“And if it’s around October twentieth and everything smoky-smelling and the sky orange and ash gray at twilight, it seems Halloween will never come in a fall of broomsticks and a soft flap of bed sheets around corners.”
-Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes
Ray Bradbury first came up with the idea of a "Halloween Tree" in the painting above. He was painting in his basement with his daughters. Halloween would never be the same.
In 1972, Ray Bradbury published THE HALLOWEEN TREE. It was his special tribute to his favorite holiday of the year. The story of a group of friends who go out with the intention of doing Halloween the way they always had in the classic American way. Quickly they meet a strange man by the name of Moundshroud who holds them in his sway with the knowledge that the soul of their friend, Pipkin, is in danger. He then sends them on a journey through space and time on which they learn the deeper, darker meanings of Halloween.
It was, like lots of Bradbury's work, told from the eyes of a child and pulled me in as a young reader. It wasn't nearly the superb story SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES was, but it was compelling and a very educational story about the history of Halloween and how we--all of our cultures--deal with death.
Bradbury had originally worked up the idea in the early '60s as a possible collaboration with Chuck Jones. They came up with it at lunch together after Halloween, the one after they'd seen the first airing of "IT'S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN". One can only imagine what might have come of their get-together had MGM not shut them down. It's a nifty story the way Bradbury tells it himself at the San Diego Comic Con a few years back:
Nevertheless, it was later made into a Emmy Award-winning full length animated feature for television. Bradbury has been quoted as saying that it is the most faithful adaptation of any of his works. Sadly, there is no DVD available and it is out of print on VHS. Copies can be found on places like eBay and Amazon.com used. And some fine folks have kept it viewable here on the internet at:
I remember watching it as it aired that first time in 1992--although, I seem to recall myself being a lot younger than that, whether that's my memory of the book interfering with the memory of the movie I can't say. I was carving pumpkins and stumbled across it and just had to sit down and watch it completely.
Bradbury's like that. He has that gleam in his eye that says, "Hey kid, remember when…". And before you know it your day is gone, but you feel as though you've come full circle in a very nostalgic way.
Some excellent insight can be sought here:
Above, a photo of Ray Bradbury (left) and Forrest Ackerman (right) in costumes created by Ray Harryhausen.
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