With Halloween spirits in the air, I decided to be festive and read Ray Bradbury's novel, The Halloween Tree. The film adaptation of The Halloween Tree aired frequently on Cartoon Network used to be one of my favorite films I watched as a child. I thought it would be nice to re visit to the past and read the book that was the back bone of my limited television exposure. The story beginnings with a group of friends gathering to go trick or treating on a Halloween night and discover one friend, Pip the greatest boy who ever lived, to be missing. They find Pip still at home not in costume and noticed something is horribly wrong. Pip sends them ahead trick or treating, “ready set go,” to a very spook mansion of Mr. Moundshroud. Standing next to the home is a massive Halloween tree filled with lit pumpkins, each with a different face. The boys encounter the cunning Carapace Clavicle Mounndshroud and take his offer to go on an adventure to solve two mysteries, the history of Halloween and to find and save Pip.
After reading this novel, I was very motivated to do further research of the origins of Halloween, Day of the Dead, and All Saint's Day. Modern American culture lacks the back bone to Halloween. We forgot why we dress up the way we do or the reasons we celebrate. Ray Bradbury illustrated very important historical events and customs that shaped Halloween to what it is today. In America, Halloween is about dressing up, watching a bunch of slasher movies and eating copious amounts of junk food. Tradition and values are forgotten in America when it comes to Halloween. Ray Bradbury takes the reader into ancient times, as far back as to the caveman and showing the experience and meaning of Halloween, the turning of seasons and the struggle of survival. He continues through Egypt, Ancient Greek, Mexico and much more. All of these civilizations celebrated and showed appreciation through recognition to the dead. One would assume since America is a cultivation of all cultures and nationalities, traditions of Halloween would carry over. Sadly enough they are lost.
The film adaptation of The Halloween Tree is a little bit different from the novel. Instead of eight boys, the group is changed to three boys and one girl. In the novel, the eight boys behaved rather barbaric and rowdy. The addition of Jenny was a peculiar decision, she introduced a different element into the story. Mr. Moundshroud is more likable in the novel, he is more of a trickster than a business man. The film shows how time has changed since the 1970's.