AWESOME-tober-fest 2013: The Purple Smurfs (1981)

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The sixteenth episode of Season 1 of The Smurfs cartoon was called The Purple Smurfs.  It aired in October 1981.purple_smurfs_title This particular episode of The Smurfs has become infamous as the “zombie smurfs” episode.

We start off with Papa Smurf waking up on the wrong side of the smurf this morning. He gets pissed at all his little smurfs cause they aren’t working hard enough and starts acting like kind of a smurfing smurf to everyone. Check him out below dressing down Lazy Smurf for sleeping on the job. I mean, the dude’s NAME is Lazy, why are you surprised?
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After bottling up the continued mental and verbal abuse of Papa Smurf, Lazy Smurf goes off to chop some wood in the forest and encounters the rare and elusive “purple fly”.

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Yes, that’s its name, “purple fly”.  I know because Papa Smurf calls it that later in the episode.  The “purple fly” bites Lazy on the tail which turns him into a mindless purple smurf monster that only says “GNAP!”

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Zombie Lazy Smurf goes on a smurf tail biting rampage and starts turning the entire village into purple smurfs.  Papa starts freaking the f**k out as all of his precious smurfs are getting smurfed into zombies.

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At first, Papa Smurf is able to identify the problem; the “purple fly” biting Lazy Smurf.  But it’s been so long since this has been a problem that he can’t remember the solution (what?!). So Papa gets a team to go out into the woods to find this “purple fly”. It’s unclear whether this “purple fly” is only 1 fly or a whole species of fly.  However, if there were a bunch of these things flying around the forest you’d think they would have been a problem in more recent memory and Papa would know what to goddam do about this situation.  But he doesn’t so he has to improvise.

So Papa and his “purple fly retrieval team” go to the EXACT spot in the forest that happens to contain this rare zombie creating fly. He then captures it with a net that has holes that are clearly big enough for the fly to escape, but doesn’t for some reason.

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Papa starts experimenting on the fly but can’t seem to figure out a cure for the purple zombie smurfs. And these zombie smurfs are getting worse. They are spreading like wildfire and they have become incredibly smart. Zombie Hefty Smurf actually steals some blue paint and paints himself to look like a regular smurf so he can move around and bite smurf asses covertly. Like a ninja. A zombie smurf ass biting ninja.

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Not sure how or why the heart tattoo on Hefty’s right arm isn’t painted over with blue. I don’t think paint works like that.

So eventually, while fighting the purple smurfs, all of the smurfs are transformed into zombies except Papa Smurf. And, of course, he’s surrounded.

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He manages to escape that ring of purple smurf zombie death (check out zombie Smurfette in the upper left) and gets to his little hut where he keeps the cure. But not before he gets bitten and turned himself. Just as his hut catches on fire. The Smurfs are DOOOOOOOOOMED!!

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What happens? Tune in next time, same smurf time, same smurf channel.

Honestly, this is a fun episode. I enjoyed the purple smurf shenanigans. It had much of the zombie tropes you’d see in low budget horror movies of the 80s.  And surprisingly, this entire cartoon story is based on a storyline that appeared in the original Smurf French comic strips back in 1959 (a full NINE YEARS before Romero’s Night of the Living Dead).

Check out this episode if you have a chance.  It’s easily found online.


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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

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4 Responses to “AWESOME-tober-fest 2013: The Purple Smurfs (1981)”

  1. I’m glad you discussed this. It’s easily the most bizarre episode of the Smurfs, and possibly one of the most bizarre episodes of any animated series!

    When it was first published in France, the infected Smurfs were black, but the cartoon changed them to purple for fear of being accused of racism!

    • Yeah, I was actually going to talk about the Black Smurfs comic one of the days of AWESOME-tober-fest but it wound up getting squeezed out. It’s very similar to the cartoon (except the colors) and I thought the cartoon was a more relateable as EVERYONE has seen the Smurfs cartoon.

  2. So so glad this showed up on the countdown, and so glad you pointed to the story pre-dating the Romero flick. It’s funny, though I saw Night of the Living Dead pretty early on, it was this cartoon that I think instilled the zombie tropes into my psyche…

  3. Must have seen this as a kid, but don’t really recall it. So weird!

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