We watched the latest Shrek holiday special, Scared Shrekless, this week. I actually love that they are continuing to make shows with these characters-but short form, not movie-length. The latest Shrek film was OK, and was enjoyed by my Shrek-obsessed daughter, but the long-form script ideas were showing their strain. This special was episodic, so it could even be broken up into shorter cartoons, a la Looney Toons.
What might put some people off by Scared Shrekless was the subject manner. Shrek and his friends all try to out-scare or out-gross each other by telling spooky Halloween stories. Anyone hoping to plop a small child in front of the television and then walk away would have been in for a rude awakening.
Shrek has always been a little gross, a little creepy, and very curmudgeonly. Probably why I like him. The Shrek of the movies is not even as nasty as the Shrek from the classic book, but he has always stayed true to his eyeball-eating, swamp living, mud bath bubble-blowing self. The stories were all riffs on classic horror films. And shouldn’t Halloween be a little scary?
Gingerbread Man Gingy told a Night of the Living Dead/Bride of Frankenstein-like story (this was the only one that scared my daughter, just a little) of gingerbread love gone wrong. Donkey and Puss-in-Boots relate a Psycho-inspired adventure. Shrek’s show-stopper was The Exorcist redux, with Pinocchio as the creepy, head-rotating kid. It was all good fun, and I’m sure the clever puns were mostly enjoyed by adults, and I’m O.K. with that.
I don’t know about my daughter, but I’m certainly looking forward to what horrible holiday Shrek might tackle next. Bloody Valentine’s Day perhaps?