Witch’s Night Out (1978)

It’s the Halloween that almost wasn’t for Crybaby Town! Everyone has lost that spooky spirit, from the kids to the town elders all the way down to the local haunted house where the town’s resident witch lives out her days, remembering how great she used to have it, a veritable Norma Desmond, but with a mole and magic wand instead of houseguest William Holden.

Before she can lament that she’s big, but it was Halloween that got small, the adults in town decide to turn the fun up to a tepid 3 and have a non-costume Halloween party at her house, not knowing she is still living there!

As excited as she is about the prospect of interrupting dull conversations about golf games and whose kid is on drugs, she gets another dose of welcome news when she hears some local kids making wishes. And everyone knows that witches just live to hand out wishes to whiny brats. That’s why they’ve been so admired throughout history!

It’s setting up to be the witch’s busiest Halloween in years and she tackles things with gusto, using her magic wand to turn the kids into a ghost and werewolf. Even the babysitter gets in on the act asking to be turned into Frankenstein’s Monster! Wish granted! Off to the party to scare everyone! It’s not like the kid’s parents specifically requested that they not get transformed into monsters, right? Besides, he’s taking them out on the town instead of just reading them lame bedtime stories, so I’d say they’re getting their money’s worth.

Proving yet again that this town is filled with dull sad sacks, once the witch and her monster posse arrive and make themselves known, everyone at the party stampedes in fear out the front door, providing Witch’s Night Out its best moment as the witch is unceremoniously trampled just as she was announcing another big trick.

More importantly than surely having every magic bone in her ancient body accidentally ground to dust though was that in all the confusion, her magic wand has gone missing! And not missing a beat, now the kids want to be turned back into their normal Debbie Downer selves because of how uncool scaring all those people were. (Why does this town even try to have Halloween at all?)

Maximum drama dictates that the bad guys find the wand and execute some terrible scheme while the witch and kids race to find it and fix everything. Nothing approaching drama is in the cards though and what the show delivers is more akin to a barely interesting incident where the wand is found by the nominally villainous Rotten and Malicious. (Their names and annoying voices are the evilest thing about them. They actually went to the party and Malicious was put in charge of the food!)

With Rotten and Malicious’ agenda being no more than feeble attempts to make food and get rich, the viewer breathes a sigh of relief once the witch recovers her wand for all the wrong reasons. The angry mob is quickly turned to the witch’s favor once they see her fixing things with her wand and turning the babysitter once again into Frankenstein’s Monster. Soon everyone wants in on the fun resulting in guy wanting to be Attila the Hun and a woman who begs to be a vampire somehow ending up in a skimpy black bikini that would put Vampirella to shame!

Despite the great Gilda Radner providing the voice of the witch, the story is month old jack-o-lantern mush about Halloween being the one time a year that you can be whomever you want, a message that in today’s society where people are free to identify as whatever race/sex/religion/ethnicity or none at all, will likely leave younger audiences cold.

And with everyone in town being a whiny ninny, the story never engages (and frankly makes little sense at times – first the kids complain that no one is scared of them in their crappy costumes and then when people get scared of them as monsters, they complain about that, too causing me to mentally check out on the whole affair at that point).

The animation isn’t likely to impress either. While the painted backgrounds are fine, the simplistic and ugly character designs will take you back to the 1970s for all the wrong reasons. Maybe they were going for an underground anti-establishment cartoon vibe, but with each character being a single solid color (except for the hair), it was at once garish and bland. I was the target age for this when it first aired in 1978, but I never saw it and have no nostalgia for this. I suspect that others seeing this for the first time will have a similar reaction, the only fans being those that connected with it when they were impressionable children of questionable taste.

© 2020 MonsterHunter

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