in Shocktober

The Halloween that Almost Wasn’t (1979)

Like every year I try to end Shocktober on a high note, yet it never seems to happen. This year I had The Amityville Horror grudgingly marked on my calendar for All Hallow’s Eve. Sure, the “based on true events” story of Amityville was probably the biggest horror film of 1979 but it’s a big heaping pile of shit. Instead, I rolled them bones on the obscure 1979 made-for-TV-movie Halloween special “The Halloween that Almost Wasn’t” aka, “The Night Dracula Saved the World”. Was it worth it? Yeah, it kind of was. Not because The Halloween that Almost Wasn’t was good but because it was so shockingly bad that I couldn’t help but enjoy it.

The thirtysomething minute special stars who else but Judd Hirsch playing Eugene Levy if he was Count Dracula trying to save Halloween from the grasp of a conniving Witch played by Mariette Hartley. The film begins with Dracula awakening from his slumber on the day before Halloween only to see a false TV news report claiming that, “Dracula is trying to eliminate the holiday of Halloween!” I don’t even know what that means. How do you make a holiday not happen? We are informed that Dracula is more or less the spokesman for monsters all around the world but even with that authority what does it really mean to eliminate Halloween? Is he going to kill people who celebrate it? Is he as a monster offended by the idea of Halloween? We are given no explanation.

Offended by these accusations, Dracula assembles all the monsters to meet at his haunted castle. What follows is a gathering of some of the crappiest looking on-screen monsters I’ve ever seen. There’s Dracula’s hunchback assistant who looks like Roddy McDowall if he was beaten by an ugly stick, there’s a greying wolf man, a tap dancing Frankenstein’s monster, a mummy who looks like he has a big dump in his pants and a witch. Supposedly there’s a zombie too but I didn’t even know that until I read the wikipedia synopsis afterwards. My confusion probably stems from the fact that none of these characters outside of Dracula and the Witch have any recognizable character traits. Frankenstein’s monster likes dancing because he, “saw it in a movie” not sure what that has to do with Frankenstein. Additionally, the Wolf Man has done razor commercials. I guess his personality is that he’s a sell out?

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 2.06.35 PM

Anyways, Dracula assembles the monsters and is immediately met with animosity from the Witch, seeing that she was the one that started the rumor. The Witch is sick of “jokes” about how ugly she is and refuses to fly over the moon so that Halloween can happen. Yes, in this world Halloween only happens if a witch flies over a moon for some reason. The Witch also demands that Dracula make her the co-leader of the monsters along with some other demands or she’ll continue to hold out. Wait, so she’s tired of being called a monster but she’ll let Halloween happen if she’s the leader of the monsters? I know this is for kids but come on. I also find it odd that she’s the bad guy when her demands aren’t all that unreasonable. The Witch merely wants equal treatment. Of course Dracula is like, “Fuck no!” and the Witch flies off to som identical castle. This means the monsters have to chase her down and force her to fly over the moon or Halloween won’t happen. This might be the worst plot ever.

There’s a lot of chasing after the Witch in cartoon inspired sequences. Remember back on Scooby-Doo when everyone would run from door-to-door down a long hallway? Yeah, that happens in this. The Witch also uses her magic to fend of Dracula and his monsters. At one point she brings a painting of the Three Musketeers to life saying they’re her ancestors. Why does that matter? What do the Three Musketeers even have to do with Halloween? I mean, aside from the candy bar.

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 2.09.50 PM

I forgot to mention there’s some kids earlier in the movie who see the same TV report about Halloween being cancelled. In this scene the kid’s parents tell them all about the history of Halloween in a flimsy attempt to make the program educational. These children are important later as they eventually run into the monsters and help Dracula confront the Witch. The kids save the day by telling the Witch that they don’t make “jokes” about her, they love her and she’s one of their favorite people. “One of their favorite people?” And no, they don’t elaborate on this. Of course the Witch feels guilty and decides to let Halloween happen again. The film then ends with a scene of Dracula and the Witch disco dancing. I shit you not.

Why is this movie sometimes called, “The Night Dracula Saved the World”? He literally did nothing. Dracula and the monsters have no impact on the outcome of plot. The kids basically did everything because they saw some news report. I can’t remember the last time I saw a movie that was this poorly written. The Halloween that Almost Wasn’t may be the worst written film out of any of the films reviewed for this year’s Shocktober.

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 2.07.43 PM

What’s funny is that this “movie” was so terrible that I couldn’t help but love it. The characters were bad, the story was incomprehensible, the jokes were pathetic and the production value was barely public access quality. Yet, there’s a dumb charm to this special. Judd Hirsch is clearly having a good time playing the most stereotypical vampire ever. The costumes are cheap but you know there was some seamstress who worked all night to make sure those were close to camera ready. There’s a homemade feeling behind this special that makes it impossible for me to hate. It doesn’t matter that it’s beyond bad, it’s a movie that celebrates Halloween. I love Halloween, and I couldn’t have thought of a better way to end my countdown than with this Halloween treat.

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 2.09.09 PM

The only way I could find pictures is by taking screen captures. Thankfully, it was all worth it. Happy Halloween!