It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown: Without question, this is the quintessential Halloween special. From Charlie Brown's, "I got a rock" to Sally's tirade against Linus in the pumpkin patch ("I MISSED TRICKS OR TREATS!"), this special is all it takes to get me into a Halloween mood. Sure, it's not scary, but sometimes family friendly will do the trick just as well.
It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown airs tonight on ABC at 8:00.
Hocus Pocus: Speaking of family friendly, this movie about the three Sanderson witches resurrected in modern day Salem isn't going to send you hiding behind your couch. But it IS going to be full of awesome like Bette Midler's teeth, Sarah Jessica Parker's ditzy witch, and some pretty fun musical numbers. Throw in a talking cat, lame teenage romance, and a large amount of cheesiness and you have a classic Halloween flick.
Hocus Pocus is NOT airing on Halloween which is a travesty of epic proportions. but you can find clips online like this one on you tube:
Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas: You could really just put "any Tim Burton movie ever" on this list and call it a day, but my personal holiday fave is this animated musical. The visuals are stunning, the songs are catchy and fun, and it mashes up my two favorite holidays. Plus, if you were a kid I am thinking you might find it kind of terrifying. I mean, it features a clown with a tear-away face. That shit is frightening.
Ok, enough of this family friendly crap. Let's get to the good stuff--what to watch if you want to be terrified. This website has a nice roundup of the specials and movies airing on Halloween night (like various entries in the Halloween and Nightmare on Elm Street franchises and even the Rocky Horror Picture show), but this is a tv blog. Which means I am going to list some of my favorite scary television episodes ever.
The X-Files, "Home":A family of mutant incestuous rednecks who haven't left their super creepy house in 10 years? DO NOT WANT. And yet, this episode is pretty much the bench mark for terrifying television. The image of the virtually limbless Mama Peacock rolling herself out from under the bed has haunted me for years (seriously, childhood trauma), and other parts of the episode are still burned into my mind. And psyche.
Buffy, The Vampire Slayer, "Hush": I remember when this episode first aired. I was watching it alone in my dorm room my sophomore year of college and The Gentleman scared me so badly, I had nightmares. The creepy score and arm-waving straight jacket wearing minions didn't help matters. It's Buffy at its finest (and scariest) for sure.
Trick or treat, motherfuckers.
Doctor Who, "Blink": Don't blink. Don't even blink. Blink and you're dead. Who knew statues could be so fucking terrifying?
Supernatural, "Ghostfacers": A departure from the usual Supernatural style, Ghostfacers featured a show within a show, as the brothers Winchester encounter some amateur ghost hunters shooting a reality show in a haunted house. Of course the house is really haunted. Usually "reality show trope" episodes of scripted dramas are super cheesy, but this one is actually genuinely frightening. And not everyone survives....(runner-up scary Supernatural episode, "Everybody Loves a Clown." NO THEY DO NOT).
All these episodes are available on Netflix streaming for your Halloween convenience. And for even more examples of scary tv episodes, check out this list from I09, which includes some pretty rockin older shows like Twin Peaks and The Twighlight Zone.
Have a happy (and safe) Halloween!