Warner Bros. // 1978 // 25 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // September 11th, 2010
The Wascally Wabbit Presents A Boos-Who Of Spooktime Fun.
Oh dear, this isn't going to end well at all. Bugs Bunny's Howl-Oween Special makes its DVD debut in what must be one of the shoddiest releases I've ever come across.
Problem number one is the main feature itself. Released in 1978, Bugs Bunny's Howl-Oween Special simply recycles clips from classic Looney Tunes cartoons, and incorporates new footage in an attempt to make a single cohesive piece. Unfortunately the result is a total misfire. Not only is the footage (some of which dates back to 1948) of vastly differing quality, but Mel Blanc's delivery is clearly different on the newer footage, meaning that it's far too obvious whenever the 1978 footage is on screen.
The story (or hodgepodge as I prefer to call it) makes little sense, but primarily deals with Bugs, Daffy, Porky and Sylvester encountering Witch Hazel on Halloween. The classic cartoons that have been butchered are only occasionally able to raise a laugh, as when taken out of their intended context they simply don't work. The classic "Hyde and Go Tweet," for example, that sees Tweety Pie transformed into an giant bird-monster by Dr. Jekyll's potion, is robbed of its greatness when it is so brutally cut up. In fact, the only cartoon to retain anything of its original charm is "Scaredy Cat." When Porky Pig and Sylvester (in a non-speaking role) spend the night at Witch Hazel's residence, Sylvester finds himself only too aware of the dangers they face, while Porky remains totally oblivious to the spooky goings-on. There are a series of classic gags, chief amongst them being a misunderstanding over an anvil that sees Porky roll up his sleeves and take Sylvester to task. Still, even that just isn't enough to save this mess. The sad fact is Bugs Bunny's Howl-Oween Special is, and always has been, a real stinker.
It should also be noted that Bugs Bunny's Howl-Oween Special only runs for 25-minutes; the 35-minute running time noted on the DVD sleeve includes the bonus episode, which I personally find a little sneaky.
The second problem with Bugs Bunny's Howl-Oween Special is that, with the total package clocking in at under 40-minutes, the retail price of $14.95 seems a little on the high side, especially when a dollar or two more can get you a 2-disc set such as the Looney Tunes: Spotlight Collection, Vol. 1, which contains 28-classic 'toons.
The differing quality of each of the cartoons included means that the 1.33:1 transfer is distractingly inconsistent. Overall the image tends to be a little soft, with colors that are dull, especially in the older clips. There are obvious problems resulting from the age of the source material, too. The soundtrack is dull, though at least dialogue is clear.
Onto the extras, and we have an interactive puzzle that allows kids to piece together a jigsaw puzzle using the remote. Finally, and I've saved the best for last, we have the bonus episode, "Hair-Raising Hare." A true classic, and unlike the other 'toons this remains totally intact, "Hair-Raising Hare" has Bugs Bunny nearly come unstuck due to his raging loins when an evil scientist uses a promiscuous robo-rabbit to lure Bugs to his castle. The scientist plans to feed Bugs to his monster, but through a succession of brilliant, and usually hilarious encounters, Bugs manages to stay one step ahead of his captor. A final gag, that implies Bugs has no qualms about getting jiggy with a robot, is the icing on the cake. If it weren't for the inclusion of this cartoon, the set would probably end up scoring a big fat zero.
Sad as it is to say, this damp squib from 1978 really should have stayed in the vaults, or at least been reserved for inclusion in a boxset rather than given its own release. For Looney Tunes completists only, I'm afraid.
For destroying classic cartoons and overcharging consumers, Bugs Bunny's
Howl-Oween Special is found guilty.
Review content copyright © 2010 Paul Pritchard; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Warner Bros.
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (French)
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (Spanish)
Running Time: 25 Minutes
Release Year: 1978
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Bonus Episode
* Interactive Puzzle