Plot: Casper and a group of orphaned children try to enjoy their night out on Halloween, but Casper’s fellow ghosts, Hairy Scarey, Winifred Witch and Screech Ghost are looking to strike up scares and tricks that are ruining their fun.
Breakdown: I never saw the Hanna-Barbera Casper cartoon of which this is based from. I know Casper as a character is much older than that, but my exposure to Casper is very much limited to the live-action movies that came out in the 90s/early 00s. As much as I liked those movies, Casper was never a character I yearned to seek out in other media. He’s just not….interesting enough?
Still, this Halloween special is a perfectly nice watch. I liked the songs (Barring the singing in the first one), some of the moments were pretty funny, and it was Halloween-y enough to satisfy me.
I can’t help but think Casper’s being a bit too unreasonable about what the other three ghosts are doing, at least initially. Obviously, as ghosts, they love scaring people, and Halloween’s a time when they’re free to go around and scare everyone. They see no harm in it either. After all, part of Halloween is tricks and scares.
However, Casper feels that Halloween is only about kids going out, dressing up, having fun and getting candy, apples and cookies (There was a time when kids were excited about getting apples when they were trick-or-treating? Also, during a montage of Halloween goodies later, one kid imagines someone handing out nuts. Who are these Halloweirdos?) Halloween’s not about getting scared or playing pranks. He chastises them for thinking such and consistently tries to stop them from doing anything.
Initially, I think Casper’s in the wrong here. Halloween’s about all of those things. It’d be hollow if it were just about dressing up and getting candy, and it’d be mean to have it just be about pranks and scaring people (I know April Fool’s Day exists – doesn’t mean I particularly like it.) Even the orphans are shown trying to scare people, and they did it by popping up in some random person’s window, which, in my opinion, is worse than most of the stuff the ghosts do.
After a while, the other three ghosts decide to spend the entire night playing harmful tricks on this group of orphans who are so poor they can only barely afford cheap plain black masks and paper bags.
They essentially stop scaring people entirely and just frame these poor kids for a slue of pranks, which always gets whatever candy they were about to get taken away from them. These ghosts are literally stalking these kids to only play pranks on them and them alone. This might be because they’re trying to press Casper’s buttons as he befriended them, but there’s also the fact that there are barely any other kids out trick-or-treating.
We see two small groups, but that’s purely for the sake of showing kids with money getting candy from houses in nice neighborhoods – ones that subsequently snub the poor kids when they ask for candy just because they’re poor orphans. The only house that gives a reason says it’s because they’re not from that neighborhood, but 1) that shouldn’t matter and 2) there’s no way he knows that. One house had the inhabitants actually get in their car, leave and shut the gate when they saw poor kids coming. Like, what?
Still, there are other kids out there to mess with, but we have to ensure they’re the bad guys by having them pick on poor little orphans. One of these orphans is so ridiculously….I’m going to make up a word here, and I’m going to assume you know what I’m talking about and that I don’t mean this in bad faith to real orphans – She’s ridiculously over-orphaned. She’s at maximum orphan. She’s insanely sweet, speaks in this saccharine manner where she sounds super shy and kinda weak, but somehow managing to sound greatly happy when the slightest good thing happens and deeply sad when a setback happens, and she wears clearly oversized ratty clothing. The only things she’s missing are a dirty face and coughing every now and then.
I liked her character, she was really adorable, but I couldn’t help but shake my head at how stereotypically they made her character.
After that, Casper is clearly the good guy who can’t catch a break in trying to get the other ghosts to stop. It takes Hairy Scarey realizing how negatively impacted the kids were to realize that what they were doing wasn’t fun, it was mean. The kids, Hairy, the orphanage director Mr. Dunham, and a woman they pranked give Winifred and Screech a taste of their own medicine, which sends them packing.
The woman who got pranked, despite being so pissed at the kids for appearing to try to steal her candy as she handed it to them and for putting a sheet over her head that she called their orphanage to complain was so nice in the end she not only agreed to helping them prank ghosts that she’s totally cool with knowing exists for some reason, but she also goes out and buys all of the kids and Casper actual costumes. That lady sure is something.
All of them are happy and even welcome Casper into their family, which I guess is why the title of the special is technically ‘Casper the Friendly Ghost: He Ain’t Scary, He’s Our Brother.’ (Another alt is Casper Saves Halloween)
Overall, this is a very cute and fun Halloween special for kids and anyone who enjoys classic Hanna-Barbera cartoons.
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