Halloween is not just Grinch night, it is the holiday that spurs the most animated TV specials this side of Christmas. If you are one of those unfortunate people who don’t celebrate Halloween…then why are you reading this article? Which Halloween specials should you watch besides that one about the Great Pumpkin and the return of the Grinch? Okay, nobody really watches that Grinch Halloween special, but it’s there so why not? If you love Halloween and you love cartoons, then you definitely should not make it all the way through October without catching these animated Halloween specials.
Claymation Comedy of Horrors
It’s not Claymation Christmas, but at least it doesn’t have the California Raisins. I kid the California Raisins, of course, but the Claymation Christmas special is a bona fide classic while the “Claymation Comedy of Horrors” is a curious example of how you try to mine comedy from a weirdly unemotional attachment to major characters. Where Will Vinton’s Christmas classic is all warm and fuzzy and Christmas-y, “The Claymation Comedy of Horrors” brings you Halloween as it might have been portrayed in a German Expressionist film of the 1920s/1930s. This animated Halloween special is not for everyone, but if you find Tim Burton’s stop motion films a little too mainstream, then this one’s for you.
The Fat Albert Halloween Special
For those who prefer their animated Halloween specials a little more touchy-feely and with characters who are significantly less Brechtian than Wilshire Pig, well, hey-hey-hey! It’s “The Fat Albert Halloween Special.” For one thing, the Fat Albert Halloween animated special entices with the possibility of seeing scenes from the movie “Space Squids that Ate Pittsburgh.” Even more alluring is the actual reality of seeing Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids in Halloween costumes ranging from a cowboy to a matador.
Gary Larson’s Tales from the Dark Side
Yeah, I’ll wager many of you never even knew there was an animated special based on Gary Larson’s groundbreaking comic strip “The Far Side.” While not technically about Halloween, “Gary Larson’s Tales from the Dark Side” first aired on October 26 and was presented as a Halloween special. And, indeed, with Larson’s trademark monsters, aliens and weird creatures popping up over the course of its loosely structured tales from Larson’s dark mind, it does pretty much qualify as a Halloween animated special even more than some dedicated Halloween specials.
Bugs Bunny’s Howl-oween Special
Okay, this animated Halloween special was really just a collection of some the scarier classic Looney Tunes shorts from the 50s and 60s. What you get in this animated Halloween special is Bugs, Daffy Duck and Sylvester interacting in a comic nightmare fuel with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Witch Hazel, the hilarious witch with the mysterious loose-fitting bobby pins. This is the real Witch Hazel, not the abomination known as Witch Lezah who looks exactly the same but sounds absolutely nothing like the original.
Witch’s Night Out
This Canadian animated Halloween special is worthwhile for some because it features the vocal talents of two of the funniest women in the history of television: Gilda Radner and Catherine O”Hara. “Witch’s Night Out” is also a favorite for those who just can’t get enough of dreadful late 1970s disco-inspired soundtracks. Finally, “Witch’s Night Out” is an animated Halloween special to love because it is truly weird and funky. This is another animated Halloween special that is definitely not “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” The almost psychedelic style of animation in this Halloween special truly makes it a period piece as well as something that certain viewers have almost definitely enjoyed more as a result of ingesting certain substances.