Do you remember the 1979 TV special ''The Halloween That Almost Wasn't''?

A disco boogie party with Dracula, the Werewolf, and Frankenstein's Monster.

Sometimes things are so cheesy that they're just... bad. They elicit eye rolls and boredom. However, sometimes media hits just the right sweet spot — where something is so fantastically cheesy that it becomes beloved.

Want an example? How about a Halloween TV special from the Seventies that ends with Dracula throwing off his cape and revealing an outfit like John Travolta's in Saturday Night Fever, followed by a disco dance party?

We're talking about The Halloween That Almost Wasn't, also released on VHS as The Night Dracula Saved The World.

This special was stacked with talent. Dracula himself was played by Judd Hirsch, who at the time was the lead in Taxi, and who you may know from his long career on stage and screen, including Numb3rs, Dear John, Independence Day, Ordinary People (which earned him his first Academy Award nomination in 1980) and The Fablemans (which got him his second nom in 2022.)

Other cast members included Mariette Hartley, who played Spock's love interest on the Star Trek episode "All Our Yesterdays" and later became famous for a series of commercials with James Garner, Henry Gibson of Laugh-In and Blues Brothers fame as Igor, Jack Riley (The Bob Newhart Show, Rugrats) as the Werewolf, and John Schuck as Frankenstein's Monster — Schuck would later go on to play Herman Munster in the sitcom The Munsters Today.

So what brings all these acclaimed actors together for an ABC special? Well, Dracula sees a TV report about how Halloween might be ending, and he is being blamed. Dracula is horrified since Halloween is his favorite holiday! (Same, Dracula, same.) Naturally, he calls a meeting of all the classic monsters where he scolds them for no longer being as scary as they used to be.

The truth comes out — it's the Witch who started the rumor. She is tired of being famous for being ugly, and won't participate in Halloween any longer. This is an issue since Halloween cannot begin until she flies over the moon on her broomstick. What follows is a Scooby-Doo-style chase where the monsters try to force the Witch to fly over the moon, and she defies them at every turn.

Finally, with only minutes to go before midnight, two children come to the Witch's door, one of them dressed as her. They beg her to save Halloween and say that they love her just as she is. Her heart is warmed, and she agrees to keep Halloween alive.

She still has one demand from Dracula... she wants disco parties. The Witch does a Wonder Woman-style spin and transforms into a glittering blonde diva, and Dracula throws off his cape to reveal a suit with some truly impressive huge lapels, and they boogie the night away.

The special aired on Disney Channel until the late 90s as part of their Halloween programming, so it isn't only the disco generation that has fond memories of The Halloween That Almost Wasn't. What about you? Do you remember this totally groovy Halloween treat?

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16 Comments

Moverfan 7 months ago
Elliott Carlin as the Wolfman....dare I hope there was also "a poem by Henry Gibson"?
teethclenched 8 months ago
This, and THE PAUL LYNDE HALLOWEEN SPECIAL, should be scheduled, back-to-back on MeTV ASAP.
4thtroika 8 months ago
This appeared in script form in our Weekly Reader paper at school. It would've been the 5th grade. Yet another trauma I wish I could forget.
mzcaligula 8 months ago
I watched this in (pop)cornball in the seventies and it became my instant favorite! When Drac flew into the window and flattened his face I laughed so hard my mom thought I’d choke. It was very much like a live action Looney Toon :)
timothys71 8 months ago
I would love it if MeTV could get the rights to air some of these classic holiday specials and maybe run a block of them on the weekend before the holiday. The original animated version of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" airs (sometimes twice) each year, but how about "Halloween Is Grinch Night"? I haven't seen that on TV in ages.
HpHoward timothys71 8 months ago
Sounds good to me. God knows MeTv can use some fresh items on the schedule anyway.
Kramden62 timothys71 8 months ago
I liked "Halloween is Grinch Night," too. I distinctly remember watching it when ABC first aired it in October 1977. I also remember that goofy song they sang at the end.

Unfortunately, Disney/ABC owns that special now, along with most of the other DePatie-Freleng shows (explanation: When DePatie/Freleng Enterprises went out of business in 1981, the company was absorbed into Marvel Comics Animation, which, of course, is now part of the Disney empire). I can only hope a miracle happens and MeTV might be able to show "Halloween is Grinch Night" again sometime in the near future.

As for "The Halloween That Almost Wasn't:" Yes, I remember seeing it only once, when it first aired in October 1979. I didn't really like it and didn't care to see it again after that.
Bricat2001 Kramden62 8 months ago
i thought all the Dr. Seuss specials were owned by warner brothers?
Kramden62 Bricat2001 8 months ago
Perhaps. I could be wrong.

But I do know most of the DePatie/Freleng' Productions are
now owned by Disney/ABC via Marvel (with the exception of "The Pink Panther," which is owned by MGM).
KJExpress 8 months ago
I don't remember this at all. It doesn't sound like I missed much.
Runeshaper 8 months ago
I didn't even know this existed, but Judd Hirsch is the man! (-:
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