By this point, I think we’re all familiar with How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
It’s a beloved Dr. Seuss children’s book that then became a famous 1966 animated Christmas special. It later was turned into an equally iconic live-action film with Jim Carrey in 2000, and was animated once more in 2018.
But many don’t seem to know that the Grinch hasn’t always just appeared around Christmastime. Years ago, I wrote about Halloween Is Grinch Night, a weirdly sinister 1977 Halloween special in which the Grinch plans to terrorize Whoville, but goes after a boy named Euchariah instead. Well, I’m here today to tell you that another strange non-Christmas Grinch special exists, and this time it’s from 1982. This one is called: The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat.
Let me break down the entire story for you. We start off with the Grinch waking up in an unusually good mood in the morning. He whistles along with the birds, and Max knows something is off about this, but rolls with it anyway.
As the Grinch makes his way to his dresser to comb his hair, we get a glimpse of what appears to be a picture of the Grinch’s mom. We’ll come back to her much later.
When he approaches his mirror, he speaks to his reflection and wishes it a good morning. Now here’s where things start to get odd. His reflection — who ISN’T in a good mood — yells back at him and says, “I see nothing to witzel about. You must be out of your head, no doubt.”
The evil Grinch reflection then makes the nice Grinch take “The Grinch Oath,” which goes like this: “A Grinch is unhelpful, unfriendly, unkind. With ungracious thoughts, in an unhealthy mind. A Grinch is uncheerful, uncouth, and unclean…”
And wouldn’t ya know, that was enough to convince him that he is in fact not a nice person. The reflection even asks him to “prove it” after the Grinch says he’s “frightfully mean.” Literally straight out of a horror movie.
So what does the Grinch do? Well, he goes out and proves it. How you ask? By pumping some smog onto singing birds, causing them to collapse.
We then cut to a much happier character, the Cat in the Hat. He’s singing a song as he’s preparing to leave for a picnic lunch.
As the Cat (we’ll call him that for short) eats his lunch on a hill, the Grinch rams into the Cat’s car because it’s blocking the road. In all fairness, I, too, would be Grinchy in this moment, ’cause who the hell parks their car in the middle of the damn road?
Universal Pictures / New World Animation Ltd
And if that wasn’t enough to piss off the Grinch, the Cat then apologizes to him, but refers to him as “Greenface,” which sets off the Grinch. This means war, rightfully so.
The Grinch then does what any logical person would do…tries to run the Cat off the road.
The Grinch is out for BLOOD now.
The Cat eventually makes it home, but just as he begins to relax and play a song on his guitar, his music and singing begin to sound like a tape being rewound. The sound is…odd, and it keeps happening.
We then see the Grinch’s eyes glowing from inside the Cat’s house. He asks the Cat to come in. So yeah, the Grinch followed the Cat home and then broke in. 😬
The Grinch is lounging around as if he pays rent at that home and introduces his contraption to the Cat. It’s called an, “Acoustical Anti-Audial Bleeper. Otherwise known as [his] Vacu-Sound Sweeper.” The invention has the ability to get rid of every noise and sound and also gargles sound waves for up to 50 miles.
The Grinch then tells the Cat, “From now on, you will hear what I want you to hear.” Unnerving, really.
The Grinch even has a song about it, with fun lyrics such as, “The sound of your voice, is the sound of my choice,” and, “I am the master of everyone’s ears.”
Once he’s back home, he pulls his poor dog Max into his schemes and says, “That beezleberry cat! I snurgled his sound. Now I’ll even do more. Take this up to my shop on the 39th floor. That cat’s gonna suffer like never before.”
He then creates a “dark house.” So in the way a lighthouse creates a big beam of light, this contraption creates a beam of pitch-black darkness.
And of course he uses it to plunge the Cat’s world into immediate darkness.
Seems the Grinch also has cameras following the Cat, which like, sure. He then says, “Besides being boss of your ears and your sound, I can make gloom for a hundred miles ’round.” So just to catch you up, the Grinch now controls the Cat’s ears and eyes.
Which leads to the Cat trying to psychoanalyze the Grinch through rhyme and song. He also somehow conjures him up through a thought bubble.
One of the lyrics, which TBH is kinda messed up, questions whether the Grinch is the way he is because his mom mistreated him. This obviously set the thought bubble Grinch off. I told you we’d get back to the mom thing, and we’ll be revisiting it again shortly.
Then, as the Cat tries to make his way to the Grinch’s house, the Grinch puts the dark spotlight back on him…
…causing him to crash his car.
In an effort to escape the Grinch’s terror, he goes into a restaurant.
But in this story, there’s no such thing as escape. So the Grinch makes the Cat’s food look moldy, garbles the sound from the live band, and goes as far as to strip the Cat of his color.
The Grinch then transforms the Cat’s entire world in one big acid trip. Check out the beautifully animated sequence for yourself:
And as the Cat says, “Despite the grim fact that he’s depraved and deranged, I will find that soft spot,” as an inverted shot of his mother’s picture flashes again. OK, here we go!
After going through the Rolodex in his head about all the things the Grinch hates, he then thinks he’s found the one thing he loves.
So he drags everyone from the restaurant to the Grinch’s house, and they all begin to sing a song dedicated to the Grinch’s mother, with lyrics including: “Oh soften your heart / remember your mother. / Everyone, even a Grinch, had a mother / Who taught him of love, between one and another. / Oh, remember your mother’s warm arms as she held you. / Remember your sweet mother’s eyes. / She adored you. / Remember how hard mother worked to afford you.”
And despite the Grinch trying his best to stay angry, he began to tear up instead. Same, Grinch, same.
And just as he was about to activate his Vacu-Sound Sweeper, his heart thawed out, and he pulled back.
His late mother (yes, she has passed), then appears in his puddle of tears and reassures him that everything will be just fine.
The next day, after he turned off all his contraptions and became a happier person, he then did the one thing he should never do…went to his mirror.
And what did his reflection do after the Grinch wished it a good morning? It told him to repeat the Grinch oath once again. Here we go.
Thankfully for the Grinch, Max was there with the Vacu-Sound Sweeper to break the Grinch’s evil cycle.
And that, my friends, is The Grinch Grinches the Cat in the Hat. It’s a weird, sad, but also kinda fun crossover event that took place nearly 40 years ago, and deserves to be mentioned along with the rest of the Grinch Cinematic Universe (GCU).