Today’s Halloween DVD pick is one that was buried deep down in my early childhood memories for a long time.
Released back in 1978–three years before I was born–Witch’s Night Out is an animated television Hallowen special starring Gilda Radner that originally aired on NBC. However, my first and possibly only encounter with it was in elementary school, somewhere between first and third grade, when Witch’s Night Out was shown as a special treat on a Friday before the Halloween weekend. (Do kids even still celebrate Halloween in school anymore?) I can still remember the school librarian wheeling the big cart with the wood-paneled TV and VCR into the library and telling us all to be quiet for the movie.
Even by late 80’s standards, Witch’s Night Out with it’s simple, “Tootsie Pop commercial” quality of animation looked old to us kids–like we knew it was from before our time. The crazy, robotic disco music was also a good indicator. Toss in the fact that some of the characters look like they’re naked, and Witch’s Night Out is a source of endless giggles to a group of eight or nine year old kids who are amped up on sugar, impatiently counting down the minutes left in the Friday before Halloween. Yes, we laughed at this movie. And I’m pretty sure we pissed off the librarian, too.
It wasn’t until I re-watched this cartoon as an adult did I truly appreciate it. For twenty-some odd years or so I had completely forgotten all about Witch’s Night Out, and if it wasn’t for this blog post over at HalloweenSpecials.net, I might never have re-discovered this lost gem.
As far as I know, an officially sanctioned DVD of Witch’s Night Out does not yet exist–it is only available on VHS. What you’re looking at here is actually an Asian bootleg DVD of the film which I purchased through Amazon. In fact, I’m a little confused as to how something like this is even allowed to be sold on Amazon. But when it comes to my nostalgia, I am not above seeking it out from seedy places. If/when an official DVD is ever released, I’ll be first in line to buy it. But this crappy VHS-transfer bootleg with its terrible inkjet artwork and cheesy menu screen will have to tide me over until then.
As I mentioned above, Witch’s Night Out stars Gilda Radner, who does the voice of the Witch. The Witch lives all alone in the old mansion at the edge of town, depressed that she’s old and washed up, and that nobody cares about her anymore. On Halloween night, siblings Small and Tender are excited to go trick-or-treating, but soon get sad when everybody recognizes them in their costumes. Their fun ruined, they decide to go home early. After their Uncle Bazooey reads them a bedtime story about a fairy godmother, the kids wish they could be real monsters for just one night. Naturally the Witch appears to grant their wishes, and Small thinks she’s a real fairy godmother. The Witch takes them all to crash the town’s Halloween party, and things turn chaotic when everybody thinks they’re real monsters.
It’s actually quite a charming little cartoon if you can look past its rough edges, and more importantly, it puts me in the Halloween spirit. I’ll leave you with my favorite quote from the Witch herself:
“This is what Halloween is all about, my darlings. Every day we go about our lives in the same old way, but once a year we can be whatever and whomever we please! Pretend! Let your secret fancies run wild!”
Watch it backwards! (While you still can.)
Someone on YouTube uploaded entire thing if you want to watch it, but the video has been “mirrored” (i.e. flipped backwards) to skirt YouTube’s automatic copyright protection system. It’s probably just a matter of time before this gets taken down, so get your fill of 70’s made-for-TV Halloween nostalgia while you can!
What is 31 DVDs of Halloween?
As a special feature for the Halloween Countdown, I’m showcasing 31 Halloween DVDs from my personal collection. I have a lot of Halloween-related and horror DVDs in general, but for this year’s countdown I’m only going to focus on my absolute favorites–the ones I consider 100% essential for my enjoyment of the holiday.