I’ve been tempted to write an article about my favorite Halloween movies but I know that everyone and their mother is doing that. So while dealing with a bought of insomnia I had a great thought enter my mind. What about those great old Halloween specials? The ones that aired on network tv or nickelodeon back in the day… So I looked up some of my personal favorites and maybe I can remind you of how awesome they were or introduce you to them if you’d never seen them. Obviously, this piece is colored by a great deal of nostalgia… I know some of these are cheesier than a stuffed crust pizza… Just go with it.
Marc Summers’ Mystery Magical Tour
Starring Marc Summers (Double Dare), Shiri Appleby (Roswell) and Johnathan Brandis (The Neverending Story Part II) as well as magicians Tina Lenert and Lance Burton. This special will always have a special place in my heart because I had always been a fan of magic but this was the first time I’d ever see Lance Burton’s Phantom Swordsman Illusion and to this day it remains one of my favorite tricks of all time. I’ve seen him perform it live and on other tv specials but nothing will take away how much my mind was blown at the end of this special when that mask comes off.
A CBS special cartoon featuring Garfield and Odie trying to gather as much candy as possible while Trick or Treating. This special was created from the Garfield Halloween comic strips by Jim Davis. After a successful night in their own neighborhood Garfield forces Odie to cross a river with him to try and collect even more treats from houses on the other side. I’ll always remember the great lightning strike moment when Garfield breaks the fourth wall and says, “Nice Touch!”.
Originally aired by Nickelodeon as a stand alone Halloween special this was the test run for what would become one of the most beloved children’s anthology series ever, Are You Afraid of the Dark. When this episode aired on Nickelodeon I can remember going to school and this was the only thing anyone wanted to talk about. This was a scary show that didn’t pull punches the way other kids shows did. We didn’t know what we’d just seen but we all knew we wanted to be members of the Midnight Society. When Nickelodeon started airing the show as part of Snick it was can’t miss television.
Widely regarded as the greatest music video of all time (insert Kanye West jokes as you will), starring Michael Jackson and Ola Ray this was a must watch piece of Halloween entertainment when I was growing up. It featured what was at the time extremely cutting edge special effects technology by Rick Baker (The Rocketeer) and it also had one of the best disclaimers ever at the end. Directed by John Landis (Amercian Werewolf in London) it consistently won the best music video of all time rundown on MTV except for notably the year Curt Cobain died and is currently registered in the Library of Congress for its historical significanc
This special first started airing before I could remember, in 1983, but ran well into my teens on ABC and The Disney Channel. One of the reasons I loved it was that it featured The Chernabog scene from Fantasia “Night at Bald Mountain”. It was hosted by The Magic Mirror from Snow White and was one of the first major Disney specials to feature the Villains.
Originally aired on Fox as The Simpsons Halloween Special, in 1990, this is the origin of what became the annual event called The Treehouse of Horror. At the time it departed from traditional Simpsons episodes by having a three story structure. It involved the kids telling scary stories in Bart’s treehouse in which they didn’t frighten one another but succeed in scaring Homer. The Simpsons still air new specials annually but the original still holds a place in my heart as one of the great Halloween specials from my youth.
So did I skip your favorite Halloween special? Did you miss The Great Pumkin or The Worst Witch? Did you enjoy when supernatural evil took the night off on Buffy or what Pretty Little Liars has been doing the last few years? How about when That 70’s Show did their Hitchcock parody or when the kids turned on each other by what they found in their permanent school records? List it below in the comments.