Very special Halloween specials
Halloween is absolutely my favorite holiday. Costumes, candy, and best of all, lots of terrific classic scary movies and Halloween specials! Back in the day Sister and I would come home from trick-or-treating to a warm house where we’d salivate in anticipation while our parents checked our candy. We’d darken the living room and switch on the TV to watch glorious Halloween broadcasts without which it just wouldn’t have been Halloween. Thanks to the magic of YouTube I’ve been able to re-watch my favorite specials as recently as this past Sunday. I felt like a giddy little kid again, but as an adult I had some thoughts I’m very certain never crossed my tiny child mind. Here are my favorite childhood specials and my adult reactions to them.
The Halloween That Almost Wasn’t
The news in Transylvania is it’s not Halloween unless the Witch rides over the moon at midnight, but she doesn’t fucking want to! Can Dracula, leader of the monsters and the rest of the gang change her mind before a two-thousand-year-old tradition is put to an end??
For as long as we knew of it, and for as many years that it aired, Sister and I had a tradition of watching this special every year after trick-or-treating. It was absolutely our favorite. Dracula was chock full of wise cracks and Igor (as played by the late, great Henry Gibson) was the perfect bumbling sidekick (also, there’s a tap dancing Frankenstein!). Once it was over Sister and I would eat our candy and role-play the show, taking turns switching parts, quoting lines and squeezing every last ounce of fun from the remainder of the night.
- Some killjoy doesn’t fly over the moon and suddenly no more Halloween? Psssht! There will always be a Halloween as long as adults enable children to beg strangers for candy! Nut up, Transylvania!
- Also, WTF, Witch? You were bitching about how you’re tired of being ugly, but in the final scene you transform into a gorgeous blonde! Uhm, yeah, hi, did you not know you could perform magic on yourself before the disco party? (Did I mention this special ends with a disco party? YEAH. It’s the best! You’re welcome!)
Garfield’s Halloween Adventure
Garfield and Odie are trick-or-treating! In pursuit of more candy they cross a river to find a creepy old house with a creepy old man inside who tells them ghost pirates are on their way!
I loved Garfield when I was a kid, and I would go out of my tiny mind with excitement watching this. It’s lighthearted, but I was genuinely terrified of the ghosts who are onscreen for all of about 90 seconds. The soundtrack does a lot to heighten the fear. It’s a masterpiece, really.
- Until shit gets real, Garfield’s got a snarky remark for almost everything, and I remember quoting lines from this cartoon all the time. This must have been how I developed the “humor as a defense mechanism” thing.
- ALSO, still scared of the old man and the ghost pirates. Seriously creeps me out.
It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
Charlie Brown is depressed as per usual (though I would be too if I kept getting rocks instead of candy), and Linus insists on waiting for The Great Pumpkin to rise up out of the pumpkin patch and bring toys to all the good little boys and girls (why have we never embraced this idea?! It’s awesome!)
Sadly, it is not on YouTube in its entirety. I happen to own the DVD. My heart aches for you if you are without it. Absolutely a classic!
- Watching Lucy and Linus carving the jack-o-lantern was always my favorite part, along with Snoopy as the World War I Flying Ace. Watching him roam the French countryside after his Sopwith Camel is shot down was always super eerie for me.
- Also, someone call Lucy a bitch, please? Just once?
A family moves into a spooky house haunted by the ghost of a mean pilgrim with a magic cloak straight from Satan’s wardrobe! It’s a Disney Sunday Family movie starring John Astin (The Addams Family), Kristy Swanson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), a wee David Faustino (Married with Children), Katherine Kelly Lang (The Bold and the Beautiful), Benjamin Gregory (ALF), and Richard Masur (or, as I know him, the guy whose head ends up in the library mini-fridge in IT).
- What they’ve got is a run of the mill poltergeist. Call a priest.
- The kids go to the local Historical Society to find out the history of the house. John Astin tells them the tale via an old pop up book. Seriously? Someone made a pop-up book about a sadistic pilgrim?
- Worst parents in the world. The dad’s in the gag business and can’t take anything seriously, not even the genuine fears of his own children, and continues to antagonize them for cheap laughs.
- Mr. Boogedy bewitches a vacuum cleaner to chase a kid and it ends up sucking up his own magic cloak, defeating him. Again, can you not do magic?
Disney Halloween Specials
These were compilations of anything that might have ever been spooky about Disney ever. The Magic Mirror would host the segments concerning the classic scenes with the classic villains, which, let’s face it, are the highlight of most Disney movies.
Original shorts would be featured too. My favorite being The Legend of Sleepy Hollow as narrated by Bing Crosby (skip to 3:30 in Part 3 to get to the good stuff!). We had this on vinyl too, but something about watching a flaming jack-o-lantern fly at the screen was the epitome of spooksville for me. If you want to listen to the LP, Vinyl Whores have posted it here along with the videos. I can’t tell if the popping on the LP audio is just the record, or if it’s supposed to sound like a crackling fire for effect. Either way it induced quite a bit of nostalgia.
- Villainesses are BAD. ASS. Maleficent, baby, I’m looking RIGHT. AT. YOU.
- Donald Duck is an asshole of an Uncle.
Those are the Halloween specials I will always love. What are yours? Have I missed something awesome?
Lindsey Malta writes “Thoughtcicles” for The Idler.