JANUARY 2 VHS HISTORY LEASON : FAMILY HOME ENTERTAINMENT (FHE)
Family Home Entertainment (FHE) was an American home video company founded in 1980. It releases children's and family-oriented programming, most notably popular 1980's television cartoons, including The Transformers, G.I. Joe, Jem, ThunderCats, the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series, Gumby, Clifford the Big Red Dog, The Care Bears, and Bucky O'Hare. It also had a theatrical release division, FHE Pictures, established in 2002; its first and only release was Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie. FHE was the distributor for most of the seasonal Rankin/Bass television specials aired on CBS, after Live, FHE's parent company, acquired Vestron Video. The company has also released several VHSs of British kids' cartoons in the US since the 1980s (i.e., Roobarb, Wil Cwac Cwac), as well as some Japanese anime, plus the Australian "Dot" films. Early FHE releases was distributed by MGM/UA Home Video; in the late 1980s, FHE's releases were distributed by MCA. In 1982, the company introduced USA Home Video as a non-family division of the company. In 1986, the company changed its name to International Video Entertainment, and then to Live Entertainment, with "Family Home Entertainment" as an imprint of the company. They would later go on to become Artisan Entertainment, which has since been acquired by Lionsgate Home Entertainment. By the time of 2005, FHE went out of business. Today, all of the FHE releases are now on DVD including the Care Bears Family and Phantom 2040.
JANUARY 2 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : IT'S GRINCH NIGHT
Don't let the title-cum-marketing ploy fool you; Halloween is Grinch Night (soon to be re-released as simply It's Grinch Night) has about as much to do with Halloween as How the Grinch Stole Christmas has to do with Hannukah. As it is the first animated follow-up to the Grinch Christmas classic, production company DePatie-Freleng must have felt some pressure to make it similarly holiday themed. Hence, Dr. Seuss' story of the chance encounter between young Euchariah Who and the Grinch on Grinch Night is given a Halloween label and foisted on the TV-watching populace.
Well, perhaps "foisted" is the wrong word. Grinch Night is an engaging little cartoon, with all of the convoluted Seussisms we've come to expect. It begins with a regular day in the township of Whoville, which turns into Grinch Night when the "sour-sweet winds" begin to blow. The winds set in motion a number of events which always combine to irritate the Grinch, who then takes out his frustrations on the Who population below. Although the Whos know well enough to stay indoors on Grinch Night, young Euchariah Who (were they all the same family? did a lineage they share? had no one conceived of incest down there?) finds himself in need of "the Euphemism" and so must venture out of doors in the dark and the sour-sweet winds.
The winds blow Euchariah well away from the Euphemism and into the waiting clutches of the Grinch, who is making his way down the mountain on his Paraphernalia Wagon -- hauled by canine Max, of course -- to scare the sugar plums out the Whos. Euchariah makes up his mind to stall the Grinch for as long as possible in the hopes of keeping him out of Whoville. The world's crankiest cartoon character is only too willing to give Euchariah a good Grinching.
Continuity was apparently not one of Dr. Seuss' concerns when he wrote Grinch Night. Is this supposed to take place after the Grinch's change of heart (heh) at the end of How the Grinch Stole Christmas? If so, he has returned to his old cranky ways. There are also a few developments concerning Max that make us doubt that this took place before the events in the original Grinch Christmas tale either. Grinch historians will doubtless scratch their heads over this conundrum, but we leave that particular bit of cogitating to those with more Seuss-oriented thinking apparatus than we possess.
Grinch Night is probably best watched by kids over the age of five or six; there are some images during Euchariah's Grinching that could easily be conjured up in little minds during the night. Any sleep your offspring lose over Grinch Night will likely be yours as well, so parents: screen wisely. Looming monsters, staring eyes, stomping feet -- Seuss was in no mood to coddle the little blighters in the audience during this production. The Grinch, although never engaging in physical violence harsher than the occasional crack of the whip, means business. All of his big bad buddies (who knows what names Seuss had for them?) are in attendance.
The Grinch would return in The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat, the crossover no one expected. But neither that tale nor this one can quite compare to the Grinch's original Yuletide adventure, so we suggest that only the Grinchiest of Grinch fans should bother popping this particular tape in the VCR. Sure, it's nice to see the Grinch on screen again, and the songs by Joe "Sesame Street" Raposo provide some small diversion, but the truth is that Grinch Night won't be pushing the Great Pumpkin off his leafy Halloween throne any time soon.
JANUARY 2 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : HALLOWEEN IS GRINCH NIGHT
"Halloween is Grinch Night" is an animated television Halloween Special and a sequel (or prequel, as it's not too clear on that point) to "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." It was co-produced by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises and Dr. Seuss and won the 1977 Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program. It premiered on CBS October 29, 1977.The story takes place in and around Whoville, a town that The Grinch periodically terrorizes on a night known as "Grinch Night," which commences when a "Sour-Sweet Wind" blows and sets off a variety of animal calls that annoys the Grinch into terrorizing the Whos. As the story opens, the Sour-Sweet Wind is just beginning to blow when Ukariah, a young bespectacled Who (a resident of Whoville) with astigmatism, goes outdoors to use the outhouse (referred to as "the euphemism" in the story), and is swept away by the wind.On the road he encounters the Grinch, along with the Grinch's dog Max, who is in the process of bringing a large wagon — called the "Paraphernalia Wagon" — down to Whoville. Ukariah decides to keep the Grinch from reaching Whoville by stalling him. On the first two occasions the Grinch contemptuously dismisses him by saying that Ukariah "isn't worth a first-class Grinching," but after Ukariah (inadvertently) stalls him a third time, the Grinch decides that he's had enough of the young Who and invites him to take a closer look at the Paraphernalia Wagon. When Ukariah does so, the Grinch opens up the wagon and a cloud of green smoke with Grinch-like eyes emerges and ensnares him.Inside the wagon Ukariah is confronted by surreal imagery, numerous monsters ("members of the Un-Human Race," according to the background lyrics) and the Grinch's mocking voice. Though he is frightened, Ukariah's courage keeps him on his toes long enough for the Sour-Sweet Wind to die down, thus forcing the Grinch to pack up and retire to his cave; the dog Max, who had been abused and overworked by the Grinch, goes home with Ukariah. Back in Whoville, the residents celebrate Ukariah's courage in preventing the Grinch releasing the Paraphernalia Wagon's full horrors on the town, and up in the mountains the Grinch, who is hauling the wagon home himself, ominously notes that one day soon the Sour-Sweet Wind will blow once more, and it will be Grinch Night all over again.
This show provides examples of:
- Big Friendly Dog: Max fits this role in the end; on his hind legs he's as tall as Ukariah, and after being freed by the Grinch he runs down the hill after Ukariah and the next shot we see is him happily slurping Ukariah's face.
- Disney Acid Sequence: Everything that happens after the Grinch opens his trap-door... well... to say none of it makes sense is an understatement.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Max earning his freedom and going back to Whoville with Ukariah, after the former having been one of the most extreme woobies ever, and the latter having had the euphemism scared out of him.
- Grief Song: Max's sorrowful ballad about how he lost his freedom when he was a puppy.
- Hey, It's That Voice!: Hans Conried shows up to deliver arguably the scariest voicing of the Grinch. He also provides the much cheerier narration, which may come as a shock to viewers that have been creeped out by his Grinch voice for the last 30 minutes.
- Last OF His Kind: "The Woozoo should at least have immunity! He's the only one left in our community!"
- Mind Rape: The Grinch does this to Ukariah using his paraphernalia wagon during the movie's climax.
- Mind Screw: Again, what the Grinch does to Ukariah (and the viewers). Or tries to do, anyway.
- Mondegreen: "Grinch is gonna get ya, yes indeedy fa la la, ya!", where "yes indeedy" could get mistaken for gibberish.
- The Musical: The special has no fewer than seven vocal tunes, some with several measures, and very few instances of repeating. Impressive, given its half-hour running time.
- Negative Continuity: If this is a sequel to the Christmas one, then the Grinch went back to being evil. If it's a prequel, then Max went back to serving the Grinch.
- The special "The Grinch Grinches The Cat In The Hat" seems to suggest that the Grinch goes back to being evil on a regular basis.
- It could be that the "Max" we see in the Christmas special is a different, albeit similar looking, dog which the Grinch obtained and also named Max after the first one left him. The Grinch seems pretty set in his ways, so why try another breed or go through the trouble of remembering a new name?
- Or maybe Max is just a victim of Stockholm Syndrome and went back to The Grinch on his own accord.
- No One Gets Left Behind: Animals all shack up in safety when the Sour-Sweet Wind starts blowing. A female Who even goes back for her son's doll.
- Nonindicative Name: Halloween is never even brought up or alluded to outside of the title. Yeah, the Accidental Nightmare Fuel sequence is scary, but it's not Halloween-specific.
- Which is why re-releases have sometimes renamed it "It's Grinch Night"
- Number of the Beast: "I wouldn’t go out on a night like this...for sixty-six million six hundred thousand dollars and an extra sixty-six cents!"
- Rhymes on a Dime: It's a Dr. Seuss special, after all.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter: The Wuzzy Woozoo, whom the Grinch torments along the trip down his mountain.
- Surreal Horror: The Paraphernalia Wagon scene. If you need elaboration, see Mind Rape above.
- Unusual Euphemism: The outhouse is literally called "the euphemism". Toilets were still too taboo to be seen on TV, and "Euphemism" really sounds like a made-up Seuss word if you don't know what it means.
- Villain Song: "Grinch Night Ball"
- Tearjerker: Max's song, oh boy. The fact that the Grinch at one point mocks him during it makes it even sadder.
How many times have I said and said,
How many times have I said in my head,
"What am I doing here?"
"Why am I the slave of this grinchy old crock?"
And I say "how I wish I could turn back the clock,
And have the fine future I had once before,
And again be an innocent puppy once more."
What am I doing here?
Doesn't matter much how,
But my dear old auntie Wolfie wouldn't, I fear,
Very much care for me now.
- We Will Meet Again: "That wind will be coming back someday. I'll be coming back someday".
You Shall Not Pass: Ukariah's delaying of the Wagon.
JANUARY 2 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : HALLOWEEN IS GRINCH NIGHT
When people think of the Grinch they always remember “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, but there was a lesser known Grinch-oriented holiday special which I always preferred: “Halloween is Grinch Night”. It was freaky, it was weird, it had catchy music: it was right up my alley. Personally, when I think of the Grinch, I think of this TV special.
Halloween has fallen upon Whoville and that can only mean one thing: Grinch Night! The sinister Grinch and his wagon of unspeakable horrors are on their way down from Mt. Crumpet and all the Whos are barring their doors and shutting their windows…all except for one. Little Ukaraiah isn’t afraid of the Grinch and he’s willing to brave the Grinch’s horror show in order to keep him occupied until Halloween is over.
There are so many reasons why I prefer this TV special over both “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and “The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat”, but I think my primary reasoning is that the Grinch is 100% evil in this special. In both of his other appearances, which I didn’t see until long after “Halloween is Grinch Night”, the Grinch turns good at the end and falls victim to his conscience. But the Grinch is no pussy in this one. He abuses his dog (Max), he tortures small animals (a woozle), chants demonic spells which transform his eyebrows into rampaging bats, threatens hideus evil over an entire town and even locks a young boy away in his own private torture chamber. This Grinch doesn’t “see the light” at the finale thanks to his heart inflating in his chest or nostalgic memories of his dead mother: he’s evil and he doesn’t care.
Dr. Seuss’ artstyle always kind of creeped me out when I was little. All the people looked human but…weren’t. They had weird furry fingers and were just abnormal-looking. Director Gerald Baldwin takes full advantage of the inherent weirdness of Dr. Seuss’ style to let things get as freaky and surreal as possible. The one scene that sticks with most people who have seen this special is the climax where Ukaraiah is chased through the Grinch’s chamber of horrors. It’s basically a montage of scary and wacky monsters trying to kill the kid set to the tune of ”U-ka-rai-ah! U-ka-rai-ah! Grinch’s gonna get ya! Grinch’s gonna get ya!” It’s like the worst acid trip you’ve ever had.
As has already been mentioned, I saw this special long before I saw the more popular “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, so when I hear the voice of the Grinch in my head, it isn’t Boris Karloff. Nope, it’s Hans Conried, who does a fantastic job as the title villain. You might know him better as Captain Hook from Disney’s “Peter Pan” and he just oozes the pure evil that is this incarnation of the Grinch with every spoken word.
“Halloween is Grinch Night” is one of the fonder memories from my childhood and still ranks as one of my all-time favorite Halloween specials. I’m not the only one who enjoyed it either, considering it won a primetime Emmy and all. It’s currently available on DVD as the fourth part of a collection of Dr. Seuss shorts titled “Green Eggs and Ham”. It’s worth checking out for certain and definitely something to show your kids if they’re into scary things.
JANUARY 2 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : FOR THE LOVE OF BENGI
"BENJI II" or, as it is officially titled, "For the Love of Benji," takes the small, quizzical mutt-hero of Joe Camp's very popular "Benji" and sends him to Athens, where he becomes the pawn in a spy caper. Though Olympic Airlines gets a big fat plug from the film, you may want to switch your reservations to Trans World Airlines after watching "For the Love of Benji."
Poor Benji, en route from Olympic's check-in counter at Kennedy to the baggage compartment, is dognapped, drugged and has his paw printed with a code message. At another point, when Benji and his human companions are changing planes in Athens for Crete, the Olympic baggage handlers forget to trans-ship his carrying case so that he is left behind. This is the sort of thing I thought happened only when one attempted to island-hop through the Caribbean.
"For the Love of Benji" has a sort of plot that involves a formula for transforming one barrel of oil into 10 (could the secret ingredient be water?). Mostly the movie is about Benji's adventures in Athens, finding friends being chased by villains, being caught, escaping and being chased again. As dog stars go, Benji can cock his head with the best of them. He also runs with fierce sincerity. The human actors have the vacant look of models you see in mail-order catalogues.
The film opened yesterday at theaters all over town, including the Guild where, at 11 A.M., the members of the very young audience appeared to be eating their way through the movie—sandwiches, popcorn, lollipops, cake, soft drinks and paper napkins, which were sometimes chewed in anxiety. The card announcing the film's G rating was roundly booed by the youngsters though at almost every sight of the dog they screamed with mouth-filled delight.
A Dog's Life
FOR THE LOVE OF BENJI, directed and written by Joe Camp; original story by Ben Vaughn and Mr. Camp; produced by Mr. Vaughn; executive producer, Mr. Camp; music, Euel Box, director of photography, Don Reddy; editor, Leon Seith; distributed by Mulberry Square Productions. Running time: 85 minutes. At the Guild Theater, 50th Street west of fifth Avenue, and other theaters. This film has been rated G.
Mary . . . . . Patsy Garrett
Cindy . . . . . Cynthia Smith
Paul . . . . . Allen Fiuzat
Cnandler Dietrich . . . . . Ed Nelson
Stelios . . . . . Art Vasil
Ronald . . . . . Peter Bowles
Elizabeth . . . . . Bridget Armstrong
Baggage room man . . . . . Mihalis Lambrinos
JANUARY 2 VHS MOVIE REVIEW : ADVENTURES OF RONALD MCDONALD
The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald are a series of retail animated direct-to-video features produced by the ka-chew! division of Klasky-Csupo for the McDonald's fast-food restaurant chain and about the McDonald's mascot, Ronald McDonald and the gang in McDonaldland. A total of six forty-minute tapes were produced, released at various times between 1998 and 2003.
Although the series is "free-standing," ongoing artistic influences can be inferred from the ways certain characters were drawn for animation. For example, the character Birdie shares certain aspects of grooming and costume with Eliza Thornberry, and the rendition and bearing of the Hamburglar, reminiscent of Darwin and of Chuckie Finster, may have been an influence on the design of Otto Rocket. Elements of early K-C "house style" are also very evident on other supporting characters like Sundae the dog and the Chicken McNuggets. Co-protagonist Tika, however, is a very normal looking human girl of color. Iam Hungry appeared in one part of the episode "Visitors From Outer Space." Also, Mayor McCheese made an appearance in the final two episodes.
A new character, Franklin, was also introduced in the first volume in 1998 as the son of Dr. Quizzical (who was the inventor of Hamburglar's "Quizzical Bear Call", seen earlier in the episode). Tika was also included as a human sidekick to Ronald McDonald in the first and fourth volumes. In the first and sixth volume, Ronald was seen driving a sarcastic anthropomorphic car.
Mark and Bob Mothersbaugh, musicians for Rugrats, provided the music for these videos. John Holmquist, who has directed some Rugrats episodes, directed these videos.
The last video released, The Legend of McDonald-Land Loch, is the rarest of the six videos, because it was not distributed into stores and was available on the Klasky Csupo webpage that sold the videos.
By various accounts, the titles turned out to be rather popular, and individual McDonald's locations frequently ran out of tapes, which were sold individually for $3.49, and could be bought with a small vanilla ice cream cone or a small Diet Coke. Klasky-Csupo therefore agreed to carry them for direct sale at their online gift shop, which closed[disambiguation needed] in the fall of 2005.
Preceding this video release was a 30-minute VHS tape from Hi-Tops Video titled "The Adventures of Ronald McDonald: McTreasure Island", released on February 7, 1990. The animation was not in the Klasky Csupo style, instead in the style of the costumed characters and how they were depicted in the company artwork. DIC animated the special, which featured an appearance by Captain Crook.
In 1999, a Happy Meal released at the restaurant featured LEGO cars for children to build. The front of each vehicle had an image of one of the Klasky Csupo McDonaldland characters.
This volume was released on October 8, 1998. It features Ronald and his friends going on a camping trip in the Far-Flung Forest, where Ronald discovers an old house, which he assumes is haunted. The campers are forced to stay in the old house due to the stormy weather where a holographic head named Franklin leads them through a challenging game which will eventually help them to escape. The holographic head turns out to be a child named Franklin programming the game with help from Tika (who wanted to give Ronald a challenge) and the McNuggets in a lab room.
Ronald and Sundae go down the inner tube slide.
The Legend of Grimace Island
This volume was released on January 07 1999. The plot features Ronald and the gang out on a journey to Grimace Island where Grimace's species is discovered. Grimace previously received a letter which was actually written by the pirate One-Eyed Sally and her first mate Blather. The two pirates follow them to capture the treasure on the island.
Ronald and Sundae go down the ball pit slide.
Visitors From Outer Space
This volume was released on September 30 1999. Hamburglar tricks the gang to believe that aliens have come to earth so he can steal the McDonaldland hamburgers. The gang loses their trust in him, which was followed by the Hamburglar being captured by actual aliens. Ronald and his friends go on a mission to rescue him even though they were angry.
Ronald and Sundae go down the rocket ship slide.
This volume was released on March 29 2001. It is Ronald's birthday and Hamburglar invites him and his friends to a fake amusement park known as "Birthday World" to celebrate, run by an evil scientist named Professor Thaddeus J. Pinchworm, voiced by Phil Snyder, who plans to turn the human species into infants. After telling them they will be his guinea pigs, the McNuggets soon correct him, telling him, "They're McNuggets." Ronald and his friends are turned into babies after riding one of Pinchworm's rides, and they need to find out how to return to their original ages, even though their certain abilities are limited since they are infants.
Have Time, Will Travel
This volume was released on February 28 2002. While helping Franklin clean up his father's lab, Ronald and his pals stumble across a time machine. Hamburglar dreams up a crazy scheme to use the time machine to get out of cleaning and they end up getting lost in time. Their time travel adventures take them to prehistoric times where the time machine is nearly digested by a Tyrannosaurus and they meet their primitive ancestors, medieval times where they impress the crabby King Murray with a musical number to save captured Birdie, the wild wild west where they discover Hamburglar's ancestor Henry H. Burglar II who the residents mistaken Hamburglar for him, and the disco era of the 70s where they briefly encounter Mayor McCheese.
The Legend of McDonaldland Loch
This volume was released online on the Klasky Csupo site on January 30 2003. Originally titled "The Monster O' McDonaldland Loch," the plot follows the gang traveling to Scotland where a scientist attempts to build a replica of the Loch Ness Monster. Birdie befriends the Loch Ness Monster who wants his existence to be kept a secret. Mayor McCheese made a second appearance at the beginning of this video.
There were two opening sequences created. The original three videos featured a female singer, with video footage featuring Ronald McDonald and Sundae's daily morning routine, which begins with one of their alarm clock inventions ringing, and ending with Ronald choosing the outfit that he will wear (eventually leading to his famous yellow jumpsuit that Sundae agrees on). During the footage, Ronald wipes off animated wall portraits of him and the other primary three characters, each shown as they appear in their commercial/advertising appearance from the late 1980s. When Ronald wipes the pictures off individually, they flip over and reveal their caricatures from Klasky Csupo. During the montage, the female performer states how "McDonaldland is changing".
The second title sequence was featured on the final three videos from 2002–2003, and was sung by Ronald himself. The upbeat song was accompanied by older and newer material from previous episodes and some clips of Ronald performing the theme song. On these three videos, Ronald appears to be on a level of his arch-shaped house under his bedroom as seen in the first three volumes. Verne Troyer is absent from the live-action sequences portraying Sundae(though is briefly heard in the fourth volume). A large change in this sequence is that Ronald is not seen entering the animated world through a ball pit and slide similar to the ones in the McDonald's Playplace playgrounds, but by running on a treadmill to energize a corresponding monitor. The animated sequences are shown as a previous event experienced by Ronald instead of the present, which explains why most of the McDonaldland characters appear in Ronald's TV screens in the real world at the last 3 volumes which was animated with computer generated imagery. Also, during the last 3 volumes, Ronald can sometimes be seen outside of the house (but not in the animated world) in an animated-like background via greenscreen.