Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Brady Bunch: The Slumber Caper (1970)

"The Slumber Caper" is one among a handful of Brady Bunch episodes that had a Halloween feel, even if the holiday was not specifically mentioned. Originally aired 9 October 1970, the episode contains many examples of spooky fun: the Brady boys in Halloween masks (Frankenstein monster, Phantom of the Opera, Creature from the Black Lagoon), fake spiders, a flashing skull in the refrigerator, ghost stories, howls outside the window, itching powder in the sleeping bags...

All of this Halloween fun doesn't begin until halfway through the episode. But be patient...it is worth the wait!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1987)

As the notebook paper title card suggests, there were times when my anticipation of Halloween led me to more ambitious projects than simply carving up a pumpkin. In 1982, my dad purchased a video camera for the family. Now, mind you, this wasn't a camcorder. This was a full-size video camera that had a separate, external recording deck. Basically, it was a camera connected to a VCR. By 1987, we were a pretty video-literate family, and there were many projects I had rolling around in my head. This particular video idea probably came about as a result of reading Thomas Aylesworth's Monsters from the Movies. In one of his chapters, he tells about the various filmed versions of Robert Louis Stevenson's story Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Inspired by reading about John Barrymore's famous performance, I decided to film my own version.

This was a pretty bare-bones production. I used some test tubes from a chemistry set I had received a Christmas or two prior. The transformation into Hyde was accomplished with some makeup from a kit I'd bought (the kit is visible on the couch as the camera pans to the floor). The special effect, where the camera is stopped and then restarted after the change is made, did not come out as well as I had planned (I supposed my dad jarred the tripod slightly between shots). And my sister appears briefly as Dr. Jekyll's girlfriend.

The highlight of the video is probably my choice of music (which I dubbed myself): the first movement of Beethoven's 5th for the Dr. Jekyll scene, and some organ music (from a Halloween sound effects tape) for Mr. Hyde's scene.

I made this video on 27 September 1987.

Monsters from the Movies (1972), by Thomas Aylesworth

If memory serves me, I first checked this book out in the fourth grade from the school library. Throughout grade school I probably read it several more times. Like Movie Monsters, by Ormsby, this book highlights many of the great movie monsters. However, Monsters from the Movies goes into much greater detail about those creatures and presents them in a more adult manner, separating them into chapters such as "Man-Made Monsters" (which would include the Frankenstein monster) and "Self-Made Monsters" (which would include Mr. Hyde). It also chronicles the many filmed versions of monster movies such as Dracula, Frankenstein, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

This book is included in a discussion of horror film books at The Rocket Video Blog.

Movie Monsters (1975), by Alan Ormsby

I read this book a lot when I was younger. My older brother had probably bought it at a school book fair. Movie Monsters provided a lot of inspiration around Halloween time. It contained pages on some of the great movie monsters (Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, et al.) as well as "recipes" for creating your own monster makeup. I tried creating the "brown bag Frankenstein" but gave up before I finished. (I think my paper bag was not the right size for my head.) The book also contains a script for a play, called "The Monster of Frankenstein." Although I never actually performed it in front of an audience, I do remember recording a radio show version of the script, playing all of the roles myself.

Read some memories of this book by other bloggers, at Wonderful Wonderblog and John Rozum.com.

Webster: Moving On (1984)

Originally aired 2 November 1984, this episode feels a little like a Halloween episode, even though no mention is made of the holiday. What you get is a large, Victorian house with secret passageways and a particular room that is always kept locked. Katherine and George are looking for a place to rent, and Katherine especially thinks that this house is the one for them. However, George wants to know what he is paying for and wonders why the owners don't want them going upstairs. While George and Katherine are going over details with the owners, Webster is off on his own, discovering a way to enter the locked room.

If you'd like to see the full episode (but don't mind watching video from a hand-held camera pointed at a TV screen) check out these links:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Happy Days: The Evil Eye (1978)

Looking back over previous posts, I noticed that I have a tendency to consider many Halloween episodes to be among my favorites. I'm not sure how much value can be given to the phrase "favorite Halloween episodes" when so many examples have been included. In any case, here is another entry into that category. Although I only watched Happy Days occasionally as a kid, this Halloween episode is one that is very memorable to me. It originally aired Halloween night in 1978. We learn that Al is being pursued by an old lady (a witch!) who wants to put a curse on him. She is from the Dimartino family and he is from the Delvecchio family, and the two families have been fighting for many years. According to Al, his uncle made the old woman mad once, and she subsequently gave him "the evil eye"! When the woman does finally find Al and puts a curse on him, Richie and the guys concoct a ceremony to remove it.

This recording is from the original 1978 broadcast:

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Cosby Show: Halloween (1985)

With Bill Cosby's 2018 conviction, it may be difficult or impossible to ever enjoy viewing the Cosby Show again. Still, those of us who grew up watching the show considered the Huxtables to be one of the best television families of all time and one that knew how to have some Halloween fun. In this episode, Cliff reluctantly agrees to wear a costume while taking Rudy trick-or-treating. Vanessa is having friends over for a costume party and when Robert ("the coolest boy in seventh grade") arrives, she has a very difficult time being herself in front of him. This fine example of 80s television originally aired Halloween night in 1985.

Little Rascals: Alfalfa's Aunt (1939)

This is a video I recorded off TV in the late 80s or early 90s. It isn't a complete episode, and the video quality is not great. However, I think it has a bit of a Halloween quality to it. Alfalfa's aunt Penelope is a mystery writer who comes to visit. Alfalfa finds a page from a story she is writing, which is in the form of a letter. It reads:

Dear X,

I have discovered that only my nephew stands between me and the Switzer millions! So like the others, he shall die in agony - tonight - at the stroke of nine!

Believing that his own aunt is planning to murder him, Alfalfa recruits the gang to help protect him from her.

The Brady Bunch: To Move or Not To Move (1970)

While technically not a Halloween episode, this Brady Bunch story involves the kids trying to keep their parents from selling the house by scaring away the potential buyer. "To Move or Not To Move" will satisfy your cravings to see children posing as ghosts under bedsheets, to hear strange creaking noises throughout the house, and to see Alice holding up an amulet to protect herself from evil spirits. From the show's first season, the episode originally aired 6 March 1970, which is why the character Mrs. Hunsaker quips, "I must say, you people celebrate Halloween at a strange time of year."

Other Brady Bunch episodes that could be categorized as Halloween-related are "The Slumber Caper" (1970), "Fright Night" (1972), "Two Petes in a Pod" (1974), and "Out of This World" (1974), which is similar to "Fright Night" but involves a UFO instead of a ghost.

SNL Halloween Special (1991)

This Halloween special aired in 28 October 1991. This is the older version of SNL Halloween Special and is not available on DVD. It features the following skits:

Land Shark
Wayne's World: Top 10 Excellent Babe Costumes
Return of the Coneheads
The People's Court
The Exorcist II
The Fruiting
Consumer Probe
Beauty & The Beast: The Double Date
The Thing That Wouldn't Leave
Afraid of the Dark
The Raven (as read by Tonto, Tarzan and Frankenstein)
Wayne's World: Top 5 Worst Halloween Treats

Porky & Sylvester: Scaredy Cat (1948) and Claws for Alarm (1954)

"Scaredy Cat" (1948) and "Claws for Alarm" (1954) are two cartoons that I saw as a child, and I remember being creeped out by them. They both feature Porky Pig and Sylvester spending the night in an ominous old house, with Sylvester constantly waking Porky to report the sight of something horrible. The cartoons are very successful at creating a sense of dread, particularly as we see Sylvester growing more and more anxious. As a kid, I liked when Porky let Sylvester climb into bed with him; I could identify with that feeling of safety that Sylvester longed for.

Halloween is Grinch Night (1977)

I first caught this on TV sometime in the 1980s. The residents of Whoville "can tell by the smell of the wind" that another Grinch Night is on its way! This cartoon is not as endearing as How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and not much actually happens in the story. However, it is still entertaining and well-drawn. I found the scene where the boy, Euchariah, encounters the Grinch's nightmarish collection of monsters to be quite creepy. This cartoon originally aired 29 October 1977.

Watch (T.V.)Childhood Favorites - Dr. Seuss - Halloween is Grinch Night.avi in Family  

That's Incredible: Amityville Horror (1980)

I didn't actually see this when That's Incredible! was still on TV, but I knew about the episode because my brother had seen it. For many years I was curious about the episode because it showed the inside of the Amityville house, including the "red room" and the upstairs bedroom with the trademark "eye" windows. I finally found the video on YouTube a few years ago. It was a little surprising that, considering the show's tendency towards sensationalism, the writers of the program chose to document the subject in a straight-forward, objective manner. Rather than playing up the stories of the supposed hauntings, the program consisted mainly of disputing the Lutz's claims and events as reported in the novel. The segment is still a bit spooky, though, and makes for fun Halloween viewing! Also check out the 1979 Amityville episode from the show In Search Of.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

That's Incredible: Haunted Toys 'R Us (1978)

This segment from That's Incredible! investigates the story of a haunted Toys 'R Us in Sunnyvale, California. Apparently, the toy store was built on the property where a man died after a wood-chopping accident, and psychic Sylvia Brown claims that this man's spirit is haunting the store. A séance is staged in the toy store for That's Incredible! As Brown attempts to make contact with the spirit, a photographer captures some interesting images.

That's Incredible: Ghost Castle (1981)

That's Incredible! was one of my favorite shows in the 80s because I could always depend on it for tales of strange phenomena. I only remember a handful of segments that could be classified as Halloween-oriented. This particular segment about a haunted castle in New Jersey features testimony about objects being moved around the room and other occurrences. The residents believe the ghost to be William Beatty, the man who built "Castle Utopia" in the 1920s and died in one of the rooms. The current owners of the property have renamed the home Phareloch Castle and are in the process of renovating the structure.

McDonalds Safe Treats gift certificates (1984)

Here is a 1984 McDonalds commercial for Safe Treats: gift certificates that posed much less of a risk to children than traditional Halloween give-aways. Think of how much fun Halloween would be if every house gave these out! I can't imagine real children being as excited over Safe Treats as the ones depicted in the commercial. Safe Treats are similar to the Easter Seals Safe Halloween Coupons.

Whaley House hauntings (1991)

The Whaley House, located in Old Town San Diego, is one of the most important historic buildings in the area. Built in 1857, it was at that time the first two-story brick building in San Diego. For a time, the structure served not only as the Whaley residence, but as the county courthouse, San Diego's first commercial theater, and the Whaley and Crosthwaite General Store.

KNSD News played this segment on Halloween 1991. The director of the Whaley House recounts strange occurrences and speculates about who the spirits are that haunt the property.

Friday, March 27, 2009

PM Magazine: Haunted house (1985)

PM Magazine aired this program on 29 October 1985, as part of their "Ghoulies and Ghosts" week leading up to Halloween, with the hosts visiting a haunted attraction aboard the Star of India in San Diego. This segment is about a family living in a house they believe to be haunted. A psychic visits each room in the house, trying to discover who, or what, is causing the disturbances. I videotaped this as a kid and remember being spooked out by it, especially by the point-of-view shot walking down the steps to the basement. The background music, which is spooky in itself, is from the soundtrack to the original Halloween movie.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966)

This movie was shown on TV a couple of times that I remember during the late 1980s near Halloween. The part I looked forward to was the scene where Luther Heggs, played by Don Knotts, spends the night inside the mysterious Simmons mansion and gets spooked by the sight of the old pipe organ playing itself. No one was better than Don Knotts at playing nervous, excitable characters.

Here's a trailer for the movie:

I remember making a "haunted house" in my bedroom after seeing this movie. Inspired by the painting that hung in the Simmons house, I made a watercolor portrait of a woman. Luther Heggs had reported seeing the portrait with a knife stuck in the woman's throat and blood flowing from the puncture. I simulated this effect for my haunted house by hanging my picture on my bookcase and sticking a steak knife through it.

The Brady Bunch: Fright Night (1972)

"Fright Night" is another one of my favorite Halloween episodes. The Brady boys and girls take turns scaring each other with Halloween pranks, and after the parents are awakened in the middle of the night for the second time, they make the kids promise not to scare each other anymore. Taking advantage of the oath's loophole, the kids conspire to scare Alice, who has made it known that she isn't scared by characters like Dracula and the Wolfman. The kids plan to surprise her one night when Alice returns home, expecting her to arrive well before Mr. and Mrs. Brady come back from a sculpture competition. Needless to say, things don't go quite as planned, and poor Mr. Brady's head ends up in pieces. This episode from Season 4 originally aired 27 October 1972.

View this episode on Yahoo View.

Other Brady Bunch episodes that involve the kids planning to scare someone are "To Move or Not To Move" and "The Slumber Caper," both from 1970.

See a scene-by-scene breakdown of these three episodes at The Haunted Closet

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Diff'rent Strokes: A Haunting We Will Go (1984)

This was one of my favorite Halloween TV episodes as a kid, and I pretty much had the thing memorized word-for-word. John Astin and Ray Bolger guest star in this episode that originally aired 29 September 1984. The episode was obviously influenced by the movie Ghostbusters, which had been released in June of that year.

Halloween at the old Margo Theater (1988)

Jack White, for 10 News San Diego, remembers Halloweens past at the old Margo Theater in Oceanside, California. The movie theater opened in 1936 downtown. Around 1949, it was renamed the Towne, and it continued to show movies throughout the 1970s. In the 1980s, after being reduced to showing adult movies, the Towne closed and was used as a karate studio for several years. After being refurbished by the city of Oceanside and renamed the Sunshine Brooks Theater, it has continued a new life as a venue for live theater events.

Top Halloween costumes of 1991

Entertainment Tonight's Mary Hart looks at the hottest costumes for Halloween 1991. It's interesting to see how Halloween costumes reflect what is current in movies and politics.

Pumpkin carving (1991)

NBC News report from Halloween 1991 on an improved method of carving pumpkins.

Halloween haunted house in Escondido (1991)

Are the horrific scenes being presented inside this attraction causing people to look toward the Christian message of redemption, or are they inviting people to be entertained by depictions of evil? From Halloween 1991, 10 News San Diego reports on a controversial haunted house at the First Christian Church in Escondido, California.

Watch for the kid in the nappy Chewbacca mask at the beginning.

Eye on LA: Halloween 3D (1987)

I only remember watching two 3D Halloween specials on TV in the mid-1980s. One was an airing of the 1961 3D film The Mask. Red and blue glasses made specifically for that TV showing were made available at participating stores. Not all of the black and white film was shot in 3D, but viewers were directed to put on their 3D glasses whenever the character in the film put on the mask.

A trailer from The Mask:

Eye on LA's "Halloween 3D" special is the other 3D special I remember watching. Chuck Henry hosted and John Astin guest hosted this cheesy Halloween special from 1987. I believe the glasses were made available at 7-Eleven markets. The whole program was shot in 3D. Although the effects as viewed through the red and blue glasses were not outstanding, it was still a fun show to watch. It featured three vignettes: "Batface," "Do Unto Others," and "Crispy Critter." It also features a segment with André De Toth, director of the 1953 film House of Wax.

By the way, in 1987 Eye on LA also aired the "Hawaiian Swimsuit Spectacular in 3D"! You can find it on YouTube, if you're interested.

Vincent Price Easter Seals Halloween commercial (1985)

In October 1985, Vincent Price appeared in this commercial for Easter Seals Safe Halloween Coupons. There are a lot of neat Halloween details in this short commercial: thunder and lightning, a shattering vase, flying bats, disembodied hand, a black cat, and (of course) narration by Vincent Price:

"Halloween doesn't have to be spooky...not with Easter Seals Safe Halloween Coupons, the safe treat that gives treatment. Safe Halloween Coupons are good for treats in stores and restaurants. Give them to trick-or-treaters, or treat yourself. Give Easter Seals Safe Halloween Coupons, because Halloween should be warm and friendly!"

Apparently, Baker's Drive-Thru restaurants, in Southern Californa, are still sponsoring Easter Seals Safe Halloween coupon books after 20 years.

The Search for Houdini (1987)

This TV special aired when I was 11 years old. Around this time I was very interested in magicians and performing magic. The previous year I remember visiting the Magic Shop at Disneyland and buying the "Siberian Chain" (one of the many packaged Adams magic tricks they sold). My friends and I pretended we were great escape artists and took turns chaining each other's hands up.

The Search for Houdini was very appealing to me because it involved magicians and another one of my interests: Halloween. The special featured many magicians paying tribute to Houdini, including the Amazing Randi, Dean Gunnarson, Steve Shaw, Harry Blackstone, Jr., and The Pendragons. Host William Shatner kept the show lively and provided a lot of humor. Even though the televised séance near the end of the show was pretty anti-climactic, the program remains one of the most unique Halloween specials that I ever remember seeing. It was filmed live in Los Angeles at the Orpheum Theater.