Casper’s Halloween Special scares up fun all year


I know what you’re thinking. Is she really reviewing ‘Casper’s Halloween Special’ on this Throwback Thursday in May? Find out what happens when Casper embarks upon tricks & treats in his beloved holiday special now available on DVD.


I know what you’re probably thinking out there in CliqueClack Land. Is this chick really reviewing Casper’s Halloween Special in May? Isn’t that an offense worse than wearing white after Labor Day or leaving the Christmas lights up on the roof all year-round? To the naysayers, I argue Halloween is a lifestyle. There are some of us who actually count down all year until the holiday. In case you were wondering, there are exactly 175 days left until Halloween 2014 (which is on a Friday this year – let the parties commence!).

The truth is I didn’t receive this DVD to review from the Warner Archive Collection until after Halloween was already over. But it’s no matter to me that Memorial Day is the next calendar holiday. I still found Casper’s special fun and I’m happy I watched it this week. Produced by Hanna-Barbera, Casper’s Halloween Special was a television special that aired on NBC on October 30, 1979. It is alternately known as Casper Saves Halloween and Casper the Friendly Ghost: He Ain’t Scary, He’s Our Brother. The Warner Archive Collection released the film on DVD last October, and as a special holiday bonus, the DVD also includes the 1972 special The Thanksgiving That Almost Wasn’t, also produced by Hanna-Barbera. Both animated specials are less than a half-hour in length.

In his Halloween Special, Casper just wants to be able to go trick-or-treating like a “real little boy.”

I’ve always been a fan of Casper: The Friendly Ghost. There is something about that little ghost’s smile that melts my heart every time. In his Halloween Special, Casper just wants to be able to go trick-or-treating like a “real little boy.” So, he puts on a simple costume (a cap and a black masquerade mask because no one will recognize him as being a real ghost in that mask!) and he sets out on Halloween night, where he is met by a group of adorable orphans also out trick-or-treating who befriend and accept him as a member of their motley crew. However, Casper’s ghostly friends decide to make it a night full of tricks rather than treats. Hairy Scary, Screech and Winnifred Witch decide Casper needs to “learn how to have fun.” Naturally, the orphans end up getting blamed for all of the ghosts’ tricks until Hairy Scary realizes it isn’t fair (or fun) and decides to set things right. In the end, the kids and Casper are given brand-new Halloween costumes and are allowed to resume trick-or-treating to their hearts’ (and stomachs’) content.

Casper’s Halloween Special features the voice talents of Julie McWhirter (Smurfs), Lucille Bliss (Smurfs), Hal Smith (Davey and Goliath), Michael Sheehan (The Thing) and Ginny Tyler (The Sword in the Stone). I’d seen this special before, but it had been years. It’s a pleasant enough romp, but I’m not sure it measures up quite as well as other holiday specials (say Garfield’s or Charlie Brown’s). The humor is rudimentary at best and it’s hard to believe anyone would really be that mean to a bunch of sweet-spirited orphans. At one point, a door is slammed in their faces and they’re told to go back to their own neighborhood to trick-or-treat, implying they weren’t welcome to trick-or-treat in an affluent neighborhood. I’ve never heard of anyone discriminating against children on Halloween night. Was that really a thing in the ‘70s?

The second portion of the DVD, The Thanksgiving That Almost Wasn’t, features a Thanksgiving story about Pilgrims and Native Americans coming together for the feast, as told by a squirrel. It turns out that the squirrel’s ancestor saved the day (and the spirit of the Thanksgiving feast itself) when a Pilgrim boy and a Native American boy are both lost in the wilderness. I would say it’s heartwarming, but it really wasn’t all that heartwarming. With a title like that, I guess I expected a little bit more. It has its moments, but there is probably a reason a holiday mark such as myself had never seen it. The Thanksgiving That Almost Wasn’t features familiar voice actors Hal Smith, Don Messick (Scooby-Doo), June Foray (Rocky from The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle) and others.

Aside from the overdose on nostalgia, I think the best thing about both specials is the music. 

Aside from the overdose on nostalgia fueled by this DVD, I think the best thing about both holiday specials is honestly the music. Some of the song lyrics are priceless and worth checking out, including these gems: From Casper’s Halloween Special: “Halloween is the most, when you play like a ghost, and you’re going trick or treat. Every house on the block, every door that you knock, gets you something good to eat.” From The Thanksgiving That Almost Wasn’t: “Cornbread, pie and biscuits risin’, mmm that smell is tantalizin’. I can’t stop this vocalizin’ on Thanksgiving Day. If you think that you’ll be takin’ one more slice of Nelly’s bakin,’ don’t tell me your belly’s achin’ on Thanksgiving Day.”

One thing is certain. This DVD has proven that fall and Halloween can’t come soon enough for me. I’m ready to watch more haunted specials, especially those with familiar, favorite characters like Casper. After all, I could watch them every day for the next 175 days in preparation for the main event! Who’s with me?


Photo Credit: Hanna-Barbera/NBC

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