I’m not sure if we can consider Halloween a “holiday” or not, but to me, after Christmas, it’s the best time of year for movies, TV shows, and specials. I think it’s that sense of only being able to see these things once a year that makes them more unique and beloved.
Halloween tends to lend itself better to movies, as the TV specials are a little few and far between. There is, of course, “It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown”, but that gets its own specific blog.
But when it comes to Halloween specials from the 80s, there are a bunch you may have forgotten. So grab a pack of rockets, those weird styrofoam peanut things with a pumpkin on the package, and a vintage 3 Muskateers to look back on some of the best forgotten 80s Halloween specials.
P.S – I have to give a shoutout to the greatest Halloween TV special ever made: The Paul Lynde Halloween Special. But, alas, it aired in 1976 and doesn’t fall into 80s-related content. But do yourself a favor and watch this brilliant/train wreck special if you get the chance.
1. Garfield’s Halloween Adventure
This is one of the standout 1980s Halloween specials as Garfield and Friend’s was a pretty big hit in the 80s (check out my article all about the best 80s cartoons). The comic strip is one of the most famous of all time and everyone is familiar with Jon, Odie, and Nermal. So, anytime there was a Garfield-related cartoon, everyone ate that up like lasagna.
Garfield’s Halloween Adventure came out on October 30, 1985. Talk about coming in under the wire. In the following years, though, it would play a little earlier before Halloween. This was actually a pretty good special as it combined a ghost and pirate story into a pretty decent half hour.
The plot revolves around Garfield getting excited about Trick or treating after watching the very Pennywise-inspired Binky The Clown. Garfield and Odie decide to dress as pirates but while out they find out that some of the costumed characters are not children but supernatural beings.
They end up in a rowboat trying to cross a river and end up at a dock at an old abandoned mansion. They run into the expected ‘creepy old man’ who tells the story of a buried treasure somewhere in the house. The problem is the pirates who buried the treasure would return 100 years later – which was this year!
The Pirates of the Caribbean ghosts return, Garfield and Odie hide, then make a break for it ending up with all their original candy and safe at home.
Phil Roman and Garfield creator Jim Davis created the special. Their goal was to start the show as a typical Garfield cartoon, but then let it go into a bit of a scarier mode. This detour from a cookie-cutter cartoon special led to great reviews and comparisons to “It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” – which is a pretty bold statement. The creativity and production actually won this special an Emmy for outstanding animated program.
2. The Crown Of Bogg
This is going to be a deep cut for some of you but The Crown Of Bogg is what happens when you combine Game of Thrones with Fraggle Rock, and ALF. This special kicked off the decade in 1981 and was created by ALF creator, Paul Fusco (check out my article all about ALF).
There technically isn’t a ton of Halloween in this special, but it came out at that time and was pitched as one to the networks. The plot is based around the underground kingdom of Bogg where king Mildew is transferring power to his son Milo. The brother of Milder – aptly named Vadal – is trying to stop this as he wants his son Vandred to take the throne.
Some wise men decide that whoever can retrieve the crown of Bogg from the outer world shall inherit the throne. The special then follows Mildew and Milo on their quest while Vadal and his son try to thwart their attempts. The Halloween connection comes when they reach the “outworld” aka our world, and find themselves in a museum that is having a Halloween party.
They find out that the crown can only be touched on Halloween, or else you will turn to stone. Vandal and Vandred end up getting turned to stone and Mildew and Milo return to Bogg victorious.
It’s hard to describe this special, but you can check it out for yourself here on YouTube. It’s definitely low budget but has some creativity to it. The special aired on Showtime in 1981 and then would be occasionally shown in the following years. It’s funny to hear a pretty close ALF voice in Milo and Vandred – both voiced by Fusco. The show also features Bob Fappiano, voicing various puppets. He would also work on ALF and Fappiano would be the name of a holiday on Melmac.
As strange as this show was – there’s even some singing in it – it would help allow Fusco to eventually pitch a show which would be one of the best of the decade. The Crown of Bogg is no Dark Crystal but still kind of amusing.
3. Mr. Boogedy
I distinctly remember Mr. Boogedy as it aired in 1986 on Disney’s Sunday Movie (remember when that was a thing and Disney owned Sunday nights? But I guess now they own everything).
This Halloween special is like The Burbs and The Money Pit meets the Addams Family. And the thing I remember, as most others did, – and that Disney LOVES to do – is that it scared the crap out of kids. I was around 9 and in prime Halloween mode who also would trust that whatever Disney put out was in our best interests. Mr. Boogedy would help break that trust…
This was a TV movie that was also an attempt at using it as a pilot for a future TV series, but that obviously didn’t pan out. Mr. Boogedy told the story of a family that moves into a new house in a New England town. The house, of course, turns out the pretty much be the house from the Amytiville horror and Poltergeist. The family thinks these are just pranks that the dad loves to do on his kids, so they kind of brush it off.
They realize there is a supernatural presence in the house, and they learn in town about the history of where they live. They learn of the ghost of William Hanover, who after striking a deal with the devil eventually would become Mr. Boogedy. The family finds out that to get rid of Boogedy, they have to take his magic cloak. Boogedy eventually appears and is able to blast lightning out of his hands like The Emperor in Return of the Jedi.
Eventually, they can use a vacuum to suck the cloak of Mr. Boogedy, which causes him to disappear. The family feels relief that he is gone and the house is no longer haunted – but we hear the voice of Boogedy exclaiming that maybe he is not gone after all. Aka, they were setting up a future series.
Mr. Boogedy featured a decent cast including:
- Richard Masur as Carlton Davis
- Mimi Kennedy as Eloise Davis
- Benjamin Gregory as R.E. Davis – he was Brian on ALF and was also on the A-Team, T.J. Hooker, and the Pound Puppies
- David Faustino as Corwin Davis – who of course is Bud Bundy from Married With Children
- Kristy Swanson as Jennifer Davis
- Howard Witt as Mr. Boogedy
So this “movie” scared kids but also developed a bit of a following. It’s still kind of funny and would lead to a “sequel” called Bride of Boogedy in 1987.
4. The Midnight Hour
If you were waiting until Halloween to watch The Midnight Hour in 1985, you may have missed it – because it aired the day AFTER Halloween that year.
The Midnight Hour was a TV movie put out by ABC in 1985 and was kind of a teenage monster movie. It told the story of a bunch of teens who break into a witchcraft museum on Halloween night. And wouldn’t you know it, they accidentally raise the dead. I hate it when that happens.
What they have raised is a witch who is hell-bent on getting revenge on pretty much everyone and everything. They also, to make this hip to the cool teens, raise a cheerleading ghost who helps the teens fix this classic teenager mistake.
The witch descends on the town and starts turning kids into vampires. The kids team up with the ghost cheerleader and have till midnight to stop this all, or the town will stay cursed FOREVER!! They fight off the undead using silver bullets, find an ancient parchment, and are able to stop – and reverse – all the damage done by the undead.
The main character, Phil, finally realizes that Sandy – the ghost cheerleader – was a ghost all along and she has disappeared. But while driving home, he hears a song on the radio dedicated to him from ‘Sandy’ to know she’s always looking out for him. Beautiful.
So this is a legit 2-hour movie that is very 80s centered and has a lot of great 80s themes and music to go with it. Critics didn’t love it and called it a “Campy horror romp” that was trying to be a teen comedy. Fun fact though; the special effects, costumes, and makeup were all done by the same guy who did the “Thriller” video.
The Midnight Hour still got a decent response from viewers as it fit the mold of many other 80’s movies and shows, making it feel familiar – despite the bizarre premise. And you just have to ignore the fact it aired on November 1st – you can still watch it on YouTube.
5. The Pac-Man Halloween Special
So this is “kind of” a Halloween special, but it’s basically two parts from previous episodes smushed together to make one Halloween special. You need to check out my article all about the Pac-Man cartoon, but it does lend itself well to Halloween, what with the ghost and all.
The first part of this special is called “Pacula” and involves Pac-Man turning the tables on the ghosts. During a rainy night in Pacland, Pac-Man disguises as a tombstone and chases the ghosts around – how do you like THEM apples? He ends up chasing them into an old castle where the owner has created a Frankenstein-like Pac-Man which is a vampire (“I want to chomp your bones”).
Pac-Man then battles the Pacula monster and chases him, and the ghosts, around the castle – as Pac-Man tends to do.
The second part of the Pac-Man Halloween Special is called “Trick or Chomp”. In this part, Baby Pac is excited to go trick-or-treating for the first time with his giant yellow dad. But, instead of candy, they get power pellets. Things are going along fine until, wouldn’t you know it, the ghosts show up leading to some more chases scenes.
This chase ends up in a haunted mansion (not the Garfield one) and then – just to switch things up – the ghosts get chased around the mansion. They kind of painted themselves into a corner doing a Pac-Man cartoon. They didn’t expand the possibilities like was done with Rubik, The Amazing Cube.
This Halloween “Special” aired on October 16th, 1982, and even though it’s nothing remarkable, they still gave you time before Halloween to watching it – I’m looking at YOU The Midnight Hour…
Final Thoughts On Forgotten 80s Halloween Specials
So there are a few forgotten 80s Halloween specials that hopefully have triggered a memory. There is a ton of great Halloween content out there, but, in the 80s, we weren’t exactly spoiled for choice. You’re still probably going to watch “It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown” along with other classics like Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, or Hocus Pocus.
But I’ll still be over here watching the Paul Lynde Halloween Special…Make sure to read my article all about it here.