Friday, October 29, 2010

For the Weekend: Childhood Halloween Favorites

I love Halloween!  Always have and always will.  It's all about having fun, with the costumes, candy, parties, and pumpkin carving.  (That's my pumpkin this year to the left, my Jack Skellington!  teehee)  It's the one holiday where everyone gets to celebrate feeling like a kid again.  And of course for me, that also means watching all the Halloween specials I had to watch every year growing up.  So, for your weekend enjoyment today, let's dive into all those wonderfully cheesy shows!

The first and biggest is probably everyone's favorite (at least for those born before 1990), "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!"  This television special, first broadcast in 1966, was the third prime-time animated special from Charles Schultz's classic Peanuts comic strip.  It follows the Peanuts gang as they each celebrate Halloween in their own way - Charlie Brown has bad luck, as always, and only gets rocks trick-or-treating; Snoopy dresses as a WWI flying ace and pretends to be shot down over enemy lines; and Linus waits in the pumpkin patch all night for the Great Pumpkin to show up and bring him toys.  It's all classic, mild-mannered fun that I can't do without each Halloween, from the dialogue to Vince Guaraldi's famous "Linus and Lucy" theme (that actually premiered in "A Charlie Brown Christmas").  "Great Pumpkin" has aired on television every year since it's initial broadcast, on CBS until 2000, then on ABC ever since.  Loved since the beginning, after it's first airing, Schultz received tons of candy from children all over the country, all addressed to Charlie Brown, feeling sorry that he got nothing but rocks.  It's great fun and wonderful memories, and if you missed last night's airing on ABC, you can go to Hulu and watch it free or purchase it from iTunes to watch over and over again.

My next favorite special was broadcast every year up until 2000, so this is for all my 80s and 90s peeps - "Garfield's Halloween Special."  First aired in 1985, this was the first special Garfield comic strip creator Jim Davis didn't base on already-existing material of his (and the fourth special all together).  With Lorenz Music continuing his voicing of Garfield, the infamous, lazy, lasagna-eating cat, the show has Garfield give up lasagna for one night as he takes Odie the dog on his first trick-or-treating outing, only to end up having the two trapped in a pirate ghost story.  This fun special (which actually used to scare the Halloween sugar out of me when it got to the ghost part) aired every year on CBS in conjunction with "Great Pumpkin" until ABC bought the Peanuts special's broadcast rights in 2000.  After that, it was only my recorded VHS tape version from the 80s that I watched (with all the great TV commercials that just fueled my nostalgia).  Since I can't send you all my VHS tape, you can watch "Garfield's Halloween Adventure" on YouTube here (not the best copy though), or get the DVD "Garfield Holiday Celebrations" (which also includes his Thanksgiving and Christmas specials).

Finally, my last must-watch Halloween show is probably only known by those true 80s children out there...the television movie "The Worst Witch" (1986).  This is a rare one, if you know it.  My parents don't even remember me watching this one!  (They told me this when they bought me the DVD for Christmas a while back, haha.)  Based on the series of books by Jill Murphy, it tells the tale of a young unlucky misfit girl at a school for witches.  Fairuza Balk stars as the bumbling witch-in-training Mildred Hubble only a year after making her big lead debut in the "Wizard of Oz" sequel "Return to Oz" (another one of my childhood favorites that scared the bejeezus outta me).  She had some great costars as well, including Diana Rigg, Charlotte Rae, and Tim Curry.  It's really bad, extremely cheesy, and the least scary Halloween movie ever made (just watch Curry's Halloween solo below as proof), but I love it 100%, just because of the nostalgia.  It's one of those cult classics that only a few people I know enjoy too.  It originally aired on HBO and then The Disney Channel until the late 90s so it wasn't an easy special to find.  But because of my love of it, I refused to read or watch Harry Potter for some time (why does a boy wizard at magic school become so popular but not a girl witch?!)  I have since come to love Harry Potter much, much more than "The Worst Witch" ('s so much better!  Shhh, don't tell anybody, k? *wink, wink*)  You can watch all of "Witch" on YouTube here or pick up the DVD.

So, dive into your childhood and revel in being a kid again this Halloween weekend.  And stay safe too!  Happy Halloween!!!!!  See ya next week!

(Post-tidbit:  "The Great Pumpkin" has been parodied a lot over the years but nobody has done it better than "The Simpsons" in their "Treehouse of Horror XIX" with "It's the Grand Pumpkin, Milhouse."  Below is a clip of some of the best dialogue "The Simpsons" writers have ever written, as the Grand Pumpkin comes to life.  Enjoy!)

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