Sunday, October 10, 2021

31 Nights of Scary Movies: "Disney's Halloween Treat"

 Next up in the film project, I watched something that has a special place in my heart— and is likely a very large part of why I am writing this blog here now. “Disney’s Halloween Treat” was a 1982 Halloween episode of Walt Disney, that went on to be updated and broadcast throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s. The special features some of Disney’s most classic and Halloween appropriate clips— and watching it again, as always, takes me right back to being a child at Halloween. 

 The special is anchored by a terrific theme song s a child of the 1980s, “Disney’s Halloween Treat” was such a major event in my Halloween life. One of the first Halloween specials I saw and remember, the timeless, classic, beautiful images that it put in front of captive audiences of kids every year captured the imaginations of generations, and will go on to do so. The segments from the Haunted Mansion, paired with the Queen from Snow White becoming the Witch, alongside the immortal “Night on Bald Mountain,” are so direct, and so perfect; and so Halloween. “Bald Mountain,” especially, says so much about the appeal of Halloween; one night a year, when the dark forces release ghost and goblins from their tombs to dance and celebrate the ending of the year, observing the harvest festivals of death: that is the absolute very essence of Halloween.

 The special was, according to the Internet, updated and changed over the years it aired. First narrated by a pumpkin, and later the Mirror from Snow White, the segments appear to have changed and been shuffled around. Some remember the sequence with Donald and his nephews and the witch Witch Hazel as the final act; other’s the conclusion of 1949’s Bing Crosby sung “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”

 While it many years ago was released on VHS, “Disney’s Halloween Treat” is one of the very few Disney programs that are not available on the mammoth streaming service Disney +. And people online only speculate why. Having watched the version available on Youtube for (at least) the last ten years, I was excited when I first got Disney + to be able to see a properly restored version of the show; still, I am waiting for that. Be they copyright concerns, or the fact it was one episode of weekly programming released over the years, Disney doesn’t seem to be aware of the nostalgia filled audience that is just waiting to watch this somewhere other than Youtube.

 Maybe children of today won’t appreciate the wise-cracking Mirror, the talking pumpkin, and the animation that goes back further into history every year. Maybe today’s kids will have their own specials they yearn to watch again in 50 years. But I think just maybe the audiences of today, who have never seen these clips paired with the theme song that is to me and so many others of my generation quintessentially Halloween—maybe they would have their haunted hearts kindled for Halloween by “Disney’s Halloween Treat,” too.

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