Dr. Seuss can be wonderful but also so, so scary. Although for sheer terror, nothing can top his live-action film The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, which involves children being enslaved to play a giant piano by an evil totalitarian piano teacher. In "Halloween is Grinch Night," the evil piano teacher moonlights as the voice of the Grinch, taking over from Boris Karloff.
From the opening credits, you know you're in for some trippy, scary stuff: multicolored dancing skeletons, swooping spirits, and menacing bat-birds all terrorize poor little Eukariah. Eukariah's parents, Mariah and Josiah, smell a sour-sweet wind and know that means only one thing: it's Grinch Night, so everyone needs to stay inside!
Meanwhile, we see the Grinch himself back at his lair, murmuring thoughtfully, "It's a wonderful night for eyebrows." Then his eyebrows leap off his face and do a little dance. These kinds of disturbing non sequiturs are peppered throughout this special and that's what makes it so awful to behold. "It's a wonderful night for eyebrows"? Are eyebrows inherently evil? Is this Eyebrow Night as well as Grinch Night? Does Peter Gallagher come roaring down Mount Crumpet and furrow those those twin bushy wonders of his at you?
Anyway, Eukariah heads out to the "euphemism" (an outhouse, in this case), but gets lost and winds up face to face with the Grinch, who opens a hatch in his Wagon of Menace to release a bunch of evil spirits to torment the hapless Who--klansman geese, rubbery green ghosts, spooky keys, blue spermatazoa, wobbly blobby ballerinas, sentient archways, lizard people, and footed swastikas--frankly, I'm just guessing at what most of these are intended to represent, but regardless, they're scary. Even scarier is that Eukariah presumably still has to go to the euphemism. Or has he already made a synecdoche in his Who-breeches?
Indoor plumbing can prevent childhood psychoses.
"Halloween is Grinch Night." Dir. Gerard Baldwin. Perf. Hans Conried, Henry Gibson. ABC, 1977.
Dr. Seuss - Green Eggs and Ham and Other Favorites (Grinch Night)
(Watch it on Veoh here)