Don't let the title-cum-marketing ploy fool you; Halloween is Grinch Night (soon to be re-released as simply It's Grinch Night) has about as much to do with Halloween as How the Grinch Stole Christmas has to do with Hannukah. As it is the first animated follow-up to the Grinch Christmas classic, production company DePatie-Freleng must have felt some pressure to make it similarly holiday themed. Hence, Dr. Seuss' story of the chance encounter between young Euchariah Who and the Grinch on Grinch Night is given a Halloween label and foisted on the TV-watching populace.
Well, perhaps "foisted" is the wrong word. Grinch Night is an engaging little cartoon, with all of the convoluted Seussisms we've come to expect. It begins with a regular day in the township of Whoville, which turns into Grinch Night when the "sour-sweet winds" begin to blow. The winds set in motion a number of events which always combine to irritate the Grinch, who then takes out his frustrations on the Who population below. Although the Whos know well enough to stay indoors on Grinch Night, young Euchariah Who (were they all the same family? did a lineage they share? had no one conceived of incest down there?) finds himself in need of "the Euphemism" and so must venture out of doors in the dark and the sour-sweet winds.
Labor unions reach the dog world.
The winds blow Euchariah well away from the Euphemism and into the waiting clutches of the Grinch, who is making his way down the mountain on his Paraphernalia Wagon -- hauled by canine Max, of course -- to scare the sugar plums out the Whos. Euchariah makes up his mind to stall the Grinch for as long as possible in the hopes of keeping him out of Whoville. The world's crankiest cartoon character is only too willing to give Euchariah a good Grinching.
Continuity was apparently not one of Dr. Seuss' concerns when he wrote Grinch Night. Is this supposed to take place after the Grinch's change of heart (heh) at the end of How the Grinch Stole Christmas? If so, he has returned to his old cranky ways. There are also a few developments concerning Max that make us doubt that this took place before the events in the original Grinch Christmas tale either. Grinch historians will doubtless scratch their heads over this conundrum, but we leave that particular bit of cogitating to those with more Seuss-oriented thinking apparatus than we possess.
It could be worse, Euchariah
your life could be in the hands
of a giant elephant....
Grinch Night is probably best watched by kids over the age of five or six; there are some images during Euchariah's Grinching that could easily be conjured up in little minds during the night. Any sleep your offspring lose over Grinch Night will likely be yours as well, so parents: screen wisely. Looming monsters, staring eyes, stomping feet -- Seuss was in no mood to coddle the little blighters in the audience during this production. The Grinch, although never engaging in physical violence harsher than the occasional crack of the whip, means business. All of his big bad buddies (who knows what names Seuss had for them?) are in attendance.
The Grinch would return in The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat, the crossover no one expected. But neither that tale nor this one can quite compare to the Grinch's original Yuletide adventure, so we suggest that only the Grinchiest of Grinch fans should bother popping this particular tape in the VCR. Sure, it's nice to see the Grinch on screen again, and the songs by Joe "Sesame Street" Raposo provide some small diversion, but the truth is that Grinch Night won't be pushing the Great Pumpkin off his leafy Halloween throne any time soon.