Witch’s Night Out (1978) (DVD)


John Leach’s “Witch’s Night Out” is a cute, if crudely drawn, Halloween classic that was long thought obscure for a while. Mill Creek releases the odd animated movie on DVD and suffice it to say in spite of its simplistic style, it’s a fun Halloween adventure. Brother and sister Small and Tender spend their night trick or treating, and find that their Halloween has all but stunk. Angered and disillusioned, they ready for bed with their babysitter Bazooey doting over them. Just then the powerful Witch (as played by Gilda Radner) hears their wishes to be actual ghosts and werewolves for Halloween. She interrupts their wishes, and decides to grant them their hearts desire to become Halloween monsters. Despite Bazooey’s protests, the witch appeals to his child hood dreams, and turns him in to a Frankenstein monster.

Despite the witch’s best intentions, the trio runs around town with the towns folks convinced they’re monsters that mean harm, prompting the witch to re-consider her own powers; especially when two evil town folks get her wand and begin wreaking their own havoc. “Witch’s Night Out” is an odd ball animated movie with an unusual animated style that’s unique, but often feels under done. For some reason most of the characters are drawn without detail and given one color palette, while the Witch is fully detailed and well colored. Even when the trio turns in to monsters, they’re just the same characters. I was never fond of this style. In either case, “Witch’s Night Out” is a trippy celebration of Halloween, with some neat animated gags, and empathetic main characters. The Witch is especially interesting, as she accidentally causes a ruckus simply out of loneliness for the holiday. Radner does a fine job portraying the titular Witch, and in the end, “Witch’s Night Out” is an interesting and entertaining animated oddity from the decade.

To compensate for the short run time of the movie, Mill Creek packs the DVD up with some fun Halloween goodies. Among the extras, there’s a truncated digital comic book version of “Witch’s Night Out,” and seven great classic cartoon shorts. Among them Casper the Friendly Ghost in “There’s Good Boos To-Night,” a childhood classic I watched like crazy on VHS in which Casper befriends a friendly baby Fox. The ending is gut wrenching, just in case you have children prone to breaking in to tears at a moment’s notice. “The Friendly Ghost” is another childhood favorite, in which Casper befriends a small boy and girl when he refuses to scare people like his family. This short actually has a happy ending. Finally, in “Boo Moon” (yes, another childhood favorite), Casper wanders the city feeling lonely, and decides to make friends with another lonely being: The Man on the Moon.

While there, he becomes a worshipped deity among a city of small aliens, and helps them battle a vicious horde of alien monsters seeking to invade their kingdom. Felix the Cat stars in “Skulls and Sculls,” a pretty odd short in where Felix is put through the ringer by odd characters while stuck in a haunted house. There’s an episode of “Space Angel” called “The Ghost Crystal Maze,” and in “Spooky Swabs,” Popeye the Sailor Man and Olive Oil are adrift at sea and happen upon a sea ship that happens to be haunted by its former crew. When the couple boards it for safety, the ghosts wreak havoc on them. In the 3 Stooges short “Mummies Boys” (Another childhood favorite!), the stooges happen upon a pyramid in Egypt and are chased by an army of evil mummies when they’re accidentally lost inside. Finally the short “House of Magic” stars the animated monkey trio Meany, Miny, and Moe as they hide out in a magic place to avoid the rain, and end up running in to all sorts of hijinks when they discover random magic tricks and props.