Each year, we have an unofficial OD Comics list of Halloween-themed shows and movies that we watch to celebrate the season. Most, if not all, are for the sake of nostalgia, but are a great peak into a holiday that didn't have nearly the coverage of something like Christmas or even Thanksgiving up to that point.
Halloween (1978) - You can't really avoid it this time of year, but from the opening titles to the end credits is pure seasonal terror. The story, the music, the ambiance are just what's needed to get you in the mood. Having a little PSL to drink with it--perfection.
Halloween: H20 - This one gets added to the list because it was the first Halloween movie I saw. It has Josh Hartnett in a breakout role for his career and Michelle Williams pre-Dawson's Creek. Plus, it was the first Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode since Halloween 2. The story picks up 20 years after the second movie and ditches everything that happened in between. It has it's flaws--mostly in the form of Michael's mask and a Loomis-like allegory for Laurie, but coming from Dawson's Creek creator Kevin Williamson, this movie had all of the 90's teen angst, nods to the original Halloween movies and the return of a Halloween icon. No, not Josh Hartnett, but that was okay, too.
It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown - This short animated show has been on since the TV (or now streaming) since 1966. As a fan of Peanuts, this, along with the Christmas special, is the standout of the animated Peanuts specials. The music is top notch, but the art (like the colors and clouds in the sky) are worthy studying.
Garfield's Halloween Adventure - Another popular one that aired every year when I was growing up. The cartoon isn't as iconic as Great Pumpkin, but it holds up in animation and its musical numbers. The most shocking moment, still seared into my mind--and a little scary when I see it today--is when Garfield finds the old man sitting in a chair in front of the fire!
Growing Pains Happy Halloween, parts 1 and 2 - I love Growing Pains. It's the epitome of the late 80's and 90's. This is the idealized family everyone wants to be a part of. The iconic theme song "Show me that smile again..." is replaced with a spooky alternate version and that let's you know the Seavers are taking the trick or treat seriously in this two-parter from the sixth season. The family takes turn telling scary stories (that aren't really scary) when a storm interrupts their Halloween plans. It's corny, 90's fun, but definitely worth a watch if you can find them.
Night of the Living Dead (both versions!) - The original, ground-breaking 1968 version can be found on YouTube and the 1990 version pops up here and there including on AMC this year. The beginning of the zombie genre, like Halloween, is jaw-dropping from its opening scenes and has a realism to it that almost makes you believe it could happen just as the characters experience it. The remake shies away from two of my favorite elements: the Venus probe stuff as the cause and the news reports and includes more gore than I'd like but it still holds up unlike most remakes nowadays.
The Real Ghostbusters "The Halloween Door" - Aired on ABC as a prime-time Halloween special, this episode of the Ghostbusters animated series moved away from the traditional Halloween villains Samhain, the Spirit of Halloween, and put the boys in grey up against a disgruntled old man who, like Dr. Frederic Wertham, sought to end all things spooky and macabre--and in this case, Halloween itself. There's a little problem with that, as it breaks a long-held deal between the creatures of the dark and humanity--and it's up to the Ghostbusters to save the day! It was a great special and still holds up. That can be said about most of the Real Ghostbusters episodes as they were possibly one of the first cartoon series to tell good, often frightening tales, without speaking down to kids. In doing so, to this day, kids and adults can enjoy the series, especially the early episodes.
Those are on my Halloween playlist this year. What's on yours?
*And take note, the Night of the Living Dead, Halloween: H20 and Halloween 1978 posters and artwork shown here are by our own Cereal Creatures partner Slasher Design's Justin Osbourn. The Halloween designs are available from Fright Rags right now!