Image courtesy of Halloween is Grinch Night Wikipedia
by Jacqueline Jedrych
“It’s a wonderful night for Grinch Night! Their troubles will now commence, oh I wouldn’t stay home on a night like this for sixty dollars and sixty cents!”
The Grinch may first evoke thoughts of Christmas, but did you know he’s not a fan of Halloween either? If you’re looking to get in the mood this spooky season, the perfect thing to watch is the bizarre lost classic, Halloween is Grinch Night. This 1977 TV special is a prequel to the hugely popular How the Grinch Stole Christmas, inspired by the book of the same title by Dr. Suess.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas, directed by Chuck Jones, was released in 1966. Met with instant acclaim, the film has been rerun basically every year since. Inspired by the 1957 children’s book, the movie has also been rebooted multiple times, from the screen, to toys, and even on Broadway. How the Grinch Stole Christmas debuted the character of the Grinch, a grumpy curmudgeon who lives atop Mt. Crumpit and hates the festivities of the Whos down in Whoville below.
Eleven years after the release of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the 25-minute TV special Halloween is Grinch Night premiered on ABC, but did not garner the attention that its yuletide counterpart did. The special was re-released as It’s Grinch Night for the 1992 videocassette release and, succinctly, Grinch Night for the sing-a-long videocassette release, to no increase in acclaim.
Halloween is Grinch Night features the popular Grinch character before his heart grew three sizes due to his Christmas Who run-in. Every Halloween, a sour-sweet wind blows, disturbing the Gree-Grumps, which disturbs the Hakken-Kraks, which disturbs the Grinch (voiced by Hans Conried), causing him to wreak havoc on the Whos below. The smell of the wind serves as a warning for them to board up their windows and doors for the night. One Who, Euchariah (voiced by Gary Shapiro), is swept away to Mt. Crumpit, and stumbles upon the Grinch as he is journeying back home. In an effort to save his village, Euchariah tries to delay the Grinch’s descent onto Whoville and approaches the large wagon pulled by the Grinch’s melancholic dog, Max. This annoys the Grinch, who decides to give Euchariah the spook’s tour. He is brought into what can only be described as a bizarre, psychedelic, nightmarish acid trip, akin to the pink elephant scene from Dumbo. He is surrounded by terrifying monsters and spooks, all narrated by a disembodied Grinch voice. A petrified Euchariah faces the spooks long enough for the sour-sweet wind to subside and the Grinch to give up his trek to Whoville and retire to his cave. The Grinch’s sad, abused dog Max returns to Whoville with Euchariah, where both are greeted as heroes. Up on Mt. Crumpit, the Grinch laments that he will miss the Grinch Night Ball, but promises his return the next time the sour-sweet wind blows.
For such a strange movie, Grinch Night has some remarkable moments. As they descend Mt. Crumpit, Max sings a hauntingly sad ballad about his life, overworked and abused by the Grinch. The spook tour that the Grinch traps Euchariah in is a veritable psychedelic masterpiece of animation. In fact, Halloween is Grinch Night was allegedly the favorite Grinch adaption of Theodore Geisel, Dr. Suess, himself. This would make sense, given the trippy illustrations that are featured throughout his books.
If you enjoy the Christmas Grinch movies and want to see him terrorize another holiday, Halloween is Grinch Night, while fever-dreamily odd, is good for 25 minutes of confused laughter, and an undoubtedly good time. It is available for free (shockingly) on YouTube.