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'Halloween Is Grinch Night': The 1977 Prequel To 'How The Grinch Stole Christmas'

Entertainment | October 20, 2019

Source: IMDB

Is Halloween "Grinch Night?" When we think of the "Grinch," what comes to mind is How The Grinch Stole Christmas, a classic children's book by Dr. Seuss that was made into a TV special. We recall a heart growing three sizes and a skin-and-bones little dog wearing an antler-like stick on its head. But the Grinch made another stop in Whoville -- this time it was on Halloween, or “Grinch Night” as its called in this TV special from 1977.

First published in 1957, How The Grinch Stole Christmas jumped to television in a 1966 special where the villain did everything in his power to steal Christmas, and while that special has become a mainstay of the holiday, there’s another chapter of the Grinch’s story that’s fallen by the wayside - his turn as a Halloween icon. 

In 1977 The Grinch Stole Halloween

Source: bogleech.com

Halloween Is Grinch Night isn’t a retread of of the previous special, but rather a new take on the character that provides some back story for this green foe of all things heartwarming. The special works as a prequel to How the Grinch Stole Christmas while largely ignoring its predecessor.

Even though the story more or less lost to time, after it aired on ABC on October 29, 1977, the special won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Children's Program in 1978. It’s not that the special isn’t good or that people didn’t like what they saw, it’s just that the Grinch is so inextricably linked to Christmas tat it’s impossible to simply consider him to be a general holiday demon. 

Halloween Doesn't Exist In Whoville

source: DePatie–Freleng Enterprises

Even though this special was released on October 29, ostensibly making it a Halloween special, the word “Halloween” is never uttered out loud. Instead, the phrase “Grinch Night” is used to explain what time of year it is. It seems that Grinch Night is less a calendar day and more of a time when the Earth decides it’s going to happen. On Grinch Night the wind takes on a sickly sweet smell and the animals in the forest surrounding the town begin to chatter in the trees - that’s when the Grinch comes to town to do… well… something?

The Grinch’s motivations are unclear at best in the special, but it’s still fun. His plan mostly surrounds busting up the Whoville Grinch Night Ball, something that the townspeople are less than excited about. Rather than have a solid goal for the evening, the Grinch just wants to ruin the holiday for everyone with his “Paraphernalia Wagon” before returning to his mountain abode. 

The Special Is A Trippy Take On The Grinch

source: DePatie–Freleng Enterprises

One glorious addition to the Grinch canon that this special adds is the wild concept that the Grinch owns a wagon full of spooky nonsense that he can open up whenever he wants in order to put his victims through a seriously scary trip. Much of the special concerns a young boy from Whoville named Euchariah confronting the Grinch to keep him from wreaking havoc on the Grinch Night Ball.

Welcome To Your Seussian Nightmare

Source: bogleech.com

Euchariah uses his wits to outsmart the Grinch in all of his preening, eyebrow wiggling glory. His attempt to stop the monstrous antihero earns him a “first-class grinching” which involves a visit to the Paraphernalia Wagon. Once it's opened, Euchariah is assaulted by a series of personal fears, songs, and splashy ‘70s colors that would fit right in with a blacklight poster. It’s a serious WTF moment that doesn’t look like it belongs in a children’s special. 

More Grinch? Yes Please

Source: bogleech.com

Why oh why would Dr. Seuss want to go back to the well with the Grinch? It’s obvious that he enjoyed writing the character, and that the world of Whoville was a fun place to play for the seminal children’s book author. Grinch Night was written 20 years after the initial story of the Grinch stealing Christmas, and it wasn’t the last time that Seuss told a story about everyone’s favorite green holiday monster. Five years after this forgotten Halloween classic Dr. Seuss returned with The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat in May 1982.

The Grinch Had To Be Recast For This Special

source: DePatie–Freleng Enterprises

Unfortunately, the original voice of the Grinch, Boris Karloff, passed away in 1969 so the character’s speaking voice had to be recast. This time around Hans Conried, an actor and voice artist that you’ve heard before even if you don’t realize it, was tapped as the voice of the Grinch and the story’s narrator. However, the singing voice of the Grinch, Thurl Ravenscroft, returns to help the green ghoul belt out his evil tunes. 

Where To Find 'Grinch Night'

source: DePatie–Freleng Enterprises

How can you get a first-class grinching without taking a trip to Whoville or climbing the mountain to the Grinch’s rocky home? You’ve got a few options for finding this must-see holiday special. It was initially released on Ohs in 1989, and again in ’92. Grinch Night appears on the DVD of Dr. Seuss on the Loose as well as Dr. Suess’s Holidays on the Loose!, so can an eye out the next time you’re in a thrift store. If you can’t wait to see what happens when the Grinch takes on Halloween just watch the entire special in its under 30 minute glory on YouTube: 


This special needs to be seen to be believed. It's so strange and, dare we say, Seussian that it makes the perfect companion to any Halloween movie night - especially if you're looking for a palate cleanser after something seriously scary. Halloween Is Grinch Night may be a little more freaky than you're expecting, but it'll give you something to talk about none the less.

'Grinch Night' Should Be An Annual Tradition

source: DePatie–Freleng Enterprises

If you’ve never seen Halloween is Grinch Night or if it just feels like a strange fever dream from your childhood, you’ve really got to see it again. Not only does the special absolutely deliver on more Grinchy goodness, but it’s full of the kind of weirdness that you don’t get out of children’s programming anymore. The special definitely isn’t as heartwarming as The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, but it’s not trying to be. It’s a tasty little Halloween treat that deserves to be savored year after year. Watch it with your kids, their kids, or just watch it alone. It’s time to turn this forgotten Halloween special into the holiday classic it deserves to be. 

Tags: Dr. Seuss | Halloween | Halloween Is Grinch Night | Rare Facts And Stories About History | Remember This?...

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Jacob Shelton

Writer

Jacob Shelton is a Los Angeles based writer. For some reason this was the most difficult thing he’s written all day, and here’s the kicker – his girlfriend wrote the funny part of that last sentence. As for the rest of the bio? That’s pure Jacob, baby. He’s obsessed with the ways in which singular, transgressive acts have shaped the broader strokes of history, and he believes in alternate dimensions, which means that he’s great at a dinner party. When he’s not writing about culture, pop or otherwise, he’s adding to his found photograph collection and eavesdropping on strangers in public.