Return of Project Horror, Day 31: The Halloween Tree


When I did the first Project Horror last year, I decided that because October's 31 days don't divide evenly, I'd avoid making Halloween fit into any category, and just make the theme "Danny's Choice."  Last year, my choice was the fun anthology film Trick 'r Treat.  This year, I had a hard time deciding what it would be, and it wasn't until about a week ago that I was browsing through the TV listings and found my answer.

Ever since I was a kid, I have loved reading Ray Bradbury.  (One of my most prized books is an autographed paperback of The Martian Chronicles.  One of my English teachers in high school knew that I was really enthusiastic about Bradbury, so she took a copy from the school's stash along with her to an event that he was at, and had him sign it for me.  [Full disclosure: I was dating her daughter at the time.])  I'm 36 now, but I can still pick up stories of his that I read for the first time 25 years ago, and enjoy them just as much, maybe even more in some cases.  When I read Something Wicked This Way Comes in junior high school, I thought it was thrilling and dark.  When I read it now, I find that it perfectly captures the feeling of being a boy, and of the approaching autumn, and of the nostalgia that grown men have for that time.  It is beautiful and pitch-perfect.

Although I didn't cherish it as much as Something Wicked, I also really liked Bradbury's The Halloween Tree, a fantasy-adventure about a group of boys trying to rescue a lost friend.  It's a hard story to summarize and do justice to it; when you read it, you're able to go along with the wild places it goes to, but just hearing about it makes it sound strange.  The boys show up at the house of Pip, their best friend, to take him trick or treating, only to find that he's been rushed to the hospital and is very ill.  One of them thinks it's a prank, and sees a ghostly version of Pip walking towards an eerie old mansion, which they follow him into.  It's here that the group meets the diabolical Mr. Moundshroud, who challenges them to answer his questions about Halloween, and to tell him why they are wearing the costumes that they have on.  The rest of the story follows them through different periods of history, as they try to free Pip's spirit from Moundshroud's grasp by learning about the origins of Halloween, and he tries to reclaim it.  At the end, they are able to rescue their friend's soul, but only at the cost of a sacrifice which will effect each one of them.

The Halloween Tree was made into an animated film in the early '90s, but I've never seen it, and it has never been made available on DVD.  You can buy used VHS copies of it on eBay for like $40, but I don't even own a VCR anymore.  Then, last week, I was searching for something in the onscreen guide on my TV, and saw that The Halloween Tree was about to play on the Boomerang channel, so I had the DVR record it.  That's when I decided what my final movie of Return of Project Horror was going to be, and who my very special guest blogger would be - Blake.

As you've seen if you joined me for Project Gastronome or Enter the Danny, Blake is kind of my lucky charm.  In fact, Ali put it into those exact words in a comment that she left on one of my posts.  I decided he needs to be a part of this project.  After trick or treating and a bath, I turned on the movie to watch with him and the other kids, in the dark on our living room sofa.  Here's some of our conversation after the movie.
Did you like the movie?
Yeah!  Was it one that you watched when you were little?
Well, I read the book.
There's a book?  Can we get it?
Sure!  What was your favorite part?
I liked when they would travel in time to the different places.  The best was when they went to Mexico for... what is it?
Dia de los Muertos.  What was the scariest part?
When they first went into Mr. Moundshroud's house, and he wouldn't tell them where Pip's spirit was, and then they saw all of the pumpkins on his tree.
Why do you think Mr. Moundshroud had all of those pumpkins with people's souls in them?
Each of them was somebody else's friend.  He wants to keep them so that he can just do what he wants to with them.  He was surprised when Pip's friends tried so hard to bring him back.
Do you think other kids would like this movie?
Yeah, I do!

The movie was pretty good, and stayed fairly faithful to the book.  The best part, though, was getting to share it with the kids.  I give The Halloween Tree five Halloween trees out of five.
 TOMORROW: A wrap-up of Return of Project Horror


curlymarcy said...

Now that's my kind of scary movie!

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