Halloween TV specials
A look back at some special Halloween programs
When I was growing up, Halloween was my favorite time of the year. At that time it was the Halloween TV specials that I enjoyed the most. These days we don't really get any Halloween TV specials anymore except for "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." Most of these specials are forgotten on television but remembered by the viewers. These programs I remember watching on The Disney Channel but they started off on regular networks like NBC, CBS and ABC. Let's look back at the buried treasures of Halloween broadcasting.
The Halloween That Almost Wasn't (1979)
This 30-year-old classic stars Judd Hirsch as Count Dracula. He's upset because there's a rumor that Halloween is in danger of disappearing forever. When he calls for his fellow monsters: The Wolf Man (Jack Riley), Frankenstein (John Schuck), Zabaar The Zombie (Josip Elic), The Mummy (Robert Fitch), and The Witch (Mariette Hartley), he's first upset with them because they're failing at being scary and are only doing other stuff like razor blade commercials and tap dancing. But Dracula finds out that The Witch is responsible for the rumor because she's fed up with being a witch and can't stand being feared instead of loved and fed up with taking orders from Dracula. The Witch tries to bribe Dracula with her conditions or she won't fly over the moon at midnight on Halloween night otherwise Halloween is done for. Before time ran out on Halloween night, two kids dressed like a scarecrow and a witch convince the witch to change her mind by showing that they love her for who she is. The witch is flattered and she flies over the moon and Halloween has never gone away. Also starring in this special is the late Henry Gibson as Igor.
The Halloween That Almost Wasn't premiered on October 28, 1979 on ABC and it was released on VHS under the title The Night Dracula Saved The World. I highly recommend this Halloween special for you guys to check out.
Halloween Is Grinch Night (1977)
This unknown sequel to How The Grinch Stole Christmas really doesn't take place on Halloween but with its plot it can be. A powerful wind known as the sour-sweet wind has made its way to Whoville and all of the Whos have locked themselves inside their homes. But the wind is a special day for the Grinch for he has his dog Max bring his Paraphernalia Wagon to head on down to Whoville for the Grinch Night Ball. One little Who named Euchariah gets out of the house and is blown away to Mount Crumpet, where the Grinch lives, and meets the Grinch and tries to prevent him from making it to Whoville because inside the Grinch's wagon are spooks. Euchariah succeeds and the sour-sweet wind passes and the Grinch has no choice but to return back to the top of the mountain but knows he'll be back someday. His dog Max goes back to Whoville with Euchariah and everybody in Whoville honors Euchariah for stopping the Grinch. This premiered on CBS on October 29, 1977 and on VHS releases it's shortened to Grinch Night. Instead of Boris Karloff voicing the Grinch like in the Christmas special, Hans Conried is the Grinch this time and he does make a perfect Grinch.
The Pumpkin Who Couldn't Smile (1979)
Starring Raggedy Ann and Andy, they're on a mission to cheer up a sad boy living with his Halloween hating aunt by getting him a pumpkin. However all of the pumpkins in the pumpkin patch are sold out except for one that is really gloomy and depressed. The two convince the pumpkin that a little boy really needs him and he smiles for the first time. Now even though Raggedy Ann reaches out to young girls, what makes this fun to watch is that it's something that kids, both boys and girls, can relate to. This was written, produced and directed by the great Chuck Jones and features of voice talents of June Foray and Daws Butler. It also premiered on October 31, 1979.
Witch's Night Out (1978)
All the way from Canada, this is another one I recommend. It's Halloween and two kids named Small and Tender are excited. But in an old house, which is believed to be haunted, a witch credited as the Godmother (voiced by Gilda Radner) is lonely and depressed. When she hears that the town plans to throw a party at the house, she feels that'll be her way of making Halloween more fun with her magic. Small and Tender on the other hand are not having a good Halloween and go back home and are left with a baby-sitter named Bazooey (???). When the Godmother here's Small and Tender's cries over their depression, she makes her way to their house and shows off her magic tricks by turning the kids into what they wanna be for Halloween. Small is a werewolf, Tender is a ghost, and Bazooey reluctantly turns into Frankenstein's monster. But all of the fun leads to a riot when the town mistakens the kids for monsters and the Godmother's wand disappears. But in the end she regains her wand, and turns the townsfolk into what they wanna be for Halloween and the party continues. This originally aired on NBC on October 27, 1978.
Disney's DTV Monster Hits (1987)
Premiering on October 30, 1987 on NBC, this one-hour music special featured Halloween themed songs with the mixture of Disney animation from the past to the current time of the 80s. Hosted by The Magic Mirror from Snow White, and surprisingly played by actor Jeffery Jones, we hear spooky tunes such as Thriller by Michael Jackson, Ghostbusters by Ray Parker, Jr., Bad Moon Rising by CCR, Monster Mash by Bobby (Boris) Pickett, Sweet Dreams by The Eurythmics, and seven more. Yes, there's 12 songs featured. And at that time they were promoting their most recent Disney villain... Professor Ratigan from The Great Mouse Detective. And features cartoons like Trick or Treat with Donald Duck and Witch Hazel (who also co-hosts), and The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow.
Disney's Halloween Treat (1982)
Perhaps my most favorite Halloween special along side The Halloween That Almost Wasn't. Hosted by a talking pumpkin, we are entertained by a collection of spooky themed cartoons relating to a few witches, a few villains, a few treats, a few tricks, and oh yes... a few scares. This was a home video release and also shown on CBS on October 30, 1982. Featuring clips from Fantasia, The Sword in the Stone, The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow, and also featured shorts like Donald Duck And The Gorilla and Pluto's Judgment Day. There is also a 90 minute version of this called A Disney Halloween that premiered on The Disney Channel in 1983 and it featured half of the same cartoons but adding more but only this time the Pumpkin was out but had a short cameo in the beginning.
The good old days of Halloween TV specials maybe gone but they are remembered dearly by those who have watched them. There are other classic Halloween specials like The Worst Witch, Mr. Boogedy, Will Vinton's Claymation Comedy Of Horror's, Which Witch is Which starring The Chucklewood Critters, even Casper's Halloween Special. I only wish that TV would bring back these specials so at least a new generation can watch and enjoy. That ends my Halloween themed article and I wish you guys a safe and Happy Halloween.
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