I can vividly recall that particular week before Halloween 1979, when I missed a week of 5th grade due to the flu. My fever was so high at times that I began to hallucinate, including once when during NBC’s airing of The Three Caballeros when Donald Duck, Jose Carioca, and Panchito Pistolas popped out of the TV screen and merrily danced away sweaty, Vicks-smothered minutes to my death right in the living room. Another time was during the only episode of Project U.F.O. where they couldn’t scientifically explain the flying saucer sighting. No one remembers that episode or that show so I must conclude that it was some Mark VII-produced fever dream. I must have also sickly imagined a TV movie starring Judd “Taxi” Hirsch and that nice lady from the Polaroid commercials as Dracula and a hideous witch, who had to join forces to save Halloween, return happiness to poorly dressed children, and sell lots of fucking candy corn. Years later, the Goodwill Video Store of the Internet confirmed that it wasn’t a Robitussin-soaked delusion at all but rather an actual ABC live action Halloween special called The Halloween That Almost Wasn’t!
The memories flooding back are making me woozy.
Our story begins with Count Dracula (Hirsch) awakened by Igor (Gibson) to view a breaking news story about the rumor that Halloween is about to be canceled, perhaps forever!
If it wasn’t reported on the Mustache News Network, it didn’t happen.
This scene begs the question: since when does Igor answer to Dracula? What happened to Renfield? (Please don't refer me to the novel. Just don't.) Was there some leveraged buyout of Dr. Frankenstein’s employee pool that’s never been reported? Anyway, judging from Hirsch’s bugged-out camping, maybe this story takes place in the Bela Lugosi Dracula continuity where the Frankenstein universe does indeed interact with Drac, so there’s that.
"I don’t drink vine, or know Tony Danza’s home number."
Meanwhile, a nearby family also hears the news that there may be no trick-or-treating this year. Mom and Dad nonchalantly drop trivial tidbits about the pagan history of Halloween and its many traditions and rituals rooted in harvest lore and myth in the hopes it may calm the kids down or qualify this show as educational.
Not pictured: Michael Myers tapping at the front window.
Cut back to Transylvania…
Or Tarrytown, NY
Dracula calls upon all the monstrous icons of Halloween to gather in the castle to come up with a solution to the holiday problem, which has just reached Threat Level Pumpkin. First up is Warren the Werewolf (Riley).
Warren's name is a tip of the furry hat to Warren Zevon
Next, Zabaar The Zombie (Elic) who is either the King of the Undead or the King of East Coast Delis.
The Mummy (Fitch) emerges from his geometrical crypt to offer sage tactical advice or provide a cheap alternative to toilet paper.
“Where’s that Brendan Fraser son-of-a-bitch?!”
And lastly is Frankenstein’s Creature, who based on a then-recent Mel Brooks interpretation is obsessed with singing and dancing terribly.
Yep, ready for X-Factor.
Mysteriously missing from this monstrous summit is The Witch. Her absence makes Frankenstein’s Creature howl a few bars from La Boheme.
Or maybe it was Christina Aguilera.
When the Witch finally shows up she admits to being behind the rumors to end Halloween, and blackmails Dracula to give up his post as leader of the monsters else she won’t make her annual flight over the moon that kicks off the holiday. She makes a list of demands which include more control over merchandising and better working conditions.
And lots and lots of Noxema. LOTS.
Dracula refuses to give up any power and dismisses her demands. She then admits that she wasn’t interested anyway and that she’s just tired of being ugly and wants Halloween to take a hike. She escapes to her castle where Dracula orders the monsters to attack. Their initial attempt fails miserably.
Igor goes both ways: dead and undead.
Ultimately, the tired, clumsy, and unorganized monster-oppressors and the greedy one-percenter aristocrat Dracula are unable to match The Witch’s newfound liberal radicalism, self-empowered will to take back her body and image from cooptation, and progressive feminist socialism.
Plus, she unleashes The Three Musketeers to swash their blades on some monster butt.
We ain’t shit without Paul W.S. Anderson.
Drac loses his shit. The battle is lost. The monsters are sad.
“Well, I guess it’s back to serving Dick Cheney in Hell.”
But in the end the Witch’s cold heart is warmed by the kids from before who squirt a few tears and beg Witch to ditch her beliefs and forsake herself to the patriarchal corporate oligarchy.
“I give up. But you kids are getting eaten later! OK?”
So Witch flies over the moon and Halloween is saved! Um, somehow.
“I’m personally gonna crap on every one of you down there! HEEHEEHEE!!!”
And in the end, the message is all conflict can be resolved (YET AGAIN) by disco dancing!
Deep down, I truly wish this was a delirious childhood memory.
So there you have it – The Halloween That Almost Wasn’t, an almost forgotten relic of 70s children’s TV. Now I know that nine-year-old Tremendito wasn’t crazed by brain heat. Actually, the special ran for years on the Disney Channel’s Halloween slate of specials during the 80s and 90s and was released on video as The Night Dracula Saved the World, which is really messed up because The Witch was the real radical hero (even though she buckled under to the system in the end) and Dracula did nothing but look constipated.
“I vant to dreenk your prune juice!”
Judd “Camp Count” Hirsch, Mariette “” Hartley, Henry “In Between Altmans” Gibson, Jack “Kill Dr. Hartley” Riley, John “Supreme That Guy” Schuck, Josip “Conquered Santa” Elic.
You can watch the whole damn thing here.
I cringed as soon as I saw Judd's name.
"Dear John....dear John...by the time you read these lines, I'll be gone..."
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