Friday, October 17, 2014

Horrors of October - Toy Story of Terror!, Witch's Night Out (#17)

Toy Story of Terror! (2013)

I wanted to check out some Halloween TV specials that don't feature that dumb blockhead and picked out these two. First, we have one of the few things Pixar is still doing well at. Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Jesse and a few other toys are going on a short vacation with Bonnie, only to experience the unfortunate scenario of a flat tire on a stormy night. Checked into a road hotel for the night, the toys venture out of the suitcase and find themselves in their own personal horror film. TOY STORY OF TERROR! has the window dressing of a Halloween special when it is in fact more of a serial script for an unplanned TV series. The main conflict is Jesse's relapse of her claustrophobia, the trauma that was an important part of her character in the second film. Obviously, she finds a way to deal with in the end in order to help save the day. Though I knock it for not being very Halloweeny, the half-hour short does use the storytelling techniques of a scary movie, though with a child-friendly, comedic bent. I was kinda taken aback with the few lightly sinister moments, such as how Jesse being buried alive echoes THE VANISHING and how the true antagonist has a character design and a back-room that screams "serial killer". But I'm getting a little off the path because the short is just a fun delight, especially whenever Combat Carl is present. If you pick this up on video, you also get the previous three amazing TOY STORY TOONS that premiered in theaters.


Witch's Night Out (1978)

This Halloween short is far more obscure but the fine people at Mill Creek Entertainment have recently given it a proper video release. A Canadian production that premiered on NBC back in 1978, and featured voice work from Gilda Radner and Catherine O'Hara, WITCH'S NIGHT OUT is one of those strange oddities that sprinkles some of its charm on you or at least is too weird enough to not forget about. A sequel to another holiday-themed short THE GIFT OF WINTER, where the "colored" characters are better established, the film largely follows two kids who are dismayed at the lack of spooky revelry among the adults and a lonely witch who just wishes there were wishes for her to grant. Sure enough, these people meet up, the kids transform into the monsters they were trick-or-treating as, some misunderstandings happen, and everybody is reunited for some holiday cheer. WITCH'S NIGHT OUT honestly isn't a true lost masterpiece, especially when it suffers from all-around awkward animation, which gets so unprofessional that the frame markers and other production notes along the margins were photographed. However, it possesses that right amount of weird zaniest to it and the whole affair is fairly lightweight, so you can burn through it with ease.


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