Do you remember the 1977 Halloween Dr. Seuss' Grinch special?
1966 brought us a beloved Christmas classic that's been watched for decades and remade — with varying degrees of success, depending on who you ask — twice. How The Grinch Stole Christmas came out among a wave of animated family Christmas specials, including A Charlie Brown Christmas and Frosty the Snowman. To this day, it holds a rare 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and TV Guide has ranked it #1 on their list of best holiday family specials.
But what many don't know is that eleven years later, we got a sequel...sort of. Halloween is Grinch Night differs from the Christmas special in that it was not based on an existing book by Dr. Seuss. However, he did write the special for ABC. Since the Grinch is back to his old ways of terroizing the Whos of Whoville, we can make the leap that this is a prequel of sorts to the earlier program.
Another notable thing is that while this special was clearly trying to cash in on Halloween the same way the first one was with Christmas, the word "Halloween" doesn't turn up in this special at all. While the special is called Halloween is Grinch Night, no characters actually say "Halloween". Instead, it takes place when the "sour-sweet wind" brings the Grinch down for "Grinch Night".
Since Boris Karloff, who narrated How The Grinch Stole Christmas, passed away in 1969, this time our tale is told by Hans Conried, voice of Captain Hook and a returning visitor on Gilligan's Island. Much like Karloff, Conreid also voices the Grinch. The story is about a family with patriarch Josiah, voiced by Hal Smith (who many of you may know best as town drunk Otis Campbell on The Andy Griffith Show). His grandson, Euchariah, is blown away by the wind and comes across the Grinch coming down to menace the Whos on Grinch Night.
After a small scare, the Grinch dismisses Euchariah and continues on his way. However, Euchariah distracts the Grinch by challenging him to scare him properly. What follows is something that could have only come out of the Seventies, a true trippy mind-bending sequence in full Dr. Seuss nonsensical glory. Strange creatures, abstract shapes, and non-Euclidian architecture menace Euchariah in a pink elephants-esqe song...until the wind dies down and the Grinch has to retreat back to his cave on Mt. Crumpit.
This special did not become the same enduring classic that the Christmas special did, perhaps because of the weak tie to Halloween. However, it's still well worth a watch. Hans Conried was in poor health during the production of the next Grinch special, The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat, and died of a heart attack before it aired. Grinch Night would be the last special to feature him.
Mel Blanc also turns up as a voice, albeit in a small role. He's part of the chorus in the spooky, strange sequence near the end.
If you need another reason to watch... Have you ever wondered where this meme comes from? Yep. Grinch Night.