Welcome, foolish mortals—or should we say Muppets? For on October 8, on Disney+, the beloved brainchildren of Jim Henson will present the world with their versions of the legendary 999 happy haunts that inhabit the Haunted Mansion. Of course, there’s always room for one more.
The trailer for the Muppets’ first Halloween special, which dropped early Thursday morning, presents a loving spoof of the famed Disney attraction. Starring Gonzo the Great and Pepe the Shrimp (sorry, sorry! King Prawn), the special features a star studded cast alongside the likes of Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Rolf, and others bringing the charmingly macabre property to life for a new generation.
Gonzo the Great, the world reknown daredevil artiste, takes on the mysterious dwelling with Pepe at his side to survive for one night among the souls within the mansion’s walls. As warned by the resident host (Will Arnett), should the pair fail the task by sunrise, they will be forced to remain within the mansion forever. Pepe’s failed escape attempt makes it clear they are in for the long haul. Into the night, Gonzo and Pepe come face to face with a host of spirits as portrayed by Kermit the Frog, Rolf, Fozzie, and even Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem. Will the duo win their freedom from the mansion? Or will they be doomed to remain, and perhaps slip free this immortal coil as a hitchhiking spirit tagging along after the next successful victor?
The release of Muppets Haunted Mansion marks the first successful execution of a Halloween special, one that Muppets creator Jim Henson’s son, Brian, had planned as part of a run of holiday specials following his father’s passing. The project was canceled in favor of the release of Muppets Tonight, and again failed to launch in 2009, five years after Disney’s acquisition of the franchise, so the studio could focus on the 2011 feature film. 2021, and not 666, proved to be the lucky number for The Muppets Studio’s bone chilling bonanza, as in May of this year Muppets Haunted Mansion was announced, with filming beginning in August.
From the looks of the trailer, the special looks to be a good spirited and thoughtful homage to the beloved Haunted Mansion attraction that first opened its doors in 1969. As Arnett’s host warns, many things in the mansion appear familiar to Gonzo and Pepe, and as a result we’re treated to seeing the Muppets throughout portraying famous characters and standards from the ride. Naturally, almost immediately after this remark we see the spectral busts normally seen while in line depict the likenesses of Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker. Later, Miss Piggy fills the role of Madam Pigota, an homage to the ride’s disembodied medium Madam Leota, and re-enacts her séance with Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem providing the beating drums, blowing horns, and ringing of a tambourine.
In addition to Arnett as the Ghost Host, the star studded cast of the special features Darren Criss as the Caretaker, Taraji P. Henson as the Bride, Yvette Nicole Brown as the Hearse Driver, and other deceased residents of the mansion will be played by the likes of Danny Trejo as well as others. John Stamos also features.
Most importantly, however, among the numerous celebrities featured in the special, one appearance is particularly significant. Revealed on September 14 in a tweet from the official Muppets Twitter account, the late Ed Asner will be featured in Muppets Haunted Mansion, and from the looks of the image shared, he seems to be portraying another of the wily ghosts within the mansion—from beyond the grave, Asner will entertain us all one last time, and it seems fitting that he should do so in the role of one very special happy haunt.
Liz Carlie, the Mad Woman with a Box, a regular book reviewer for SCIFI.radio and a regular guest on ‘The Event Horizon’. She has been in and around science fiction fandom for years, and works with the American Red Cross on blood drives at science fiction conventions all over Southern California.