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Old 09-16-2013, 08:29 PM   #4
DVD-fanatic-9
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Location: Horror
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(1983)



Okay, so: now that I've got myself a copy sitting in front of me, I can tell you the exact differences between Disney's Halloween Treat and A Disney Halloween. Apparently, this was released the year after Treat as a grand expanded edition with a lot more bells and whistles. Though, some segments existing in the earlier special are snipped a bit (Snow White most notably is missing the Hag's demise, Peter Pan chooses a different, shorter, scene to feature, and Mickey's Parrot cuts the bit with Mickey and Pluto scared in bed). (And the clip from Pluto's Sweater featuring Minnie reading a monster book - probably the most interesting thing she ever did - is excised.)


And the narration changes. By that, I mean the actual monologues (most notably the intro to Donald Duck and the Gorilla and the exit line for the "Wizard's duel" clip from Sword in the Stone). But, yeah, the old narrator is gone in favor of That Famous Trailer Guy's voice. I'm going to shoot in the dark and say: Don LaFontaine? This guy. Although, you may also recognize the voice of the guy who narrated Treat. Since A Disney Halloween's narrator did a lot of horror trailers, you might be partial to him but I prefer Treat's guy. (As you can tell, since I'm the one who uploaded those Phantasm radio spots.)


Other than that, old clips are expanded (especially the clips from Fantasia, Trick or Treat, and Lonesome Ghosts) and there's quite a bit of new stuff. No surprise considering this is at least twice the size of Treat. Despite that, sadly, the creepy talking pumpkin is completely cut out except for part of a panning shot. And... unbelievably: the Cruella chase from 101 Dalmatians is missing and all clips from Disney's essential adaptation of Legend of Sleepy Hollow are thrown out entirely. That's cold, Disney. This came so close too to being the definitive Disney Halloween special. I don't know who gave them the same advice I was thinking but they took it to heart.


New clips include a sizeable chunk from The Old Mill, the whole of Winnie the Pooh's "Heffalumps and Woozles," an expanded piece from the Walt-hosted Wonderful World of Color episode "The Great Cat Family," Edgar the butler snatching the kittens and being harrassed by the dogs in The Aristocats, most of the climax from Mickey and the Beanstalk (best viewed in the 1947 feature, Fun and Fancy Free which I will definitely be talking about in detail later), Kaa's "Trust in Me" and partial conversation with Shere Kahn in The Jungle Book, the Queen's transformation in Snow White, a hefty dose of Sleeping Beauty's epic climax, and mini-bits from Cinderella, The Rescuers, Alice in Wonderland, and only a passing mention of Cruella (with insuing clip from the scene where she throws the wine bottle into the fire place).


As you can imagine, this special is a great improvement in most areas over Treat. Yet crippled by what it's missing. Edgar the butler and a shotgun-toting Medusa are great new touches; Kaa, Witch Hazel, and Maleficent are essential; and I'm glad we didn't lose Madam Mim and the Wizard's Duel or the Siamese Cats. But without "Pink Elephants on Parade" and, especially, Bing Crosby's Headless Horseman song and the chase scene right after, it's easier for me to say A Disney Halloween is naked. The Donald Duck short Trick or Treat is every bit as satisfying and timeless (and we finally get to hear that cartoon's actual song and see that final "jump scare" Disney added that makes an idea closer) but shouldn't be serving as a replacement. Let's be greedy and have them both.


At least this special doesn't waste any time. And at 88 minutes, I should be grateful there's so much here. And I am. But with just 28-30 more minutes, I would say there'd finally be room for almost everything that's missing. Including, and this just occured to me, even one Disney wolf villain. There are actually several. In fact, there are so many- picking a definitive one would be hard. There are wolves in The Three Little Pigs, Peter and the Wolf, Lambert the Sheepish Lion, The Sword in the Stone, and at least 2 sequels to Three Little Pigs. There are more, too. Including a clip from Bambi probably wouldn't go over well with parents since it would likely dampen the fun mood but it's always a thought.


There are a host of short cartoons with really creepy imagery. Most importantly- The Skeleton Dance, Haunted House (1929), The Mad Doctor, Babes in the Woods, The Worm Turns, Hell's Bells, and close to a dozen more I'm flaking on. Other film clips might have included the bone-chilling scene in Sleeping Beauty where Aurora in a trance is called to the tower to find the evil spinning wheel, Lampwick's transformation in Pinocchio, Mowgli meeting Shere Kahn in Jungle Book, Lady Tremaine discovering Cinderella was at the royal ball (still one of cinema's all-time scariest stares), Mickey and the zombie-gremlin broom army in Fantasia, and Donald going crazy in Mickey and the Beanstalk (also one of cinema's scariest stares).


And... now I'm done. There's a full version on YouTube and the quality is abysmal as you can imagine. But if you sit far enough away... the possibilities are endless. (Tee hee.)





(1987)



With Monster Hits, Disney essentially invents a great compromise between the Halloween Treat specials which itself becomes a fool-proof formula: grind the scenes down to images and pair them to pop songs, ala - obviously - MTV. There might be any number of films and shorts that are underrepresented but the use of clips is just brilliant: when Michael Jackson sings "you start to freeze," they cut to a clip of someone on ice turning blue, etc. And if you ever caught the many DTV clips that played on Disney (to all sorts of songs, usually used as filler between stuff like Dumbo's Circus and Welcome to Pooh Corner), you know how clever they were sort of using the clips as visual puns. Including just pairing Lonesome Ghosts, featuring Mickey, Donald, and Goofy as ghostbusters with... yeah, Ray Parker Jr.'s theme to the 1984 mega-blockbuster. Something about this situation almost makes me want to say: could Ramis and co. have been partially inspired by the short?


The song selection is fairly ingenius as well. Potentially somewhat unknown to Disney, Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Bad Moon Rising" and Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" were famously used in early 80's Universal horror films. Other songs include "Monster Mash" (of course), Electric Light Orchestra's "Evil Woman," Rockwell's "Somebody's Watching Me," Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)," Daryl Hall's "Dreamtime," Pat Benatar's "You Better Run," Spike Jonze's "That Old Black Magic," and Michael Jackson's "Thriller." Also somewhat interesting is the fact that Disney obviously had racked up new movies and shorts in the 4 years between this and Halloween Treat, several of which are included here: The Black Cauldron, Mickey's Christmas Carol, and there's a full promotional clip (hey- home video sales could always use a spiking) for Vincent Price's over-the-top Bond villain kill-trap in The Great Mouse Detective. No music though, when Price's "Goodbye, So Soon" isn't playing.


The host this time around is frequent Tim Burton cast-ee, Jeffrey Jones, doing his best Tim Curry. (Actually, with that in mind... who played Mr. Boogedy?) To show you the PC'ing of our culture began well before the Clinton years, Jones has clearly been instructed to censor the immortal phrase "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned," replacing "hell" with "heck." I don't know why- Rockwell sings it in "Somebody's Watching Me" and it passes through. He does a good job, though since he's stepping into the role Hans Conried has played for quite a while following his introduction as the character in Disney's Coke-sponsored 1950 Christmas television promo for Alice in Wonderland, he shouldn't be pressing his luck by agreeing to repeat a gag he did perfectly before: Medusa's bullets ricochet off her walls and pierce his mirror, causing him to get scared and run away.


It's no surprise that this is The best Disney Halloween special. It's a little less cheesy than Treat but every bit as fun as you'd expect. And then some. Not sure if the clips decided not to include anything from Bambi or Dumbo again but there's just so much stuff here and all of it bounces entertainingly off the picturesque lyrics. Jones is a very good replacement for Conried, several sequences just play Disney's music, and finally they restore the missing Bing Crosby number from Legend of Sleepy Hollow. And, hey, the songs just rule. All of them. Your day will be improved 20-fold after watching this, guaranteed.
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