DVD Review: The Halloween Tree

By Laurie Coker

Rating: Family Halloween FUN!

When I get opportunity to share a film with my grandson, now eight, I jump on it and since he and I both love Halloween, when the DVD The Halloween Tree, based on Ray Bradbury’s classic story, arrived, we were both excited!  After playing with our Halloween decorations, scaring his little sister, just a little and putting her to bed, he and I popped some corn, curled up on the sofa and enjoyed the nicely adapted, with writing and guidance from Bradbury himself, Halloween tale.

The story follows four children struggling to come to terms with the illness of their close friend, Pip, made more difficult by the fact that Halloween, Pip’s favorite holiday, is close at hand. Sadly, Pip, the greatest boy who ever lived, takes a turn for the worse and is taken to the hospital. Soon after the ambulance departs, his friends see what appears to be Pip’s spirit running through the woods and they quickly follow. When they meet a spooky character, called Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud (voiced by the iconic Leonard Nimoy), they embark on an adventure where they learn about the traditions and history of Halloween.

We loved it! I most enjoyed the fact that the film explains the history of Halloween and many of its traditions – beginning with jack o’ lanterns hanging on a Halloween tree and then the group, Pip the apparition, his three friends and Moundshroud travel some 4000 years in the past to discover the roots of Halloween, but not before stopping in a ghostly zoo and fashioning a kite to travel on their unusual journey. The friends learn the origin of trick o’ treat, costumes, mummies, the falsehoods about witches, black cats and more as they travel back to early Egypt and the feast of the ghost – “dinner for the dead” and move back toward the presents.  Speaking of time, Bradbury’s Halloween film treat doesn’t present a distinct time period for its present; making it all the more timeless – for generations to come.

It offers a treasure trove of Halloween happenings and Bradbury himself narrates. Decently animated (think 1990s), well voiced, and it is perfect for kids my grandson’s age and the entire family really. Bradbury won a day time Emmy for his work, which originally aired on television in 1993. The Halloween Tree is a holiday classic that deserves a place on the annual must see list with the likes of Nightmare Before Christmas and Frosty the Snowman. I wish I had seen it back in the early 90s when it first aired, because it will become a Halloween tradition in my house – my granddaughter will most likely enjoy it as much as my grandson. Ideal as a  family Halloween treat, The Halloween Tree is available now on DVD. It is barebones to be sure, no extras, no flashy packaging and a single option on the opening screen – “play movie.”

DVD DETAILS:

Director: Mario Piluso / Writer: Ray Bradbury (work & teleplay) / Executive Producer: David Kirschner
Voice Cast: Ray Bradbury (Narrator), Leonard Nimoy (Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud), Annie Barker (Jenny), Alex Greenwald (Joe Pipkin), Edan Gross, Andrew Keegan, Kevin Michaels, Darleen Carr, Lindsay Crouse, Mark L. Taylor
Original Air Date: October 30, 1993 / Running Time: 69 Minutes / Rating: Not Rated
Subtitles: None; Not Closed Captioned
DVD Release Date: August 28, 2012 / Suggested Retail Price: $14.95
Single-sided, single-layered disc (DVD-5 DVD-R) / Black Keepcase

 

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