Do you remember the 1993 animated Ray Bradbury TV movie, The Halloween Tree?
Leonard Nimoy lent his voice acting talents to this Emmy-winning '90s cult classic.
There are Halloween TV specials meant to send shivers down your spine. Then, there are Halloween specials meant to educate the audience. And between those, there is The Halloween Tree.
The TV movie is based on Bradbury's 1972 fantasy novel of the same name. It was originally written as a script to be animated by Looney Tunes legend Chuck Jones, but when the animation studio closed shortly after, Bradbury adapted it into a book.
The story came full circle when, in the '90s, Hanna-Barbera decided to produce the TV movie as originally intended, with the script written by Bradbury. Not only did Bradbury win an Emmy for Outstanding Writing in an Animated Program, but he also voiced the film's narrator.
The story follows four friends on Halloween who have another friend, Pip, unexpectedly rushed to the hospital. As they head to go visit them, they spy his spirit running into an ominous mansion. The resident of that mansion, Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud (voiced by Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy) agrees to take the children with him in pursuit of their friend, in hopes of bringing him back before dawn.
As the team jumps through time, they learn about the origins and influences of Halloween as well as the history behind their own costumes, a witch, a skeleton, a monster, and a mummy.
The film ends on an unexpectedly serious note — the friends fail to retrieve Pip before the deadline, and his spirit now belongs to Moundshroud. Moundshroud, however, is willing to barter, and the four friends each offer him a year off the end of their own lives in exchange for Pip back. Moundshroud accepts, and Pip comes home from the hospital.
The TV film was originally critically received well, hence the Emmy it earned Bradbury, but it has taken on a whole other life in the decades that followed. These days it's regarded as a cult classic and has a significant following of fans who appreciate the creepier tone, the voice acting, and the history of Halloween.