For, Friday, Oct. 30, 2020


EDITOR’S NOTE: This column from 11 years ago, citing family-friendly cartoons your young children might enjoy for Halloween, reveals how much has changed over the past decade. Aside from YouTube, most streaming sites are no longer free, and there have been plenty of cartoon creations to make SpongeBob, Scooby-Doo and Dora seem less ‘current.’ Otherwise, however, these suggestions, published in the Deseret News on Oct. 30, 2009, still hold up pretty well. Some are more dated than others but most still offer some enjoyment, and not strictly for nostalgia’s sake but for universal laughter’s sake. We can use that right now, right?


It’s Halloween. You’ve got little kids. And after you’ve taken them trick-or-treating, perhaps you’d like to watch a video with them.


Nothing as scary as that chiller the teens are watching in the next room. Nothing that’ll keep your little ones up all night. But something they’ll enjoy that you can enjoy too.


How about a cartoon?


There are plenty of Halloween-themed ’toons out there, from Casper the Friendly Ghost for the very young to a wide range of spooky toons featuring classic Disney and Warner Bros. characters, along with myriad others.


The suggestions listed here are available on DVD, or you can watch many of them for free on the Internet at YouTube or Hulu or Crackle or Fancast or other streaming Web sites. (Just do a search at the site or Google the title you’re looking for.)


All of the Casper cartoons are safe enough for small fry, each with roughly the same formula. There are witches and goblins and prankster ghosts — but Casper himself is all about being kind and helping others, a much better message for young children than drinking blood or eating flesh. (Particularly if your kids are vegetarians.)




The beloved “Peanuts” TV special “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” (1966) is another soft cartoon, with storylines about Charlie Brown getting more tricks than treats and Linus waiting in the pumpkin patch for a visit from The Great Pumpkin.


Or how about the 1937 Disney short “Lonesome Ghosts”? This one could have been the template for “Ghostbusters,” as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy are “Ghost Exterminators” summoned to a haunted house by a quartet of bored spooks.


Another Disney classic that is very funny and a bit scary is “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” (1949) — about Ichabod Crane’s midnight encounter with the notorious Headless Horseman. (Paired with “The Wind in the Willows” in the feature film “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad.”)


Or the Pixar/Disney feature “Monsters, Inc.” (2001), which hilariously spoofs every creature-feature cliché you can think off.


And, of course, there’s always Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (1993), which has become a modern-classic staple this for time of year.


And for kids a bit older, the Simpsons’ “Treehouse of Horror” episodes each feature an anthology of specific movie spoofs.


Other favorites include the “Night on Bald Mountain” sequence from Disney’s 1940 feature “Fantasia,” Popeye in “Fright to the Finish” (1954), Porky Pig’s Jekyll-Hyde spoof “The Case of the Stuttering Pig,” Disney’s 1929 black-and-white classic “Skeleton Dance,” “Betty Boop’s Halloween Party” (1933) and many others.




And how about Witch Hazel? Remember her? And if you do, which witch do you remember?


There were actually four Witch Hazel characters used by four different animation studios in the classic theatrical-cartoon era. (The name is, of course, a pun on the astringent derived from the witch hazel shrub.)


The first Witch Hazel to come along was in a 1936 MGM cartoon titled “Bottles,” in which a pharmacist falls asleep and dreams his medicine bottles have come to life — including a jar of witch hazel, which naturally becomes a cackling witch.


In 1952 Disney released the Donald Duck cartoon “Trick or Treat,” with a different Witch Hazel teaming up with Huey, Dewey and Louie to teach Donald a lesson when he plays a prank instead of giving his nephews candy.


Two years later, in 1956, Warner Bros. got into the act with “Bewitched Bunny,” as Bugs Bunny rescues Hansel and Gretel from another Witch Hazel, and she decides that rabbit stew will do.


Finally, in 1958, Casper encounters yet another Witch Hazel, the roommate of his girlfriend Witch Wendy in Paramount’s “Which Is Witch?”


And if your kids want something more contemporary, all the current animated TV stars — SpongeBob SquarePants, Scooby-Doo, Garfield, Dora the Explorer, etc. — have also appeared in Halloween-themed cartoons of one kind or another.