Monday, September 4, 2017

Halloween Countdown 2017:10 Things I Like About The Great Pumpkin!

"It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" debuted October 27th, 1966. Since then, it has been one of the Halloween seasons finest cartoon specials! Here are 10 Things I Like About The Great Pumpkin!

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10.) Linus Makes A 'Great Pumpkin' Sign!
 
One of the iconic images of the cartoon is this shot of Linus sitting happily by himself in the middle of a pumpkin patch, holding a handwritten sign welcoming the Great Pumpkin.

Classic Peanuts Charm is at play here, it's so innocent. So silly. And so strangely heartwarming to see Linus firmly planted in his belief that the Great Pumpkin exists and is looking for the most sincere pumpkin patch. Don't worry Linus, if I was in charge I'd pick you!

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9.) Pigpen Makes an Appearance! 
My favorite of the secondary Peanuts Gang characters, Pigpen makes a couple brief appearances. The first time he shows up on screen he's wearing a makeshift ghost costume, boasting to himself how nobody will be able to recognize him under that bed-sheet.

Of course everyone instantly recognizes Pigpen due to the massive cloud of dust which surrounds him everyplace he goes. No matter how many times I watch this cartoon, I always get a kick out of this little gag.

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8.) Charlie Brown Contemplates Suicide! 
Well, sort of. He doesn't come right on out and say it but just look at the expression on his face. You know exactly what Charlie Brown is thinking as Lucy attempts to get him to kick a football for the thousandths fucking time.

And he does acknowledge that Lucy has probably been trying to kill him for years with this football gag. Yet once again Charlie Brown attempts to kick the football, fully aware of Lucky's intentions to pull it aside at the very last moment. Folks, this is an obvious cry for help on Charlie's part. Someone get him the proper help he needs!

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7.) The Spooky Forest! 
Early on in the cartoon the kids go out Trick or Treating, but before they can get any candy (or rocks, in Charlie Brown's case) they must first pass through this ultra spooky forest!

Instead of spending so long with the annoying Red Barron segments, of which I think we can all finally admit stink, I wish the animators would have slowed down and really showcased this mind-fuck of a scene.

Everything happens so fast and it is kind of hard to process what in the hell is happening. Maybe that adds to the charm? Either way it's great because it dared to be spooky and creepy. Something that a lot of modern Halloween specials are afraid of doing, heaven forbid they offend someone.

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6.) The Great Pumpkin Rises... Sort Of!
Linus spends the entire cartoon boasting about how The Great Pumpkin will rise and bring him gifts. Of course we the audience know this is pure bullshit and that nothing will really happen.

Naturally, it would have been fairly anti-climatic for Linus to just sit around all night and talk to himself with no actual payoff. So the writers of the show devised a scene in which Linus momentarily thinks that The Great Pumpkin has risen.

I chose this specific moment because of how brilliant it is drawn. Starting off with the fantastic looking background painting of the night sky, complete with the full moon and pumpkin patch. It just looks like Halloween!

The focal point of the shot is obviously Snoopy in the foreground, represented as a blacked out silhouette and misinterpreted, at least by Linus, as The Great Pumpkin. Everything is tied together by the expression of complete and pure shock on the part of Linus and Sally, who could not look more angry.

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5.) Linus Makes a Horrific Facial Expression! 
For a very brief moment one of the shows artists decided to draw Linus will full fledged eyeballs. The results are horrific. It's a rare occasion but from time to time, you can catch the characters periodically drawn in this way.

It's usually done to help drive home how important something currently going on is, in this instance it's meant to show how much the story of The Great Pumpkin means to Linus.

And I absolutely love it. Hand drawn animation will top CGI every single time in my book and it's because artists have a certain amount of freedom to sneak in weird ass frames like this.

Honestly, go back and look at all of the screenshots in this article and remind yourself this was drawn back in 1966! It holds up because of how color, crisp, and unique each and every frame of animation is. Now go ask yourself if whatever flavor of the month CGI-animated film is currently out will have that same effect in 20+ years? Probably not!


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4.) Charlie Brown Creates the Worst Costume Ever! 
Even though this list is my personal Top 10 moments of the cartoon, it wouldn't be much of a Top 10 list without making mention of Charlie Browns complete and utter fail at creating a Halloween costume.

I enjoy the way all of the kids decided to dress up as a ghost, with the exception of Lucy in her (fitting) witch mask. The gang stands around in disbelief on how everyone is wearing the same costume... and then Charlie Brown shows up.

Apparently, Charlie had an unfortunate accident with the scissors and cut holes in umm... everything. I count twelve different holes and that is just on the front side. That is a pretty epic fail Mr. Brown!


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3.) Lucy Stabs a Pumpkin to Death!
 
The shows opening moments have Lucy carving a pumpkin but she doesn't just carve the pumpkin... she literally stabs the pumpkin to death, Michael Myers style.

It is a brutal opening segment for a cartoon and in no way would fly in today's politically correct environment. Bonus points for the first spoken words of the cartoon being Linus screaming "you killed it!" as his psychotic sister murders a pumpkin.


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2.) Vintage 1960s Halloween Decorations! 
This scene is supposed to be about a minor gag involving Snoopy and that bucket of apples, but excuse me if I forget completely about all of that and gush over the real star of this scene... the awesome vintage Halloween decorations!

I collect vintage Halloween decorations and what they have chosen to draw in the background of this scene is honestly not far off from what people would have actually used back in the 1960s.

It's a happy little accident that we get this snapshot of Halloween decor saved in animated form. It shows the holiday in its simplest of ways, perhaps the way it should be. The way Charlie Brown would probably want it. Free from the mass produced, high quality electric gizmos and flashing lights we use today. Just friends, games, and some simplistic cardboard pumpkins and streamers.

I for one think we need to go back to a more vintage style of celebrating October 31st.


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1.) The Perfect Pumpkin Template! 
Hands down my favorite moment is when Charlie Brown gets asked to model his head as a template for a pumpkin. Poor Charlie Brown, everyone is always calling him a 'pumpkin head' and in this instance it is actually true!

... holy shit, what if this is all part of Lucy's plan to finally murder Charlie Brown? We seen how vicious she is with a knife earlier in the show, perhaps her master plan is to kill Charlie Brown and dump his corpse in the pumpkin patch for Linus to stumble upon the next morning.

Well now we know know the plot for the next season of American Horror Story. American Horror Story: The Great Pumpkin!

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