The Halloween Tree (1993)

halloween tree poster 1993 movie
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

Nice animation and family fun

Feels too history story based at points

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Halloween Tree

Studio:  Hanna-Barbera Productions

Genre(s):  Animated/Horror/Family

Release Date(s):  October 2, 1993

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

halloween tree pip jack o lantern

Magic Pumpkins of course

It is Halloween night and Jenny, Ralph, Tom, and Wally are prepared for their annual trick-or-treating.  When they discover Pip isn’t there, they discover that Pip has been rushed to the hospital for an appendectomy.  The appearance of boy looking like Pip leads Ralph Tom, Wally, and Jenny to the home of Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud and his Halloween Tree.  When Pip takes one the jack o’lanterns, the children and Moundshroud find themselves in an adventure through time to find him.

Directed by Mario Piluso, The Halloween Tree is Ray Bradbury’s adaptation of his own short story from 1972.  The animated film features art by Hanna-Barbera and originally aired on ABC on October 2, 1993.  The special won a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Writing in an Animated Program and was nominated for Outstanding Animated Children’s Program.

halloween tree carapace clavicle moundshroud

I’m some sort of time-travelling witch person

Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes is a Halloween classic.  I didn’t grow up reading a ton of Ray Bradbury and never read The Halloween Tree.  I had hoped something similar in tone to Something Wicked This Way Comes, but The Halloween Tree follows a more educational path instead of scares.

Through a really complicated story of ghost children, haunted houses, magic jack o’lanterns, and time travel, Bradbury explores the difference sources of the holiday of Halloween.  The movie is short, but for an adult, I feel it drags.  It also feels like it should have been a straight documentary, or a straight fantasy with documentary aspects.  The adventure and story isn’t adventuresome enough when it should be almost a Goonies-like fantasy.

halloween tree jenny tom ralph wally

Let’s go for adventure…ish times

The casting of the film is strong.  Ray Bradbury not only wrote the original story and screenplay, but he also narrates the film.  While this shows a devotion and a love of the product, he does sometimes comes off as sometimes reading the script.  He is joined by Leonard Nimoy who completely plays up the Mr. Moundshroud roll with glee.  It is over-the-top, but it is what it needs (and as a kids’ film, you expect over-the-top).

The best part of The Halloween Tree is the smart animation from Hanna-Barbera.  It is both atmospheric and creepy, but it also is kid based enough that it won’t scare them.  It doesn’t have the big screen appearance of something like a Disney picture but it has enough forethought and planning to look bigger than regular television.

I know it is probably sacrilegious to many, but I didn’t really love The Halloween Tree like I was supposed to.  I think that the story of Halloween can be explored and looked at with a better blend of fantasy and adventure.  The special is however a solid Halloween special that kids will probably enjoy (because kids like specials and the holidays).  While many like The Halloween Tree and consider it a holiday tradition, I’ll still with It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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