Plot: Zim learns about the horrors of Halloween while Dib struggles with randomly shifting between dimensions.
Breakdown: If there’s any show that is perfect for making a great Halloween special, it’s Invader Zim. It’s definitely not afraid to go all-in on the scares and the creepiness as much as possible (IE What Nickelodeon would allow.) It’s clear that the writers weren’t entirely invested in making a Halloween special so much as using the holiday as an excuse to get away with a particularly freaky and horrifying episode, and they used their opportunity quite well.
This is one of the most creative episodes of Invader Zim. While Zim is panicking over Halloween because he believes it’s a night where children turn into candy-crazed zombies, Dib causes an accident that makes it so he keeps getting transported to an alternate and frightening version of their world. If he doesn’t stop it, he’ll end up getting trapped in the other world forever.
The alternative world, it turns out, is actually based entirely from Dib’s imagination, making him a bit of god in that realm. However, he’s far from worshiped. The people in that realm want to use his portal-making head to get to the real world to take it over. Dib has to team up with Zim to escape from the alternates and stop the dimension jumping.
I really love whenever Zim and Dib need to work together. They’re one of the best volatile partner pairings in cartoons. They’re both quite smart, but also extremely eccentric, and despite their arch-enemy nature, they have a silent respect for the other’s skills. They’re always a lot of fun when they’re on screen together, whether they’re teamed up or not, but I slightly prefer seeing them teamed up.
Dib’s weird and creepy as hell imagination world is disturbing to say the least. While there is definitely something to be said about the kinda offensive “crazy kid” cards that instantly slap a collar onto whatever “crazy” kid is in the classroom only to forcibly be taken away by people with ‘crazy’ emojis on their helmets and thrown into a padded truck, I think we can safely say that Dib maybe does need some therapy at least. Literally nothing in this world isn’t horrendously mutated. His school looks like hell, his teacher is the leader of pretty much everyone while also being a horrifying insect creature, and while his father and sister look the closest to normal as they can get in this world, even they turn on him and don’t care about him at all.
What I find especially weird is that Zim doesn’t seem to exist in this world. Dib thinks about Zim constantly. How is there not some alternative Zim in this universe?
While the Halloween stuff isn’t really utilized much outside of just showing characters in their costumes at school and having a brief couple scenes with Zim and Gir fighting off trick-or-treaters, the designs of the creatures within the alternate dimension are so weird, cool and frightening that it definitely makes up for it.
I don’t mind much that this episode is only barely a Halloween special in regards to the holiday because we so rarely ever get cool horror imagery in kids Halloween specials. It was a refreshing change of pace, and definitely something I’m glad Invader Zim chose to do. The series is just such a fun and creepy ride every time, and it has such a unique vibe to it that I can’t seem to find anywhere else.
And, with that, we close out this year’s Animating Halloween! Hope everyone has a safe and fun night carving all the jack-o-lanterns, eating all the candy, dressing up in all the costumes, ignoring that thing in the corner of your room that’s slowly approaching you right now and watching fun Halloween movies and specials!
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