Next on the Halloween special hit parade is this entry from 1978, “Bugs Bunny’s Howl-Oween Special.”
This was one of the various Looney Tunes specials made in the late 70s and 80s. The specials were largely clips of various classic cartoons mixed with newly animated linking footage, to create an overall “story.” The quality of these specials tended to be mixed. The 1988 movie “Quackbusters” was probably the best of the compilations.
However, “Howl-Oween” seems regarded by some as one of the worst. This is due to either the somewhat-incoherent story (including continuity errors in the used footage) or the new animation’s poor quality. (Examples of the poor artwork in some of “Howl-Oween”‘s linking segments are here and here.)
The story, such as it is, involves Bugs encountering Witch Hazel. The witch attempts to conjure up various scary things, which lead into clips from various shorts.
Oddly enough, “Quackbusters” and “Howl-Oween” both use the exact same footage from the classic short “Claws For Alarm.” However, they both show two different circumstances for Porky and Sylvester’s visit to the ghost town. “Quackbusters” has the two visiting the ghost town to find poltergeists for Daffy’s ghostbusting service. “Howl-Oween” has them just stopping off there like in the original short, but with the spooky events supposedly caused by Witch Hazel.
I saw this special a few times as a kid, and again when it ran on Cartoon Network a few years ago. I’d say the 70s Looney Tunes Christmas special is better, along with the “Quackbusters” film. “Howl-Oween”‘s value is mostly out of nostalgia, plus seeing some of the classic clips used.
The best made-for-TV parts of the special:
- The mood-setting opening narration/sequence (set to various clips).
- Bugs’ comments about Witch Hazel’s witchcraft skills (and lack of scariness): “you couldn’t scare a fly with a swatter. What was ya, a dropout from Halloween High?!”
On TV/home video
As noted above, Cartoon Network aired this special some years ago. However, it hasn’t to my knowledge aired anywhere on TV since.
This special was released to a very bare-bones DVD release in 2013. The only extra is a classic-era Bugs Bunny short, “Hair Raising Hare,” starring Bugs and Gossamer (the big orange hairy monster).