Thursday, October 27, 2011

Repost: Top 5 Halloween Specials

I'm reposting this one because it's getting a ton of hits right now and I want to be sure to update the links. The links, in fact, have gotten much better this year; They change from year to year with copyright nonsense.

What a lot of the younger generation doesn't know is that before prime-time shows had so much clout, networks used to play lots of specials for ratings, especially around the holidays. These days, viewers don't want to put up with a disruption in 24 or Survivor because of something so insignificant as All Hallow's. Maybe--just maybe--a sitcom will do a Halloween-themed episode for the enjoyment of the season. The Simpsons has a string of great ones--but because of Baseball season, they only play in November, rendering them pointless, at best, until the season hits DVD.

So if you're looking for some good ole Halloween specials to show your kids, so that they can know a different age of the commercial side of things, here are my top 5 ones:

Garfield's Halloween Adventure

This is a classic. Before Garfield had his Saturday morning show, he was only used on TV for special presentations like this one. What I loved most about this one as a kid was the fact that Garfield has such a perfect adventure for the night. First of all, he and Odie dress like pirates. Awesome. Then they go trick-or-treating, which is treated as mildly scary. And from there they live every kid's fantasy: a real adventure begins for them with real dangers, like pirate ghosts!

Ray Bradbury's "The Halloween Tree"

Bradbury was disappointed with many of the Halloween specials out there. Mainly, he couldn't stand the Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin special. He thought it was such a let-down for kids; the pumpkin never comes, friendships don't mend, there is no adventure to speak of. Bradbury wanted to make something for kids that would be exciting and would teach some of the roots of the holiday. It's pretty well done, as is the book.

Witch's Night Out

Update: My sister found it online!
Unfortunately, there is no video for this one. The copyright holders requested that it be removed from YouTube, and it is not in print in any DVD or VHS anymore. It was a rare jewel, indeed though. This cartoon stared Gilda Radner, made little or no real sense, had a low-budget feel, but somehow was essential to my Halloweens as a child. It has an IMDB page, but don't be fooled by that cover shot; it was an addition to the 1994 VHS release and has absolutely nothing to do with the movie, whatsoever. Let me know if you ever get a hold of this one.

Halloween is Grinch Night

Irreparably inferior to the Grinch's Christmas outing, this one still has a lot to offer. Suess wrote this for the small screen directly, skipping print publication. It's a silly little story of a boy who challenges the Grinch on Halloween and stands up in the face of a grade-A scaring. The fright fest that the Grinch imposes on this boy is really the best part. You just have to get over the fact that this is no Grinch Stole Christmas.

Legend of Sleepy Hallow

There's nothing like this one. While the Halloweenish part only last the last five minutes or so, the autumnal atmosphere is complete throughout. Bing Crosby is a lot of fun as narrator and every voice. This cartoon is rarely seen these days.


Disney's Halloween Treat

This was a straight-to-video release that made several rounds on the Disney Channel and ABC's Wonderful World of Disney back in the 80's. It's a rehashing of scary bits of Disney movies put together by a cheap little talking pumpkin. Despite the low budget, it remains the best way to see the best clips of the headless horseman, Night on Bald Mountain, and several other Disney classic clips.

Bonus: Silly Symphonies Skeleton Dance

You just don't see cartoons like this. Walt made this one back in the 30's before the cartoon genre was defined as purley for kids. It's creepy, it's weird, and there are strange perspectives used that don't ever pop up in cartoondom again (watch for when the skeleton jumps at the screen).

Hopefully these classic Halloween specials will help to remind you of your childhood and what made the holiday special for you. I'm a staunch proponent of the holiday and am working on a more serious posting about it soon.

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