The Halloween Tree, on TBS
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This animated movie aired in 1993, at which time I didn't get TBS, so I wasn't even aware of the movie. I think the first time I ever heard of it was in 2013, when I was searching the internet for Halloween specials I might never have heard of. And then I got the DVD for Christmas, so I watched it on Halloween 2014. Anyway, it's based on a 1972 novel by Ray Bradbury, who also narrates the movie.
One Halloween, four kids are getting ready for trick-or-treating: Tom dresses as a skeleton, Jenny as a witch, Ralph as a mummy, and Wally as a monster. They all go to meet up with their friend Pip, who is the leader of their group. But they don't find him where they were supposed to meet, so they go to his house, where they see an ambulance taking him away. They decide to go to the hospital, and take a shortcut through a ravine in the woods. As they walk (and Jenny rides her bike), they spy Pip running ahead of them, though he doesn't look quite solid. They follow him until they come upon a spooky old house, where they meet a creepy old man named Mr. Moundshroud (voiced by Leonard Nimoy). He's upset because he has an appointment with Pip, but Pip keeps avoiding him. Finally the kids see that Pip has become a ghost, and he climbs up a tree full of Jack-o-Lanterns. He steals one of the pumpkins and flies away. Mr. Moundshroud must chase him, and the children ask to go with him.
They build a giant kite that lets them fly through the air and back in time, and finally find themselves in ancient Egypt. But their kite gets destroyed, so I wondered how they'd get back home. Meanwhile, they learn a bit about an Egyptian custom similar to Halloween, and Ralph learns about mummies. They find Pip, but he flies away again, so they continue following him. This time the children all cling to Moundshroud's cape, and I wondered why they even needed the kite if they could have just done that all along, but whatever. Next they arrive in the Dark Ages, and visit Stonehenge. Jenny and the others learn about witches, and Moundshroud tells them real witches didn't do magic, and explains a bit about why they were feared. Anyway, after that they fly on broomsticks, arriving next at the unfinished Notre Dame cathedral, where Wally learns about gargoyles. And again Pip escapes, and this time the others follow him by flying on gargoyles. Which was pretty cool, I guess. Finally they arrive at a Mexican Day of the Dead celebration, and then Tom learns about skeletons, and how we can overcome our fear of death by facing it head-on.
Eventually they return home, and the movie has a happy ending. Along the way, each child had shared some memories of their friendship with Pip. And while I feel like the things they all learned about the history of Halloween and various related subjects was cursory at best, it was still better than I might have expected from a movie like this. Indeed, nothing about the movie was great, but it was definitely good. Kind of cheesy, but good. And I'm very glad to have finally seen it.