Halloween Is Grinch Night (released on VHS as Grinch Night and It's Grinch Night!) is an animated Halloween TV special, written and produced by Theodor Seuss Geisel (better known as Dr. Seuss), directed by Gerald Baldwin and released by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises. It first aired in the United States on ABC on October 29, 1977.
The special centers around the character of the hairy green monster the Grinch, who first appeared in Dr. Seuss' 1957 children's book How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and later appeared in the 1966 animated Christmas TV special of the same name. The plot is set in motion when a strong wind starts a chain of events which disturb the Grinch, causing him to want to leave his home in a cave high above the town of Whoville to go down and terrify the town's inhabitants. A small boy named Ukariah Who prevents the Grinch from reaching the town.
It is difficult to say whether Halloween Is Grinch Night is a possible prequel of sorts to How the Grinch Stole Christmas! or not. The Grinch famously has a change of heart at the end of the 1957 book and 1966 TV special and, as a result, no longer menaces the inhabitants of Whoville as he does in Halloween Is Grinch Night. However, the Grinch's dog Max, who accompanies him throughout How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, leaves his cruel master at the end of the Halloween special.
Halloween Is Grinch Night won the 1977 Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program.
The special opens in the town of Whoville on a pleasant autumn evening, just as the sun is setting. The peace is shattered when old Josiah Who notices that the "Sour-Sweet Wind" is blowing. He, his wife Mariah and their grandchildren rush inside, lock the doors and shutter the windows, as do the other inhabitants of Whoville, because they know that the "Sour-Sweet Wind" is a sign of dangerous things to come. The wind disturbs the creatures which live in tree stumps next to Puncker's Pond. Their cries cause the pond's water to ripple violently, which in turn makes the strange creatures which live in the pond howl. The sound of their howling reaches the Grinch in his cave at the top of Mount Crumpit. The Grinch realizes that it is Grinch Night once again, a night on which he goes down to scare everyone in Whoville. He harnesses his dog Max to a cart which he calls the "Paraphernalia Wagon". The dog reluctantly pulls the wagon towards the town.
Inside the home of Josiah Who, his grandson Ukariah suggests that, instead of standing around doing nothing, they should telephone the Grinch information line. Josiah calls the number and hears a message from police officer Sergeant McPherson, who announces that the Grinch is indeed heading towards the town.
Ukariah announces that he has to answer the call of nature and use the outhouse. He ignores his grandparents' pleas that it is too dangerous to go outside but is carried off by the strong wind. He finds himself on a mountain road and notices the dog Max. He feels sorry for the dog, who he thinks is lost, and wants to take him home. The dog indicates to the boy that the Grinch is nearby. The Grinch is largely unconcerned by the presence of the small boy, considering him to be insignificant. However, in response to Ukariah's question, "Are you really the Grinch?", the creature makes his large black eyebrows leave his face and fly around like a bat, before continuing his journey towards Whoville.
Reasoning that the only way to prevent the Grinch from getting to Whoville is to stall him for time, Ukariah asks the Grinch to scare him again, saying that he enjoyed it. At first, the Grinch refuses to spend any more time and energy on the boy. When Ukariah asks again, the Grinch tells him to come up onto the top of the "Paraphernalia Wagon". The Grinch opens a trap door and Ukariah finds himself in a world full of ghostly and monstrous creatures. After his frightening experience inside the "Paraphernalia Wagon" has ended, Ukariah points out that the "Sour-Sweet Wind" has stopped and that it is an established fact that the Grinch does not prowl when the "Sour-Sweet Wind" is not blowing. The Grinch has to admit that Ukariah is right and prepares to go back to his mountain home. He orders Max to turn the wagon around but the dog refuses to obey and leaves with Ukariah Who instead.
Sergeant McPherson happily announces that the danger has passed. Ukariah returns home and all is well in Whoville once more. However, as he heads home, the Grinch says that sooner or later the "Sour-Sweet Wind" will blow again and another Grinch Night will come.
- Hans Conried - The Grinch/Narrator
- Gary Shapiro - Ukariah Who
- Hal Smith - Josiah Who
- Irene Tedrow - Mariah Who
- Jack DeLeon - Sergeant McPherson
- Henry Gibson - Max the dog's singing voice
- According to the 2000 version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas featuring Jim Carey, the Grinch was brought to Whoville on the very same sour-sweet wind featured in the special, possibly indicating that Grinch Night could also be the birthday of the Grinch and the anniversary of when he arrived in Whoville.