The Addams Family Wish You "A Merry, Shh, Creepy Hallowe'en"

As part of my (slightly failed) attempt yesterday to stay up 24 straight hours watching horror movies and Halloween specials -- I fell asleep for fifteen minutes in the twentieth hour, and gave up totally with ninety minutes to go -- most of the day was spent catching up with older titles that I had not seen since they came out in theatres (Silver Bullet, Hollow Man, The Faculty, and the remake of House on Haunted Hill), ones I had never seen (the Santa Claus slasher To All A Goodnight), old favorites (Mr. Sardonicus), and creepy or special episodes of television series (the awkward Bones/Sleepy Hollow crossover event, and the re-teaming of Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi for the premiere of Ash vs. the Evil Dead, which freakin' rocked).

I also found a chance to revisit something that I had not seen since it played on network TV in 1977: an attempt to revive an old favorite show's original cast called Halloween with the New Addams Family. The entire main cast, except for Blossom Rock, was brought back -- John Astin as Gomez, Carolyn Jones as Morticia, Ted Cassidy as Lurch, Jackie Coogan as Uncle Fester, Felix Silla as Cousin Itt, Ken Weatherwax as Pugsley, and Lisa Loring as Wednesday -- but this time, the family has been shot on video and in color, which saps a lot of the ghoulishness out of the proceedings. The effects are also live, so we don't get Cousin Itt's speeded up speech, and it limits the effectiveness of Thing, the disembodied hand, along with some of the other weird and dangerous creatures within the Addams household.

What we do get is an hour and a half of some of the favorite Addams bits run -- nay, crushed -- into the ground. Do you like it, as I do, when Tish speaks French and drives her husband Gomez instantly mad with desire, causing him to kiss up and down her arm frantically? Then you will get what seems like a hundred variations on that slim gag (which I normally adore), not just between Gomez and Morticia, but numerous people in Halloween disguise as Gomez and Morticia (and all with ulterior motives), as well as the fairly creepy moves Gomez' brother, Pancho, continually makes on Tish. Sometimes we even see Gomez and Pancho kissing up both her arms at the same time. I suppose the intent was to make it all seem as manic as possible at the Halloween party, but it just gets so tiring after a very short while, and then you realize you are only halfway through the show.

There is also the unfortunate decision to gum up the works with younger versions of the original Addams kids, strangely called Wednesday Jr. and Pugsley Jr., while the real Wednesday and Pugsley pop up in the special. Why they didn't just say "Here is the Addams Family thirteen years later, and my, how the kids have grown!" is beyond me. The new kids are so bland as to be nothing more than ineffectual wallpaper, and their early scenes in the show, before the original Wednesday and Pugsley show up, only made things quite confusing from the start. However, all of the original cast members do just fine by their parts, and I especially enjoyed seeing Ted Cassidy getting slightly more to do as the butler Lurch.

But there was one part of Halloween with the New Addams Family that I truly enjoyed on the second viewing, and it was rather unexpected that I would. A couple of times early in the special, Morticia sits down at a piano and sings the opening line of a song, that I presumed she was writing, that starts "Christmas and Easter bring wonderful treasures..." We don't get to hear much more of this, or learn why she is singing it until much later. Following the silliness of the plot and the resulting Halloween party (with its multiple mixups and obvious jokes), the film culminates in a rather sweet ending, where the Addamses all gather to traverse up the stairways to visit their Halloween-loving and dearly departed Cousin Shy. On their slow, candlelit route, they sing the full carol at which Morticia hinted earlier: 



The lyrics hit all of the basic touchstones of a child's Halloween celebration, which are sometimes easy to forget about when adults muck about and try to sex and gore the holiday up too much:

"Christmas and Easter bring wonderful treasures
But spirits and pumpkins bring far greater pleasures.
Phantoms and ghosts make wonderful hosts

And every year they convene
To wish you a merry... shhhhhh... creepy Hallowe'en!

Scarecrows and blackbirds are always together.
Spiders spin cobwebs in overcast weather.
Cauldrons are brewing, and banshees are doing
A weird and ghastly routine
To wish you a merry... shhhhhh... creepy Hallowe'en!

This is a night of heavenly fright.
Witches on broomsticks are up to their tricks.
And poltergeists trail to the moon
Which looks like a silver balloon.

Frankenstein's monster is having a ball,
Scaring the goblins right off of the wall.
Boogeymen prance, and our favorite cats*
And children are king and queen.
They wish you a merry... shhhhhh... creepy Hallowe'en!"

The song is credited to lyricist David Levy and composer George Tibbles, who you might be interested to learn was the Oscar-nominated composer of The Woody Woodpecker Song in 1948. I found A Merry, Shh, Creepy Hallowe-en delightful, and it is easily the best part of the special. I just wish more of this reunion show made me feel the same way.

*Not quite sure on this line. I have seen others say it is "Boogeymen, bats and our favorite cats," but to me it is pretty clear that they are saying either "prats" or "prance" and not "bats". Anybody wishing to weigh in on this, hit me up in the comments section.

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