The Halloween Tree (film)
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|The Halloween Tree|
1996 VHS Release Cover
The Halloween Tree|
by Ray Bradbury
|Written by||Ray Bradbury|
|Directed by||Mario Piluso|
|Narrated by||Ray Bradbury|
|Country of origin||
|Running time||69 minutes|
Hanna Barbera Productions|
|Original release||October 1993|
The Halloween Tree is a 1993 animated fantasy-drama television movie produced by Hanna-Barbera and based on Ray Bradbury's 1972 fantasy novel of the same name. The film tells the story of a group of trick-or-treating children who learn about the origins and influences of Halloween when one of their friends is spirited away by mysterious forces. The Halloween Tree stars Ray Bradbury as the narrator and Leonard Nimoy as the children's guide, Mr. Moundshroud. Bradbury also wrote the film's Emmy Award winning screenplay. The animation for the film was produced overseas for Hanna-Barbera by Fil-Cartoons in the Philippines.
The movie is often featured on Cartoon Network during the Halloween season. The film changes the novel's group of night travelers from eight boys to three boys and a girl. A longer limited edition "author's preferred text" of the novel was published in 2005, which included the screenplay.
The narrator (Ray Bradbury) describes one small town's preparations for Halloween night. Four friends are shown at their respective homes donning costumes excitedly: Jenny as a witch, Ralph as a mummy; Wally as a monster; and Tom as a skeleton. They plan to meet up with their best friend Pip but he doesn't appear. They go to Pip's house and see him being loaded into an ambulance. He has written them a note explaining that he is going to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy and that they should celebrate without him. They feel they cannot start Halloween without him, so they follow the ambulance to visit him at the hospital. Tom suggests a shortcut through the spooky woods: the dark and eerie ravine. They see what looks like a translucent Pip running along the ravine trail, and Tom leads them on, convinced that Pip has designed an elaborate hoax for them. The group races after Pip, who disappears near a towering and darkened mansion.
A man named Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud greets them inside. Moundshroud expresses disappointment that none of the children know what their costumes symbolize. He reveals that he is after the ghost of Pip. Pip seeks and steals a pumpkin with his face carved into it from Moundshroud's Halloween Tree of jack-o'-lanterns. Tom begs Moundshroud to let them come with him and help bring back Pip. Moundshroud initially refuses but relents: if they can keep up with him before dawn, then they might be able to retrieve the pumpkin and get Pip back, while also going on a scavenger hunt of sorts to learn about the significance of their costumes and the origins of Halloween. They begin their pursuit of Pip, traveling back in time.
First, they travel to Ancient Egypt to learn of the celebration called 'The Feast of the Ghosts'. Following Pip's spirit to a tomb in a pyramid, they learn about the significance of mummification. Ralph finds a weak-spirited Pip and begs him to come back. The group scares away the priests trying to embalm Pip and Pip disappears again.
Next, arriving at Stonehenge during the Dark Ages, they witness rituals carried out by Celtic druids and villagers of the old Celtic world. As Moundshroud teaches them, Pip briefly appears as a black cat. They come across a field of straw being harvested and made into brooms and discover a coven of witches chanting and celebrating the new year. Moundshroud helps the children escape a mob of anti-witch villagers by making some of the brooms fly, then knocks Pip off his broom. Jenny catches Pip but is afraid of losing him. He encourages her and then darts away.
They follow him to France and arrive at the unfinished Notre Dame Cathedral, learning of the cathedral's use of gargoyles and demons. The children use Moundshroud's magic to finish the cathedral, and Wally climbs to reach a Pip-shaped gargoyle that is holding Pip's pumpkin. He begs Pip to be strong; Pip flees again and the group follows.
Finally, in Mexico, they learn about the significance of skeletons during "Día de los Muertos" — the Day of the Dead festival. They look for a very weak Pip in a catacombs. Tom manages to get to Pip and apologizes to him, admitting that he feels guilty for the whole ordeal because he wanted something bad to happen to Pip so Tom could lead the group for once. Pip smiles and forgives him, promising to let him lead anytime he wants. Pip's spirit crumbles into dust and is gone.
Moundshroud tells the children they did not make it in time and Pip is now his property. The children offer him a year from the end of each of their lives in exchange for Pip's return. He accepts the deal and gives each of them a piece of a sugar candy skull with Pip's name on it to eat, sealing the bargain. Pip's spirit then revives and he snatches his pumpkin back from Moundshroud and flies out. The group is then immediately transported home. The children go to Pip's house to see if the experience was real, and are delighted to see him back from the hospital. At the mansion, Moundshroud blows out his pumpkin's candle and disappears; the Halloween Tree is assaulted by strong winds, blowing all the pumpkins away — all except for Pip's "pumpkin", which the children rescued by their sacrifice.
- Ray Bradbury - Narrator
- Leonard Nimoy - Mr. Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud
- Annie Barker - Jenny
- Darleen Carr - Additional Voices (voice)
- Lindsay Crouse - Additional Voices (voice)
- Alex Greenwald - Ralph
- Edan Gross - Tom Skelton
- Andrew Keegan - Wally
- Kevin Michaels - Pip
- Mark Taylor - Additional Voices (voice)
- Gordon Hunt - Recording Director
- Jill Ziegenhagen - Talent Coordinator
- Kris Zimmerman - Recording Director, Animation Casting Director
- David Kirschner - Executive Producer
- Mark Young - Co-Executive Producer
Home media releases
The Halloween Tree was released on VHS by Turner Home Entertainment in the 1990s. The first release on September 14, 1994 and its re-release on August 29, 1995 includes a Yogi Bear short Bewitched Bear, which is shown before the movie. Both the 1994 and 1995 releases also featured a free copy of the 1972 novel of the same name packaged inside each of the VHS tape copies. The movie was also released on LaserDisc with audio commentary by Ray Bradbury included. Turner re-released the film on VHS on September 10, 1996 as part of the Cartoon Network Video series with multiple re-issues by Warner Home Video from August 26, 1997 to August 22, 2000. On August 28, 2012, Warner Archive released the movie on DVD as part of the Hanna-Barbera Classics Collection series.
VHS release dates
- September 14, 1994 (Turner Home Entertainment)
- August 29, 1995 (Turner Home Entertainment)
- September 10, 1996 (Turner Home Entertainment/Cartoon Network Video)
- August 26, 1997 (Turner Home Entertainment/Cartoon Network Video/Warner Home Video)
- August 24, 1999 (Turner Home Entertainment/Cartoon Network Video/Warner Home Video)
- August 22, 2000 (Turner Home Entertainment/Cartoon Network/Warner Home Video)
DVD release date
- August 28, 2012 (Warner Home Video/Warner Archive)
- August 30, 2016 (Warner Home Video)
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