[Wing: Welcome to Halloween in July! Last year was a chaotic mess of a year, which impacted our regular celebration, so we’re having a mini one this summer, catching up on previous plans. Enjoy!]
Ah Halloween. A time of costumes, of candy, of creatures and creeps, and most importantly cartoons!
Growing up and to this day, one of my greatest joys has been the myriad of Halloween-themed special episodes from the various TV shows and cartoons out there. When I was younger, I had a habit of recording various Halloween and scary-themed episodes on blank videos I’d label “HALLOWEEN SPECIALS.”
These episodes aren’t all ones I watched as a kid, nor could I really say this is a complete list, but these are episodes I definitely felt like talking about and are eager to see if you agree or disagree with me on any of them. I plan to do another post next year. What’s the point in talking about all of them at once? Then you guys would have nothing to look forward to next year.
Note these will be episodes I watched as a kid as well as more recently as an adult. There’s also a bonus section.
No I will not be including any Simpsons episodes as that requires a post by itself.
The Angry Beavers – The Day The World Got Really Screwed Up
As I discussed in my “Scary Episode” post, some of The Angry Beavers’ best episodes were the horror-themed ones and this is probably the best of them all. This is both the cartoon’s only Halloween episode and its only half-hour long one as well, while paying off on everything past episodes did establishing the mythos behind… OXNARD MONTALLLLLLLLLLLVO.
Dagget comes up with the “gee-nus” plan to start trick-or-treating the day BEFORE Halloween, assuming the beaver brothers can get all the candy they want with no competition. To wit, this is SUCH a bad idea that one guy’s taken away to the hospital after having a hysterical breakdown over the ridiculousness of the scenario. [JC: The smart move is to wait for Nov. 1, then go to the store to celebrate National Half-Price Candy Day.] [Wing: My second favourite day of the year. Halloween is the first. Full moon days don’t count since they happen regularly throughout the year. Otherwise they’d take all my favourite spots.] While Norbert can’t believe he agreed to this, Dag convinces his brother to at least try the very next house before returning home. As it turns out, the next house on the block is a cliffside mansion belonging to none other than… OXNARD MONTALVOOOOOOOOOO!
What Norb and Dag don’t realize is the previous night an alien creature crash landed in the cliff underneath Oxnard’s home and has brainwashed Oxnard’s man servant, Mann Servante. The alien sets its sights on taking over reality by feeding off of everyone’s mental energy (i.e. feeding on their imagination). Because Norb and Dag are such big fans of Oxnard’s the alien’s able to grow exponentially powerful off their vivid memories of those films. The alien brings to life all the statues based on the monsters from Oxnard’s films and uses them as an army to take over.
The episode’s basically a half-hour long glorious homage to the era of B-movies with a plot that deliberately makes no sense and monsters galore. It’s built off the various snippets we saw of Oxnard’s horror movies throughout the previous Angry Beavers episodes, including a full appearance by everyone’s favorite Crawling Spleen.
Tom Kane does the voice of Oxnard Montalvo and delivers each and every redundant line with profound conviction.
“Remember Toluca, anything’s possible if it happens.”
“Another moment and it might’ve been later!”
“We’ll make it if we pull through!”
Along for the ride is B-movie queen Adrienne Barbeau, playing Oxnard’s leading lady Toluca Lake (who gets manhandled in just about every scene culminating in breaking her ankles THREE TIMES). Accompanying them is Jonathan Haze, the original Seymour Krelbourne, as Mann Servante, William Schallert as Dr. Cowtiki, and Peter Graves as General Warning.
…have you ever been in a Turkish prison, Wing? JC? [JC: I admit to nothing.]
Archie’s Weird Mysteries – The Vampire Trilogy
I’ve mentioned this a few times in the past, but one of the last Archie Comics TV shows created before Riverdale (that had nothing to do with Sabrina the Teenage Witch) was Archie’s Weird Mysteries. It was a cartoon created by DiC Entertainment, pitting Archie and his friends against incredibly weird and dangerous monsters on a daily basis. The show’s framework focused on Archie writing a column for the school paper on the weird shit that goes on in Riverdale. [Wing: A surprisingly large number of things even before this whole “darker” era that people claim started with the tv show Riverdale.]
To wit, some of the things the Archie gang’s dealt with includes:
- Alien potatoes trying to turn all of Riverdale into literal couch potatoes so they can replace the human populace
- A demon setting up a brand new shopping mall and tempting people so he can steal their souls
- Reggie becoming obsessed with a character from an old horror movie and trying to bring her into the real world
- Veronica wishing everyone could be more like her, so everyone in Riverdale slowly turns into Veronica copies
- Jughead learning his past has come back to haunt him when something in the Riverdale Public Library is leaving people in a perpetual state of fear
- Betty having her innate goodness used against her when she’s manipulated into freeing a monster by a couple of tomb robbers
[JC: I’m pretty sure every single one of these has been a plotline on various CW shows throughout the years.]
The Vampire Trilogy was a three-episode story arc involving vampires trying to invade Riverdale in the quest to locate and destroy “The Ender,” the person destined to stop them from bringing about eternal night. The finale takes place on Halloween. These episodes and the alien potato one were packaged together in a video during the year 2000 as part of a promotional thing Universal Studios did alongside the two Alvin and the Chipmunks horror animated films.
- Scarlet Night: Veronica has a bad dream about vampires, an amulet, and a mysterious redheaded woman. While insisting she doesn’t believe in vampires, Veronica’s shocked when the redhead from her dreams appears at school. This redhead, Scarlet Helsing, claims she transferred to Riverdale looking for Archie because of his weird mysteries column. Scarlet warns Archie that Riverdale’s in danger from a vampire infestation. At the same time, Veronica runs into Riverdale’s local supernatural expert Dr. Beaumont, who seems in an awfully big hurry to get out of town. He’s also got the amulet from Veronica’s dream! Veronica’s left to figure out if she’s the destined Ender, or if it’s Scarlet.
- I Was A Teenage Vampire: Medlock, the master of vampires, has been found and awakened which means the Eternal Night of the Vampires is still on the horizon. Since Veronica’s now armed with the amulet capable of destroying Medlock and the rest of his vampires, their one option is to make Veronica one of them!
- Halloween of Horror: The vampires have been defeated and Veronica’s ready to throw her annual Halloween costume party. Well, Veronica THINKS the vampires have been defeated. Medlock is still out there and plans to crash her all-night party… and plans to make it all-night all the time! Is Veronica really the Ender? Will Medlock reign supreme? [JC: Soooo . . . Veronica = Buffy, while Medlock = The Master? Is there a Hellmouth under Riverdale?] [Wing: Obviously. Or Veronica was called when Willow cast that spell at the end of the tv series.]
These episodes develop a set of rules for vampires in the Archie universe. You’ve got vamps like Medlock, who appear to be vampires from birth. They have no immunity against sunlight, they can live for ages even if they don’t drink blood, and they can replenish themselves by draining the youth from their minions.
Lesser vampires, as in vampires who were once human, can survive in sunlight so long as they use their human forms and wear sunscreen. A person turned into a vampire can actually be changed back if the vamp who fed on them is destroyed before the change’s permanent. [Wing: This type of vampire is a cute idea, and obviously ties back to things like the half-vampires of the Lost Boys.]
This was probably the scariest Archie’s Weird Mysteries ever got, since multiple reoccurring characters (including Veronica) get turned into vampires. It’s a good bet this is where the “Vampronica” nickname originated from. It also has a number of decent jokes, like the fact Jughead’s scared to death of the Tooth Fairy because of… something.
Veronica: I am NOT afraid of vampires! They don’t even exist! I might as well be afraid of the Tooth Fairy!
(Jughead gasps and quickly tries to make Veronica shut up)
Jughead: Not so loud, she might hear you!
Archie & Betty: Huh?
Jughead: Trust me, that is one fairy you DON’T want to get angry.
[Wing: There’s at least one Tooth Fairy horror movie. Jughead’s got this.]
And then there’s Scarlet Helsing’s decision to help Archie’s friends turn Veronica back into a human.
Scarlet: Let’s just say I see little point in having an Eternal Night if I have to spend it with an eternal pain in the neck!
Jughead: Wow, Veronica’s so annoying even the vampires don’t want her!
Bob’s Burgers – Fort Night and The Hauntening
Bob’s Burgers is probably the best animated series Fox has ever had, and by its eleventh season it still hasn’t lost steam. [Wing: As much as I love the Simpsons, and I still do despite the drastic decline in quality, I mostly agree with this. Bob’s Burgers is far more amazing than I ever would have imagined.] While the first two seasons had more adult humor reminiscent of Family Guy, it’s clear the writing staff went in that direction to either safely procure an audience or to satisfy the Fox executives before doing their own thing.
Bob’s Burgers is the story of the delightfully offbeat Belcher family, trying to run a small, struggling hamburger shop in a harbor town. The parents are the rather grounded Bob and energetic dreamer Linda, with their three kids the endearingly awkward Tina, grandiose and bombastic Gene, and eagerly manipulative and scheming Louise. [JC: Louise is MY GIRL!]
The cartoon follows their daily lives as Bob tries to keep the restaurant going despite often getting sucked into his family’s somewhat chaotic wackiness. However, the Belchers are nothing but a genuinely devoted and loving family who often have each others’ backs. The show’s honestly a breath of fresh air in the quagmire of toxic family comedies. [JC: Agreed.]
Since at least the third season, Bob’s Burgers have done a Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas episode every year. The list of Halloween episodes includes the following:
- Full Bars: The kids attempt to trick-or-treat in the wealthier neighborhoods on Kingshead Island, while Bob and Linda attend a Halloween party and are stuck in a murder investigation.
- Tina and the Real Ghost: An exterminator refuses to go into the Belchers’ basement thinking it’s haunted, and a seanace led by Linda ends with Tina thinking the ghost is now her boyfriend. Unfortunately, Tina’s archenemy Tammy Larson tries to steal Tina’s ghostfriend while Bob wants someone to clean up his goddamn basement.
- Teen-A-Witch: Tina gets a confidence boost after obnoxious school librarian Mr. Ambrose lends her a book of spells, but pisses off the crossing guard and finds herself cursed. Also, who the fuck keeps stealing Bob’s jack-o’-lanterns?
- The Wolf of Wharf Street: Linda tries to prove she can be a fun Halloween mom by letting the kids search for a wolf that’s supposedly on the prowl, while Bob’s stuck at home, hopped up on pain killers for a leg injury, and thinks handyman Teddy’s a werewolf.
- Nightmare on Ocean Avenue Street: The Belcher kids take it upon themselves to stop a candy thief from ruining everyone’s Halloween, while Bob gets stuck in a decorating feud between Teddy and the owner of the store next to the restaurant.
- Pig Trouble in Little Tina: After being expected to dissect a fetal pig for science class, Tina has a series of horrific nightmares and thinks she’s being haunted by the pig. Meanwhile, Linda grows more and more unhinged as she tries to remove a giant lump of wax from Bob’s ear.
- Heartbreak Hotel-oween: Louise’s plans for revenge against a candy-stiffing couple get sidetracked when the Belcher kids become involved in a decades-long mystery at a nearby hotel. Meanwhile, Bob’s put through the wringer when he finds himself guilt-tripped into donating blood after it’s discovered he’s Type O.
The Halloween episodes especially are a delight; I know I’m always looking forward to them, and these two are my favorites. [JC: I am woefully behind on all these episodes, and now feel the burning desire to go watch or rewatch all the Halloween eps.] [Wing: I think I’ll have a mini-marathon in October, because I’ve only seen most of these once and now I want to watch them again.]
Fort Night sees the Belcher siblings trapped inside their impressive box fort behind the restaurant after a truck gets parked in front of it. Unfortunately, their chances to escape and not miss out on Halloween are continually blocked by Millie Frock, Louise’s would-be best friend/stalker. In Louise’s words, Millie either wants to be Louise’s friend, or be her, or be a rap duo with her. [JC: It’s a toss-up as to which is the worst option.]
After Louise finally snaps at Millie, the spurned young woman decides to avenge herself by keeping Louise and the others trapped inside the fort while routinely coming back to torment them. Gloating about her Halloween candy, stopping Bob and Linda from learning about the kids’ entrapment, dumping fake spiders in the fort, etc.
The Hauntening focuses on Louise’s continued disappointment with haunted house attractions. To her dismay, Louise can always see the scares coming a mile away and thus has never been able to enjoy herself at these things. [Wing: Louise and I have this in common. I find most haunted houses either predictable or torture porn.] Bob and Linda try to cheer Louise up by putting together their own haunted house to give Louise the scare she wants so badly.
Naturally, Bob and Linda prove completely inept at presenting an authentic haunted house within like five minutes. Things take a drastically dark turn when the Belchers discover their car’s tires have been slashed and they’re being watched by a menacing old man holding a pair of gardening shears.
Fort Night’s amazing because it’s the debut of Millie Frock. Voiced by Molly Shannon, Millie could’ve easily been a one-episode wonder and that would’ve been fine. There is something incredibly off about Millie the moment we first hear her voice, singing “When I say ‘Lou’ you say ‘Ise!’” which causes Louise to pause and go “Oh God.”
Millie basically runs around in a fantasy world where she and Louise are inseparable, and has to be stopped from rambling on about all her great ideas for the two of them like how they should sleep in matching bunk beds deep in the forest. [JC: Or, worse, Murphy beds. I’m very confused as to how those would work in the woods.] When she shows up dressed in her bunny costume (with ears that don’t stay up, as a great nod to her being some sort of evil mirror version of Louise), she “reminds” Louise of their great Halloween plan.
“You be dust, and I’ll be bunny! Dust Bunny! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA”
When Louise bluntly points out they did NOT plan this, and asks why Louise should settle for “dust” while Millie is “bunny,” Millie serenely replies “That’s exactly what dust would say.”
Amazingly, Bob’s Burgers would bring Millie back for several episodes showing how determined she is to make Louise her bestie even though she knows Louise loathes her with every fiber of her being. Millie’s later appearances are thankfully spaced out so her shtick’s not overdone, in The Milliechurian Candidate where she literally tries to murder someone and The Silence of the Louise where she’s channeling Hannibal Lector.
The Hauntening is hands down my favorite by default of all the Halloween episodes so far because of how hard it works at creating a genuinely unsettling atmosphere. It lulls you into a false sense of security, thinking the episode’s going to be about Bob and Linda failing to put together a haunted house for Louise with the ending about Louise appreciating what her family did even though it’s so goddamn awful.
That is NOT what happens here at all.
The Hauntening turns truly frightening as the Belchers are left trapped inside the house and desperately looking for a place to hide. The old man’s trying to get inside and something’s in the basement. And then they find the room with this.
They decide not to hide in there. [JC: But it’s so, um, cute?]
As a bonus, the end credits features an ingenious homage to “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back).”
Goosebumps – Attack of the Jack-O’-Lanterns
Look, we all know The Haunted Mask and The Haunted Mask II are great, if not THE greatest Goosebumps episodes. But this one’s always had a special place in my heart so deal with it. I recorded the episode when it was on the Fox Family channel alongside one of my favorite Angry Beavers episode.
I’ve always been fond of the Halloween-themed Goosebumps books, but Attack of the Jack-O’-Lanterns was my favorite of the original 62’s Halloween books (even though I know it’s not that good). This is one of those rare occasions where the TV episode improved on a lot of a book’s problems in terms of plot and pacing.
Drew Brockman loves Halloween, but she hates how every year’s been ruined by those douchebags Tabitha and Lee. Last year they crashed Drew’s Halloween party by pretending to be armed robbers. [JC: That seems inadvisable. I take it the Brockmans aren’t gun nuts, or that could have gone very badly.] This year’s gonna be different, when Drew’s old best friends Shane and Shana make a surprise return to town. They promise to help Drew get some sweet revenge on her tormentors.
Things don’t appear to be going Drew’s way. Everyone’s already nervous because of the disappearance of four adults, so Drew has to beg her mom to let her go trick-or-treating with her friend Walker. As Halloween night begins, Drew’s on edge wondering where Shane and Shana are while Tabitha and Lee obviously suspect a prank is afoot. That’s when two ghouls wearing large pumpkins on their heads approach the group. They promise Drew’s group they know a great place to do some hardcore trick-or-treating.
Soon the kids are getting mountains of candy. Tabitha smugly assumes the pumpkinheads are Shane and Shana’s sad attempt at pulling a scare on her and Lee, but Drew’s not sure. ARE these two Shane and Shana? What do they really have in plan for Drew and the others? [JC: They just want to trick-or-treat, Jude, stop overreacting!]
This episode streamlines the plot by keeping it all set in present time, whereas half the book’s told in flashback form as Drew recalls the two Halloweens ruined by Tabitha and Lee. It also removes some racist aspects by making Drew into a Black girl while Walker’s now white. In the book, Walker was Black and described as “cool like a rapper on an MTV music video.” [JC: Well, that’s cringey. I doubt Bob was trying to be offensive, but I’m not sure what the point of that description really is, besides Holy Stereotype, Batman!] We’re treated to a genuinely creepy nightmare Drew has about everyone being held captive by a creepy old couple.
It keeps the same overall twist from the book, but does a better job at making it work and makes the pumpkinheads come off as much, MUCH more sinister and horrifying (questionable effects aside).
[Wing: That is super cute! I love when you include art.]
One highlight of this episode I only learned of in recent years is that Drew was portrayed by a young Erica Luttrell, famous as the voice actress for Keisha on the original Magic School Bus and as both Sapphire and Padparadscha Sapphire on Steven Universe.
If I ever get to meet her in person I’d like her to autograph my commission of Drew from Alitha Martinez, provided she doesn’t think it’s creepy that I have one.
Invader Zim – Halloween Spectacular of Spooky Doom
Jhonen Vasquez still has no idea how this episode managed to air on TV.
Invader Zim was one of the last great cartoons on Nickelodeon featuring Richard Horvitz giving one of his best performances as the titular invader. Zim was about a deluded little alien who assumed he was on a mission to invade and conquer Earth for his leaders, the Almighty Tallest, never realizing the Tallest sent him on a wild goose chase just to be rid of him. The only person trying to stop Zim’s plans are Dib, a young conspiracy theorist with a massive head who is viewed by nearly around him as “crazy.”
Invader Zim was the darkest cartoon Nickelodeon ever aired, featuring episodes where Zim went on an organ-stealing spree to make himself appear more human to Zim dealing with an unwanted best friend by having the kid’s eyes ripped out. [Wing: I have never seen an episode of Invader Zim. Maybe I should give it a go.]
Along for the ride is Zim’s malfunction robot sidekick, GIR, who is more obsessed with eating junk food and playing with rubber piggies, and Dib’s long-suffering sister Gaz who knows Zim’s an alien but thinks he’s too inept to take over Earth. The show also featured the legendary Lucille Bliss, the original voice actress of Cinderella’s stepsister Anastasia and Smurfette, as the creepy skool teacher Ms. Bitters telling her students how the universe is DOOMED.
Halloween Spectacular of Spooky Doom was one of the show’s rare half-hour long episodes, focusing on Zim’s first exposure to the Earth holiday and Dib’s descent into a nightmare dimension. Zim misunderstands Miss Bitters deriding Halloween’s current state as “a day when children turn into candy-starved zombies” and assumes Earth children literally turn into monsters hungry for “blood candies.” Dib, meanwhile, shows up to Skool babbling about “horrible, nightmare visions.”
Miss Bitters: It’s called life, Dib.
Dib and Zim’s asshole classmates decide Dib is acting “more crazy than normal,” and use one of their Crazy Cards to send Dib to the Crazy House for Boys. After all, each class gets three Crazy Cards a month. [JC: Hmm. I’m assuming this isn’t the sort of mental health day we actually want to take.]
Dib tries to convince everyone that, thanks to exposure from one of the machines in his dad’s lab, he’s been phasing in and out of some horrific alternate dimension against his will. It turns out the demonic other world is actually the realm of Dib’s imagination, populated by all sorts of hideous monsters and warped parodies of people he knows in real life.
The inhabitants of this world are tired of being trapped in Dib’s head and want to use him to escape into the real world. After shifting back into the real world, Dib’s forced to turn to Zim as a last ditch means for help but accidentally drags Zim into the other dimension with him.
This episode’s infamous for some admittedly horrific character designs and also has some great jokes, such as Zim wondering if he can do stuff to Dib’s legs while stuck inside his head, Zim’s robot GIR going on a sugar-fueled rampage mowing through kids to get their Halloween candy, and Ms. Bitters reflecting on how she used to be a fairy princess where she repeatedly flew into a bug zapper.
It also features a completely random shot of top-hat wearing, dancing skeletons that never gets mentioned anywhere else in the episode.
Lloyd In Space – Halloween Scary Fun Action Plan
Lloyd In Space isn’t actually one of my favorite Disney cartoons. It was nice and all, but the real reason why I want to talk about its Halloween episode is because of how utterly fucked up it is.
Lloyd In Space was a show about an alien boy living on a space station in the far, far future. The show was your typical Disney cartoon fare with Lloyd dealing with bullies, crushes, and wacky misunderstandings between friends and families.
One episode dealt with a kid whose species eventually chooses their gender when they reach a certain age (but it’s viewed within the gender binary [JC: Well, baby steps toward progress, I suppose.]), and another dealt with two of Lloyd’s friends struggling when racial tensions between their families flare up.
The one thing about Lloyd In Space that’s stuck with me all these years was Lloyd’s little sister Francine who is, for all intents and purposes, a fucking nightmare of a character. Francine has telepathic and telekinetic abilities which she uses to torment Lloyd on a daily basis, and she almost never gets punished for it (by their mom or the show itself). The narrative ran on Lloyd being forced to appreciate having Francine as a sister despite how horribly she treats him, while she barely learned the same lesson.
In one episode Francine comes down with a sickness that strips her of her powers, leaving Lloyd eager for a chance at revenge. Even when it looks like Francine’s getting her abilities back and will thus destroy Lloyd, Lloyd exclaims he doesn’t care what she does because for once he was finally able to pay her back.
For a clearer example, Francine’s essentially Tara Webster from The Cuckoo Clock of Doom of Goosebumps fame.
Francine’s role was one huge double standard. The only reason she gets away with her abuse is because she’s younger and female. Chances are if she were a boy and Lloyd was a girl, such behavior would’ve been considered gross. Or if Lloyd had powers and Francine didn’t, the show would treat Lloyd’s actions as horrific. Now, keep in mind before THIS episode Francine’s action were frustrating but she wasn’t necessarily evil or straightforwardly abusive. That changed.
The Halloween episode highlights Francine isn’t just a bratty little sister. Lloyd and his friends refuse to take Francine and her friends trick-or-treating but allow them to go inside a haunted house attraction (which scares them). Lloyd’s group then goes inside the haunted house, but when they leave things are… different. The space station’s abandoned and ruined. The local computer system can only scream about “MONSTER EVERYWHERE” before fritzing out. Heading to the station’s main control room, Lloyd finds a video left by his mother Norah to reveal two things:
- Lloyd and his friends have somehow entered the future, thanks to the machinery that was used to make the haunted house opening a door in time. (I mean, worm holes are a common occurrence in space so it’s not that far fetched one could travel through time).
- While the boys were gone, a vicious creature got on the space station and started attacking people. Those who were attacked turned into monsters themselves and practically destroyed the station. The video ends with Lloyd watching Norah trying to fight back against one of her lieutenants as she tries to explain to Lloyd how the boys can return to their own time. The video cuts off before Lloyd can find out if his mom was killed or not.
Unfortunately, the alien monster that started the infection has been hiding in the station after the survivors fled. And it manages to scratch everyone but Lloyd. Lloyd’s friends turn into monsters and start hunting after him. This goes on for DECADES, and Lloyd’s left an old man having successfully holed himself up in one section of the station while his decrepit but still dangerous friends try to get him.
It then turns out this ENTIRE THING was Francine using her mental abilities to traumatize Lloyd and his friends for their earlier actions, with the episode ending as Lloyd apologizes and takes Francine’s friends trick-or-treating. Because Lloyd let Francine get scared and wouldn’t take her trick-or-treating, Francine mind raped Lloyd and his friends by making them think everyone they cared about might’ve been killed or mutated by some monster, before making Lloyd’s friends think they were monsters and that they seemingly spent decades trying to infect or even KILL Lloyd.
Up until this point, Francine never displayed such a range with her mental powers so I don’t think Lloyd ever expected she was capable of this. The only reason why I could imagine he’d do what she wants is because Lloyd’s terrified of what Francine might do next. I’m amazed he’s not living in fear of his life 24/7 thanks to her.
Francine is not a brat. Francine is a monster. [JC: Wow. WOW. What a great message to send to kids. Sibling won’t do what you want? Manipulate and terrorize them, resulting in them apologizing to you and rewarding you for your abusive tactics! Super cool! Holy fucking shit.]
Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers – Trick or Treat
This episode isn’t technically a Halloween episode, but it involves a Halloween-themed game show and features quite possibly the greatest monster in any Power Rangers show ever.
THE PUMPKIN RAPPER
The Pumpkin Rapper was an evil, pumpkin-based monster with one eye and an upside-down face. And he just HAPPENED to speak in almost nothing but “diabolical” raps and rhymes. Seriously.
The A-plot of the episode involved Pink Ranger Kimberly competing on the game show “Trick or Treat” against local asshole Skull of THE Bulk & Skull. Meanwhile, Rita Repulsa has her minions Squatt and Baboo plant the seeds for her most diabolical monster ever, the Pumpkin Rapper, in a nearby pumpkin patch.
Coming with his own brand of special pumpkin-headed Putties, the Pumpkin Rapper’s awoken when the Rangers deliberately provoke it with a truly awful rap. It at one point almost kills the Rangers when it traps their heads inside pumpkins that could’ve suffocated them to death.
While the Pumpkin Rapper was initially destroyed by the Rangers, it was one of several monsters revived by Lord Zedd and even became gigantic to fight the Rangers in their Zords.
There’s honestly not much for me to say about the episode Trick Or Treat, and honestly why should I? It has the Pumpkin Rapper and that’s all the credentials it needs to be one of my favorite Halloween episodes!
Rocko’s Modern Life – Sugar Frosted Frights and Ed Is Dead: A Thriller
Rocko’s Modern Life had a Halloween episode split into two segments. One was directly about Halloween, while the other was an homage to Alfred Hitchcock movies (specifically Rear Window and Psycho). [JC: And they even use the intro music from the Alfred Hitchcock Hour! I wonder how much it cost to get the rights to that, or if it was maybe public domain by 1995? Surely not?]
Sugar Frosted Frights focused on Rocko and Heffer discovering their friend Filburt is terrified of Halloween and has never gone trick-or-treating in his life. This is because when Filburt was a kid, his parents would go out to Halloween parties and leave him to be watched by… CRAZY AUNT GRETCHEN.
Having been born inside an aquarium tank (and living her entire life in one), Crazy Aunt Gretchen scared Filburt telling him Halloween candy was poison and if he ever ate any he’d be punished by… THE HOPPING HESSIAN.
(Yes, he’s basically the Headless Horseman but missing a leg instead of his head)
[JC: I know this was before 1999’s Sleepy Hollow, but I’d like to imagine Christopher Walken voicing the Hopping Hessian.] [Wing: I’m here for it.]
Unfortunately, because Filburt’s never eaten Halloween candy before, the first piece he consumes causes an instant sugar rush. Filburt goes on a rampage segueing into a direct homage to Fantasia’s “Night on Bald Mountain,” and that’s when everyone meets the Hopping Hessian.
The ending of the episode comes across as a nod to A Christmas Carol and for a brief moment it looks like everything will end on a silly note… until Filburt asks a question that leaves everyone scared speechless. [JC: “THEN WHO WAS PHONE“?]
Ed Is Dead: A Thriller focuses on Rocko noticing his neighbors, Ed and Bev Bighead, are acting crankier than normal towards each other. Bev ominously tells Rocko that soon “everything will be taken care of.” That night, Rocko overhears Ed screaming at Bev to “put it down” and spies from his window what looks like Bev stabbing Ed to death!
The next gray, miserable day, Rocko’s nervously wondering what the hell happened last night when he sees Bev digging a hole shaped just like Ed in her backyard.
Bev: Oh, too bad. But you just didn’t turn out like I wanted.
After Bev leaves the house, Rocko attempts to investigate and find concrete proof whether or not Bev murdered her husband. The entire episode is rather eerie and unsettling in a more subdued way compared to Sugar Frosted Frights, with an especially well done tracking shot taking us through the Bigheads’ house the following morning. Everything seems rather warped and unpleasant thanks to a general sense of emptiness and wrongness.
BONUS – Jude’s Favorite Halloween/Spooky Themed Video Game Levels
[Wing: Note that there’s at least one moving image of a first person camera angle and at least one spider reference. I have to skip this section because of the first and my vertigo, so I’m not sure how in depth either are.]
Because I don’t often talk about video games on here, I decided to add a little to this post by discussing my favorite spooky/Halloween themed levels from video and computer games I’ve played over the years. Now, keep in mind my taste in video games might be considered… dated. The newest system I have in my house is a Nintendo Wii, and the last game I purchased within the last couple of years was for Playstation 2. However, these levels are from games I played as a kid and more recently as an adult. [JC: I have very little to add here. I had a Super NES as a young teen, then stopped playing games until I got a PS4 a few years ago. There’s a rant about how toxic masculinity and misogyny in gaming discourages girls from continuing to game as they grow up, but I won’t go into it here.]
Banjo-Kazooie – Mad Monster Mansion (Nintendo 64)
Ah, Banjo-Kazooie, one of the greatest of the great platformer games of the 1990s. Created by Rare, the game follows the adventures of a bear and bird as they try to rescue the bear’s sister from the clutches of the evil witch Gruntilda Winkybunion in her lair on Spiral Mountain.
Banjo (the bear) and his snarky pal Kazooie (the bird), must navigate through Grunty’s lair where they discover portals to nine distinct worlds. While battling Grunty’s minions and helping the average sentient object, Banjo and Kazooie learn useful attack moves from Bottles the Mole and get transformed into awesome creatures by Grunty’s former teacher Mumbo Jumbo.
The game has no shortage on scares, starting early on with the incredibly dank and sinister Clanker’s Cavern where you have to help a giant, sentient garbage disposing mechanical shark breathe clean air and fight against mutant crabs. But those are all before you reach MAD MONSTER MANSION.
Mad Monster Mansion is the seventh level in the game, sandwiched between the Egyptian-themed Gobi’s Valley and the incredibly dismal Rusty Bucket Bay. While the level is not outright Halloween themed, it is definitely trying to invoke the image especially with Mumbo Jumbo’s Pumpkin Transformation.
The level is built around a haunted mansion that is undoubtedly Grunty’s, only you enter the majority of the rooms by climbing the gutters and smashing open the windows. Located nearby is a graveyard and church, a hedge maze, and a well surrounded by poisonous water. Its enemies are bats, green ghosts, living tombstones, and skeletons that can reassemble themselves if not destroyed properly.
While the level’s not as vast as Gobi’s Valley, it makes up for it with its inner levels being bigger by comparison. While the church seems as big as Grunty’s mansion, the inside’s enormous to the point Banjo and Kazooie are about a few inches tall compared to one of the pews.
Some of the level’s mini-games include a word game on a variant of a Ouija board where Banjo has to navigate a sentient tumbler and avoid a ghostly enemy. Inside the church, you have to play a musical match game against a disembodied, ghostly hand dubbed “Motzand.”
The Pumpkin transformation is genuinely adorable, especially the little hopping sound Banjo makes as he moves around. This transformation’s necessary to acquire a prize hidden within Loggo, the sentient toilet within Grunty’s mansion (try not to think about the ramifications). [JC: No, now I can only think of the ramifications, Jude, what the hell.] Doing so invokes Grunty disgustedly ordering Banjo to wash his hands afterwards, which is rather hypocritical of the old witch since one of her pastimes is BLOWING BALLOONS UP WITH HER ASS.
Mad Monster Mansion’s also significant for containing not one, but TWO of the Mystery Eggs that were supposed to be used for the “Stop N’ Swap” feature when the game’s developers wanted to have it linked with the sequel Banjo-Tooie.
One part of this level that frustrated me for years is the gate with Grunty’s face on it. For the longest time I kept trying to figure out what was behind this thing and searched all over for some cheat code or tidbit explaining what’s behind the gate and nothing.
Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time – Forest Temple
(TW: Videos with spiders)
Listen, if you were a kid in the 90s and you played video games there was a decent chance you played this game at least once. [JC: Nope, never played any Zelda. Although every once in a while I like to troll Boyfriend by asking, “So Zelda is the boy, right? 😀 “]
Ocarina of Time was one of two games in the Legend of Zelda franchise created for the N64 and it’s arguably the most famous. You play as Link, a young boy guided by his fairy companion Navi as he tries to save the land of Hyrule from the evil Ganondorf.
The first half of the game focuses on Link’s adventures as a young boy, while the second half features a time travelling aspect so you navigate as young Link in the past and older Link seven years in the future where Ganondorf rules. During the second half, Link must travel through six temples and awaken the power of the Sages in order to bring Ganondorf’s rule to an end.
In terms of scary levels, if a person talks about Ocarina of Time they usually discuss the Shadow Temple. The entire segment’s genuinely creepy and starts off with young Link having to explore a dungeon underneath a village well and it is LARGELY implied this dungeon was a torture chamber. That’s not even mentioning the Dead Hand. While the Shadow Temple’s admittedly creepy and loaded with death imagery, my favorite level in the game and one that is definitely creepy is the Forest Temple.
The Forest Temple is the first temple Link has to best as an adult. The entrance can be reached as Young!Link, but Link can’t enter without the Hookshot (which he can only use in his older form). The purpose of this quest is to locate Link’s childhood friend Saria, who was last seen trying to enter the Forest Temple before someone or something captured her.
As a starter level, the Forest Temple establishes right off the general layouts for the rest of the temples and does a damn good job of being creepy as shit. The Forest Temple’s background music starts off with a sound like rattling bones and slowly segues into what you’d think is mocking laughter. The entirety of the level looks less like a temple and more like a haunted mansion that’s gone to seed. The majority of the rooms are shrouded in darkness; not even the courtyard areas have much light. There’s also hallways that literally twist and turn, which can also warp the adjacent rooms.
Floating skulls, wolves, skeletal warriors, and skulltulas (WING FOR YOUR SAKE DO NOT LOOK THESE UP) litter the Forest Temple, but this is where we get to meet two of the creepiest enemy types in LOZ fame.
First, there’s the Wallmaster. Then, there’s the Floormaster.
Wallmasters and Floormasters resemble giant, disembodies hands made of charred, blackened flesh. Wallmasters are capable of descending from ceilings and grabbing Link so they can drop him back to the beginning of a level. Navi repeatedly warns you to watch the shadows in certain rooms, as a Wallmaster is heralded by a shadow descending on you.
Floormasters are even worse. The minute they sense you nearby they glow and levitate straight for you. You have to kill these bastards quickly, because Floormasters can split into tinier versions that will grow into new ones if not eliminated fast enough.
Ghosts make up a big portion of the Forest Temple’s bosses. The minibosses to defeat in order to reach the main boss are the Poe Sisters (Poes being a type of ghost in the Zelda games). Named Jo, Beth, Amy, and Meg, the Poe Sisters have each stolen a flame needed to light the torches activating the elevator to the boss area. [JC: I never would have expected a Little Women/Zelda crossover.]
They’re not the worst, however. Reaching the boss room means you’re brought to an art gallery filled with copies of the same painting. And that’s when you encounter Ganondorf! Or rather…
EVIL SPIRIT FROM BEYOND: PHANTOM GANON
Phantom Ganon is a hideous, ghostly copy of Ganondorf that rides on a spectral horse. You have to battle him by tensely figuring out which of the paintings he’ll emerge from, and you have to make sure you hit the right one with your bow and arrow.
Macbat 64 – Bonus Levels (CPU and Nintendo Switch)
I just want to say God bless Marcus Horn, creator of two beautiful love letters aimed at the Nintendo 64 level and congratulate him on getting both games on the Nintendo Switch.
You can purchase and download Macbat 64 directly from Horn here: https://siactro.itch.io/macbat64
Macbat 64 is a retro-style platform game developed in the style of the Nintendo 64’s platformer games, largely Rare’s Banjo-Kazooie. This game’s actually a sequel to Horn’s previous game Kiwi 64, which was an enjoyable straight-up homage to Banjo-Kazooie. Here you play as Macbat, a nice chap who is informed by his pirate parrot friend that someone is stealing the water of the world. Each of the different levels serves as a sort of homage to various classic video games such as Ocarina of Time, Kirby 64, and Mario Kart 64. While my favorite level by default is the glorious neon-colored Tubular City, and there IS a haunted house themed level, my favorite scary levels in Macbat are actually two of its bonus levels.
After completing the main Macbat game, you’re given an option of completing a couple of bonus levels and two of them are genuinely freaky and terrifying.
The first level has Macbat simply navigating through a series of dark, foreboding platforms while avoiding numerous spinning sawblades.
The eeriness of this scene comes from the tenseness of the music and the grim atmosphere, the lighting almost making it seem like the level is covered in blood.
The second level is MUCH creepier and it still gives me vibes as if the level was supposed to represent video game creepypastas like Ben Drowned. Macbat and his pirate friend are going to the movies, so Macbat has to find the coins hidden throughout several rooms. Each room is more horrifying than the last as Macbat moves through a dark apartment while trying to avoid this… thing moving around the hallway. The minute the thing touches you, you’re dead and back at the beginning.
The contents of the rooms vary in terms of horror. One is filled with wriggling black tendrils. One has a coin held up in a chained box that makes the room look like a Clive Barker torture chamber. Another room has a second THING just standing in the corner, its head jittering back and forth. And another has a GIANT BUG jutting out of the wall.
Mario Party 2 – Horror Land (Nintendo 64)
Mario Party games will either bring back fond memories or make you start ranting from the amount of damage playing those minigames did to your hands. While the Mario Party series has been chugging out of games for nearly every new Nintendo system, my collection only goes up the Mario Party 7 for the Gamecube. That said, my favorites of the series will always be the 1st and 2nd and I’m lucky enough to still own working copies. [JC: Ahh, Mario Party. Ruining friendships since 1998.]
The premise of Mario Party is you and three other players get to navigate on specialty-themed boards, collecting coins and stars and using items to advance or steal stuff from your opponents. After four turns, the players go through a minigame for the chance to earn 10 or more coins. The player who has the most coins and stars by the end of the game wins. Usually, Mario Party games have an overall story where you need to earn enough coins or stars to unlock secret levels. Or you can just play a straightforward game without worrying about that.
Mario Party 2 included a theme where the characters dress up for each different board. In Pirate Land, you’re all pirates. In Western Land, you’re all cowboys. The goal is to be the character in 1st place in order to beat Bowser, the archenemy of the Mario Bros. franchise. This is also the level that introduced the concepts of regularly buying objects and the Bank Space, as well as Battle Minigames, Item Minigames, and Duel Minigames where you can wager stars and coins against an opponent.
Horror Land (no, not HorrorLand), is the last of the regular boards and arguably the greatest in terms of design, tone, and enjoyability. The characters all get to dress up as wizards and navigate a spooky, Halloween-like setting that alternates between day and night. During the night turns, Horror Land visually comes alive as things take on more ghastly appearances. Jack-o’-lanterns and haunted houses blaze, gravestones gain red eyes while ghosts litter the spaces between the board. In the far right corner of the board you can reach Big Boo (with use of a skeleton key) and he can steal coins and stars from ALL the players.
Really, I cannot stress how gorgeous the level is and the amount of detail in its background and layout makes me wish this was a navigable level in a standard Mario game.
What really sells this level is the lively background music which, if I’m being honest, is eerily reminiscent of the theme music from the Puppet Master movie franchise.
Sonic Adventure 2 – Pumpkin Hill (Sega Dreamcast/Nintendo Gamecube)
Ah, Sonic Adventure 2. As a kid I remember being mesmerized by the City Escape opening level and always trying to beg my much younger cousin to let me play their copy of the game whenever I stayed over at their place. I fucking hate my cousins.
It wasn’t until Sonic Adventure 2 was rereleased for Gamecube I finally got a copy of my own to play.
Sonic Adventure 2 was the second in the line of “Modern” Sonic games after Sega tried to revitalized the franchise in the 3D format. The game took the format of designing levels specifically for Sonic, his buddy Tails, and Knuckles the Echidna and featured a “good/evil” storytelling route where you could also play as Dr. Eggman and new characters Shadow the Hedgehog and Rouge the Bat.
Pumpkin Hill was the second Knuckles level, where the goal is to find the three hidden shards of the Master Emerald. This level is designed specifically to cater to horror fans, set at a perpetual twilight amid giant, grinning pumpkin-shaped mountains and hills. As Knuckles you explore three main areas in the form of Pumpkin Mountain, Church Mountain, and Ghost Train Mountain. Littered about are various pumpkin hills that may contain rings or hiding spots for the Emerald pieces. This is the level that introduces the Ghost enemy type, who can vary from having rows of jagged teeth or mouths stitched shut.
This is also one of the only places you’ll encounter the little Skeleton Dogs. [JC: I LOVE HIM.]
However, this level wouldn’t be anywhere near as memorable if not for that classic of classics, Hunnid-P’s “A Ghost’s Pumpkin Soup.”