Muppets Haunted Mansion
Muppets Haunted Mansion Poster.png
Official release poster
Directed byKirk Thatcher
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Bill Barretta
  • Kirk Thatcher
  • Kelly Younger
  • Jim Lewis
Based on
Produced by
  • Chelsea DeVincent
  • Michael Steinbach
Starring
CinematographyCraig Kief
Edited by
  • Alexandra Amick
  • Jason Bierfeld
Music by
  • Ed Mitchell
  • Steve Morrell
Production
companies
Distributed byDisney+
Release date
  • October 8, 2021 (2021-10-08)
Running time
49 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish

Muppets Haunted Mansion is a 2021 American puppet comedy Halloween special based on the Disney properties The Muppets and The Haunted Mansion. It was released on October 8, 2021 via Disney+. It is the Muppets' first Halloween special. The plot stars Gonzo and Pepe as they face the challenge of staying in a haunted mansion for one night.

Plot

Instead of attending the Muppets' annual Halloween party, Gonzo and Pepe are on their way to a fear challenge event in the same haunted mansion where Gonzo's favorite magician, The Great MacGuffin, disappeared one-hundred years ago. Upon being dropped off by their hearse driver (Yvette Nicole Brown), Gonzo and Pepe meet the Caretaker (Darren Criss), along with several ghosts and singing busts.

Their "Ghost Host" (Will Arnett) tells Gonzo that he has been summoned to the mansion to see if he can survive one night. If he cannot, he and Pepe will be trapped there forever. While Gonzo claims that he fears nothing, Pepe is easily scared by everything he sees in the mansion. After meeting Madam Pigota (Miss Piggy), Gonzo and Pepe come across a room full of several ghosts resembling their Muppet friends. The Host soon appears and informs Gonzo that in order to survive the mansion he must face his fears in Room 999.

As Gonzo is led to the room, Pepe meets and becomes entranced by the ghost of Constance Hatchaway (Taraji P. Henson), who plans to marry and then kill him as he meets the ghosts of her past husbands. Gonzo is trapped in Room 999 (with the room's number sign turning upside down to read "666") and faces his biggest fear: that no one will like him if he does not do dangerous stunts. Gonzo starts to turn old as his reflection taunts him. Recalling a conversation with Kermit he had earlier, Gonzo realizes that he can be great by just being Gonzo and the room de-ages and releases him.

The Host congratulates Gonzo for facing his fears and tells him that he is free to go so long as he makes it out by sunrise. After realizing that Pepe is in trouble, Gonzo refuses to leave without him. With the help of the Host's candelabra, Gonzo is able to find Pepe and stop the wedding. The pair jump out the window and make it out of the mansion just as the sun rises.

The Host meets them at the gate, revealing himself to be the Great MacGuffin, who is impressed that Gonzo was willing to do what he could not; face his fears. The hearse driver picks them up and Kermit calls asking to meet the pair for breakfast. Kermit comments that Gonzo and Pepe should bring their friends along, Gonzo and Pepe turn to see the Hitchhiking Ghosts behind them, prompting them to scream.

Cast

Main article: List of Haunted Mansion characters

Ghosts

Singing Busts

Muppet performers

Main article: List of Muppets

Production

Early attempts to produce a Halloween special centered on The Muppets date back to the early 1990s. Following Jim Henson's death, his son Brian planned to continue the franchise's presence on television by releasing a series of holiday specials, with the first one tentatively centered around Halloween.[1] However, the project ultimately was cancelled, and the TV series Muppets Tonight was eventually released instead.

In 2009, it was announced during a special event at Walt Disney World, that The Walt Disney Company, who acquired The Muppets in 2004, was developing a Halloween special based on the franchise.[2] A 2010 release date was later announced.[3] However, the special was postponed in order for The Muppets Studio to focus entirely on the 2011 film, and eventually cancelled.[4]

In May 2021, a Muppets Halloween special based on the Disney theme park attraction The Haunted Mansion, titled Muppets Haunted Mansion, was announced to be in development.[5] Filming took place in April 2021 during eighteen days.[6] In August 2021, longtime Muppet director Kirk Thatcher revealed that he wrote and directed the special, and shared a teaser image from it.[7]

Later that month, Geoff Keighley and Darren Criss were revealed to be part of the cast as Uncle Theodore and The Caretaker, respectively, while Kelly Younger was revealed as co-writer.[8][9] The rest of the cast was announced the following September.[10]

Ed Mitchell and Steve Morrell wrote the music for the special,[11] including three new songs, titled "Rest In Peace", "Life Hereafter", and "Tie The Knot Tango",[12] as well as a cover of King Harvest's "Dancing in the Moonlight".[10]

This was one of Ed Asner's final works before his death, and was dedicated to his memory.[13]

Release

Muppets Haunted Mansion was released exclusively on Disney+ on October 8, 2021.[14][5]

Reception

Critical response

On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 73% based on 26 reviews, with an average rating of 6.20/10.[15] Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 67 out of 100, based on 4 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[16]

John Serba of Decider praised the humor of Muppets Haunted Mansion, saying, "Muppets Haunted Mansion is trifling silliness. It inspires some smiles, if not out-loud laughter."[17] W. Andrew Powell of The GATE reviewed the show positively, stating, "Disney World’s Haunted Mansion meets The Muppets in one of the best, and most entertaining Muppet experiences in years."[18] Victoria Rose Caister of GameRant.com complimented the series, stating that the "spooky elements are actually done in a very nice way," and the show is "a really solid watch that will be easy to throw on for kids or adults at Halloween time."[19]

Garrett Martin of Paste rated the Halloween special 8 out of 10 and stated that Muppets Haunted Mansion recalls of the Muppet Show, saying, "It’s a silly, ultimately heartfelt hour destined to become a holiday favorite for fans of Disney parks, the Muppets, or just felt in general."[20] Tara Bennett of IGN gave the series 8 out of 10, claiming, "The Muppets at their best are timeless, and this special captures much of that spirit."[21] Polly Conway of Common Sense Media rated the Halloween special 4 out of 5 stars, stated the Halloween special promotes positive message and role models, such as being courageous and encouraging others, while complimenting the diverse representations across the portrayal of different origins.[22]

Accolades

Year Award Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
2022 Producers Guild of America Awards Outstanding Children's Program Muppets Haunted Mansion Won [23]
Hollywood Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist Guild Awards Best Contemporary Makeup - Television Special, One Hour or More Live Program Series, or Movie for Television Elle Favorule, Sonia Cabrera, Michelle Sfarzo Nominated [24]

References

  1. ^ Beck, Marilyn. "Kermit and company come back anew to TV", TV Guide. May 11, 1991.
  2. ^ WDW Radio "Passholder Muppet Event" by Lou Mongello, March 11, 2009
  3. ^ ToughPigs D23 coverage, September 14, 2009
  4. ^ Jim Hill Media, April 29, 2010
  5. ^ a b Del Rosario, Alexandra (May 7, 2021). "'Muppets Haunted Mansion': Disney+ Sets First-Ever Muppets Halloween Special". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 9, 2021.
  6. ^ @KirkThatcher (September 26, 2021). "@jamieHiggs2002 @ArcadePlayerOne It was filmed in April of 2021...took 18 days" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  7. ^ @KirkThatcher (August 9, 2021). "A couple of images teasing what I have been working on most of this year and dreaming of for 30 years!!! Muppets Ha…" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  8. ^ @geoffkeighley (August 25, 2021). "Can't believe I'm finally allowed to type this!I'm so thrilled to have a cameo in @disneyplus upcoming Halloween…" (Tweet). Retrieved September 17, 2021 – via Twitter.
  9. ^ Darren Criss Cast as the Caretaker in Disney+'s 'Muppet Haunted Mansion' Special Aug 31, 2021
  10. ^ a b Cotten, Shelby; Jafari-Niknam, Sheena (September 23, 2021). "It's Time To Fright The Frights In The New "Muppets Haunted Mansion" Trailer, Streaming Exclusively On Disney+ October 8". Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution. Retrieved September 25, 2021.
  11. ^ "Production Sheet" (PDF).
  12. ^ "Muppets Haunted Mansion".
  13. ^ podcasters, Omny Studio is the complete audio management solution for; Stations, Radio. "Sasheer Zamata, Lily Sullivan, Carl Tart - Comedy Bang Bang: The Podcast - Omny.fm". omny.fm. Retrieved October 4, 2021.
  14. ^ Bastos, Margarida (September 8, 2021). "'Muppets Haunted Mansion': Disney+ Halloween Special Gets a Release Date and Spooky Poster". Collider. Retrieved September 8, 2021.
  15. ^ "Muppets Haunted Mansion". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved October 11, 2021.
  16. ^ "Muppets Haunted Mansion". Metacritic. Red Ventures. Retrieved October 11, 2021.
  17. ^ "Stream It Or Skip It: 'Muppets Haunted Mansion' on Disney+, A Spooky Halloween Tale That Gives Gonzo The Great A Chance To Shine". Decider. October 11, 2021. Retrieved March 21, 2022.
  18. ^ W. Andrew Powell (October 8, 2021). "Muppets Haunted Mansion review | A perfect new Halloween special from The Muppets on Disney+". The GATE. Retrieved March 21, 2022.
  19. ^ "Muppets Haunted Mansion Review". Game Rant. October 8, 2021. Retrieved March 22, 2022.
  20. ^ "Muppets Haunted Mansion Is a Halloween Treat for Fans of the Muppets and Disney Parks". pastemagazine.com. October 8, 2021. Retrieved March 21, 2022.
  21. ^ Bennett, Tara (October 8, 2021). "Muppets Haunted Mansion Review". IGN. Retrieved March 21, 2022.
  22. ^ "Muppets Haunted Mansion TV Review | Common Sense Media". www.commonsensemedia.org. Retrieved May 18, 2022.
  23. ^ Tapp, Tom (March 15, 2022). "Producers Guild Awards Winners In Sports, Children's, Short Form & Innovation Categories Announced". Deadline. Retrieved March 21, 2022.
  24. ^ Pedersen, Erik (January 11, 2022). "Make-Up Artists & Hair Stylists Guild Awards Nominations: 'House Of Gucci', 'The Suicide Squad' & 'Legendary' Among Leaders". Deadline. Retrieved May 22, 2022.