When it comes to Halloween specials, animators rule. But that is not to say that there have not, on occasion, been some interesting forays into live action Halloween specials on TV. While Halloween is not quite up there with Christmas as far as live action TV specials, it is probably as close as any other holiday is likely to come. One of the reasons for the relative scarcity of live action Halloween specials on TV compared to Christmas specials could be that Big Business hasn’t quite yet figured out a way to turn the one-day holiday into a season as they have with Christmas. Another reason could be that Halloween specials to date are better enjoyed for their weirdness than for any sort of emotional bonding like you get during December TV specials.
The Paul Lynde Halloween Special
I have already written extensively of “The Paul Lynde Halloween Special” as one of the most terrifying and scarifying pieces of television entertainment ever produced. If you want to find out more about it, click here . If you just want the short version, you need to know that “The Paul Lynde Halloween Special” features a series of absolutely bizarre set pieces that includes the very gay Paul Lynde battling Tim Conway over the affections of Pinky Tuscadero as a waitress, singing performances by Florence Henderson and KISS and a glammy version of “Disco Baby” (instead of “Disco Lady”) by most of the cast. You want a scary live action Halloween TV special? Believe me, it doesn’t get any scarier than “The Paul Lynde Halloween Special.”
Elvira’s Halloween Special
Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, hosted a live action Halloween special aired on MTV on Halloween 1986. An MTV Halloween special. So, well, be prepared for lots of music. And Elvira’s patented delivery of really bad jokes.
Disney’s Halloween Hall of Fame
This live action Halloween special originated as part of “The Wonderful World of Disney.” Your host is Jonathan Winters and if you are not familiar with Jonathan Winters, then I can’t think of a better way than combining the discovery of the genius of this comic with your love of Halloween. In fact, “Disney’s Halloween Hall of Fame” is only partially a live action Halloween special. Winters plays a Disney security guard who is not exactly happy about having to work on Halloween night and while making his rounds he finds himself in the prop room. Such a cornucopia of props is the perfect place to allow Winters full rein on his special gift for improvisational comedy. Eventually, Winters finds a talking Jack O’Lantern that leads to the meat of the Halloween special: Disney cartoons. Forget the cartoons and enjoy Winters going mad with Halloween comedy.
The Halloween That Almost Wasn’t
With “The Halloween That Almost Wasn’t” you get a live action Halloween special TV-movie that reunites Dracula, the Wolfman, Frankenstein’s Creature and the Mummy with a witch and a zombie. It seems that Halloween is about to be canceled and Dracula ain’t happy about it. He’s also not happy that he and his famous monsters of movieland have become singing dancing shadows of their former scary selves. So he gathers them together to work on being scary again so that Halloween can be saved. But within this gaggle of ghoulies lies a traitor. Can you guess which one?