Did you know that back in the year 1979 Halloween was almost canceled? It’s true. That means no costumes and no trick or treating…nothing. It’s almost too painful to contemplate. I know I went out trick or treating on that very night, blissfully unaware of the events that made my monster-in-drag candy hustling excursion possible. Why the government has buried this information is beyond me, but thanks to the brave 30 minute reenactment of these events known as THE HALLOWEEN THAT ALMOST WASN’T the truth can now finally be told.
Most films based around Halloween regurgitate the same information over and over again. You know all that Samhain and All Hallows Eve history type junk. Here the mechanisms of how the holiday works in the modern era are revealed, including numerous facts that many of us are either confused by or completely ignorant of. Did you know that Halloween can only begin when a certain witch flies over the moon? Well it’s important to know because in 1979, that fact was used to said witch’s advantage in a power play between herself and Count Dracula that began with mild violence and assorted zingers and ended (thank God!) in a disco extravaganza that proved the greatest gifts are rewarded through compromise and subtle blackmail.
At the time of the events, Winnie the Witch found herself struggling with the vast difference between her known internal self and her external public persona. She was tired of being feared and thought of as an uggo. In addition, she was also feeling taken for granted, for even though she worked as hard as Dracula, she got zero credit for her endeavors. (Even in the monster world there is a glass ceiling). At the end of her rope, she decides that the only way to have her voice heard is to go on strike subsequently putting a halt on Halloween altogether.
An obvious influence on the later work of OLIVER STONE, THE HALLOWEEN THAT ALMOST WASN’T looks behind the curtain of what the media would have us believe and reveals, as best as possible, the actual events during this troubled time in history. Assembled to portray the monsters involved in this near tragedy are some of Hollywood’s finest. JUDD HIRSCH plays the power hungry, so called leader of the monster group with conviction. He is able to reveal another side of the Count rarely glimpsed before. MARIETTE HARTLEY was nominated for an Emmy for her career-defining role as Winnie, a portrayal that in another actresses’ hands could have come off as less sympathetic or at least hen-pecky. Rounding off the assembly line of master thespians is JOHN SCHUCK (Frankenstein’s Monster), HENRY GIBSON (Igor) and JACK RILEY(Wolf Man). Two other dudes play a mummy and a zombie priest.
Many of you might want to turn a blind eye to this important film. You may think as long as I get my Halloween why should I care now? That’s the type of stinking thinking that causes catastrophe. Make no mistake, this movie is not all preachy and dry, it entertains while it informs. If you don’t feel like you personally know Winnie the Witch by film’s end then you’re just not paying attention. At the risk of revealing the startling conclusion, I recommend that a box of Kleenex be at your disposal when Winnie is confronted with the truth about how others really feel about her. (Be prepared for an appearance by the ultra glamorous HARTLEY you know and love!) Oh, if only all of our nation’s disputes could be resolved on a disco dance floor just like they were on that fateful night in 1979. What a wonderful world this would be!
NOTE: In case you have any doubts about the validity of Winnie’s claims about being marginalized in favor of Dracula’s grandstanding consider this, when released on video the title was changed to the very inaccurate and misleading THE NIGHT DRACULA SAVED THE WORLD. My friends, in reality it was Halloween not the world that was at risk, and it was Winnie herself whose actions saved the day. Yet another example of just what had gotten Winnie’s goat in the first place. I ask you is this irony or simply monster world status quo?