Special School: Halloween

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Special School: Halloween

MovieBob reminisces about the spooktacular TV specials that used to air for Halloween.

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One thing that really bugs me about the great pumpkin charlie brown special, when Trick-or-Treating, all the kids get candy but Charlie just gets rocks. WHO DOES THAT?! Have you ever walked up to a door and the owner of the house refused to give you anything because they didn't like you costume!? And why rocks? Rocks are destructive, if I was a kid and someone gave me a rock in my candy bag, they'd get it back, through their window. Assuming they closed their door fast enough to avoid getting it back between their eyes.

It saddens me that I haven't seen any of these. Sure I've heard of a few of them, but never watched them.

Orson Welles was in transformers?

Incredible!

Man, I saw the Worst Witch as a kid but it looks far, far more terrible then I remember. I also oddly remember the Tim Curry character being cuter (I'd rather have Frank n Furter Tim Curry today). Man, those special effects were just top budget!

I also remember their being Garfield's Halloween Adventure, which while not as good at the Christmas special wasn't to bad either.

I could never have told you the title, but I watched The Worst Witch enough times to immediately recognize the references. I have fond memories, but I'm not entirely sure they would hold up if I watched it again.

Now if only someone could tell me the name of the animated dealie with the puppet-dude who turns people into tetrominoes for building his fortress...

No mention of the Star Wars Holiday Special?

I wonder why...

Oh...now I remember.

Geoffrey42:

Now if only someone could tell me the name of the animated dealie with the puppet-dude who turns people into tetrominoes for building his fortress...

Maybe they were just Taken For Granite?

Well, apparently nobody saw It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown because today I went to school in a Charlie Brown costume with the ghost costume over it and the bag of rocks, and I got a lot of weird responses. The top 3 were

3: The Ghost of Charlie Brown
2: An egg
1: A condom

Mullahgrrl:
Orson Welles was in transformers?

Incredible!

Indeed it was.

angel85:
One thing that really bugs me about the great pumpkin charlie brown special, when Trick-or-Treating, all the kids get candy but Charlie just gets rocks. WHO DOES THAT?! Have you ever walked up to a door and the owner of the house refused to give you anything because they didn't like you costume!? And why rocks? Rocks are destructive, if I was a kid and someone gave me a rock in my candy bag, they'd get it back, through their window. Assuming they closed their door fast enough to avoid getting it back between their eyes.

I think you are missing half the point of Charlie Brown and what a dishrag he's supposed to be, which is where a lot of the humor comes from. He gets picked on because he can be picked on. Let's not forget the whole thing with Lucy and the football, the way he's treated during baseball games, and everything else. Getting rocks on Halloween is just part of the same recurring gag, and the fact that he wouldn't do something like that is exactly the point and why it's supposed to be ridiculous/funny.

-

That said, I myself have fond memories of holiday specials and the like. However I think Moviebob is missing part of this as well. In today's left-wing, politically correct world holidays tend to offend some rather vocal minority groups who are then given a platform to be obnoxious.

Understand that right now TV networks want to be seen as being neutral. Doing things like holiday specials can be seen as supporting the holidays, especially if they are heavily promoted. They want to be seen as being as generic and ambigious as possible nowadays. If you say promote Christmas the way they used to, your going to have Jewish people coming up and going "what, why can't we have specials for our holidays?" or Islamics and Hindus claiming that they feel threatened and excluded by the special focus on the holidays in the mass media. As a result things are kept mostly to generic "Happy Holidays" type messages without specification, the commercial aspects, and what specials are shown tend to be ones that are recycled and defended as classics "from a differant time".

A lot of people might not see it that way, but understand that right now we live in a country where despite being a democracy where the majority is supposed to rule, every single year we see battles somewhere over towns doing things like putting up Christmas decorations. Inevitably someone gets upset, or just wants attention, and starts screaming about how even if 99% of the town votes to use their tax money for Christmas decorations, or to have a tree lighting ceremony in the town green like they might have been doing since before there was officially a United States, that it's wrong because a handfull of people in the town don't believe in, or celeberate Christmas, feel it's offensive, or whatever else.

With Halloween the situation is a little differant as there are both safety issues (the handfull of whack jobs who actually poisoned candy and stuff), and legal issues (the police no longer turn a blind eye on kids performing phranks), which cause networks to want to downplay the traditional aspects of things. The of course you also have people in the "New Age" type movements (even if they choose not to use that label) who also make noise about how the holiday negatively stereotypes their beliefs, and/or makes fun of one of their holy days.

It's a case where the alleged "protection of freedom" has actually limited the freedom of the majority of people, created paranoia, and taken the spirit out of a lot of holidays.

At some point I'd imagine everyone has been approached by someone during holidays campaigning for changing something, or how some aspect of it was offensive to some group, or how it's unfair to have any acknowlegement of Christmas despite traditions due to "seperation of church and state" (despite precedents by our Founding Fathers showing that this is obviously not what they intended... for example I remember hearing that at one time Norwich Conneciticut was a cantidate for the national capitol, even though we all know what happened with the creation of DC. Apparently George Washington himself lit the tree on the Norwich town green when he was passing through as President... Norwich is now a mess of urban blight, but at one time it was a ridiculously important city).

At any rate I was young and liberal once, and at one time I got behind a lot of that "Thanksgiving shouldn't be celebrated because of the Indians, it should be a time of national guilt", various things about Halloween, and how Christmas should be celebrated quietly. However nowadays with greater perspective I feel all of that stuff was pretty ridiculous especially when I came to eventually learn that when you really look into it a lot of the reasons behind the protests were bunk.... still the cumulative effect of things like that seems to be less focus on the holidays and things like "specials" in the media. Pretty sad when you think about it.

I literally showed my friends Tim Curry's hilarious music video an hour before reading this. The coincidence of having it mentioned has brightened up my day, thanks for the great article Bob.

I have Mad Monster Party on VHS. Very good movie to be sure.

MovieBob:
Said Wizard, incidentally, is played by the great Tim Curry in full-on high-camp vamp mode, which seems to be most of the reason this is remembered today. Check it out.

This is the weirdest thing I've seen in a very, very long time. Something terrifying and horrible just in time for Halloween.

I just watched The Great Pumpkin a couple hours ago. God that movie is a classic. Also, thanks for bringing up Grinch Night. My little sister and I used to watch that but I couldn't for the life of me remember what it was called. I'm going to see if I can find it. It truly was creepy and just different.

I wish I was around for the War of the Worlds radio presentations. It would have been awesome to see all the people freaking out, believing their was an invasion going on XD

I'm going to see the new -- and last -- Saw movie in 3D with my dad tonight. It's sad they made it in 3D, but I'm looking forward to it.

dude why not the Simpsons Treehouse of Horror V?

Urge to kill...RISING...

Sorry for the double post

So, who's seen Spaced Invaders? Those who have know why I'm bringing it up. Those who haven't, too bad. Nostalgia ftw!

wildcard9:
dude why not the Simpsons Treehouse of Horror V?

Urge to kill...RISING...

I would largely bet that, like the Simpsons, Treehouse of Horror has just gone on too long to be considered a "classic". They have classic installments, but I don't think that's what Bob had intended with this. Especially since he mentions these specials coming about as opposed to doing a Halloween themed episode of a popular show.

I agree with Bob on the post. Although centered around another holiday, I have certain specials that, if I don't watch on TV, it just doesn't feel like Christmas. And it seems that it's getting harder to find the classics being broadcast. Although, thankfully, a combination of DVD and YouTube keep me basked in beautiful nostalgia.

Unfortunately, I'm currently in China and behind the Great FireWall, which prevents me from accessing YouTube, so I can't watch Great Pumpkin this year...Rats...

Not the funniest thing ever, but it's nostalgic to me. The "Claymation Comedy of Horrors" Halloween special.


Part 1 of 3

I love Rankin/Bass, but Mad Monster Party is mostly unwatchable in my opinion. It doesn't have quite the same charm as many of their other specials (maybe it was easier for them to create a sense of wonderment using Christmas more than any other holiday). At best it's on par with the story line of the Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July, which was abysmal.

Admit it, everyone loves Willy Wonka's demon tunnel.

Let us not forget Disney's Holloween Treat and Mr. Boogity.

Kinda surprised you didn't mention Halloween Tree. I mean, it stars Leonard Nimoy and is written and narrated by Ray Bradbury, and it's actually pretty dark for a children's special, given that the plot is a bunch of kids in a race with Death (Nimoy) through time and space to find their recently-dead friend's soul.

Yeah, you know that one freaked me the hell out when I was 6.

I remember the "supernatural" halloween special (can't remember which series, but I'm pretty sure it was the same series that had a trippy-as-hell christmas special) in which instead of the usual creature-convention breaking stuff, they went all out with classic hammer horror monsters and tropes, along with applying a black-and-white filter. It was sheer genius.

angel85:
One thing that really bugs me about the great pumpkin charlie brown special, when Trick-or-Treating, all the kids get candy but Charlie just gets rocks. WHO DOES THAT?! Have you ever walked up to a door and the owner of the house refused to give you anything because they didn't like you costume!? And why rocks? Rocks are destructive, if I was a kid and someone gave me a rock in my candy bag, they'd get it back, through their window. Assuming they closed their door fast enough to avoid getting it back between their eyes.

Everyone in the nieghborhood knows charlie brown is a bitch.

If it makes you feel any better Bob here in the UK getting to do a Christmas Special is still a big deal for most shows.

Wow. EVERY time I read one of MovieBob's articles, I learn about something awesome that I have to go and buy on Amazon immediately. In this case, Ghostwatch!

Also:

Kurow:
Not the funniest thing ever, but it's nostalgic to me. The "Claymation Comedy of Horrors" Halloween special.


Part 1 of 3

Top notch stuff, thanks for sharing! Say, have you seen the ORIGINAL Comedy of Terrors?

Featuring Vincent Price as a corrupt undertaker who murders people at night so he can bury them in the morning, Peter Lorre as his bungling assistant - and Basil Rathbone as a man who, due to a medical condition, occasionally enters a coma so deep it is routinely mistaken for death!

robotam:
It saddens me that I haven't seen any of these. Sure I've heard of a few of them, but never watched them.

Ditto

I remember when Ghostwatch was screened on UK Television. I think i was about 10

Scared the living hell outta me, it was great!

Oh wow, I remember that Grinch special - that was great, and yes, pretty freaky. I'd love to see it again.

Doclector:
I remember the "supernatural" halloween special (can't remember which series, but I'm pretty sure it was the same series that had a trippy-as-hell christmas special) in which instead of the usual creature-convention breaking stuff, they went all out with classic hammer horror monsters and tropes, along with applying a black-and-white filter. It was sheer genius.

Episode 05 of season 4, 'Monster Movie'. It was a brilliant episode, because in addition to being very funny it was a classic piece of misdirection - the entire episode, you're sitting there going "Yeah, this is obviously just the Trickster again" because the show really played it up as being his style. The reveal at the end about it being some unfortunate lonely shapeshifter who'd grown up being called a freak really threw me, I didn't see it coming at all.

el_kabong:
Unfortunately, I'm currently in China and behind the Great FireWall, which prevents me from accessing YouTube, so I can't watch Great Pumpkin this year...Rats...

I just do not get the Great Pumpkin. Being British, I'd never seen it before, but this Halloween my American girlfriend insisted on showing it to me. It just wasn't funny. It seems like one of those things where the appeal lies entirely in nostalgia; if you didn't see it when you were a kid and develop fond memories of it, seeing it for the first time at the age of 23 will just cause you to think "Wow, this really sucks".

I suppose we could put it down to cultural differences. According to the lady friend, Halloween is actually a pretty big event in the US, whereas over here it's relatively minor. Students dress up and go out, but very few children go trick-or-treating (I saw 3 last night, one of whom was being dragged into the pub with his mother), and we don't do much of the stuff the Americans do. This weekend I carved my own pumpkin - admittedly, that was fun - and ate "carmel" apples (which is apparently the American pronounciation of caramel) and did various other Halloween traditions that don't really exist on this side of the pond. It was pretty weird.

War of the Worlds is legendary. Poor people who thought the world was being taken by Martians.

Never knew the War of the Worlds adaptation that caused the scare was a Halloween special. Mission hugely succeeded then.

And I can't remember any of this from the descriptions but I do remember Tim Curry in that getup. I can hardly recall but I've seen a fair share of the episodes of the show that was from. I also vaguely remember being weirded out by the fact that the master witch was called a wizard (but that was later, when I saw the show again after having learned a bit of English).

I never cared for Charlie Brown. Didn't know who Dr. Seuss was until a couple years back when the Angry Video Game Nerd mentioned him and I looked it up.

Jeez, really does seem like a long time ago in a galaxy far away...

Jupiter065:
Kinda surprised you didn't mention Halloween Tree. I mean, it stars Leonard Nimoy and is written and narrated by Ray Bradbury, and it's actually pretty dark for a children's special, given that the plot is a bunch of kids in a race with Death (Nimoy) through time and space to find their recently-dead friend's soul.

Yeah, you know that one freaked me the hell out when I was 6.

Hell, yes. I, too, wonder why no love for Halloween Tree? That holiday special was largely responsible for sparking my lifelong interest in the history behind our holiday traditions. And the story was absolutely brilliant. The loyalty displayed by Pip's friends still makes me tear up a bit.

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