Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Disney Halloween Treat

The theme song sticks in my head all October.
If you are anything like me, then you super-duper crazy-like love Halloween. I blame it on my Mama. It was always one of her favorite times of year, too. Our house was always just as decked out in black and orange in October as it was in red and green a month later. Cobwebs festooned the doorways and witches watched us from the counters. She made it joyful. And I've always loved the weird and whatever was outside of the norm, which is actually celebrated as we approach All Hallow's Eve. As I've grown, I've come to appreciate the scary side of it as well. (I'm not a fan of modern horror movie torture porn, but I love a good creepy movie. Part of the reason I love The Walking Dead and American Horror Story so much is that since they can only show so much on TV, they have to get creative to wig you out.) To me, at its best, Halloween straddles the same line between fun, freaky and frightening (apparently with its three legs) that "The Haunted Mansion" at the Disney Parks does, thanks to Marc Davis, Rolly Crump and Claude Coats.

Also, if you are anything like me, then it's a complete joy to sit in front of a device of your choosing and get lost in YouTube for a few hours. From one related video to the next, I can pick my head up and see that day has somehow turned to night as I have fallen further and further down the rabbit hole of the interwebs. But I'll be danged if I don't find some fantastic videos down there. The site is genius. Kind of an always morphing and expanding collective pop culture unconscious where that commercial from your childhood, that news broadcast from forty years ago, that new music video, that ugly-laugh causing parody, that squishily adorable little animal, and that laughing baby all co-exist and are on demand with just a little bit of searching. Pure magic.

They ask you to stay behind the ropes
for a reason, y'all.
As I was listening to the "All Haunted Mansion, All the Time" playlist on my iPod and digging around YouTube to look for some seasonal goodies to help me get into Halloween spirit I said to myself, "Hey! I bet that the people who enjoy reading your blog would get a kick out of all of these awesome Disney-related, Halloween adjacent YouTube clips that you are getting such a kick out of. Maybe you should share and stop being greedy with them like you are with that tub of Brach's Autumn Mix in your lap." I ate one more candy pumpkin, put the tub on the table within reach of Tom and our roommate Katie and agreed with myself, saying "That's a great idea!". Tom and Katie took a small handful of fall-colored sweets and looked at me like I had lobsters crawling out of my ears. Finally Katie asked, "What's a good idea?" I smiled said "Oh, nothing" and we all went back to our evening's business. Just a small window into our home life, ladies and gentlemen. Fascinating, huh? So without further ado, let's get to some amazeballs videos!

This first clip is the opening song from a Disney special called Disney's Halloween Treat from 1982, which is a sort of a greatest hits of Disney creepery. I have vague recollections of watching this as a kid and being somewhat terrified, but this theme song gets itself wedged in my head throughout the entire month of October.

Here is part one out of seven of the complete Disney's Halloween Treat special. It's a great way to get your Disney Halloween fix.

I realized while writing this that the special that I actually remember is this one from 1983 called A Disney Halloween. It is somewhat similar, most importantly keeping that awesome theme song, but has different segments. Here is part one.


As I was searching for these, I stumbled upon this special, Disney Halloween Hall O' Fame from 1977, which I had no idea existed. It features Jonathan Winters as a security guard in the Disney studios after dark on Halloween, where he discovers a talking jack o'lantern in a crystal ball. They chat and watch a few cartoon shorts. It's weird, but worth a spin. This is part one of six.

Next, I want to share some of Disney's best Halloween-y shorts. This first is a classic. It is Disney's very first Silly Symphonies short, "The Skeleton Dance". Almost the whole thing was drawn by Ub Iwerks himself. It is clever, creepy and amazing. If you've never seen it, please for goodness sake, watch. You'll be shocked at how impressive it is even today, over eighty years after it was made in 1929.

This short, "Trick Or Treat", is a classic. Donald withholds candy from Huey, Dewey and Louie on Halloween who, with the help of an awesome witch, exact revenge. It's more lighthearted than I make it sound, obviously. That sounded like the set-up for a show on AMC. It's one of my faves with another great theme song that will burrow into your brain.

Here's another super-dee-duper classic short called "Lonesome Ghosts". Mickey, Donald and Goofy play ghost hunters. They are far less douchey than those ghost hunters on TV are. And far more entertaining.

I want to take the opportunity to give a shout out to Dark Side of Disney at Hong Kong Disneyland. I have never been, but take a look at the report from Disney and More. It looks like they do a spectacular job of mixing the chills into Disneyland's mythology without being unwelcoming to families or completely pandering to them either. With a legacy of awesomely creepy movies like The Watcher in the Woods, I hate that there is no Disney Park stateside that allows allows Imagineers to unleash their creativity for people who want something a bit more intense than a black and orange castle and candy stations. Here is a commercial for this year's Hong Kong celebration.

Moving into the realm of films, this next clip is from a Halloween classic called Hocus Pocus. If you have not seen it, get thee a copy of it before it's too late and another Halloween has gone by with you sad and deprived of this nineties live-action comedy gem. If you are gay, then you will be stoked to know that there is a trifecta of hilarious divas at the center of the movie- Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy. Who are we kidding? If you are gay then you probably have this sucker memorized. It's probably my favorite Halloween movie of all time. Here is the requisite Bette-performing-the-heck-out-of-a-number-just-because-when-you-have-Bette-in-your-movie-it's-silly-not-to-have-her-perform-the-heck-out-of-a-number number. And it's a doozy- "I Put a Spell On You". (Amok, amok, amok...)

If you've never seen the Mary Poppins as horror movie trailer, please to enjoy. It will give you the heebie jeebies, make you grin and fill you with respect for the fine art of film trailer editing.

So you kids know what a personal connection I have to the "Haunted Mansion" attraction. If not, you can get a refresher by reading my blog post about it. I adore it. It is my favorite ride, hands down. Here are some of my favorite "Haunted Mansion" themed videos. This is a performance from The Haunted Mansion 40th Anniversary Dinner Show. They really put it together well, using characters and music from the ride to create a surprisingly awesome short stage show.

This is from the "Disneyland 10th Anniversary Special" from The Wonderful World of Color. It is on DVD, but as part of the now out-of-print Walt Disney Treasures Collection. It is easily my favorite episode, showing pieces of the then in development "Haunted Mansion", "it's a small world", and "Pirates of the Caribbean". Best of all is Miss Disneyland Tencennial, guest jockey Julie Reihm. I'm sure at some point I will devote an entire blog entry to how much I love this episode, but for now suffice it say that she is my hero. For supporting evidence, please pay special attention to the way that she handles Walt's awkward questioning. Tom and I are constantly doing impressions of Julie Reihm's "A skeleton ghost!" She is indeed so dear to our hearts.

Here is a history of the "Haunted Mansion". It's done by Disney, I believe, as a special feature for The Haunted Mansion movie with Eddie Murphy, which you should avoid at all costs. It's atrocious. The annoying thing is that you could only access it by inserting into your computer. Nope. Not your Apple computer, though. Womp womp. Just put them on the disc for the love of all that's awesome! Here is part one of two. It is short, but very well done.

I am very grateful that a good chunk of Walt-era material has been released, but it is kind of annoying that so much post-Walt stuff still sits in the vault. There is now a generation of people who are nostalgic for Disney material from the late sixties and beyond. This is part of a Wonderful World of Disney episode from 1970 called "Disneyland Showtime". The episode features Kurt Russell, the Osmonds and Miss Minnie Fae from the Hello Dolly movie romping about in Disneyland. And it makes me want to scream with joy. A huge chunk of it is a making of and ride through for the newly opened "Haunted Mansion" attraction. I wish that more of these classic episodes would be made available. Pretty please.

Here is the complete "Disneyland Showtime" episode, starting with part one of five. It is so worth watching. It's campy and silly and fun as the devil!

Here is an official 40th Anniversary tribute from Disney Parks. Another very well done short documentary.

Here is The Story and Song of the Haunted Mansion storyteller record, which is also available on CD. I like this video because it includes the illustrations. This is part one of two.

Now we move on to some rad versions of the "Haunted Mansion"'s theme song- the brilliant "Grim Grinning Ghosts" with music by Buddy Baker and lyrics by X. Atencio. First off are The Dapper Dans in Disneyland. This is classic and these guys are spot on.

Next is the Walt Disney World Band doing it marching band style from their classic self-titled album.

This just makes me giggle. It's "Grim Grinning Ghosts" in Dutch. With Dutch subtitles. I'm pretty sure it's from a Dutch version of an awkward Sing-Along Songs video that I first saw on The Disney Hipsters Blog. (PS If you've never visited their site, get your raggedy butt over there, stat! It's beyond rad!)

I know nothing about the band We Met in Chicago besides the fact that they had the good sense to made a video of themselves performing a fun, Lilith Fair-esque version of "Grim Grinning Ghosts". And for that, I grant them mad props.

I love this last clip. When Tom and I finally have a child, you can bet your butt that they will be able to give this awesome little lady a run for her money.

As one final treat, I leave you with a radio commercial from the "Haunted Mansion" CD that I've been playing nonstop. It's a fantastic disc with ride-throughs, variations, recording sessions, commercials and other various nuggets to make any "Haunted Mansion" fan swoon. I couldn't find the audio, so I transcribed it here.

Kiddie Ghost: Daddy, tell me a human story.

Papa Ghost: Well, let's see... Once upon a time there was this magical place called Disneyland. And inside Disneyland, there was a strange, deserted mansion. Then, one day the mansion became haunted by 999 ghosts.

Kiddie Ghost: Oh!

Papa Ghost: And now humans can visit the "Haunted Mansion" and get real scared.

Kiddie Ghost: Daddy, do you believe in humans?

Papa Ghost: I don't know. But I do believe in Disneyland.

I couldn't have said it better myself, Papa Ghost. Happy Halloween, y'all!

No comments:

Post a Comment