirate ghosts! Given that this was a TV special produced in 1985, the eerie light effects that the animators managed for those ghosts are amazing. Small wonder I was afraid of them!

For a different, more adult kind of creepy Halloween story, I can strongly recommend The Night Country, by Stewart O’Nan. I read this one last fall. Very good, very thoughtful and unusual interpretation of the concept of ghosts and their relationship with the living.

Another not-for-children Halloween work I can recommend is Blood: The Last Vampire. That is, the animated film, not the live-action movie released more recently to box-office indifference. The whole thing is heavily atmospheric, set amidst Halloween festivities at an American military base school in Japan, in the 1960s. The animation quality is (pardon the expression) drop-dead gorgeous; it’s worth watching for that alone, really. I think the story is very good too, though. I believe this was originally meant to be the beginning of a trilogy which was never completed, so there a number of things left unexplained, but the elliptical elements actually work very well with the style and content of the story. I think the film strikes just the right balance between hints and unanswered questions to be mysterious without feeling frustratingly incomplete.

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