You haven’t heard of Peter Cottontail?
In the words of the film’s narrator Mr. Sassafrass, “Great chattering chick-chicks!”
It’s one of my favourite lines from the movie. I couldn’t resist.
Here comes Peter Cottontail is from the creators Rankin & Bass. They create stop and go animation. They’re well-known for their classics: Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, Santa Clause is Coming to Town, and The Year without a Santa Clause. During the holidays, I usually go to them to help me celebrate the holidays and relive childhood memories. They give you the good stuff! I am sure I still have the VHS version of the movie too. But VHS seems to have become obsolete. Though, if you are interested in watching any of the Rankin & Bass classics, there have converted a lot of their work onto DVDs and you can usually find them on Youtube.
Here comes Peter Cottontail is inspired by the Easter song. In the movie, your guide is the quirky and friendly peddler, inventor, host, and narrator, Seymour S. Sassafrass. He takes you on the journey to April valley where all the Easter bunnies live. But who is in charge of all the Easter Bunnies? Well, the Chief Easter Bunny, Peter Cottontail, of course! However, he wasn’t always chief. He started out as a young bunny, dreaming of becoming the leader of April valley. We all have to start somewhere, right?
Before one Easter day, the Chief Easter bunny goes through pictures of potential candidates, so he could retire. He believes Peter Cottontail (voiced by Casey Kasem) would be perfect for the job and plans to appoint him. However, as the Chief bunny attempts to give the honours to the young rabbit, the evil-doer rabbit Iron Tail steps in. He challenges Peter to a contest: whoever delivers the most eggs on Easter will become the new Easter Bunny.
As bad luck would have it, Iron Tail sabotages Peter Cotton’s plan to become Chief Easter Bunny from the start. The evil rabbit becomes the new leader of April valley and he has a new vision for the little town, making everything miserable and gray. Also, the dastardly rabbit is voiced by Vincent Price, who is always perfect to play the part of the villain.
In an effort to set things right, Peter seeks out a way to save April valley. With some help from Sassafrass and the French caterpillar pilot of the Yester-mobile (a steampunk-esque air balloon carriage), Antoine, Peter goes in time to revisit Easter day to make up for his mistake and defeat Iron Tail. Though, yet again, the evil rabbit foils his plans and instead Peter is sent to different holidays. He must come up with clever ways to give out his eggs. Because really, who wants Easter eggs on Christmas, Mother’s Day, or even Halloween?
If you’re in need of a lighthearted and creative telling of an Easter bunny story this Easter, I highly recommend Here comes Peter Cottontail. To this day, it has remained to be one of my favourite holiday movies.