The Last Halloween (1991)
Film review #374
Director: Savage Steve Holland
SYNOPSIS: In the town of Crystal Falls, Michael and his younger sister Jeanie are eager to celebrate Halloween, but their Father, who owns the local candy factory, fears this will be “The Last Halloween” as the lake that powers the factory is mysteriously drying up. When aliens show up looking for something called “koobi” which their home planet of Mars has run out of, Michael and Jeanie help them to find some and unravel the mystery of the lake along the way…
THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: The Last Halloween is a 1991 TV film/special aired at Halloween (Unsurprising, given the title). In the opening we are introduced to Michael and Jeanie: a brother and sister who live in the quaint U.S. town of Crystal Falls. Their Father and grandfather run the local candy factory, which is about to close down due to the mysterious drying up of the lake, which will make a lot of the town unemployed. Michael and Jeanie are still looking forward to going trick or treating however, and their Halloween night gets even stranger when four aliens land on Earth looking for something called ″koobi” which their home planet of Mars has run out of. Michael and Jeanie agree to help the aliens out, but meanwhile Mrs. Gizbourne is secretly using the water from the lake to fuel her experiments into attaining the secret of eternal youth. For a television special that only runs at around twenty five minutes, there is a lot going on in terms of story and characters. It crams a lot in so that in theory there’s something for a wide audience. It skips a lot on some of the details, but that kind of thing doesn’t really matter to kids, who can happily fill in the gaps with their own imagination. With all these different threads going on at the same time, the special nevertheless flows along quite nicely, and there’s always something fun or interesting happening on screen.
The film is definitely meant to have a “timeless” quality to it, so it can be repeated every year when halloween rolls around. It’s meant to be the sort of film that becomes part of the tradition, although it wasn’t shown much after it’s original airing as far as I can see, and there’s been no digital or home video release. Michael and Jeanie are plain and average children that younger viewers can relate to, but they have their own unique traits too. The aliens are probably the most interesting characters though, as each has their own look, voice and personality, and are entirely computer-animated, which was quite groundbreaking at the time have CG creatures interacting with real actors on-screen. This special was made my Hanna-Barbera, who produced a lot of traditional hand-drawn animated shows (Scooby-Doo, The Flintstones, amongst others), and this is one of their first forays into computer-generated animation. Nevertheless, they seem to have transitioned well, and the aliens all look, move and talk like they have a genuine presence. Obviously the effects look dated now, but again there is still a timeless quality to them that doesn’t spoil the overall feel of the story.
Overall, The Last Halloween, while being short and fairly harmless, manages to cram a lot of content into its runtime, with plenty of elements that will appeal to its younger audience. It plays it safe in many respects and is mostly harmless, probably appealing to well-established ideas to make it “timeless”, but owing to that, it does use what is known to be successful to make a successful bit of television. The animation is fairly decent for it’s time, and offers something new in terms of it being computer generated. Not that interesting for adults, but would have been perfect to get young kids in the mood for Halloween.