THOUGHTS IN SPACE
Taking a break from cartoons, it should be noted that the spat of sitcoms and live action drama television shows also liberally celebrated Halloween – and sometimes with crass cross-over commercialism at their ghoulish heart. Take, for example, the Different Strokes / Ghosbusters mash-up.
Yep, that’s Arnold dressed as ghostbusters. I think Gary Coleman was full on forty-plus by the time this filmed.
This episode aired in September of 1984, about three months after the hit film was released. In it, Arnold and Sam hear about a local house that is haunted so they decide to do some investigating to determine if ghosts are real. It makes sense that they go as ghostbusters because either the show got a kick back OR the producers decided the best way to boost ratings was ape a hit summer flick that was taking the country by storm.
Not sure kiddos today would get much out of it, but boy does Different Strokes bring back some memories. And, not all of them good. Like, I am fairly certain I watched this episode as a kid when it first aired and was more than likely thinking, at the tender age of nine, why am I still watching this junk?
But it would be interesting to see what my oldest thinks of what passed as mainstream Halloween entertainment back when I was a kid – can’t shield kids from all bad things, right?
Anyway, for those similarly interested, here's a clip of the pertinent part, because life is too short to watch the ENTIRE episode - once was quite enough!
Like all kids growing up in the 1980s, I read and laughed at Garfield, so I was pleased when my own child discovered and found humor in the fat orange cat. (Hey, at eight-years-old, the dad jokes of Garfield are great!) And like most kids, I vaguely remember watching Garfield cartoons, but I have zero memory of the Garfield Halloween Special – The Garfield Halloween Adventure.
Turns out, for kids, it is pretty spooky. You have a freaky clown, freaky looking trick-r-treaters, and, then, the old man. My oldest had a BLAST watching this, but my youngest, two-going-on-WWF-wrestler, got quite spooked, which kind of bumped it up on my list of cartoon Halloween specials because being scared about Halloween is a formative event (or series of events) in a young kid’s life!
I love Halloween. Not because I still get dressed up and try and go trick-or-treating – myself, I certainly do make the rounds as a father monitoring the kiddos – but because it has become my binge time for horror movies.
I love horror movies: slasher films, with lots of gore pre-torture style films; Hammer films; Universal Monsters; horror classics like Psycho; and “modern” classics like Pet Cemetery 2, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Child's Play. My wife, however, does NOT like horror films, and my children are nowhere near old enough to partake in my love of these films, so I rarely take the time to watch them. But this time of year it is too hard to resist.
I developed a love of horror films probably around eight-year-s old, the age my oldest is now. It was the height of the VHS / Beta wars, and Friday nights meant going down to the local video cassette rental store with my father and brother to pick up 2 or 3 movies to watch over the weekend. My older brother was into horror movies, which meant I got to see more than my fair share – even if I wasn’t old enough. Throw in the early days of cable TV and HBO and, well, let’s just say my kid doesn’t watch even a tenth of what I saw at his age. (I still don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing!)
But Halloween isn’t just for me, I want my oldest to enjoy cartoons and films that take him to the edge of being scared. Question is, what? What is appropriate for kids these days? Clearly he isn’t going to watch Poltergeist or Psycho or even Mr. Boogedy. And, I don’t think he’s ready for Goosebumps yet; he has a strange, strong fear of mummies and skeletons and ghouls. So, maybe I need to reach even further back and find some classic early 80s cartoon Halloween specials – anything and everything BUT Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin, which for some reason I just can’t stand.
So what should I show him? Over the coming days, I will do my best to dig up and showcase some classic old kid’s cartoons. And, in that vein, I’ll start off with one of my all-time favorite spooky animated shorts, one that I distinctly remember being shown over and over again on a reel-to-reel projector in elementary school: