Monday is Halloween, which naturally means you start celebrating Friday night! While we were on vacation a couple weeks ago, I had a hair-brained idea, and this list is the result.
While I’m not a fan of super-scary Halloween stuff like haunted houses or really gory horror movies, I LOVE the tamer side of the holiday. I am sure it stems from my love of all things nostalgic – recalling days where costumes were simpler and kids actually enjoyed the spirit of trick-or-treat.
One of my favorite ways to get in the mood for any holiday is to watch some of my favorite shows featuring the holiday as a theme, and there are some great Halloween episodes. Today I’d like to share a few of my favorites with you! (These are listed in the order I thought of them, so I’m not playing favorites! I also do not claim any ownership of the videos/video clips below; they’re linked to YouTube, Vimeo, etc.)
Without further ado…let’s get this list started!
Prest-O Change-O (Merrie Melodies, 1939)
This 7-ish minute animated cartoon features the Two Curious Puppies who find their way into an abandoned house trying to elude a dogcatcher. As the pair explores the house, they eventually become separated. A magician named Sham-Fu owns the house; we never meet him, but we are introduced to his tricky pet rabbit, who apparently enjoys harassing these too unsuspecting pups.
While it isn’t strictly a Halloween-themed cartoon, the magician’s home certainly gives a vibe of a haunted house; I think I always remembered it that way growing up. And a fun fact: this episode featured the Bugs Bunny prototype.
Broom-Stick Bunny (Looney Tunes, 1956)
Witch Hazel is easily one of my favorite Looney Tunes character, and Broom-Stick Bunny is usually billed as one of the talented Mr. Jones’ funniest Witch Hazel features. It’s a clever spin on a classic tale similar to Snow White, and it never fails to make me laugh.
We meet Hazel on Halloween night, asking her magic mirror who’s the ugliest one of all; Bugs turns up at the house dressed as a witch and threatens to steal Hazels reign. Upon realizing the little witch is much more hideous than she (and with confirmation from her magic mirror), Hazel concocts a plan to make her guest some Pretty Potion. Bugs realizes he’s still wearing a mask, removes it, and Witch Hazel is stunned to learn her guest is actually a rabbit! Hijinks ensue when Hazel realizes she needs a rabbit to complete her potion, and Bugs realizes danger is afoot. Will he escape unharmed? Will Hazel get a taste of her own medicine?
Transylvania 6-5000 (Merrie Melodies, 1963)
Another classic Looney Tunes animation that I really love, and always seem to forget about! The title is a pun on the Glenn Miller classic “PEnnsylvania 6-5000”, referring to the old telephone number system (excellent song, by the way…you should check out the Andrews Sister’s version). At any rate, this one is most definitely spooky and silly, and will make you pleased as punch!
Bugs is tunneling along, when he mistakenly ends up in Transylvania. His first encounter is with a two-headed vulture (Agatha & Emily) for directions, however they are too busy discussing eating him. He wanders away finding an old castle, and thus our spooky night begins.
After Count Blood Count shows him to a guest room, Bugs decides he can’t sleep and begins reading a book titled “Magic Words and Phrases”. This comes in handy, unbeknownst to Bugs, as his gracious host sneaks up on him. There is a very funny back-and-forth between the Count and Bugs as they exchange magic phrases – kind of reminds me of an Abbott & Costello routine.
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (Charles M Schulz, 1966)
It’s a classic, and I am sure I don’t have to explain why this is on my list. You just have to watch it every year ON TV. Even if you have the DVD, you stop what you’re doing and tune in to watch it. And I always love the segments about the WWI Flying Ace.
I don’t think I need to summarize the plot. If you haven’t seen it, hop on YouTube, I’m sure you can find it there. Please, just do it now.
Garfield’s Halloween Adventure (Jim Davis, 1985)
As much as I love the Peanuts gang for holiday specials, Garfield is right up there. (I strongly recommend the Christmas special if you haven’t seen that…very heartwarming and cozy!) Back to Halloween!
This was a special for Halloween, styled after a ghost story with a pirate theme. Garfield wakes up on Halloween morning to obnoxious Binky the Clown, driving home the fact that it’s Halloween. In true Garfield fashion, he comes up with a scheme to trick Odie into going trick-or-treating and handing over all but one piece of candy. We all know Odie is a loyal and loving pup, and of course goes along with the plan.
Trouble arises, Garfield and Odie get themselves into a sticky situation, and there’s a spooky ghost chasing them. Will they make it back home safe and sound?
And wrapping up my list (which grew from what I initially started with!)…
If a Body Meets a Body (The Three Stooges, 1945)
The guys get themselves into a pickle when Curly learns his uncle, Bob O. Link has died and left a hefty inheritance to him. When sinister actions force the three to stay overnight in the same room the uncle was murdered, they begin to suspect supernatural activity is afoot.
This is another episode that really isn’t a Halloween special, but the imagined spookiness results in funny antics from our three unlikely heroes. What becomes of the inheritance? Does Curly come away with a small fortune? (Har, har har…just go watch it…)
The Ghost Talks (The Three Stooges, 1949)
Yes, another Three Stooges short featuring our blundering boys in another sticky sitch. Released four years after my previous pick, and a few years before the death of Jerry (Curly) Howard (Curly had actually suffered a series of strokes during the filming of If a Body Meets a Body), Shemp presented a much different role than his brother – he was much more laid back and less child-like.
But, back to our show – The Ghost Talks features our boys as movers sent to the haunted Smorgasboard Castle. All seems well minus the usual slapstick rituals, until a suit of armor finds his voice. Turns out he’s the ghost of Peeping Tom, who was cursed for laying eyes on Lady Godiva. Shenanigans abound and the spookiness is more silly and groan-worthy. Not a Halloween special, but Peeping Tom definitely likes to show the guys he’s a spirit to be reckoned with!
OK folks – there’s my very skimpy list of Halloween shows that I really love to watch around Halloween. I purposely left off any full-length films, because that would make this ridiculous. Let’s face it, there’s never a bad time to catch these shows, but they certainly help make things feel a little more festive!
Do you have a favorite Halloween cartoon or show that you like to watch every year? Leave me a comment below, and I’ll check them out!