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“Trick or Treaters” is a not-so Halloween treat

I love autumn. It’s my favorite season. So one would think Halloween would be one of my favorite holidays. And when I was younger, it was. I loved dressing up and I loved getting free candy. (Who doesn’t?) As I’ve reached adulthood, that joy has waned quite a bit. So many Halloweens in high school were cancelled due to bad weather, and in college, I was always too busy to celebrate. But there is a love that has remained:animated Halloween specials.

So I’ve decided that this month I’m going to review a different Halloween-themed cartoon or cartoon special each week. There aren’t any particular requirements to them other than they have to take to place on Halloween and deal with Halloween related ideas and themes. I’m also trying not do some of the obvious like The Nightmare Before Christmas, just because everybody does them (and I don’t have access to it right now.)

Admittedly, my first review is a bit of an odd choice since it wasn’t originally made as a Halloween movie, but my blog my rules.

Originally based off of a book called The Three Robbers by Tomi Ungerer  about a little orphan named Tiffany who befriends a trio of robbers, the short film Trick or Treaters keeps the basic concept but adds its own narration, cuts out certain parts and turns it into a Halloween origin story.

Having never read the book, nor seen the original film I can’t say much for the original story, but it seems like other than the addition of some Halloween-centered narration and cutting of a few scenes, it’s probably very similar. For me the plot and themes remind me a lot of Roald Dahl’s work.

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Tiffany and the Robbers

In the movie, Tiffany is sent off to an orphanage after her parents’ death. The three robbers, all brothers, rob the carriage as it passes through the woods. The Coachman abandons her, but tiffany convinces the brothers her father is a rich maharajah in India who will pay handsomely for her safety. As they await a the ransom, the group bonds.

Meanwhile, the orphanage is run by the evil Auntie who forces the children to harvest beets that she turns in sugar in order to have a near endless supply of treats. The children dream of escaping but fear becoming like the the three brothers who escaped decades ago and were never found.

Tiffany and two orphan boys work together to defeat Auntie, and it’s revealed that the robbers were the brothers who had escaped. Afterwards the robbers use their loot to buy the orphanage and live happily ever after.

The relationship to Halloween? The town where the orphanage is located is called Halloween, and the holiday is meant to commemorate the purchase of the orphanage. Because children there were allowed sweets for the first time, children eat candy now. The costumes come from the orphans wearing cloaks and hats to mimic the robbers who cared for them.

It’s pretty silly, but in a good kind of way. And it’s a happy ending which I think is very necessary during this this day and age.

The first time I watched this movie, I really didn’t notice all the inconsistencies. They’ve become more obvious on other viewings but it’s pretty easy to see why they tried to adapt this into a Halloween special for an American audience.

 

The animation style is very reminiscent of other Halloween stories: it’s dark, with heavy uses of blues, blacks, purples, oranges and other saturated colors. The trees are curly. There are robbers who seem to have some kind of power that isn’t explained, and there’s candy.  For young American children, it would be very easy to associate the film with Halloween.

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Picking beets

The entire thing has this rather nice creepy, autumnal vibe. While the animation itself isn’t stunning, the way it moves gives it a very nice storybook vibe.

I think I would certainly love the original version more, just because I feel like I’m missing something, particularly in regards to Auntie but it still works and is very enjoyable for what it is.

While I hate the idea that little kids will watch anything you put in front of them uncritically and that children’s television doesn’t have to be good or make sense, I think that little kids might really enjoy this too.

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Tiffany and two of the robbers

I especially love the narrator. I feel as though narrators don’t typically work well in most shows or movies; they only exist to add exposition much of the time and not much else. But Trick or Treaters, it works because of the format of the story and because of the personality and tone of the narrator.

I think I first came across this short some time last year and just found it to be a really enjoyable watch. One Halloween scale, it’s definitely the least festive of all the shows I’ll be reviewing, but it’s nice and it’s a good way to set the mood.

The music is also quite good, and I wish there was more of it.

And that’s the scoop.

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Score: 6/10

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If you liked this review read:  Welcoming to My Life is a welcoming short that deserves a full series.

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Rating: TV-G

Length: 74 minutes

Available: Netflix

Director: Hayo Freitag

Writers: Bettine von  Borries, Achin von Borries, Hayo Freitag

American Dub Voice Actors: Taylor Bertman , Marc Graue, Micheal Sorich, LEx Lang, Charity James, Gabe Eggerling, Cole Stand, Paulette Victor Lifton, Terrence Stone and Roger Jackson

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