Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Very Special Halloween Episode

When I talked about Children Of The Corn I mentioned how growing up I was pretty much afraid of everything, right? And yet, I have always loved Halloween,  dressing up and candy? What is there for a kid NOT to like? My parents knew about my proclivity to be freaked out by anything slightly scary (Seriously, I was DEATHLY afraid of the Incredible Hulk TV show with Bill Bixby. If I was around and he turned into the Hulk I would run screaming from the room-literally) Even some of my favorite movies now, like Jaws or Raiders Of The Lost Ark, I was allowed to "watch" in heavily edited versions (I had to put my hands over my eyes at certain points). It was nuts. But my parents could NOT protect me from every bit of horror out there. Especially when it crept in from seemingly innocuous places. And really, for me, who knew what would set off my little kid imagination and not let me sleep at night. But here are three I can remember that stuck with me for a long time:

Punky Brewster -"The Perils Of Punky"

It might give you some insight into the well-adjusted adult I've become to learn that watching these clips over again, I cannot believe that the younger me was so scared by any of this. But it is sort of amazing that this was ever made- I mean Punky battles (an albeit fake-but still) spider and eventually kills it with an ax? Her friends turned into horrible monsters by an evil spirit? Let me back up-so the story here is that Punky and her friends go camping and get lost in a cave. So Punky decides to tell this scary story to her friends while she waits for help to come- in this case Henry and Cherry's Mom. There  is also a regrettable Native American stereotype in there to tie everything together nicely. And this episode turns out to be the story that Punky tells. I used to watch Punky Brewster in the afternoon, and before this (and before I grew up to think of the implications of some old man just being allowed to take in and live with some street urchin) the scariest story they did was a cautionary tale about not playing in or around refrigerators that were going to be thrown away. And then one day around Halloween I tuned and there was this tale of adolescent terror. I mean, if nothing else, it's a real trip as goofy as it seems now:

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The acting prize has to go to Punky's golden retriever, Brandon, here. I love how this spider drops from the ceiling and is supposed to be terrifying everyone around and Brandon sits back there calmly licking his chops and waiting for his trainer to tell him when to attack the fake spider.

Fortunately, I wasn't around and someone put up the part where the evil spirit turns her friends in hideous monsters. Man that really scarred me at the time. It's all so ridiculous now, but my goodness this blew my 7 year old mind.

Oof that took me a while to get over. It's so creepy! At least to little me it was

The Garfield Halloween Adventure

What was with the year 1985 and scaring children? All I know is I had become a fan of Garfield through the books of his collected comic strips and, of course, his Saturday Morning Cartoon Show (which frequently made my top 5 Saturday Morning cartoons in discussions on the playground and in the cafeteria) Then this Halloween Adventure comes on and it is basically John Carpenter's The Fog for pre-teens. There are pirates and scary old men and pirate treasure, and finally pirate ghosts. The sequence that really did it for me and I can't find a clip of it is the part where Odie and Garfield go running from something though the dark, scary woods. It does not sound like it but it was really frightening when I was young. All in all good job here, it's fun and scary, maybe a little too much of the latter for 8 year old me.

Hahaha never try to give Garfield carrots!

The Greatest American Hero - "The Beast In Black"

That's right-the TV show where the teacher had a suit that was given to him by aliens and he couldn't really fly and he had all sorts of goofy adventures? Yup. THAT show. Believe me, I was younger than eight when I happened to catch this episode, I am sure in reruns, and man did it ruin me for a long time. And this was a legitimately creepy episode too! I wanted goofy adventures! Not demons from other dimensions. To be honest I finally watched the entire episode a few years back, and, I mean, it is still somewhat creepy, but back when I first saw it I am quite sure I couldn't get past the first part of it.

Only upon seeing it again did I realize just why they went into this haunted house in the first place. Apparently Ralph was given permission to go into the house, which was scheduled to be demolished, and take whatever valuables he and his students could find so they could sell them for a class trip. If I was smarter I would have known that the close up on the SOLD sign and the ominous music meant to switch the channel to the Muppet Show.
Okay, the first sign of trouble: a wheelchair that moves by itself and flies down a staircase. Just like in The Changeling.

So Ralph, the teacher, goes with his cohort Bill to scout out the place before any of the students come over. Ralph puts on his super suit and is able to see through a brick wall. And what he sees is what initially made me lose my mind. He sees a woman sitting in a wheelchair in front of a fireplace in what looks like a parlor. Which is creepy enough
Okay, which is bad enough. (HOLY CRAP IT GAVE ME NIGHTMARES). But Ralph thinks the lady needs his help so he passes through the brick wall into basically another dimension that is, well, entirely black
And inside there a pair of red eyes look at Ralph
And something attacks him

And he has to go to the hospital because it got the best of him
And he is covered with all these scratches. Which is nuts, I mean back then you didn't see Superman getting beaten up or anything like that. They never really reveal what The Beast actually is beyond sort of being a watch dog of the fifth dimension, but you only really see him in flashes of teeth and claws. The rest of the episode mostly deals with Ralph's friend Bill getting possessed by the ghost of Sheila (the woman in the wheelchair) and Ralph trying to get Sheila back to whatever dimension she's from. The rest is almost totally Beast-free until the end when he comes after Ralph again as he is trying to rescue Bill. But it is undeniably that being spooky bit that had an effect on my as a youngster. It caught be me by surprise, a show this goofy wasn't supposed to be scary! But there it was and it stayed with me, for better or worse for a long time. In a way, DVD became a good way to exorcise those demons (and youtube and Hulu) because you get something stuck in your head and then go back and see just how not-scary it actually was and realize what an idiot you were when you were younger. I mean, uh, other people-not me
And I End With Two Classic Ones:

Freaks and Geeks - "Tricks and Treats"

And I couldn't decide on which of the early Simpsons Treehouse Of Horror episodes to include so here's a couple clips:

Treehouse Of Horror V

Treehouse Of Horror VII


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