There are several Charlie Brown/Peanuts parodies out there, people. And none of them are warm and cuddly holiday specials.
I’ll explain how I even knew this existed.
I was working on finding a 4th of July-themed animated special (of which I had been extremely unsuccessful), but managed to find a Peanuts short that mentioned Independence Day. Good enough. Also in the same Wikipedia article I sourced that information from? Bring Me the Head of Charlie Brown, and the story behind it? Brilliantly disturbing!
“Brilliantly disturbing.” That’s probably a thing.
Anyway, the short film that I found…
Bring Me the Head of Charlie Brown is a 1986 short film animated and directed by Jim Reardon, who would later become a director and storyboard consultant on The Simpsons. But in 1986, Reardon was a student at CalArts, and his creation is that of a rough draft for a promo for an “upcoming” Charlie Brown special.
In this “special,” The Great Pumpkin puts a bounty on Charlie Brown’s head, and his friends in the Peanuts gang will stop at nothing to be the one to successfully do him in.
But it all proves to be too much, and after time spent running from those who want him gone (and the bragging rights that come with offing him), Charlie Brown takes matters into his own hands. Pump action shotgun, submachine gun, and M16 assault rifle at the ready, Charlie Brown is not letting anyone get in his way.
It’s unbelievable. And it is hilariously, disturbingly brilliant.
I particularly like Reardon’s note at the end:
“The creator of this picture wishes to state that he does not in any way wish to tarnish or demean the beloved characters of Charles M. “Dutch” Schultz’s comic strip, “Peanuts”. No malice or damage to their goodwill was intended. So please don’t sue me, because it will drag through the courts for years, and I haven’t got a lawyer – and besides, you’ve already got half the money in the world, and I haven’t got any. OK?”
The use of The Coasters song “Charlie Brown”? Also brilliantly disturbing.
The basic plot is based on Sam Peckinpah’s Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, the title is from National Lampoon’s parody of TV Guide, and the massacre is a satire of the climactic scene of Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch.
Given all the references, parodying, and the obvious misuse of these characters, it is a miracle that Reardon didn’t have a problem. And being that social media and YouTube were non-existent, he may have gotten off lucky in 1986. Can you imagine the implications of making a film like this today? I certainly can’t.
But yeah, if you really want to see this disturbing brilliance in action, go ahead and click play. Just see what I’m referring to.
That’s a thing.