If you’re not into getting scared by horror films this time of year, perhaps you’re a fan of the Halloween episode. Some of our fave TV shows and movies have fun Hallow’s Eve scenes that put characters in costumes and see them tricking and/or treating. This week Super Fun Night aired their Halloween episode and next week Pretty Little Liars will air their annual special. What better time for us to talk about the scenarios we love?
Heather Hogan: There’s this moment in last year’s Pretty Little Liars Halloween episode where Paige McCullers—the girl who got bullied by Alison DiLaurentis into hating herself for loving Emily, the girl who stuffed her head and heart so far in the closet she could barely breathe, the girl who would have done almost anything to keep from coming across as a lesbian—walks through the door of the Brew channeling Marlene Dietrich, Emily Fields doing a sexy-as-hell Barbarella on her arm, head held high, smile brighter than a blue star, talking about, “Tell me about love on your planet.” My head says I should go with Buffy‘s “Fear, Itself” or “Halloween,” but my heart always hollers PAIGE MCCULLERS.
Elaine Atwell: “Fear, Itself” is one of my favorite Buffy episodes of all time, and by extension one of my favorite TV episodes of all time. It’s got some of the best laughs of the entire series, and features Anya in her first real Scooby adventure, not to mention her immortal bunny costume. But it’s also surpassed only by “Hush” for real scares. It takes you into the deepest fears of all the main characters: being alone, being invisible, and losing control, all of which are the kind of universal fears that make horror an enduring genre. And you can’t beat it for the lesson it’s trying to teach. I still remember how I felt after watching this episode for the first time: like I needed to take a long, hard look at my fears, to discover that in reality, they were only three inches tall.
Dana Piccoli: When I was a wee one, I lived for the Facts of Life Halloween episode. (This was during the Beverly Ann regime, not Mrs. Garrett.) Basically it’s a murder mystery/whodunnit ala The Twilight Zone. The girls get knocked off, one by one in the most ridiculous ways and Tootie is the final girl. Spoiler alert: It was Blair! I learned an important lesson: Never buy shoes at the supermarket. The only really scary thing about the episode was the shoulder pads. The horror. The horror! Tootie.
Lucy Hallowell: Mean Girls, because I was the girl who showed up in a hockey jersey or as Paul Bunyan when every other girl showed up in her, well, the least amount of clothing they could wear without getting arrested.
Eboni Rafus: I have a confession to make: I don’t really like Halloween. Blame it on my costume-deprived childhood. I guess I’m still bitter that every year I spent October 31st in the church rec room bobbing for apples and playing bible trivia while the other neighborhood kids went trick-or-treating. Since I never celebrated the holiday as a kid, it’s still hard for me to get in the spirit even as an adult. In my 20s it caused me a lot of anxiety because I could never think of fun, original costume to wear to Halloween parties. On the rare occasions I did think of a great idea, I didn’t execute it well and ended up spending the entire evening explaining my costume concept to everyone. Meanwhile, it seemed that my peers merely put on something sexy, add a pair of animal ears—rabbit, cat, etc.—and called it a day.
I tell you this to explain why my favorite Halloween scene is from the movie Mean Girls. Cady, played by Lindsey Lohan, has spent much of her life in the African bush and doesn’t understand American teen culture and the fact that Halloween is viewed as “the one day you can dress like a slut and none of the other girls can say anything about it.” So while all the other girls are using the holiday as an excuse to wear body suits and lingerie, Cady dons a long sleeved wedding dress and veil, a wig and fake, gruesome teeth. Cady’s crush, Aaron Samuels, assumes that she is a zombie bride and she is explains that she is, in fact, “an ex-wife.”
The best part of the scene, however, is actually at the very beginning when Karen, dressed in a short black dress and mouse ears, expresses confusion about Cady’s costume. “Why are you dressed so scary?” Karen asks. Cady, not quite understanding the question, simply replies, “It’s Halloween.”
Ali Davis: Can I pick the whole movie Halloween? It’s been so ineptly copied and so over-sequeled over the years that it’s easy to forget that it’s freaking terrific and not just some carve-em-up slasher flick. (Though I will warn the faint of heart that people do get carved.)
After the initial oh-dear-we-have-a-problem sequence, the movie takes its time, giving us close to 20 minutes to know the main characters before the serious scary goes down. And Jamie Lee Curtis is great, playing a smart character who is actually smart in a smart way, and actually making me believe that such a stone-cold fox could have trouble attracting guys.
And, yeah, while it became a trope for the virginal female lead to become the main character in horror movies, the whole point of Curtis’s character Laurie is that she’s a smart character. She thinks and makes good choices, even on the fly. Laurie is awesome, in fact—she’s a good friend and a good sport, never, ever stops trying to protect the kids she’s babysitting, and when she needs an improvised weapon, the girl will find an improvised weapon, all while staying a believable girl-next-door.And unlike so many other low-budget horror flicks, the movie is freaking scary and explains only enough to keep the plot going.
(Oh, and if that isn’t enough, it has P.J. Soles of the original Carrie, Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, and Stripes in it. Can the woman pick a script with staying power or what?)
Kim Hoffman: I don’t know that this totally counts because there’s no pumpkin carving or trick-or-treating, but it’s a spooky episode from TV land history that I watch religiously each year around this time: The legendary Dawson’s Creek episode “The Scare.” Lest we forget it was 1998 and Kevin Williamson was in the heart of teen screams with flicks like I Know What You Did Last Summer, Teaching Mrs. Tingle (that counts, right?) and Scream. Basically, the episode poked fun at the nature of these films and their predictable plots—which if we make full circle, paid fluffy homage to classic horrors in which girls run up the stairs, characters utter that they’ll “be right back” never to return, and the virgin lives. There were twists, screams, a power outage, everyone’s getting creepy notes (and they assume it’s one of Dawson’s classic Friday the 13th pranks), and Joey scares the Spielberg out of Dawson. All in all, a classic episode to watch in the spirit of Hallows Eve.
Jill Guccini: I was having the hardest time figuring out what to choose for this huddle, and when I told my wife about it, she said immediately: “Jill. You know what your favorite Halloween scene is.” And as usual, she was correct; I was just so wrapped up in thinking about Halloween themed movies/TV as opposed to the great little Halloween scenes that sneak into larger films. Specifically, there is nothing that compares to the best tiny lesbian of the 1940s, also known as Margaret O’Brien playing Tootie Smith in Meet Me in St. Louis.
Dressed offensively as a homeless person, because you know, it was the ’40s, she musters up all of the bravery and foolishness in her tiny little frame to sneak up to the Big Scary House On the Block on Halloween and knocks on the door. When the Big Scary Neighborhood Man opens up, after a moment of slack jawed astonishment, she yells, “I hate you!” and throws flour or something in his face, and then runs back breathlessly to her friends. When they ask what happened, for no apparent reason other than hysteria and kid logic, after a dramatic pause she screams, “I KILLED HIM!” This, obviously, is met with both shock and approval by the neighborhood kids, and when someone comments that Tootie is the most horrible, the grin of a proud deviant shines over her face, and while throwing a chair into a bonfire, she yells with glee, “I’m the most horrible!” And if that’s not a bonafide badass, I don’t know what is.
Dara Nai: You can’t talk about Halloween without talking about Buffy. They did a few Halloween eps, but my favorite is the first one, “Halloween” from Season 2. In it, the Scoobies become the costume they’re wearing: Buffy’s 18th century gown turns her into a dainty twit who can’t do anything for herself, Xander transforms from geek to guerrilla while wearing fatigues, and Willow chickens out after Buffy encourages her to go slutty, and goes Casper, rendering herself invisible, literally. The whole thing is hilarious as Buffy acts frightened and confused by the modern world, Xander swaggers around, looking for things to shoot, and Cordelia, unaffected by the magic spell, treats everyone like they’re totes bonkers. But the best part of this early episode is when Alyson Hannigan steps out of her bed sheet and shows the world what’s under Willow’s hood. Oz said it best when he sees her on the street, “Who is that girl?”
Dorothy Snarker: OK, because everyone has picked the Buffy Halloween episodes (because why wouldn’t you), I am going to go crazy and pick the crazy My So-Called Life Halloween episode. It was a deeply, deeply weird episode because it involved a ghost and/or visions of a ghost in a series that had previously only trafficked in things as ethereal as how well a teenage boy can lean. But it gets a mention because everything associated with that show is worth a mention. Also, Danielle does an impeccable Angela Chase impersonation for her Halloween costume. Oh, and Ricky dressed as Brian Krakow and it was perfect. The end.
Bridget McManus: I always loved the Roseanne Halloween episodes. They were all really funny and the costumes were hilarious! Remember when a young Sara Gilbert donned a costume from Aliens? Good times.
Emily Hartl: Can I pick every Roseanne Halloween episode? No? Then how about the one where Darlene has a hoodie that births an alien and the original Becky is a half dead/half alive prom queen. #roseanne4ever
Karman Kregloe: I was a young curmudgeon who always found trick-or-treating to be both silly and degrading. That’s probably why my favorite Halloween television episode is from Curb Your Enthusiasm. In it, Larry refuses to give candy to two teens who are clearly too old to trick-or-treat and are not even wearing costumes. The next day, he and his wife discover that their house and yard have been trashed by the vengeful girls, who spray painted “Bald Asshole” on their front door. His wife, naturally, blames him. Larry protests that the girls were obviously ” just using Halloween to get candy.” Larry adds, ” I didn’t know it would be ‘felony-or-treat’… I don’t think that ‘trick’ extends to ‘felony’!”
Punky Starshine: My first choice would have been the Buffy episode(s), but those have been picked already. My second would have been Practical Magic because witches dressed as witches gets me every time, but I JUST picked that movie for a huddle a few weeks ago. So instead I’ll go with the One Tree Hill episode “An Attempt to Tip The Scales.” It has everything you could want from a Halloween episode: a masquerade ball, Sophia Bush dressed as a slutty devil, a case of mistaken identity complete with a kiss, and, most importantly, Hilarie Burton dressed as the Angel of Death. I mean, come on.
Little did we know that, years later, she would bring her dark wings to Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital and be the Angel of Death for Calzona’s relationship.
Nicole Schultz: Every year I look forward with childlike glee for The Simpsons’ “Treehouse of Horror” episode. The sixth one was definitely the most memorable to me. It featured the first ever live-action scene in the show. A 3D Homer is thrown into our world on the streets of Los Angeles. He wanders around in fear until he finds the comfort of an erotic bakery. Mmmmm…cake shaped like boobs.
Marcie Bianco: Buffy is irreplaceable, but I have to give a nod to the Halloween episode of Freaks and Geeks, from the costumes to the eggings, it’s just awesome. This all said, I have to say Sleepy Hollow is THE show to watch, not just because it is filled with ghosts and witches and historical references—all the fun Halloween type things—but because Lt Abbie Mills is a kick-ass character, and the show made a point to kill a bunch of white people (turning the horror trope on its head) in the pilot, and it also has an evil guy, Moloch, who likes to eat babies. The show is a WIN on so many levels.
What’s your favorite Halloween scene or episode?