In honor of halloween, and due to the fact that this website hasn't been updated since 2007, Ive decided to do a review of a very special halloween cartoon. Bugs Bunnys Howl-oween special, which I remember watching constantly as a child, but havent seen in over ten years. It seems like for the most part, the network television exectuives just don't care about the halloween special nowadays. Your only guarentee is The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror, and that usually doesn't even air until November.
Bugs Bunnys Howl-Oween special first aired in 1978. It was a compilation of halloween and scary themed looney cartoons, all intertwined in a story of a day in the life of witch hazel, only this day just so happens to be halloween so you know shit is gonna go NUTS. The legendary Mel Blanc voices nearly every character, which they managed to squeeze a suprizing number of them into this 25 minute special. In addition to witch hazel, Bugs, Tweety Bird, Porky Pig, Sylvester J. Pussycat, Daffy Duck and Speedy Gonzales are all along for the ride.
The episode starts with an unknown character dressed as a witch, who is trick or treating all by their loser selves. After getting the shit scared out of himself by the witch, he runs home to cry. We then find out that the person in the costume is Daffy Ducks son. Daffy had a son? Anyway, at home, Daffy is telling his son (?) not to be stupid and that witches can't possibly exist, all the while unfazed to the miracle that he himself is a anthropomorphic talking duck. So Daffy drags his kid back to the old ladys house because he doesn't have anything better to do.
In the midst of cooking up a witches brew, Witch Hazel realizes that its halloween. She does this by looking at a calendar. Apparently the trick or treaters that was just at her house didn't clue her in to this fact.
So bugs shows up, also dressed as a witch. Hazel goes nuts in awe of how ugly his costume is. They almost share some tea in front of a completely illogical background.
After an awkward segue, we are now in a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde cartoon. We are given no introduction here, just a short old man that pronounces that he is ashamed and then drinks some bubbling red potion. Ive never read 'Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde' but im assuming that its not until halfway through the book when the protagonist transforms for the first time. Thats why I watch looney tunes and dont read books - all the bullshit is cut out.
For some reason, Bugs is playing classical piano. Mr Hyde shows up, scares the fuck out of bugs, and a complicated chase scene ensues.
Sylvester the cat, unfazed by all the screaming going on, sleeps on the window ledge. Tweety flys up to the ledge, and in an effort to hide from sylvester, jumps into a bottle of the mr hyde formula. This turns tweety into a ginormous monster who could awesomely fuck that cat up on the first try. Sylvester gets so scared that he literally falls to pieces, and a complicated chase scene ensues.
Back in the main story, Bugs drinks some Hyde formula and turns into a big green monster. It always kind of bothered me that while both Bugs and Dr Jekyll turn into GREEN monsters, Tweety stays yellow. Bugs goes back to witch hazel for some reason in order to piss her off or something, but it ends up backfiring when she tries to cook him in a soup.
You know how sometimes cartoons have things that will go completely over a childs head, and when you watch the same thing as an adult, you utter outloud, 'what the fuck'? Well, that happens in this cartoon too. Besides a reference to Za Za Gabor, Witch Hazel, celery in hand exclaims - 'now let mother scrub your back' - before erupting into a hysterical laughing fit. She then jumps in the air and you can see her underwear. As an adult, I still don't understand it, but now I can tell that it's definately a little fucked up.
Ah yes, I was hoping the classic looney tunes anvil would show up in this cartoon. I never understood in these cartoons why people would so graciously accept anvils being handed to them. Like in this case, its always a bad idea.
After another awkward segue, we find Witch Hazel back at her house, complaining that she never gets any time off. I guess ive never realized that BEING a witch is her actual job. All she needs now is someone to fill in for her while she goes and takes a vacation. Because apparently she has a boss that checks in on her from time to time to make sure that she is 'witching'. She casts a clone spell on Speedy Gonzalez, who for the purposes of this cartoon, lives in her house as well.
Remember when this cartoon had a storyline? Well its time to dive back on in. Daffy shows up to witch hazels house - without his son, (who we never see again for the rest of this cartoon, by the way). Here, Daffy is able to confirm that this lady is actually nice - even though this is actually Speedy, complete with the voice of a mexican dude.
They drink some tea and daffy turns into that screwball creature, which I believe the only other appearence being in that cartoon with daffy being tormented by the animator with the giant pencil. Pretty awesome.
The real witch hazel comes back from her vacation, and gets really pissed off about daffys transformation. Apparently being a witch and turning people into monsters and cooking people is cool, but its completely unacceptable to be a screwball creature.
Driving into town is porky and sylvester. Its kind of weird to see Sylvester again, because this time he plays a completely different character. Its a little unsettling that not only is he now unable to speak, but apparently Porky OWNS him. Sylvester is scared as fuck about everything that moves, although its equally frightning to the viewer that while porky wears a hat, coat and tie, he doesn't wear any pants.
Everything in the hotel is hellbent on killing porky. Later we learn that it is the hotels mice that are doing this. They try to hang him from a moosehead, push his bed out the window, drop an anvil on him, its actually pretty morbid. It gets worse when the mice roll out another cat - except this one is tied up with the implication that he is going to be excecuted. Eventually sylvester gives the fuck up and makes a run for the hills, most likely leaving porky pig to die.
Now its Witch Hazels turn to drink the hyde formula. In a desperate effort to use an old cartoon, she turns into a vampire. Its even more obvious in a jumpcut from old cartoon to new cartoon and witch hazel is drawn completely different. Bugs decides to crash for the night, but not before picking up a book of 'magic words and phrases'. This book gives him the information that saying 'abracadabra' will turn a vampire into a bat. 'hocus pocus' will turn him back. A complicated chase ensues, ending with bugs dressed in a baseball catchers outfit. Im not even gonna think about the continuity errors and just write it off as a halloween costume.
Bugs tosses a bag of magic powder that turns the witch into a hot female rabbit. Rock. The cartoon ends on a suprisingly happy note - because 'nobody wants to be alone on halloween'. As weird as it is, its kind of refreshing to think that a looney tunes character has the chance of getting laid.
Even though this special was mostly an awkward compilation of old looney tunes cartoons, I really really enjoy it. It has a strange nostalgic charm that does a great job at capturing the feeling of haunted castles, lonely ghost towns, mysterious creatures, and halloween in general. The segment with porky and sylvester was hands down the best, for both ambience and for how morbid it was. I wish there were more things on tv like this, especially around the holidays.. In the meantime lets all sit back and wait for the ONE showing of the Great Pumpkin before they skip thanksgiving entirely and we get to sit and wait for the ONE showing of 'Merry Christmas Charlie Brown'.
-10/31/08 by James