Back in the 80s, McDonald’s came up with a Halloween promotion for their Happy Meals. Instead of serving the food in a paper bag, they served the kids meals in festive plastic buckets. The pails were decorated to look like either a pumpkin, a witch, or a ghost.
Halloween is on Monday and I realized that while I have done TBT posts on A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and A Charlie Brown Christmas , I haven’t covered It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. As I recently heard Chris Hardwick describe it on @midnight, it’s the cartoon that combines the fun of Halloween with the existential angst of Waiting for Godot. The fact that I haven’t covered it yet blows my mind.
So here we go:
This 1966 cartoon opens with Lucy and Linus going to the pumpkin patch to pick out a pumpkin for Halloween. Lucy primarily functions in a supervisory role and makes Linus do all of the heavy lifting for the giant pumpkin.
Once at home, Lucy grabs the largest knife in the kitchen (it’s practically a meat cleaver) and stabs it into the top of the pumpkin to cut off the top and start scooping out the innards. Linus then starts bawling and cries that he didn’t know Lucy was going to kill the pumpkin. I get that he’s a child, but come the fuck on–the pumpkin was dead as soon as you ripped it out of pumpkin patch, Linus.
This scene is quickly followed by what can only be described as a drug-induced montage of children in Halloween costumes running away in from from floating, disappearing jack-o-lanterns and evil cats.
The movie then moves into a non sequitur and shows the classic scene of Lucy and Charlie Brown with football. Charlie Brown insists that Lucy will only pull away the football at the last second to make him fall on his ass so she hands him a legal document swearing she won’t. Charlie Brown gives in because he’s a sucker and Lucy pulls away the football. When he tries to argue with her, she points out that the document was never notarized and is therefore invalid.
While Lucy abuses Charlie Brown, Linus writes a letter to the Great Pumpkin.
As he writes, Snoopy laughs at him. This is the point at which I think Linus should reevaluate his life because if a dog thinks you’re an idiot, your life has probably taken a wrong turn. Snoopy leaves and is replaced by Lucy, who threatens Linus with physical violence if he doesn’t stop believing in the Great Pumpkin. Exasperated, she leaves and is replaced by Sally, who adoringly sits beside her sweet baboo as he finishes his letter.
The movie then jumps over to all the other kids getting ready to go out trick or treating together. They’re all wearing variations of a ghost costume and while most of them manage to only cut two eyeholes, Charlie Brown cuts about ten because who fucking knows why.
Instead of making a costume, Linus heads to the pumpkin patch to await the arrival of the Great Pumpkin. When the other kids stop by to check on him, Linus asks if they want to sing pumpkin carols with him like anyone has any idea what the fuck those are. However, Sally decides to stay with Linus in the pumpkin patch because the dude isn’t getting the hint that he should take her out on a date so Sally figures this is better than nothing.
Sally does, however, threaten to punch Linus if he tries to hold her hand.
The rest of the kids go trick or treating and Lucy makes sure to get extra candy for Linus so he won’t totally miss out on Halloween treats. After each house, the kids all compare their candy haul and each time Charlie Brown reveals that he didn’t get any candy, he just got rocks.
What sort of fucked up adults live in this neighborhood and hand out rocks to one child on Halloween? That’s almost as insulting as getting a box of raisins or a toothbrush instead of candy.
The next part of the movie attempts to explain Snoopy’s costume as a fighter pilot by showing a dream sequence in which Snoopy is shot down in battle because this is a movie for children and kids need to understand the harsh realities of war when they’re trying to enjoy their Halloween candy.
On their way to Violet’s Halloween party, the kids stop by the pumpkin patch to make fun of Linus because he’s different and creative imaginations need to be destroyed at all costs.
The kids then make their way to Violet’s Halloween party at which Charlie Brown learns he was only invited so Violet could draw a sketch for the jack-o-lantern on the back of his bald head.
While the kids play games, Snoopy crashes the Halloween party. Schroeder (who is not wearing a costume because fuck you, that’s why) plays WWI songs on his piano that alternately make Snoopy dance or cry, presumably for his fallen comrades in action because war is hell.
Snoopy leaves the party in tears and goes to the pumpkin patch. Linus then thinks he hears the Great Pumpkin and rejoices.
Then, Linus promptly passes out from all the excitement.
Sally, however, sees that it’s her dog and gets pissed at Linus for wasting her night. Worst of all, he kept her from getting candy because while Lucy stocked up on extra candy for Linus, Charlie Brown couldn’t even get any for himself so unless Sally wants a rock, she’s SOL.
The next morning, Lucy wakes up at 4am and discovers Linus isn’t in his bed so she goes out to the pumpkin patch where she finds him asleep and shivering.
She brings him inside, takes off his shoes, and puts him to bed, proving that she’s not a complete bitch.
The next day, Charlie Brown attempts to console Linus by saying that he, too, has done stupid things in his life. Linus is deeply offended that Charlie Brown would compare the two of them because, let’s be honest, nobody wants to be Charlie Brown.
The movie ends with Linus ranting about how next year the Great Pumpkin will come and bring him presents because he’s a true believer which, I think, means that Linus probably grew up to be a cult leader.
Happy Throwback Thursday!