“Bunnicula sounds like Dracula!” the characters of Bunnicula mention numerous times; I mention this because it becomes sort of a mantra in this ABC Weekend Special from 1982, putting a nail in the coffin that yes, Bunnicula is probably a vampire rabbit. But he’s also kind of a dick, more of a nuisance and a pest than a bona fide monster.
First, it’s purported he shuts down the city’s plant, one of the biggest employers of the citizens. As Bunnicula follows the Monroe family, who own Harold the dog and Chester the cat, the viewer gets to see just how much of an impact that shutdown has. Mr. Monroe works at the plant, and he’s got two young boys to raise; being out of work causes his stress levels to rise, and we all know this is how murderous gun rampages begin.
Luckily, though, that doesn’t occur because the Monroes find Bunnicula and take him in. He sleeps in a coffin, I mean, box with air holes, during the day, and Chester begins to notice him sneaking off in the middle of the night. A bunch of tomatoes wind up dead with the juice sucked right out of them, leaving them looking more like garlic than a plump fruit, and eventually Bunnicula even downgrades to draining the “juice” out of lettuce. I didn’t know that was a thing.
So Bunnicula’s kind of a prick, but at least he doesn’t harm anyone. He just sends Chester into a frenzy because he’s been reading too much Dracula. Both Harold and Chester are the ones who want to find out if Bunnicula is causing all of the ruckus, either because the parents just don’t care or because the sons are too stupid to figure anything out. The Hardy Boys they are not, and they can’t even remember to feed Bunnicula. How do Chester and Harold survive?
Eventually, after a lot of Scooby-Doo-esque sound effects and a similar spooky theme song, Chester, Howard, and Bunnicula find out that what really caused the plant shutdown was a pack of wild wolves roaming the site. Yes – all of that weird superstitious talk about hauntings and demons that even the adults believed boils down to three wolves, and oddly enough no one thought to maybe just call animal control instead of pulling the plug on the whole factory. Whatever the case, it’s Bunnicula who’s forced to save these idiotic townspeople even after they form a mob to kill him; he uses his red eye telepathy that all vampire bunnies have after slurping lettuce juice to put all the wolves into a huge glass tank, presumably where they suffocate off-screen, prompting the mob to make nice wolf-fur jackets from their pelts.
Bunnicula isn’t your normal vampire story, but it’s a pretty fun kid’s tale for Halloween. The windy soundtrack, the common sound effects and themes of early ’80s cartoons, are all in full force here to create a kooky special to have on while carving pumpkins. A wabbit who only drinks the blood of vegetables? At least those parents complaining about My Babysitter’s a Vampire can’t call this one violent… right?