Sunday, October 20, 2013

Best Halloween Specials

There have not been very many Halloween television specials so I have expanded this list to include animated shorts, video releases, TV episodes and webtoons.  I have already made a list of best Disney scary shorts so those will not be included here.  I addressed the lack of quality Halloween specials in another post where I proposed that Disney should animated a thirty-minute special based on Dav Pilkey's picture book Hallo-Wiener.

15. Halloween is Grinch Night (1977)
Nowhere near the classic of its 1967 predecessor.  The animation and script are nowhere near as good.  But there is a fun idea here.  If the Grinch hates Christmas then he would love Halloween.  There is creativity in the design of the Grinch's wagon and frights.  But that is about all I can remember about it, still one of the few Halloween specials.

14. Scared Silly (1998)
In the late-nineties and early 2000s McDonalds sold several animated specials on video animated by Klasky-Csupo.  The redesigns of the McDonaldland characters are pretty appealing and the quality animation of Klasky-Csupo and their standard voice cast make it a lot of fun.  This was the first episode and I really enjoyed it.  Sure it is product placement, but what isn't?  A fun haunted house story from before I was made to feel guilty about fast food.

12. A-Haunting We Will Go (1949)
Most Casper shorts are more or less the same.  The one I remember most as a kid was one of Casper befriending a duck after everyone else is afraid of him.  This is not the same short, but it is close enough.  Just a cute cartoon combining a standard Casper story with that of the Ugly Duckling.  I will always have a soft spot in my heart for the friendly ghost.  Casper did have a 70's Halloween special animated by Hanna-Barbera that I vaguely remember but I could not find it all online.  The simple Famous Studios ghost is the one I always think about anyways outside of the 90s film or Harvey Comics.

11. Mockingbird Lane (2012)
This was the pilot for a Bryan Singer produced remake of The Munsters.  NBC passed on it as a series, but aired this as a Halloween special.  I understand why the network passed on it, I did not see an entire series here.  However as an hour long Halloween special they should air this annually.  It definitely is not The Munsters that we all know and love, but it stands on its own pretty well.  Eddie Izzard as grandpa is enough to justify this production on its own.

10. Spookable Pooh (1996)
The official Hundred Acre Wood Halloween special Boo To You Too, Winnie the Pooh! is not that great.  Despite its Emmy win it just lacked creativity and played things too safe and boring.  However this video release (released initially as two separate videos Spookable Pooh and Frankenpooh and then rereleased on one VHS).  This is a compilation of five of the more scary episodes of The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (my favorite series of all time).  It includes the episodes Monster of Frankenpooh, A Knight to Remember, Rock-a-Bye Pooh Bear, Things That Go Piglet in the Night and Pooh Moon.  While this series was suitable for very young audiences it could get rather intense, especially for the Pooh franchise.

9. All About Magic (1957)
This is my favorite episode of the Disney anthology series.  Walt really showcases his chops as a performer here.  He has fun showing off special effects and introducing cartoons (The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Magician Mickey, clips from Cinderella and Trick or Treat are included).  This also features Hans Conried as The Slave in the Magic Mirror from Snow White who makes a fun spooky narrator.

8. Toy Story of Terror (2013)
I was not very impressed with the shorts Small Fry or Partysaurus Rex, but this was a lot of fun.  The Toy Story franchise features some of the best suspense scenes in cinema history so it is fitting that they would have a Halloween special.  Mr. Pricklepants proves to be a fun character and there are more fun new toys introduced.  This will definitely be an annual thing on ABC.

8. Garfield's Halloween Adventure (1985)
I remember my sister outright refusing to watch this when we were kids because the old man really scared her.  To be honest this special kind of unnerves me to this day.  It is a lot of fun, Garfield does stand-up for part of it.  But it gets really scary when a creepy old man tells them a story about pirates and all of a sudden the old man disappears and several ghost pirates arise and scare Garfield and Odie from the house.  I love Garfield and Friends and this is a good special that should still be airing.  Some of the songs definitely age it, but they are sure catchy.

7. Treehouse of Horror VII (1996)
The Simpsons Halloween special is a yearly tradition.  However my favorite is still the seventh where Kang and Kodos capture Homer and they replace then presidential candidates Bill Clinton and Bob Dole, exploiting our two party system and thus enslaving Earth.  A fun jab at the unliklihood of Ross Perot's victory.  We watched this in my Government class in high school.  Not necessarily scary, but absolutely hilarious and very smart.

6. Bimbo's Initiation (1931)
Ranked one of the greatest cartoon shorts of all time.  One of the many Fliescher Betty Boop cartoons that are geared towards adults.  Betty's boyfriend Bimbo ends up in a cult which is truly terrifying.  Whenever the Fleischers rank up the surrealism it is bound to be beyond weird.

5. Hair-Raising Hare (1946)
Bugs Bunny outsmarting a mad scientist and a monster writes itself.  One of the best known Looney Tunes which features first appearance of the popular Gossamar and a cariatcture of Peter Lorre.
The cariacture has now most likely eclipsed the former horror star in popularity.

4. Night on Bald Mountain (1940)
Did not include segments of package features on my list of scary Disney shorts, but there are so few Halloween specials that I can use a very broad definition (TV special, animated short, TV episode, direct-to-video release, webtoon, etc.).  This is one of the highlights of Fantasia and such an artistic acheivement.  Chernabog's evil sneer and his movements are so iconic and the animation enhances the music perfectly.

3. It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
The most popular and best TV Halloween special of all time.  Features great jokes from Charles Schulz's strips.  "I've got a rock."  Linus' entire confusion of The Great Pumpkin.  Snoopy's reaction to Schroeder's music.  Just so many great stuff that we all love watching every year.

2. Three Times Halloween Funjob (2003)
Many of the best cartoons on are Halloween specials (cartoons, commercials and character commentary on terrible fan costumes), mainly because of the perfectly selected pop culture costumes for the characters.  This 2003 special highlights how strong the Brothers Chaps writing can be.  It combines three absurd unrelated stories that all find their way to a conclusion.  Homestar tries to get a billion pounds of candy, Strong Bad goes TPing and Marzipan tries to resurrect the spirit of her dead ficus plant.  Just great Homestar Runner stuff.  I need to make a post devoted to this website sometime because it really is one of my favorite things ever.

1. Tell-Tale Heart (1953)
UPA, while mainly forgotten today, had created some of the best cartoons of all time.  Gerald McBoing-Boing, When Magoo Flew, Rooty Toot Toot and The Unicorn in the Garden.  This adaptation of Poe's classic is my favorite of theirs however.  The limited animation and stylized designs really add to the story.  Great mood and it does not skimp on any of the horror.

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