It is Halloween season so that means soon you will be reading blogs galore on the “Best Halloween Specials Ever,” or “Scariest Movies Ever,” or “Best Halloween Movies from the 1990s,” or “We rank the Best Harry Potter Films Worst to First.”
You get the idea. You’ve read them before.
- But at Complete Public Relations we don’t do ordinary. We go somewhere else with our blog. So here is out list of “The Best Halloween Specials You May Have Missed.” There will be no Great Pumpkins on this list.
- Garfield’s Halloween Special: Everyone loves Garfield. Or at least they did in the 1980s, and the fat cat’s creator Jim Davis pushed out a bunch of animated television specials in its heyday. These were very different than the usual schlock thrown at kids of that time period. There was always something a little bit edgier. You laughed, but you wondered why your parents laughed as well. The one I remember the most was the Halloween special because A. It was funny. B. There were real ghosts. Real ghosts!!! Not some Scooby Doo dude in a mask ghosts. Not it was all just a dream ghosts. Garfield and Odie get chased by some blood thirsty pirate ghosts, barely escape and slink back home. Totally came out of left field. Watch it here.
- The Worst Witch: Kids from the early 1990s should recognize this one because it was aired almost non-stop on the Disney Channel around Halloween. Parents (and their older kids) will recognize it because in the middle of a cutesy tale of growing up and being different, Tim Curry arrives to sing the funkiest Halloween song ever. While wearing a white dinner jacket stolen from Indiana Jones and a pink cape stolen from Liberace. And playing a tambourine. So why is this forgotten now? Because it is the tale of a young girl who doesn’t know she is a witch being sent to an exclusive school to learn magic from an eccentric, but brilliant teacher (Charlotte Rae) while also thwarting a group of evil rogue witches from taking over the world. Hey, that is fricking the entire plot of Harry Potter right there. That movie franchise kind of buried everything in its wake. So, that is why people don’t remember The Worst Witch, but you can watch it here.
- Curse of the Blair Witch: Why did people flock to the theaters in the summer of 1999 to watch a shaky home movie about college students lost in the woods? In part, the Curse of the Blair Witch, which was the fake documentary of the Blair Witch, which supposedly was the reason the filmmakers went to the woods to make a documentary called The Blair Witch Project, which I am adding another clause starting with which because there is a theme going on here and I don’t believe in subtlety. Anyway, the movie came out and people forgot about “the documentary,” which is actually very creepy and worth watching it here.
- Night of the Living Doo: Wait, you say, Scooby and the gang had a bunch of Halloween episodes. What makes this one different? Because it was an actual made-for- Halloween special. But it wasn’t actually a special. It started as a series of short vignettes produced in 2001 by Cartoon Network. This was a very funny effort to make Scooby “more adult” like Cartoon Network was doing with other classic Hanna Barbara animated shows at the time. The vignettes were then cobbled together into a short episode that was only shown once on Halloween night. Cartoon Network has distanced itself from the finished product over the years. Why? They essentially rebooted Scooby into the land of wholesome shortly after this special. Wholesome is tough to portray when David Cross is at his David Cross best as a special guest star. Yes, David Cross of Arrested Development plays the eccentric hotel/castle owner where Henry Kissinger once stayed. Gary Coleman guest stars as well in all his Gary Coleman glory including at one point doing everything possible to keep the Mystery Machine moving. It works until Fred totals the van on purpose. Oh yeah, Mark Hamill (aka Luke Skywalker) shows up. Watch it here.
- The Paul Lynde Halloween Special: This piece of 1970s variety show terror has two piece of amazing entertainment history stashed away in its day-glo formula. One is this was the first national television appearance for the super group KISS. They mime some songs, trade some banter with Lynde and then vanish. They second is this was the first time Margaret Mitchell put on the green face paint as the Wicked Witch of the West for a performance since the Wizard of Oz was filmed back in 1939. Toss in cameos by Donnie & Marie, Florence Henderson, Witchie Poo from HR Puffnstuff, Tim Conway, Betty White and the usual Lynde shenanigans, and this should be right up there in the collective Gen X childhood memories of Captain Kangaroo, The Fonz and Charlie’s Angels. But it isn’t. Why is a great question. It appears it was only shown once – two nights before Halloween 1976. Maybe the ratings were bad because had too much homework? Maybe, it is because it had a ton of people associated with Sid and Marty Krofft, but was not produced by them so they somehow deep sixed it for revenge? Maybe because it wasn’t released on video until 2007. Maybe, it is because despite the cast, it is actually not that great. Even by 1970s standards. Still, it is worth the campiness. Watch the Kiss part here.