Bunnicula is a children’s book series created by Deborah and James Howe. The titular character was a rabbit found by the Monroe family—father Robert, mother Ann, and brothers Peter and Toby--in a theater during a screening of Dracula; leading to Ann coming up with his cute name. Bunnicula was an unusual rabbit; not only could he get out of his cage without using the door or open the refrigerator on his own, but he had fangs instead of the usual buck teeth which he used to suck the juices out of vegetables, leaving a white husk behind.
|The first Bunnicula showing Bunnicula and Harold.|
Although Bunnicula is the title character, the series is actually told from the perspective of the Monroe’s dog, Harold, and follows his adventures as he unravels the mystery of the family’s strange new pet and their eventual friendship. In fact, the story attributed the writing of the actual books to Harold. He also had to put up with the paranoid antics of Chester, the family’s cat, who held onto the unwavering belief that Bunnicula was truly a vampire and would turn carnivorous one day and must be destroyed. However, Chester eventually decided to befriend Bunnicula and protect him from his own nature. Although often implied and hinted at, it was never explicitly stated if Bunnicula was actually a vampire or supernatural in nature.
|The 40th anniversary edition.|
The first book in the series, Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery, was published by Atheneum Books in 1979; several months after the passing of Deborah. James continued writing the series for six more entries, during which time he introduced two spin-off titles: Tales from the House of Bunnicula, which were told from the perspective of the Monroe’s second dog, Howie, introduced in the main series, and Bunnicula and Friends: Ready to Read, a series of picture books targeted for younger readers. The last Bunnicula book was published in 2007.
|The VHS cover to the Ruby-Spears version.|
There have been two animated adaptations of the franchise. The first came in 1982, courtesy of Ruby-Spears Productions, as an installment of ABC Weekend Specials. The second was a full-fledged television series by Warner Bros. Animation. Although both were different in their presentations, the one thing they had in common was that they decided to fully embrace Bunnicula’s vampiric nature and make it front and center. However, the show strayed even farther from the original books than the special.
|Promo image featuring Mina, Bunnicula, Harold and Chester.|
Bunnicula followed all-new characters Mina Monroe (named for Mina Harker, voiced by Kari Wahlgren) and her father, Arthur (named for Arthur Holmwood, voiced by Chris Kattan), as they moved into a New Orleans apartment complex left to them by Mina’s Aunt Marie, called the Orlock Apartments. With them were their two pets (whose physical appearances differed from their descriptions in the books): the dim-witted but loyal dog Harold (Brian Kimmet), and the intelligent and easily frightened cat Chester (Sean Astin). A third pet entered the mix when Mina used the key Marie left her to open a door in the cellar, freeing Bunnicula (mostly unintelligibly voiced by Kattan).
|Bunnicula feasting on some carrots.|
Unlike in the books, Bunnicula was once the pet of Count Dracula. Like a typical vampire, he tended to avoid sunlight, slept in a coffin, and his ears could turn into bat wings that allowed him to fly. He maintained his habit of sucking the juice from vegetables via his fangs; however, different vegetables interacted with his supernatural physiology and granted him different abilities such as carrots giving him enhanced vision, garlic turning him into a skeleton, eggplants turning him into a huge and hideous monster, rotten yams making him invisible, rutabagas giving him telekinesis, and more.
|Mina with best friends Marsha and Becky.|
Other characters included Marsha (Monie Mon), Mina’s shy and unlucky best friend who contrasted Mina’s outgoing nature and often witnessed the supernatural happenings around Mina’s home; Becky (Kate Higgins), Mina’s other best friend who had a sarcastic personality; Scott Dingleman (Scott Menville), Mina’s crush who shared many of her interests; Madame Polidori (Grey Griffin), the owner of a shop that contained many supernatural objects and who doesn’t like children or pets; Lugosi (named for Dracula actor Bela Lugosi, voiced by Richard Steven Horvitz), a deformed and insane guinea pig obsessed with serving Bunnicula to the point he becomes an antagonist; Patches the Weredude (Eric Bauza), a stray cat cursed by another weredude that allowed him to assume human form in the moonlight; and Fluffy (Sumalee Montano), a Doberman Pinscher that hunted vampires (a parody of Buffy the Vampire Slayer).
|Bunnicula falls for a veg monster.|
After airing a preview in January, Bunnicula officially debuted on February 6, 2016 airing simultaneously on Cartoon Network and Boomerang. It was developed by Jessica Borutski, who also served as a writer, character designer and producer. The 11-minute episodes typically involved Chester and Harold getting into weird adventures with Bunnicula as they encountered various supernatural problems that Bunnicula ultimately ended up solving. Mina was oblivious to the goings on around the Orlock apartment complex and the escapades her pets got into (a running gag had her wishing she could experience something supernatural). The series was written by Maxwell Atoms, Robert F. Hughes, Matthew Whitlock, Karl Hadrika, Josie Campbell, Ian Wasseluk, Darrick Bachman, Erin Kavanagh (who also storyboarded), Lane Raichert, Edward Rivera, Ben Joseph, Matt Sullivan, H. Caldwell Tanner, Brandon Kruse, Steve Clemmons, Kyle Stafford, Jordan Gershowitz, John Bailey Owen, Jesse Porter, Bryan Condon, Merrill Hagan, Dick Grunert, Carlos Ramos, Dave Polsky, Ethan Nicolle, Nick Reczynski (who also served as an editor) and Brady Klosterman. Drew Neumann composed the music for five episodes, but it was Paul E. Francis who composed the remainder as well as the series’ theme. Snipple Animation Studios and Toon City Animation handled the series’ animation duties, while Jamie Gallant animated the intro which would conclude with Bunnicula scaring off the offending entities in different ways. James Howe served as a consulting producer.
|Bunnicula the skeleton.|
Bunnicula ran for three seasons on an erratic schedule. After the first eight episodes, the series went on a hiatus that lasted a year. Five new episodes aired on Boomerang in a graveyard timeslot before moving to the Boomerang streaming service. It would close out 2017 back on the Boomerang network. The second season would air between the two networks, but mostly on the streaming service, while the third would air just on Boomerang before becoming available on the streaming service the following year. There was some question as to whether or not the show would get a 4th season, but an Instagram post from Borutski commemorating the final voice-recording session confirmed that it would end after the third season.