Halloween is upon us! Tomorrow, many of you will be out there doing all kinds of evil, maniacal things...pretending you're still young enough to get free candy, dressing up in Bill Clinton 'smoochmark' masks, even burning the tips of shaving cream bottles to create your weapons of mass destruction. Me? I'll be combing through the T.V. Guide trying to find out if anyone's gonna show some damn Halloween cartoon specials!
It's become a lost art. Through the years my favorite part of the holiday season was the holidays' ability to get cartoons into the prime time slots, and while they still manage to do it around Christmas time, we've really been getting fucked on Halloween in recent times. So while we can't offer you those Halloween specials (there's some copyright laws even X-E can't break) ....we can take a trip down memory lane and look at some of the greatest (and lamest) All Hallow's Eve toons of all time.
Some of these cartoons you grew up watching and probably remember vividly to this very day...others? Well, some of the others flat out suck, and it's our job to point them out to you. Either way, it's in season, and since the Halloween devils have chosen to destroy my usual computer that gives me my trademark ability to screencap every scene in a movie, this is all you get. For now. Muahahahah.
Let's take a look!
Ah, the ultimate classic. It'd be blasphemy not to kick off with the Charlie Brown Halloween special. This is virtually the only one they still get on the air with any regularity, and with good reason: Charlie Brown's head is fashioned after a jack o'lantern.
See? And while that alone makes this the #1 Halloween cartoon out there, its got a whole lotta charm besides. Sally really wants to get Linus in bed, so she tags along with him on a quest to find the Great Pumpkin, who Linus swears will give them Halloween presents. It becomes clear that Linus didn't gain any super-intelligence until Christmastime, where he'll throw out so much historic religious information that networks have been reluctant to even show the thing. But that's December...this is October, and Linus is still dumb enough to think the pumpkin patch is where the toys are at.
Meanwhile, Charlie Brown dresses like a retarded ghost and scores some rocks while trick or treatin', thus enforcing the idea that nobody really cares if a bald kid is happy or not. There's even a Halloween party, where Lucy meets everybody's worst fear and gets contaminated by 'dog water'. Unfortunately, Lucy won't get to operate her ultra-cool psychiatric stand until Christmas, and it probably pissed her off that the other girl in the group copied her costume to the tee, but hey, Halloween was never meant to be an individualistic holiday. They just want the candy, and the girl didn't have a sheet to become a ghost like everybody else in the neighborhood. It's a sad state of affairs when the only costumes available are 'witch' and 'sheet ghost', but at least the kids got to bob for apples in true, classic Halloween fashion.
On the nostalgia factor meter, no Halloween special ranks higher than this one. It was a staple in my life throughout all my years of Halloweenin', and it's really a shame that network television doesn't show the specials too much anymore. Thank God for the Cartoon Network. As a side note, if you are able to, try to pick up some of Schultz' older Peanuts books. They're a far cry from the more recent ones, and they're in my view much better. It's like a visual psychology textbook. :) Charlie Brown gets his head fucked with in more ways than you can imagine. But above all else - no Halloween is complete without watching Sally bitch out Linus for ruining her Halloween, so do what you need to do to watch this one!
Coming in a close second to Chuck and Marci are Garfield and Odie in their own little Halloween special. This one really gets shafted nowadays, they rarely if ever show it. In the 80s, those Garfield comic compilation books were extremely popular, so the cartoon was a must see. Almost everyone in my class had a complete set of those books, and by the time Garfield got his own cartoon which feigned cool wit and had tons of musical numbers involving ants (the greatest songs of all time, actually) ...we were hooked.
There's no life-altering plot here, just cat and dog getting scared at a haunted house. It's worth seeing for one very good reason: Odie's theme music. I know I'm not the only one who noticed that whenever Odie walks on-screen, he's accompanied by crazy trumpet music. Definite drinking game potential there. After some debate, they decide to dress like pirates, something I've never understood. Why do people dress like pirates? It's such a high maintenance costume, and it just doesn't give off any kind of 'wow' effect whatsoever. 'Oh, you're a pirate? Cool. I guess.' Then again, this is a fucking cat and dog, walking around, in costume, trick or treating. That's impressive enough in itself...adding a kickass costume would've been overkill.
I really can emphathize with poor Jon. The only people he seemed to communicate with were Garfield and Odie, and his parents were farming idiots. The only thing I communicate with is a rabbit, and my parents are retired idiots. (My mother cries at the movie Twins, while Dad enjoys witty insurance commercials. Don't argue the point with me.) So I feel Jon's pain, but at least his cat can hold a faux conversation better than most of the real people we know.
Since Grandma with the star shirt isn't present, this one flops next to the Christmas special, but it's still a trademark Halloween special, and just looking at these pictures reminds me of anxiously sitting in front of the television while that neon 'Special' swirled around on NBC, denoting that we were gonna see something cool. Garfield's fallen out of favor with mass media nowadays, but we'll still remember him as being the first cat who could throw his voice and the first cat who dictated the ultimate Christmas gift: the magic machine that gave you anything you thought about? Oh, the amount of Coca Cola I'd have then.... Thumbs up.
I don't know too much about this 1977 spectacular, but use your imagination. It's not too hard to picture what would go on with Fat Albert and Halloween candy. Bill Cosby supplied a mulititude of voice for this show, proving once and for all that he can do more than kid around with Theo effectively. Theo was the unsung hero of that show. He overcame dyslexia and Rudy to prove that even the most troubled kids can graduate college by the time a series is ready to have it's grand finale. Theo was a hero to all, and since I don't have any real info on Fat Albert's Halloween Special (that's not an invitation for info...sadly, I'm just not very interested) ...he's Theo's alter-ego's greatest accomplishment of all time:
Folks, I wish I was kidding, but this is for real. Malcolm Jamal Warner in Show Off!, a guide that shows you how to be cool at parties! Oh my fucking GOD, that's the greatest thing I have *ever* seen. The video features Malcolm in a bonanza of outfit I'm totally sure he really didn't want to wear, and adds to the fun by having him give you several step-by-step plans on how to 'get over' at parties. Of course, the 'tricks' are usually just stupid pranks and gags to pull on your friends, so chances are you'll end up being more hated than loved if you follow Malcolm's law of the land. The video also features some of the stupidest background furniture of all time, and lots of 99 cent sunglasses available from your local 7-11. Oddly enough, this is way scarier than any of the Halloween specials we'll be reviewing.
How could I leave these out? Whether they want to admit it or not, everybody loves the Simpsons, and with very good reason: it was and has remained an incredible show for over a decade. Few shows have been able to keep the quality level up for this long, and when you consider that it's animated, that's even tougher. True, the days where kids will be walking around in Bartman shirts is long gone, but this is one of the only shows out there that people can and would watch over and over again without being bored or dissastisfied.
Groening and friends really picked things up a notch around Halloween with the Treehouse of Horror series, which over the years has given us a ton of animated shorts ranging from original spook comedies to parodies on classic horror flicks. My personal fave is the one where the voodoo Krusty doll tries to kill Homer but ends up just trying to fuck a Malibu Staci doll, however the scene where they all do a song and dance number after getting their skin turned inside out by toxic gas is up there too.
Another fave of mine was the episode where the school teachers decided to cook and eat the students. It's something that only this show could get away with on a network. Good thing they're on Fox. :) If you'd like to purchase some of the Treehouse of Horror episodes, click here.
And this is just part one! In a little bit, I'll put up part two of this Best Of series, so check back in a little while. There's some good ones left, some of which will shock and DISGUST you, including a special non-Halloween special that's too ridiculous to leave out. Meantime, ponder the episode plotline of the following video:
It's Ronald McDonalds and friends in Scared Silly! It's got Grimace, the absolute magnum opus of stupidity. If you don't remember my thoughts on Grimace, check the archives, but Jesus...why does 'Grimace' always smile, and how the fuck is this guy supposed to represent a milkshake? Oh well, while this guy is still around, at least they canned that stupid moon who liked to sing songs. If he was still around, this Halloween would be extra scary.
While waiting for part two to show up, check out these in-season Halloween/Horror X-E articles:
Robert's Early Horror Writing Career Dancing on Ichabod's Grave
The Worst Witch Extravaganza Jack Chick's Halloween Comic
The Shining Review Mrs. Peltzer & The Gremlins
Dracula Dirt For Sale! Empire of the Ants Review
The Most Gruesome Toy Ever Drunken Idiocy
Part II coming soon!
BONUS: Transformers Halloween Costumes?!
Yep! Finally, a chance for you to become your favorite robot in disguise, courtesy of Collegeville in 1986. These masks, made of styrofoam, had a special gimmick: a hinge that would allow you to move the mask up and down, transforming from robot to human in two seconds flat! These things are pretty rare, possibly due to their pretty odd choices of representation: here we see Autobots Metroplex and Superion, who really weren't that popular unless you were heavily into Transformers. And besides, everybody could probably recognize Optimus Prime or Megatron, but just imagine how many times you'd have to explain who Metroplex was if wearing that mask. The only mask from this series that I've seen that's of a remotely well-known character is Ultra Magnus...and who really wants to go around dressed as that Autobot pussy who detonated three quarters of the ship?!