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Bunnicula is the name of a series of children's books written by James Howe about a "vampire bunny" who is adopted by the Monroe family, who give him the name "Bunnicula" when they find him on a seat in the theater while going to see the movie Dracula. The story centers on the family's pets, Harold, an old, good-natured mongrel, who is the narrator of the story, Chester the cat, who has a vivid imagination and suspects Bunnicula of being a vampire, and the eponymous bunny, who never displays any overt vampiric traits despite constant accusations by Chester.
The series is something of an Affectionate Parody of the horror genre, with equal parts mystery and comedy as well. The first book, simply titled Bunnicula, was written together with Howe's late wife Deborah.
Books in the series:
- Bunnicula (1979)
- Howliday Inn (1982)
- The Celery Stalks At Midnight (1983)
- Nighty-Nightmare (1987)
- Return to Howliday Inn (1992)
- Bunnicula Strikes Again! (1999)
- Bunnicula Meets Edgar Allan Crow! (2006)
There is also the spin-off series Tales From The House of Bunnicula:
- It Came From Beneath the Bed!
- Invasion of the Mind Swappers from Asteroid 6!
- Howie Monroe and the Doghouse of Doom
- Screaming Mummies of the Pharaoh's Tomb II
- Bud Barkin, Private Eye
- The Odorous Adventures of Stinky Dog
There is also a series of Bunnicula books for very young readers:
- The Vampire Bunny
- Hot Fudge
- Scared Silly
- The Fright Before Christmas
- Creepy Crawly Birthday
- Bunnicula Escapes!: A Pop-up Adventure
As well as several non-fiction books:
- Bunnicula's Wickedly Wacky Word Games: a Book for Word Lovers & Their Pencils!
- Bunnicula's Frightfully Fabulous Factoids: a Book to Entertain Your Brain!
- Bunnicula's Pleasantly Perplexing Puzzlers: A Book of Puzzles, Mazes, & Whatzits!
- Bunnicula's Long-lasting Laugh-alouds: a Book of Jokes & Riddles to Tickle Your Bunny-Bone!
A cartoon was created which ran on Cartoon Network and than Boomerang.
The franchise provides examples of:
- Agent Mulder: Chester
- Affectionate Parody: Both series are a parody of horror novels. Also, the Fleshcrawler books Howie reads are clearly parodies of R.L. Stine's Goosebumps.
- Amateur Sleuth: Chester fancies himself one
- Artistic License Biology: Harold's favorite food is chocolate cupcakes, even though a lot of chocolate can be dangerous to dogs. Whether this is artistic license on the part of the character or the author is debatable. It's specifically pointed out in both Bunnicula Strikes Again! and Hot Fudge that you should never give your dog chocolate in real life. It is also noted that some dogs can eat chocolate just fine, and Harold happens to (thankfully) be one of these. See also Breaking the Fourth Wall.
- Big Friendly Dog: Harold is a more laid-back version, but definitely qualifies. Especially when the Munroe kids have junk food.
- Book Within A Book: The spin-off series Tales From The House of Bunnicula are Howie's novels and writing journal entries.
- Brilliant but Lazy: Harold the dog makes a lot of obscure references, and can even read Carpathian. He would just rather eat the books instead of read them.
- Conspiracy Theorist: Oh, Chester.
- Cute Little Fangs: Bunnicula, both in-story and in all the artwork.
- Fantastic Racism: Chester, in the "Vampires = Always Chaotic Evil" sense.
- Friendly Neighborhood Vampire: Bunnicula only vampirizes vegetables by sucking out their juices.
- Genre Savvy: Wrong Genre Savvy, in Chester's case. He sees himself as Van Helsing to Bunnicula's Dracula, when the truth is a lot more benign.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: In Howliday Inn, Louise calls Georgette "Hester Prynne". It's an obscure reference that hardly any kid would get, but she's essentially calling Georgette a slut.
- Hair-Raising Hare. Possibly. Certainly Bunnicula scares Chester.
- It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: Inverted:
"IT WAS NOT a dark and stormy night. Indeed, there was nothing in the elements to foreshadow the events that lay ahead."
- It was implied that it was in the first chapter, "The Arrival", in the first book.
- Killer Rabbit: or so Chester assumes
- Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Pete trying to explain to his family that the white vegetables are caused by "vegetables that aren't organic".
- Literary Agent Hypothesis: The prologue claims that Howe is merely the literary agent for Harold the dog.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Bunnicula may or may not be a blood-sucking fiend, though it becomes less debatable as the series goes on. Much of the humor in the series comes from Chester's belief that Bunnicula's eating habits mean that the world around them follows horror tropes.
- Metaphorgotten: Chester in Bunnicula Strikes Again:
"You can lead a horse of a different color to water but it's still a horse."
- Noodle Incident: Chester never lets Harold forget about the thing with the geranium. Or the thing with Mr. Monroe's electric shaver.
- Papa Dog: Harold goes to great lengths to protect Bunnicula against Chester whenever he has a "Kill the wab-bit" attack.
- Sliding Scale of Vampire Friendliness: So very, very friendly. Also cute and fluffy!
- Stealth Pun: The Latin word for rabbit is "cuniculus" and the scientific name for the European rabbit is Oryctolagus cuniculus; stick a feminine ending on it and it's "cunicula".
- Vegetarian Vampire: Quite literally.
- The Watson: Harold to Chester, though he still manages to get sucked into Chester's fantasies in every book.
- A Worldwide Punomenon: Howie enjoys these.
The Bunnicula series provides additional examples of:
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: In Bunnicula Strikes Again!, Harold reminds the audience that he, like the books he writes, is a work of fiction.
- Hell Hotel: Chateau Bow-Wow in Howliday Inn and Return To Howliday Inn
- Mad Scientist: Parodied (and ultimately subverted) with Dr. Greenbriar. Jill could even be seen as his beautiful daughter, and Harrison as his Igor.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: M.T. Graves is an Affectionate Parody of Stephen King.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Bud and Spud, who come across as dumb hicks, but are actually well educated. Of course, most of the obfuscation comes from Chester's overactive imagination.
- Pounds Are Animal Prisons: ...So are the kennels in Howliday Inn.
- Ten Little Murder Victims : parodied in Howliday Inn
The Tales From The House of Bunnicula series provides examples of:
- Affectionate Parody: Howie is a parody of Fan Fiction writers, and The Doghouse of Doom is mistakenly seen as a parody of Harry Potter by Howie's editor.
- Aliens Speaking English: The Mindswappers From Asteriod 6™ speak English. "Justifie" in that Howie is the author and he wants them to. So there.
- Author Avatar: Howie's books star himself and his friend.
- Death By Newboney Medal: Howie tries to make Tales #4 more tragic in order to win a Medal. It doesn't work.
- Depending on the Writer: Used in-universe as the quality, direction, focus, and title vary depending on if Howie of Delilah is writing Tales From The House of Bunnicula.
- Product Placement: Howie likes to promote his previous books, though he claims to be simply giving helpful references to the reader.
- Purple Prose: Lots in Howie's books. Even Harold tells him that he's going overboard, especially with self-description.
- Title Drop: "Mindswappers From Asteriod 6™" is always emphasized and trademarked.
The cartoon provides examples of
- Tragic Villain
- Lil’ Capone
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Rusty Bones. Chester also dabbles in it occasionall.