This week, we’ve been focusing on Rankin/Bass’ three Easter specials from the ‘70’s. We’ve been working in backwards order (the other reviews are linked at the bottom) because these shorts…kind of went downhill as the years went by. But that means we’re now discussing my personal favorite, the stop motion special Here Comes Peter Cottontail from 1971!
To start, Peter himself is voiced by Casey Kasem, the voice of Scooby Doo’s Shaggy, and the villain Irontail is voiced by none other than Vincent Price! So yeah, you just know this is going to be good. This is also yet another Rankin/Bass special where you can really appreciate how weird their work can be. But I should probably start with the story, shouldn’t I?
Based on The Easter Bunny That Overslept by Priscilla and Otto Friedrich, the current Easter bunny, Colonel Wellington B. Bunny, needs to choose a successor. Though it should really go to Peter Cottontail, the evil rabbit Irontail demands to be given a chance. You see, Irontail is still pretty bitter about the time a child ran over his tail with roller skates, forcing him to replace it with an iron tail that clangs all the time. So bitter, in fact, that he wishes to ruin Easter for all the children from here on out. So they hold a contest to see who can deliver the most Easter eggs. Peter sleeps through Easter due to sabotage, and the dastardly Irontail wins, where he proceeds to do all he can to make Easter horrible.
Just kidding. Even though Peter lost, there’s still a chance he might be able to win…thanks to time travel, of course! Yes, there’s a guy named Seymour S. Sassafras who makes all the dyes the bunnies use to paint eggs. And he just so happens to own a time machine, piloted by a rather nightmarish caterpillar with a human face named Antoine. (More of these caterpillar-human hybrids show up in a song later on. I will never recover from that image.)
Well, as Peter and Antoine attempt to time travel back to Easter for a do-over, Irontail sabotages them once again, and they lose control of the time machine, leaving them with no choice but to travel to various holidays as Peter attempts to give away Easter eggs on every day but Easter. Though Peter’s earlier efforts to give away eggs through lying fails, there is one bit of sabotage that he ends up using to his advantage, and in the end, he manages to win the contest and become the next Easter bunny.
This turned out to be a pretty entertaining, and sometimes bizarre, little Easter special, and I would definitely recommend it over Rankin/Bass’ other Easter works. Though if you want to read about the others, they are linked below. For now, it’s time to treat myself to some Easter candy. Happy Easter, folks!
Other Rankin/Bass Easter Special Reviews