If you were a product of the late 70s, 80s or early 90s, you could probably remember sweet October television and all its glory with the magic of Halloween specials that only aired once a year. Sure, television still continues the trend of special Halloween episodes with certain programs to look forward to such as The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror, The Great Pumpkin and the beloved Hocus Pocus. Of course also we have the occasional sitcom that runs a yearly Halloween episode. But most of the holiday programming that I remember looking forward to so fondly, has fallen into obscurity. There is no rhyme or reason why they have become so obsolete. I’m going to be quite frank here. I’m pissed off about it. So I’m here to ring that nostalgic bell for all you Halloween heads. And OK… my own as well. Chances are you at least remember one of these gems from childhood. And you can watch them all right here on IHorror.com!
Mr. Boogedy (1986)
Broadcast as part of Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color, this was a staple on the Disney channel during the season for a number of years. The basic plot is as follows: A novelty salesman and his family of pranksters move to a town called Lucifer Falls. The house they move into is haunted by a three-hundred year old ghost by the name of Mr. Boogedy, known in life as William Hanover, before he sold his soul to the devil. While alive, Hanover was in love with a woman called, the widow Marian, but she will have nothing to do with him, because he hates children, and she has a young son. He puts a curse on the property surrounding his house, kidnaps her son, then blows the house up with himself, Marion and the boy inside; rendering them into their ghost state. I suppose given the subject matter, this could be the reason this dvd is nearly impossible to get your hands without paying an arm and a leg. The film stars Richard Masur (Adult Stan in IT), a young Kristy Swanson (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), David Faustino ( Bud from Married With Children) and the legendary John Astin (Gomez Addams) Gotta give Disney a thumbs up for this one. Now if they will just release it on Blu Ray already!
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The Worst Witch (1986)
The Worst Witch is a cult fan favorite among many and in my opinion, any film where Tim Curry sings is a delight and a privilege. First airing on HBO and the Disney Channel in 1986 for the Halloween season and continuing to do so until the late 90s. The premise for the story is about a witch academy and centers around Mildred Hubble, the school’s “worst witch”. Based on the 1974 children’s book by Jill Murphy, The Worst Witch stars Diana Rigg, a young Fairuza Balk and Tim Curry as the Grand Wizard. Still a great movie almost 20 years later. Check it out!
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Garfield’s Halloween Adventure (1985)
Well we all know who at least this fat cat is. And yes even Garfield got his own Halloween special. What is so great about this particular one is that, along with the obvious Halloween tone, it really is great at capturing the essence of the holiday. Fully equipped with trick or treating in an endless pursuit of candy, some pretty awesome tunes, ghost pirates,and a creepy 110 year old man who sets the tone for what is to become the scariest night ever for the lasagna lover and his pal, Odie. I remember being a child, the scenes with the ghost pirates were actually a bit frightening. But that also illuminates why I watched Garfield’s Halloween Adventure once or twice as a kid and returned to it on a regular basis as an adult.
The Halloween That Almost Wasn’t (1979)
Also called The Night That Dracula Saved The World, this gem of a tv short aired regularly on The Disney Channel until the late 90s. Notice the trend here?! Time to write a strong worded letter to that Eisner fellow. This remarkable short centers around Dracula (Judd Hirsh) and his monsters trying to stop the Halloween witch from destroying Halloween forever. This is one of my personal favorites because of all the great monster elements it has to offer. Along with a nice little history of Halloween, it really keeps you entertained with humorous jokes and gags. Although it was released on VHS, it never made it to DVD. I believe I may start a petition for this one.
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Witch’s Night Out (1978)
Witch’s Night Out premiered in 1978 on NBC. AGAIN, aired on the Disney channel thru the 80’s into the late 90s’s. The plot involves a witch who feels forgotten she hears the wishes of two kids, Small and Tender, who want nothing more than to scare the adults on Halloween. The witch accompanies the two children with their babysitter (Bazooey) to a Halloween party and transforms them into a werewolf, a ghost and Frankenstein’s Monster. Well the kids get their wish and scare the crap out of the town resulting in a mob chasing after all of them to destroy them. Featuring the voices of the late Gilda Radner as the witch and Catherine O’ Hara as Malicious, Witch’s Night Out is a fun take me back for kids and adults alike. Gotta love that catchy intro.
Vincent Price: Once Upon A Midnight Scary (1979)
My only question is why wasn’t there more of these?! I mean the master of horror himself hosting his own Halloween special. It’s a national treasure really. OK not really. It actually kind of reminds me of one of those after school specials. But again. VINCENT PRICE. So it makes up for the rest. Originally broadcast on CBS in 1979, basically what we have here, Price introduces three different spooky stories based on children’s books in his own creepy yet flamboyant way that every Vincent fan knows him for: The Ghost Belonged To Me by Richard Peck (1976), The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving (1820), and The House With a Clock In Its Walls by John Bellairs (1973). It was released on VHS, but chances of a DVD release are slim to none. A shame really.
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Before Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice, or Pee Wee’s Big Adventure; Tim Burton was just a guy trying to make it with a few short films he had put out with limited release. One of these gems was 1984’s Frankenweenie. Based on sorts of the 1931 Frankenstein movie by Universal. The short was re introduced to audiences in 2012 in the form of a remake and a full length feature. It failed to live up to many expectations, and personally I felt it didn’t match the magic of this first version, which was a holiday staple on, of course the Disney channel, for many years. For some reason, this tale of a loved pup named Sparky, who was hit by a car, and then stitched back together and regenerated by his boy master, has fallen into cracks. Never to be seen on TV since the late 90s. Although you can find it as an extra on the Nightmare Before Christmas DVD; it would be wonderful to add it in the Halloween lineup once again. Bonus of Tim Burton’s Vincent being added!
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Halloween Is Grinch Night (1977)
According to Suess.com, Halloween Is Grinch Night is actually a prequel to the How The Grinch Stole Christmas. And how this has fallen into obscurity, I’m not sure i completely understand. The short is more bizarre than the well known Christmas cartoon, But was well recieved by critics alike, even winning an Emmy. This grinchy tale premiered on ABC in 1977, played for a few years, and fell to the wayside. Halloween is Grinch Night takes place one evening when a ‘sour-sweet wind’ blows through Whoville and warns the Who’s that the Grinch is coming down from Mt.Crumpit to celebrate the much feared “Grinch Night.” One boy, named Euchariah, is swept away by the wind and comes face to face with the Grinch himself. Now Euchariah must stall the Grinch until the wind dies down, even if he has to face the horrors in the Paraphernalia Wagon. Yeah, you read that right. Paraphernilia wagon. Since when did the Grinch become a drug dealer?! Oh well, here’s the video.
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The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1949)
Disney’s Sleepy Hollow is a part of 2 segments of the company’s 11th full length animated feature, The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. Although later the two films were separated and marketed individually. In case any one of you is completely unfamiliar with the legendary tale of Mr. Crane, the story is of Sleepy Hollow’s school teacher Mr. Ichabod Crane and his untimely encounter with towns urban legend, The Headless Horseman. With the infamous Bing Crosby lending his voice to Ichabod and all the singing parts of the film, it really is, in my opinion, one of Disney’s most underrated classics. The story is well told, the audience is entertained throughout the program, and the creep factor is pretty high for an animated tale. Sleepy Hollow was a part of Disney’s Halloween Treat program that ran thru the 80s into the later 90s. The film, having disappeared for some time, was released briefly earlier this August on Blu-Ray for the first time ever. So we have at least one of these available to own in our Halloween collections!
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The Midnight Hour (1985)
Before television had Rick Grimes and The Walking Dead, it had LeVar Burton and dancing zombies. Hey, it’s the ’80s. What did you expect?! The Midnight Hour follows four friends who unwittingly wake one of their dead ancestors, who just happens to be a witch hellbent on bringing back the dead. With a ’50s cheerleader ghost by their side, it’s up to the group of kids to return things to normal. Originally premiering as a TV movie on ABC in 1985, The Midnight Hour was briefly released on VHS in 1999 and DVD in 2000, but has long since been out of print and is among a treasured rare film to have in your possession and highly valued among collectors. So start searching your parents garage, or hit up your local yard sales. If you find this gem, I suggest you snatch it up!
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I sincerely hope you enjoy some of these long forgotten Halloween treasures! Happy haunting season!