News

31 Classic Halloween TV Specials

Get back in touch with your inner trick-or-treater with these specials starring Buzz and Woody, Charlie Brown, Garfield, Elvira, and even the Grinch.

by | October 16, 2018 | Comments

TOY STORY OF TERROR - Disney•Pixar's first special for television, "Toy Story OF TERROR!," a spooky tale featuring all of your favorite characters from the "Toy Story" films, airs THURSDAY, OCT. 18 (8:30-9:00 p.m. EDT), on ABC. What starts out as a fun road trip for the "Toy Story" gang takes an unexpected turn for the worse when the trip detours to a roadside motel. After one of the toys goes missing, the others find themselves caught up in a mysterious sequence of events that must be solved before they all suffer the same fate in this "Toy Story OF TERROR!" (Disney/Pixar 2013) JESSIE, BUZZ LIGHTYEAR, WOODY
(Photo by Disney/Pixar 2013)

Halloween might not fall until the end of October, but the most fervent fans of the horror holiday start celebrating the minute the calendar turns to Oct. 1 — or even before. Hey, if you can buy a pumpkin-spiced latte, then spooky season has begun.

New horror releases hit the big screen throughout the month, but you can find even more scream-worthy programming on the small screen. What better way to gear up for trick-or-treating than with a marathon of scary creatures, horror specials, and other Halloween-centric TV programming available to stream online (or hunt down on YouTube)?

Rotten Tomatoes has rounded up 31 Halloween specials so you can watch one daily, or stockpile them for a Halloween night marathon.


31. RAGGEDY ANN AND ANDY IN THE PUMPKIN WHO COULDN’T SMILE (1979)

What Made It Special: Back in the ’70s every popular children’s character got their own special, so you’ll see a lot on this list. In this one, a staple of Disney Channel’s annual Halloween rotation, Raggedy Ann and Andy’s neighbor Ralph had a mean aunt who wouldn’t let him go trick-or-treating — so they found the perfect pumpkin to make him happy.


30. Scared Shrekless (2010)

What Made It Special: Shrek had already been in four movies by 2010, along with a Christmas special, Shrek the HallsIn the ogre’s Halloween outing, Shrek, Donkey, Puss in Boots, and their fairy tale friends tell three scary stories (with commercial breaks in between).


29. PAC-MAN HALLOWEEN SPECIAL (1982)

What Made It Special: Even before Donkey Kong and Mario, Pac-Man was the first video-game celebrity, complete with his own Saturday morning cartoon show. In 1982 the character got an ABC prime-time Halloween special that still airs on Cartoon Network and Boomerang today. Two animated stories include “Pacula,” about a pac-vampire, and “Trick-or-Chomp,” which has the ghosts interrupting the Pac family’s trick-or-treating.


28. FAT ALBERT HALLOWEEN SPECIAL (1977)

What Made It Special: The gang from the ’70s cartoon got its own prime-time special where they skip the treat and go right for the “trick” by scaring their neighbors. It’s available on DVD.


27. The Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone (1979)

What Made It Special: The Flintstones never met a Stone Age pun they didn’t like, and in this hour-long NBC special, Dracula and Frankenstein get the punny treatment. Rockula awakens to complete his Frankenstone monster — and only the Flintstones and Rubbles can stop them. This special has been sold on VHS, LaserDisc, and DVD.


26. Claymation Comedy of Horrors Show (1992)

What Made It Special: Animator Will Vinton had previously done the California Raisins commercials and music videos, plus animation for Michael Jackson’s Captain EO attraction and Disney’s Return to Oz. This claymation Halloween special’s animation won him an Emmy.


25. Casper Saves Halloween (1979)

What Made It Special: When your whole thing is being a friendly ghost, you’ve got to do something special for Halloween. It’s the one night of the year when Casper can dress up as a real boy, and he makes friends with some orphans who accept him for what he is. Later available on VHS as Casper Saves Halloween, you can still get it on DVD.


24. Under Wraps (1997)

What Made It Special: This was the very first Disney Channel movie for Halloween, so it’s the one that started it all. Three 12-year-olds accidentally bring a mummy back and try to keep it… under wraps. Get it?


23. The Halloween Tree (1993)

What Made It Special: This animated TV movie was Ray Bradbury for kids. Bradbury narrated the tale of children traveling the world to learn about different celebrations that influenced Halloween, also featuring the voice of Leonard Nimoy. It won an Emmy, was released on VHS and DVD, and continues to air on Cartoon Network.


22. MICHAEL JACKSON’S HALLOWEEN (2017)

What Made It Special: Years after his death, this CBS special gave the King of Pop a chance to sing again. The star-studded musical special featured an animated Jackson (with his actual voice) and 28 classic Jackson songs, and was made in collaboration from Jackson’s estate. More than 5.6 million people watched on CBS when it aired.


21. HALLOWEEN ON ICE (1995)

What Made It Special: One year after her Olympic silver medal win (and her recovery from her attack by Tonya Harding’s goons), Nancy Kerrigan led a Halloween-themed figure skating show at the Boston Garden featuring skating routines inspired by Dracula, Frankenstein, and other creatures. It aired on NBC and Kerrigan continued to perform the live show through 2015.


20. GARY LARSON’S TALES FROM THE FAR SIDE (1994)

What Made It Special: Readers of the funny pages in the ’80s would always look for The Far Side, a single image that would crack you up every day. Creator Larson animated a Halloween special of Far Side shorts that was released on DVD and sold out on the official Far Side website.


19. HALLOWEEN WITH THE NEW ADDAMS FAMILY (1977)

What Made It Special: The Addams Family had been off the air since 1966, so this 1977 Halloween special was a welcome reunion with the original cast. Airing 14 years before the movie reboot, it’s been immortalized online via fans’ YouTube uploads.


18. Twitches (2005) 60%

What Made It Special: Sister Sister twins Tia and Tamera Mowry got their own Disney Channel movie as twin witches, or twitches for short. They also got a sequel, Twitches Too.


17. October Kiss (2015)

What Made It Special: Everyone loves to marathon Hallmark Channel Christmas movies, but here’s a Halloween movie to try out. Don’t worry, it’s still about a workaholic (Sam Jaeger) who finds love with a carefree nanny (Ashley Williams) and it’s available to watch on Netflix.


16. Don't Look Under the Bed (1999)

What Made It Special: While most of the Disney Channel Halloween movies are fun, Don’t Look Under the Bed actually scared kids — and their parents — so much so that some parents asked Disney to stop airing it and the network obliged. In the film, a teenage girl (Erin Chambers) has to stop the Boogeyman (Steve Valentine) who lives under her bed. The Boogeyman makeup was a bit too intense for some, especially when the character possesses the girl’s imaginary friend (Ty Hodges).


15. Halloweentown (1998) 80%

What Made it Special: The most successful of the Disney Channel Halloween movies, Halloweentown spawned a franchise that kept going until 2006’s Return to Halloweentown. The original that started it all introduced Marnie Piper (Kimberly J. Brown) to a world of witches, monsters, ghosts, and teenagers. Brown would star in three Halloweentowns, through 2004’s Halloweentown High.


14. Double, Double, Toil and Trouble (1993)

What Made It Special: The Olsen twins, Mary Kate and Ashley, were the queens of ’90s children’s movies. Many went straight to video, but the sisters’ Halloween movie, in which they tried use their mean aunt Agatha’s (Cloris Leachman) witch magic to save their family, aired on TV.


13. Halloween Is Grinch Night (1977)  

What Made It Special: How the Grinch Stole Christmas was such a Christmas classic that the Grinch tried to get in on ruining other holidays too. There’s been much speculation whether this is a prequel or sequel to Stole Christmas. It would have to be a prequel since it’s before Grinch’s heart grew three sizes, right? This Emmy-winning special re-ran through the early ’80s and was eventually released on video.


12. ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK? SEASON 1 Episode 4: "Tale of the Twisted Claw" (1990)

What Made it Special: “The Tale of the Twisted Claw,” a take on the familiar story of “The Monkey’s Paw,” served as both the pilot for this long-running Nickelodeon series (airing as a Halloween special in its native Canada on Oct. 31 of 1990) and also aired as the fourth episode of the show when it began broadcasting on Nickelodeon.


11. Halloween That Almost Wasn't (1979)

THE HALLOWEEN THAT ALMOST WASN'T (aka THE NIGHT DRACULA SAVED THE WORLD), Judd Hirsch, 1979 (ABC/Courtesy Everett Collection)
(Photo by ABC/Courtesy Everett Collection)

What Made It Special: Judd Hirsch played Dracula, rallying all the monsters to stop Halloween from being cancelled. Back in the ‘70s, TV movies were events, so Dracula doing Saturday Night Fever had a lot of eyeballs on it, especially with Hirsch fresh off the first season of Taxi.


10. MARC SUMMERS’ MYSTERY MAGICAL SPECIAL (1986)

What Made It Special: As the host of Nickelodeon’s Double Dare, Summers was the king of slime and goop. His Halloween special, filmed at The Magic Castle, costarred then-child actors Jonathan Brandis and Shiri Appleby plus John Astin (the original Gomez Addams). Kids would see this special every October in the early days of cable.


9. ELVIRA’S HALLOWEEN SPECIAL (1986)

What Made it Special: Elvira herself is the draw for this one. The sexy, macabre comedienne became a horror personality as a host of B-movies and brought her sense of humor to MTV’s scary programming with this special. Though never officially re-released, the special can be found in dark corners of the internet if you look hard enough.


8. Paul Lynde Halloween Special (1976)

What Made It Special: The variety show was another staple of ’70s television (see: The Star Wars Holiday Special), so comedian Paul Lynde led skits featuring Wicked Witch Margaret Hamilton, Witchiepoo Billie Hayes, KISS, Florence Henderson, and the Osmonds. It’s now on DVD so you can watch it year round.


7. Mr. Boogedy (1986)

What Made it Special: In the ’80s, Disney made Sunday night family-TV-night with the Disney Sunday Night Movie, and this Halloween movie introduced the ghosts of an entirely original haunted house. It was so popular the network made a sequel, The Bride of Boogedy, the next year!


6. The Worst Witch (1986)

What Made It Special: Fans of the book were excited to see The Worst Witch come to life with Fairuza Balk, Tim Curry, Charlotte Rae, and Diana Rigg. In the film, Balk plays Mildred, a girl who has trouble casting a spell. It was especially fitting casting since Balk went on to star as a teen witch in The Craft.


5. Garfield's Halloween Adventure (Garfield in Disguise) (1985)

What Made It Special: Garfield hates Mondays, but loves Halloween because he can dress up and eat candy. Airing along with Charlie Brown’s family Halloween special made Garfield a memorable addition to the double bill, and it won an Emmy in 1986.


4. Mad Monster Party (1967) 70%

What Made It Special: Rankin-Bass were most famous for their animated Christmas specials Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman. Their Halloween show included Boris von Frankenstein (Boris Karloff), the Werewolf, Dr. Jekyll, and Invisible Man and is available on Blu-ray.


3. Toy Story of Terror! (2013) 94%

What Made It Special: Pixar favorites Woody and Buzz and their menagerie of animated toy friends turn up in a road-trip thriller when Mr. Potato Head goes missing at a roadside motel. Apparently even toys can make ill-fated accommodation decisions. Considered “charming” and “engaging,” critics agreed that family members of all ages would enjoy the TV special, starring the voices of Tom Hanks and Tim Allen.


2. THE SIMPSONS, SEASON 6 Episode 6: "Treehouse of Horror V" (1994)

What Made It Special: The Simpsons has made its annual Halloween specials a viewing event. Critics agreeTreehouse of Horrors V” is the best one, featuring “The Shinning,” “Time and Punishment,” and “Nightmare Cafeteria.”


1. It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966) 94%

What made it special: Cartoonist Charles Shulz turned the ordinary lives of elementary school children into magical adventures, featuring daring anthropomorphized beagle Snoopy. In this perennial Halloween classic, Charlie Brown, Lucy, and the kids enjoy the gifts of the season — making costumes, trick-or-treating, and having a party — while Linus and Sally pass the night in a pumpkin patch awaiting the mythical Great Pumpkin.

What is your favorite Halloween classic? Tell us in the comments.

Tag Cloud

Columbia Pictures Holidays jamie lee curtis facebook ESPN name the review space E! OWN Horror E3 Amazon Studios Freeform cooking video on demand sag awards cancelled indiana jones Musicals PaleyFest screenings IFC Films SDCC Dark Horse Comics Podcast animated CNN Trophy Talk science fiction Lucasfilm Spike Star Wars Country Women's History Month BET Bravo 4/20 CBS All Access Countdown MCU politics Opinion a nightmare on elm street cancelled TV series Biopics 2018 2015 Comics on TV sports Paramount Network NBC Musical Nat Geo halloween DC Comics Heroines Anna Paquin Disney streaming service cops elevated horror BAFTA 2019 dragons A24 sitcom diversity Comedy Central BBC psychological thriller chucky tv talk TCA based on movie composers nature Vudu Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt VOD Trivia Nickelodeon DC Universe crime drama ABC Family all-time Extras asian-american best TNT TBS Binge Guide war Polls and Games Set visit PBS sequel Spectrum Originals USA Network 20th Century Fox franchise Best and Worst Summer Brie Larson Election Photos Thanksgiving National Geographic vampires Pet Sematary CBS The Witch Apple teaser mockumentary true crime Certified Fresh Lifetime thriller spain ITV Crunchyroll Pride Month Nominations Rock GoT crossover cartoon game of thrones Elton John Valentine's Day Oscars Ghostbusters ratings Syfy 21st Century Fox Netflix Christmas movies films Quiz dramedy WarnerMedia green book Family ABC Amazon Prime Video psycho Disney Channel Hear Us Out Writers Guild of America book supernatural Reality Martial Arts Universal richard e. Grant Disney disaster 71st Emmy Awards YA Animation talk show Peacock Funimation Showtime Schedule VH1 cancelled television Disney+ Disney Plus Britbox YouTube Red Hulu IFC witnail Interview TIFF Apple TV Plus BET Awards dark Tumblr Netflix Endgame Travel Channel singing competition YouTube Premium First Reviews stoner HBO Go zero dark thirty American Society of Cinematographers blockbuster travel twilight movie 24 frames FX on Hulu Rom-Com Marathons Logo adventure Mudbound Turner Classic Movies Western TV Land Marvel Television Fantasy Emmys justice league latino directors police drama RT21 Lionsgate Starz comedies Mary poppins movies doctor who 2020 screen actors guild dc political drama Chernobyl The Arrangement streaming TLC independent Rocky cinemax docudrama indie social media San Diego Comic-Con Warner Bros. WGN cars Creative Arts Emmys video Box Office children's TV Rocketman blaxploitation HBO SXSW critics FOX boxoffice universal monsters CW Seed Shondaland PlayStation Sundance Now adaptation Reality Competition Pirates TV Disney Plus revenge aliens Sony Pictures Mystery Baby Yoda El Rey OneApp Kids & Family dogs HBO Max kids award winner concert Winners Video Games Ellie Kemper MSNBC werewolf President Film Festival cats anime Tarantino New York Comic Con BBC America GIFs Holiday Cartoon Network strong female leads CMT finale slashers Song of Ice and Fire Drama period drama game show Captain marvel History die hard Sci-Fi joker Shudder hispanic Emmy Nominations Red Carpet biography serial killer Academy Awards FXX Super Bowl reviews historical drama harry potter news Superheroes Superheroe renewed TV shows cults Marvel Studios SundanceTV Comedy documentary romantic comedy Sundance Classic Film Action Year in Review series LGBTQ Mary Tyler Moore Cannes Avengers BBC One Discovery Channel The Purge Fox News DC streaming service Comic Book DirecTV Black Mirror Watching Series Pop TV Premiere Dates Acorn TV Ovation child's play A&E Cosplay Television Academy Mary Poppins Returns spanish language Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Walt Disney Pictures Tubi RT History The Walking Dead foreign what to watch canceled GLAAD criterion Awards Tour spinoff technology mission: impossible Black History Month Hallmark Christmas movies stand-up comedy Sneak Peek Awards LGBT Toys Esquire romance crime thriller christmas movies 2016 Star Trek NYCC Winter TV breaking bad comics television APB scary movies dceu Trailer Pop unscripted Infographic batman 45 X-Men Fall TV Calendar Marvel Amazon comiccon crime robots The CW comic reboot FX Adult Swim Food Network zombies natural history Grammys USA Epix quibi Turner canceled TV shows YouTube Lifetime Christmas movies medical drama Teen hist Tomatazos Christmas Stephen King miniseries festivals AMC Amazon Prime See It Skip It ghosts casting Spring TV DGA Hallmark toy story Mindy Kaling VICE Crackle TCM 007 free movies 2017 binge First Look golden globes anthology parents satire TruTV Sundance TV documentaries Arrowverse Film zombie TCA Winter 2020 Masterpiece TV renewals spider-man Paramount discovery Apple TV+ Pixar spy thriller theme song MTV rotten movies we love Music cancelled TV shows Character Guide transformers south america versus mutant TCA 2017