Jeanie and Michael (Sarah Matinek and Will Nipper) are celebrating what very well could be their last Halloween after the town’s lake, which serves as the main source of power for the local candy factory, has run almost completely dry. How could such a horrific event happen you might ask? Well, let’s just say it involves the town meanie, Mrs. Gizbourne (Rhea Perlman), who with the help of her trusty henchman, Hans (Richard Moll), has been using the lake water to create a solution for achieving eternal youth, therefore leaving the lake bone dry and the candy factory’s future as well as the fate of Halloween in danger.
Meanwhile, as Jeanie and Michael are enjoying their last evening of trick or treating, they come across four Martians (?!) who were sent to earth to replenish their planet’s supply of, what else, candy. Jeanie and Michael befriend the Martians and take them trick or treating so they can get together some candy, at which point things take a hysterical turn! Actually, they don’t, but whatever. Anyway, it isn’t long before one of the Martians runs off to the evil Mrs. Gizbourne’s house to find more candy, and this my dear reader is where the shit hits the fan.
Produced by Hanna-Barbera and premiering on CBS on October 28th, 1991, The Last Halloween is a bit of a mixed bag of tricks and treats in terms of entertainment value. First of all, it’s difficult to fathom why one candy factory’s fate could completely end Halloween for an entire town. You know, since there are other candy factories around the county as well as trucks that could easily deliver said candy. I mean, it’s not like they live in the Taiga and have to wait for the yearly helicopter to drop of food. Then again, I suppose this is an instance where suspending disbelief would play into things, especially when we’re talking about a special that’s story takes everything AND the kitchen sink and jams it into a runtime less than 30 minutes.
Regardless of the overblown plot, there are a lot of things to enjoy about The Last Halloween. As convoluted as the story is, it does a good job of quickly building up depth for the two main characters. There are also some awesome visuals strewn throughout the short running time, my favorite being this great looking matte painting used for the villain's castle. For a short Halloween TV special, it’s clear that a lot of effort went into production value, and it shows in the final product. In fact, this resulted in a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Visual Effects which were, interestingly enough, provided by Industrial Light & Magic and Pacific Data Images.
Something else that’s notable about The Last Halloween is that it features some early CGI, which is how the mostly obnoxious Martian characters are brought to life. I find it interesting to see early CGI use, as CGI was, at least in the early days, something that was kind of cool and exciting; a new tool for filmmakers to bring new worlds to life. Nowadays, however, CGI has completely affected the landscape of cinema, specifically big-budget Hollywood movies, and in a way that I think is now really hurting the power of cinema. An epic film is no longer epic - it’s green screen. But that’s another topic for another day...
The Last Halloween is a remotely entertaining little ride, though a ride that will likely only be enjoyed by people who either really love Halloween (me) or children (me), which is really the perfect audience for this one. One final observation concerning the Martians: if they wanted candy, why didn’t they go to the local Mars Bar?
If you want to check out The Last Halloween for yourself, then you can give it a watch via the YouTube video below: