The Adventures of the Scrabble People in A Pumpkin Full of Nonsense (1985)

Also known as “A Pumpkin Full of Nonsense,” this animated short from the eighties is probably one of the more bizarre product tie ins I’ve ever seen. While it’s traditionally known as a Halloween special, the idea of Halloween is only minimal in what is a more unusual fantasy adventure. The entire narrative lives and breathes by the implementation of the trademark letter tiles, in so many unusual and baffling ways.

A character Mister Scrabbler and two children Tad and Terry travel to a land called Nonsense, where education has been forbidden. Mister Scrabble teams up with the residents to defeat an evil ruler, the Muddler, through the power of learning and spelling. When he’s captured by the Muddler and his monstrous daughter Rotunda, his prepubescent cohorts have to break him out or risk losing the land of Nonsense.

“A Pumpkin Full of Nonsense” is packed with rigid animation and really weird protagonists. The whole movie begins with Mister Scrabble taking his kid partners to a Halloween party where they get lost and end up in the Land of Nonsense. They can’t find their way around because everything is jumbled up in to nonsensical words. Once Mister Scrabble meets the Muddler, there’s a huge exposition dump about why he’s jumbling the words. Once we learn the writers can’t seem to figure out if he’s a villain or not, as he’s scheming for sad reasons, but is still conniving in forcing Mister Scrabbler in to marrying his over bearing daughter.

For what it’s worth there are a lot of monsters, and weird magical elements included, but the movie is mostly an educational animated movie based on the joys of spelling, and making words a la Scrabble. In the end Mister Scrabble is knighted as Sir Scrabble, for some reason. “A Pumpkin Full of Nonsense” likely has huge nostalgic value for eighties kids, but I was baffled through most of it. Especially since Mister Scrabble seemed to be in his late thirties while Rotunda seemed well in to her early teens. But that’s neither here nor there, I guess.