In 1993, Hanna-Barbera produced an animated version of "The Halloween Tree" for TBS, and it has long since joined the ranks with other classic specials, such as "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown".
"The Halloween Tree" opens on Halloween night, as a small group of friends prepare to embark on a few misadventures with the leader of the group, named Pip. According to the narrator (the one and only Ray Bradbury) Pip is the kind of kid that everyone looks up to. He's an all around great guy, "the greatest boy who ever lived". However, when the others arrive at Pip's house, they find that he has been taken away by an ambulance for an emergency appendectomy. They proceed to follow the ambulance, but decide to take a shortcut through a ravine. Along the way, they notice a ghostly figure that looks a lot like Pip. It seems odd at first, but they press on.
Soon, they arrive at a dark, creepy mansion. An ominous fellow named Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud lives there, and it is quickly revealed that he is holding Pip's spirit hostage. In his yard, there is a great tree, filled with jack-o-lanterns - The Halloween Tree. One of the pumpkins has Pip's likeness carved into it. He questions each of the children about the costumes that they have chosen to wear, asking them if they know the meaning behind them. When Moundshroud learns of their ignorance, he gives them an offer. They can follow him on a journey into the past to learn about the history of Halloween, and as a result, Pip's spirit will be restored. Moundshroud makes a giant kite, which they all grasp on to. Suddenly, they are whisked away 4,000 years into the past, witnessing the Halloween traditions of different cultures, and learning more about the costumes that they wear and what they symbolize.
This is the greatest kind of Halloween special, because it weaves a history lesson into a genuinely creepy story. It has been a favorite of mine for quite some time, and I always recommend it to those who have never seen it. It is a classic. The animation is beautiful, and the vocal performances are top-notch, featuring Leonard Nimoy as Moundshroud. Don't miss it!