tek's rating: ¾

Witch's Night Out, on CBC (Canada) / NBC (USA)
fan site; Halloween Specials.net; Halloween Specials Wiki; IMDb; Mill Creek Entertainment; Wikipedia

Caution: potential spoilers.

This came out in 1978, at which point I would have been 3 years old. (It's a sequel to the 1974 Christmas special The Gift of Winter.) According to Wikipedia, it reran on FOX and Disney Channel in the 80s and 90s, though I didn't get either of those channels until 1995, when I went to college. And I have absolutely no recollection of being aware of the show's existence until 2013. I believe it was sometime after Halloween, that year, when I was Googling Halloween specials to include on a page I was starting for the purposes of listing specials I'd never seen. At least a couple of the sites I found mentioned this, so I watched maybe a minute of it on YouTube, and it just seemed weird and not that good. Still, it was a thing I thought I might try watching sometime. Then in September 2014, it came out on DVD. I found it interesting that that happened the year after I first learned of its existence, and I considered buying it... but I didn't. I still thought I'd rather try watching it on YouTube. But then less than a week before Halloween, I decided that I really would rather buy the DVD than do that. It's one thing to use YouTube for a thing you can't see any other way, but if there is another way, it's best to go the legit route (especially considering the DVD was only $5).. But I didn't have a chance to get it before Halloween in 2014, so... I got it in 2015. Like "Gift of Winter," the DVD included some unrelated bonus shorts, which I watched one week before Halloween. And I watched "Witch's Night Out" on Halloween itself.

So... it begins with Small and Tender (voiced by different people than in "Gift of Winter") wearing masks and looking forward to scaring everyone on Halloween. But then Malicious and Rotten start talking about how much they hate Halloween. (They're both voiced by different people than the other special, as well; Malicious is now voiced by Catherine O'Hara, though I really didn't recognize her voice.) And then Nicely and Goodly also show up. (They're also voiced by new actors, whom I don't know.) They think dressing up on Halloween is just for kids, but still want to do something for Halloween, and they decide to throw a party that night, in a mansion that's supposedly abandoned. However, it's actually the home of a witch (voiced by Gilda Radner, who for some reason does none of the voices she did in the previous special). She's upset about being unemployed, because there's just no demand for magic in the world anymore. So when she finds out people are planning on using her house for a party, she gets excited.

Meanwhile, Small and Tender go out trick-or-treating, but they're disappointed that everyone knew who they were and weren't scared at all. (I think they vastly overestimated the quality of their masks.) Later that night, while everyone else is at the party, they're home in bed, being babysat by Bazooey (apparently the only character with the same voice actor in both specials). After he reads them a story about a fairy godmother, they wish they had someone like that to grant their own wishes. Small wants to be a real wolfman, and Tender wants to be a real ghost. From all the way across town, the witch hears their wishes, and flies over to grant them. Bazooey is upset at first, because he's responsible for the children's safety. But after the witch shows him that she can easily turn them back to themselves, he wishes he could be a Frankenstein monster. Then they all go to the party, and everyone is terrified and runs away. Then the witch plans to turn Small, Tender, and Bazooey into themselves, but discovers her magic wand went missing. We soon learn that it ended up in the hands of Malicious and Rotten. I won't say exactly how it all ends, except that everyone in town learns some kind of lesson or other.

Anyway, this special, like the previous one, is very crudely animated, with voice acting that seems like no one rehearsed, and the story is really weird. And like the previous one, that's what makes it awesome. I can't really see any reason for anyone to prefer one special over the other, because they're both equally trippy and cool and terrible and bizarre and great.

Oh, and aside from the bonus cartoons I mentioned earlier, the DVD also has a comic book. Not like a real paper book, but a feature on the DVD itself. I was watching the special on my laptop, and it was too small for me to read the comic. I mean, I probably could have, but it would have taken more effort than I wanted to put into it. Maybe some year I'll try it on TV, but not this year.


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