AVAHS – Christmas Comes to Pac-Land Review

Plot: Santa crashes his sleigh in Pac-Land – a place that has never known Christmas. As Santa and his reindeer recover in Pac-Man’s house, the Ghosts help themselves to Santa’s sack of toys.

Breakdown: Gather ‘round kids. I’m going to tell you about this game called Pac-Man. It’s about a sentient ball addicted to drugs. All day, every day, he would just suck down tiny yellow pills. A group of four people that he hallucinated to be ‘ghosts’ constantly tried to chase him down to give him an intervention. When he took what he’d called “power pellets” he’d suddenly become very aggressive and murder the ‘ghosts’ by eating them alive. Once the effects of the “power pellets” wore off, he’d go back to pill popping. But then he’d be horrified to find that the ‘ghosts’ he’d just murdered had returned; perpetually haunting him to help get him to rehab and receive the help he so desperately needed.

Sadly, however, the 256th time he went through this harrowing cycle, he suffered from an overdose which broke his perception of reality. The ‘ghosts’ finally caught him, but it was too late. His final words were “Weeooeeooeeooee Bwoip Bwoip.”

But before his untimely death, he helped save Christmas!

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With drugs! 😀

Pac-Man loaded up Santa’s reindeer with “power pellets” and they were juiced up enough to get Santa through all of his deliveries on Christmas night, even though he was really far behind.

Also, Pac-Man’s dog sounds like Donald Duck and one of the ghosts broke a mirror inside of himself.

Oh hey there, Elephant in the Room! Been a while since I’ve seen you.

“Uhh, yeah. Just thought I’d check in and read your latest review….got a little concerned….Twix…are YOU on drugs right now?”

What? Of course not!

“How long did you giggle when the line “Guess he never found Santa’s sack.” came up?”

……Just a few minutes.

“Are you seeing an elephant right now?”

…..Wha–….What?

Eh….what the…??

……………………………………I’m uh….I’m gonna go to bed.

Oh yeah, the special’s okay. Predictable, but kinda fun….Nostalgic, of course. Cheap animation – Hanna/Barbera and whatnot, but it has its charms.

Peace out, and don’t do drugs – do hugs.


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Animating Halloween: Casper’s Halloween Special Review

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. Afterall, 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 them 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 might have actually gotten in their car, left 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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AVAHS – A Flintstones Christmas Carol

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Plot: Fred has gotten the lead part in the community theater production of A Christmas Carol, and he’s been obsessed with the role for months. Full of himself instead of the holiday spirit, Fred starts acting like a real Scrooge to those around him right before Christmas. As the play goes on, Fred finds himself in the character of Scrooge and starts to see the error of his ways.

Breakdown: Krystallina of Daiyamanga reminded me of this special last year, and I never got around to reviewing it for that year’s A Very Animated Holiday Special. It’s a good thing I got around to it this year, because what is Christmas without a good adaptation of A Christmas Carol?

This version of the story has a very interesting spin to it. See, most adaptations of A Christmas Carol that aren’t outright original versions usually just have the characters from a movie or TV series taking the place of the characters from the novel. The characters aren’t themselves, but their personalities remain to bring a different view to the original characters from the novel.

Either that, or they try to make their own version of A Christmas Carol by allocating certain characters as proxies of the characters from the novel with one being made the ‘Scrooge’ and actually experiencing the ghosts themselves.

In this version, we get the best of both worlds. Fred and the other citizens of Bedrock are putting on A Christmas Carol as a play, and in the main world of the show, a similar tale is going on with Fred. Ever since he was cast as Scrooge, Fred has been acting like a total diva; saying he’s the only real star of the play, believing he’ll hit the big time in show business with this role and completely ignoring his family and job for the sake of overly rehearsing his lines.

Both the main Flintstone world story and the actual A Christmas Carol story are well-written and directed. I absolutely love how they don’t leave the A Christmas Carol part as play structure all of the time. It’s much better to have it as a movie-like format most of the time to allow for more immersion in both stories. Granted, they still have leaks into the play as it goes on like Fred sometimes calling characters by their real names and cutting away to the director when they go off script, but that’s fine. We shouldn’t completely forget that they’re in a play while it’s happening.

Granted, we still have to deal with the eye-roll worthy rock puns (Cave-care (daycare), Bloomingshales, Cragit (Cratchit), Marbley (Marley) and so on and so forth) but since the bulk of the film is A Christmas Carol, they don’t leak in too much to bother terribly.

They also put an interesting twist in here. Since several of the actors are coming down with stomach flu known as the Bedrock Bug, Wilma is forced to take over some of the roles in the play such as The Ghost of Christmas Past, Belle and a charity worker. Because of this, we see how much Fred’s behavior has weighed on Wilma in her anger, disappointment and sadness.

It’s also good that, despite him changing over the course of the movie, the other characters aren’t instantly accepting of his changed ways. They really believe, to some degree, that he’s still just immersed in the Scrooge character and since he changed Fred probably feels like he should act like he changed too. He has to earn it in the end, and even gets some comeuppance in him getting the Bedrock Bug, but it’s still a happy ending for all.

The parts that were A Christmas Carol were pretty damn spot on in characters, story and even dialogue. Of course, some of the darker aspects were toned down to be more family friendly. For example, I feel like they had a fairly close view of the dead body in the Christmas Yet to Come segment, but they zoom in oddly on the body’s colorless toe for several seconds as dialogue goes on behind it. I just feel like that was changed at the last minute to kinda censor it. That may be the first ever censor job done by a corpse toe…..

In the end, this is a great adaptation of A Christmas Carol. Even if you’re not a big fan of The Flintstones, I still believe you’d find a lot of entertainment and Christmas spirit here. There are even some lines that are pretty funny to this day. Don’t be such a Scrooge, and go watch it. 😛

Recommended Audience: It’s The Flintstones…..well, of course there are mentions of death and one frightening corpse toe closeup. E for everyone!

Animating Halloween: The Halloween Tree Review

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Rating: 8/10

Plot: Tom, Jenny, Ralph and Wally are preparing to trick-or-treat together on Halloween night. After they meet up, they wonder where the leader of their group, the supposed ‘greatest boy who ever lived’, Pip, is since he adores Halloween. They decide they cannot start Halloween without him, so they go to his house to see what’s up and arrive just in time to see Pip being loaded into an ambulance. A note on the door indicates that Pip is being rushed to the hospital with appendicitis.

As the group worries about their friend, they suddenly spot a ghostly looking Pip leading them through the spooky woods to a large and ominous house. When they arrive, they meet the odd Mr. Moundshroud and ask if he’s seen Pip. He denies it, but Pip’s spirit pops up again and rushes to a mysterious tree outside. It’s a tree covered in jack-o-lanterns with each face different from the last.

Pip grabs a pumpkin that is carved in his likeness and runs off into the sky. Moundshroud reveals that the pumpkin actually contains Pip’s soul, and he recruits the kids to join him in his quest to retrieve the pumpkin. Along the way, the kids learn about the history of Halloween and the lore behind the creatures they have dressed up as. Most importantly, they have to save Pip’s soul from the very same person who is teaching them these lessons.

Breakdown: Have you ever caught wind of one of these old shows/movies and think it looks really cool, everyone hails it as a classic and it is a staple on several ‘best’ lists, but you don’t remember ever seeing it? So when you finally sit down and watch it you believe you’re in for a new treat only to have that sneaking suspicion that you actually have watched it but don’t remember when you would have?

I didn’t think I had ever watched this movie when I put this on my list for this series, but about 15 minutes in I was bombarded with deja vu. There are numerous scenes in the first act where I could swear I’ve seen it before.

What’s even weirder is that I don’t remember a thing about the other two acts. I may have caught only the first part of this movie sometime when I was younger, but it’s bugging the hell out of me that I can’t remember when I’ve ever seen this.

That out of the way, I can see why so many people herald this as a true Halloween classic. There just aren’t many Halloween specials or movies out there that are meant to be heartwarming. They always want to go down the realm of horror, which is obviously understandable. You’d imagine that it’s very difficult to write an original and heartwarming tale about Halloween, but this knocks it out of the park.

Instead of focusing on the creepy aspects of Halloween or even the candy and whatnot, this movie opts to focus on the history of Halloween, the lore of several monsters and friendship. This movie really gives off one of those warm tales of friendship that were so popular in the 80’s, and the animation and music also seemed like this feature came right out of the 80’s but nope, 1993. Not to say that’s a bad thing, entirely, because I’d rather have that old 80’s feeling in a story like this.

I liked how they creatively yet somewhat realistically depicted Halloween throughout the ages and the significance and meaning of several popular Halloween icons likes monsters, witches, mummies and skeletons. However, I don’t really get the connection between the characters to their costumes, if they were meant to have such a thing.

The first segment focused on Ralph and brings us to ancient Egypt where we see what is essentially the original Halloween in The Feast of Ghosts, where people in ancient Egypt would actually dine with the corpses of their loved ones and leave food out on their stoops for spirits who had no families. How this pertains to Ralph, I don’t know. The main reason for this will be brought up later.

Next, we head to Stonehenge and find some Celtic druids and witches having a broom festival. This section is Jenny’s since her chosen costume was a witch. The connection back to Halloween here is that Halloween to them back then was actually a sort of new years since it was the end of summer and the start of winter.

Basically, she gets over her fear of heights here by flying a broom and saving Pip from falling, which makes no sense because 1) he’s a ghost and 2) he has the ability to fly.

Outside of that, they actually make Jenny dislike her chosen costume. Despite the fact that they explain witches here as incredibly smart people who decided to fake being magical for the sake of separating themselves from the rest of society (yeah, that’s what happened) Right before they leave they see that an angry mob has formed to eliminate the witches, and the last we see of them is a huge fire where I guess they all burned alive. Moundshroud asks if she wants to be a witch anymore and she says no.

After that, we head to France where it’s Wally’s turn to be the main character. He’s dressed up as a generic monster, so the place to go here would be Notre Dame. The cathedral is completed under Moundshroud’s magic, but Wally must call forth the monsters needed to make the gargoyles on the sides. It’s here where the significance of such monsters is revealed, which is that they were meant to ward off evil spirits on their version of Halloween, All Souls’ Night. I also don’t really see what sort of connection this has to Wally.

Finally, we head to Mexico where probably the most well-known version of Halloween, Dia de los muertos or Day of the Dead is happening. Everyone is dressed liked skeletal creatures, people are making coffins and selling dolls of funeral processions and skeletal figures are everywhere.

Contrary to what this may seem, the lesson of this day and Tom’s chosen costume as a skeleton are about celebrating life and facing death, to not give it the power to grasp you in fear and worry as you live. This might be a connection back to Pip since Tom must literally face corpses in order to reach his friend, but the actual connection back to Tom is still unclear.

The reason behind why these segments and ultimate connections don’t make a lot of sense to me is because the kids more or less act the same. They don’t really have differing personalities.

At best, Tom seems like he’s a secondary leader to their group (and wow when you hear his confession to Pip at the end of his segment…let me just say, you’ll probably think he’s kind of an ass)

Jenny’s….the girl….who is also smart I guess (Also, they hint that she might have a crush on Pip and Tom, so chalk up ‘love interest’ here too, even though they only mention it through dialogue. We never see any hints of this in how they act)

Ralph is…..a bit of a dork, and I’m really only getting that because his one thing was people making fun of his glasses.

And Wally is fat and awkward? Oh yeah and Wally says ‘Oh my gosh’ about 7 million times over the course of the movie, if that counts.

Other than these pretty flimsy personality traits, they basically all act exactly the same. Nice, fascinated by everything they’re seeing and willing to do whatever it takes to save Pip. That’s why these segments don’t seem to fit well to me in terms of connecting them back to these characters. I liked learning about the meaning behind their costumes, both historically and psychologically, but when they try to make real connections with the characters who chose these costumes I just can’t see it.

Other than that, though, this movie is a fantastic ride that never has hiccups in pacing, has likable characters at least, displays true shows of friendship (in the end most of all) and is a creative story that I’ve never seen for a Halloween tale before. Plus, Moundshround is pretty memorable, but also a bit mysterious in that he seems to be on the side of the children, going out of his way to teach them all about Halloween and everything, yet he still wants to keep Pip’s soul on the Halloween tree.

That’s another thing; this whole plot is built on Moundshround having a contract with Pip and him claiming his soul because his time was up. The thing is, they never explain why Pip had such an arrangement with Moundshroud. He’s ‘the greatest boy who ever lived’, I don’t see why he’d make a deal with his soul on the line. The only thing I can surmise is that one of his friends’ lives was in danger so he might have made a deal to save them by putting his soul up as a wager.

Art and Animation-wise, this definitely shows its age….and its Hanna Barbera-ness. Yup, this was animated by good ol’ Hanna Barbera Productions and it really shows in several spots. It’s not that bad, but there are many points of really lazy animating, awkward shots and jumpy movements.

Music-wise, it’s nothing too amazing, but it was all beautifully scored with music that fit the theme just right.

Finally, I’d like to note that I liked how this was narrated like it was a storybook. This movie actually is based off of a book by Ray Bradbury, and Bradbury himself is the one narrating.

This story does deviate from the book in several respects. For instance, the original book was about eight boys and included many more creatures and locations to learn about while the movie only has three boys and a girl with four locales and creatures. However, I’ve never read the book so how much this affects you, I don’t know.

I like narration throughout stories like this because it really does feel like someone is reading you a bedtime story, and Mr. Bradbury definitely has a voice fitting for such a soothing storybook narration.

Bottomline: This is certainly worthy of being called a Halloween classic. I can’t really think of any other stories like it, and while it may have its problems in the personalities of the main characters and spotty animation, it’s something I’d be glad to revisit Halloween after Halloween. In fact, I think I just found another Halloween staple to add to my traditions. Hm….maybe I should make my own Halloween tree. I wonder if they sell souls next to the seeds at the garden center.

Recommended Audience: There are numerous mentions of death and some kind of creepy imagery like eating dinner with a dead body. Also, a somewhat off-screen mass murder by fire. 7+?