31 Nights of Horror: The Halloween Tree

According to Wikipedia, The Halloween Tree was originally written by Ray Bradbury as part of a project he was working on with Chuck Jones. That project never came to fruition, but Bradbury repurposed his screenplay into a short novel that was published in the early 1970s. I hadn’t heard of the story until research for one of the prior entries in this year’s 31 Nights of Horror.

The story follows a group of kids getting ready to go Trick or Treating on Halloween night. One of their group, Pipkin, is sick, but assures them he will be there. He had even scouted the route and wants to meet them in a particular spot. When they arrive there, Pipkin is kidnapped and a mysterious stranger, Mr. Moundshroud, arrives and leads the children on a tour of Halloweens past in an attempt to locate and save their friend.

The story is a history of the holiday we celebrate today with stops in ancient Egypt where they see a precursor to Trick or Treating. They pass through ancient Rome and see the Romans bring their beliefs to the Celtic celebration of Samhain. Their final stop is in Mexico for Dia de los Muertos. The kids eventually save Pipkin, but not without giving something of themselves.

The version I enjoyed is what you see pictured on the left–an audio drama produced by the Colonial Radio Theater players. All the actors perform well enough, although I was a bit let down to know that it was a bit of a musical with occasional breaks for song. The program is a great overview of where Halloween came from and why it’s still popular and observed today. Colonial has produced several Bradbury stories. You can find samples and more information here.

1 thought on “31 Nights of Horror: The Halloween Tree”

  1. Sorry you were let down by the musical numbers; however they appear in Rays book, and we included them in the audio drama as we wanted to stay true to the original story. In the book, Ray says how the jack-o-lanterns on the tree sang – and then he wrote the lyrics to the song “The Halloween Tree” – which are printed in the actual book. We wrote music to them, but used Rays words. Same with the “Broom works” song. The story is true to the book. Glad you liked it otherwise 🙂

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