Retro Review: The Halloween That Almost Wasn’t

Retro Review:  The Halloween That Almost Wasn’t, AKA The Night Dracula Saved the World (1979)

Retro Review The Halloween That almost Wasn't Deluxe Video Online
Bold title for a bold movie…
See, twins are always awesome.
See, twins are always awesome.

It’s Straight-to-Television Halloween month on the retro review, and I’m going to follow the last week’s Tim Curry jab with a Judd Hirsch straight cross of hilarious:  The Halloween That Almost Wasn’t, or as it was known on VHS, The Night Dracula Saved the World.  It’s my birthday this weekend, so let’s look at a movie that came out the year I was born.  At least two awesome things came out that year, three if you factor in being a twin.

Despite running for 11 straight years as a Halloween feature on the Disney Channel, this movie has become a rarity.  If there were an endangered species list of movies, this movie would not be next to the Pandas.  Because Pandas suck, and this movie would whip their monochromatic asses up and down the field.  But it would be on the list.  Somewhere cool, like next to Siberian Tigers or Chupacabras or something.  Released on VHS but never on DVD, this elusive animal can still be found on the internet in clips, but pixelated you-tube videos don’t do this movie justice.  A new generation deserves to enjoy this film.  Maybe we can petition Disney to finally release a restored version, if they’re not too busy fucking up the Star Wars movies and cramming Pirates of the Caribbean sequels down our throats.  Thanks a lot Johnny Depp.

Retro Review Johhny Depp movies
Oh God.


Retro Review Johhny Depp movies
Pardon me, I have to go bury my soul now.
Retro Review Johhny Depp movies
Make it stop.


Retro Review The Halloween That almost Wasn't Deluxe Video Online
Eat your heart out, Christopher Lee.

On the eve before Halloween, Dracula (played by Judd Hirsch, who I may have to explain to the younger audience members used to be one of the funniest people on television before becoming the perennial supportive Yiddish father in movie action pieces like Independence Day and Numb3rs) learns that Halloween is in danger of being cancelled.  Shocked, he invokes a council at this castle with all of the major movie monsters from around the globe:  The Wolf Man (now a shaving razor spokesperson), Frankenstein’s Monster (now a tap dancing star, in a nod to Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein), The Mummy monster, and the Zombie King.

Retro Review The Halloween That almost Wasn't Deluxe Video Online
I think tissue paper is the primary costume ingredient here…

Each has sold out, becoming beloved icons instead of fearful monsters, and Dracula assumes this has caused Halloween to become cancelled, so he orders them all to return to terrorizing the populace.  The final, and most important monster, the Witch (Marriette Hartley, beautiful and supremely funny under all the make-up) balks, and reveals that she herself has caused the catastrophe, as she no longer wishes to be feared and hated, and instead wants to be normal and respected.  She presents Dracula with a list of demands and threatens to shut down the U.S. government if not met, er, I mean, threatens to end Halloween if they are not met.  Dracula balks, and chases the Witch, who escapes on her broom, but sunrise and a locked crypt door nearly cook his bacon.

Retro Review The Halloween That almost Wasn't Deluxe Video Online
Eat your heart out, Cher.

With the aid of the other monsters and his faithful manservant, Igor (Henry Gibson, The Blues Brothers, Kentucky Fried Movie), Dracula storms the Witch’s castle, and tries unsuccessfully to force her to ride her broom across the moon, because Halloween cannot begin without her doing so.  Some very funny hair-brained attempts are made to draw her out, yet in the end, the fate of Halloween lies in the hands of a little girl, who dressed as a witch, seeks to reassure her adult counterpart that children indeed love her just the way she is.

Retro Review The Halloween That almost Wasn't Deluxe Video Online
Just go with it.


For the Children

Light and campy, yet packed with real comedic talent, The Halloween That Almost Wasn’t was critically successful, winning an Emmy for Children’s Programming, and nominated for several others.  It’s a shame that this gem has fallen through the cracks, not only because it contains great comedic moments and asides to many classic monster movies, but because it celebrates a more carefree take on Halloween, celebrating children and the primal fun of putting on the persona’s of our deepest fears…and it ends at a discotheque, with Hirsch and Hartley parodying the iconic dance sequence from Saturday Night Fever.  Ahh, disco movies, that’s a horror story for another time…

Johna travolta cover of staying alive

Boo! Remember me!?


4 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Timothy Bantz
  2. Our Ten's List: Least Anticipated Films of 2019, Pt 2.
  3. Retro Review: Mister Boogedy.
  4. Top Ten Halloween Movies

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.