It just doesn't seem like Halloween without a viewing of Garfield's Halloween Adventure, Witch's Night Out, or Halloween is Grinch Night. There was a time when these were aired yearly, and it wasn't that long ago.

Alas, though we now have roughly 10 times as many tv channels as we did when I was a kid, most of the great old Halloween Specials have been swept under the rug of pop culture. Tossed into the dustbin of history. Hurled over the brink of relevance. Whatever. Many have never even been released on VHS, let alone DVD.

For the most part, Halloween specials stopped being made in the late 1980s. Many people had cable by then, so a TV special wasn't as big of a deal as it had been before. More importantly, the home video market had taken off. Suddenly, the annual airing wasn't your only chance to see any given special. At the same time, it started seeming like a better investment for companies to just make made-for-TV movies instead of half hour specials. Full length movies tended to sell better than 22 minute specials on the video market. But as the shows stopped being aired and VHS went out of date, most of the Halloween specials got lost along the way, surviving only in our memories, our VHS storage bins, and (eventually) on youtube. Relatively few of these have seen an official release on DVD.

With this site, I hope to compile some reviews and information about all of the great specials - as well as the great Halloween-themed episodes of various cartoon series (the line between "Halloween episode" and "Halloween special" can get a bit blurry, as you'll see), as well as some of the made-for-tv or straight-to-video Halloween movies that have come out over the years. And, while I'm on the general subject, I'll review the many versions of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow that have been released over the years (a special interest of mine).

The site has grown a lot; as of 1998 it was a little text file on tripod that I wrote up during class in high school. In 2006, it was fully revised and expanded into a full-fledged website. In 2008, it was moved over here into a sort of a blog format and a LOT of video clips were added (we've come along way since 1998, when I couldn't find a jpg of "Halloween is Grinch Night" for the life of me).By the end of 2008, I thought I'd covered pretty much everything (not counting Halloween episodes of live action sitcoms, which I've generally avoided so far), but more and more specials keep popping up. Now I don't have many new specials to add (I don't think so, anyway), but I go through and revise entries now and then. I'm also writing books for a living now; one of them has actually been optioned by the Disney Channel and just might turn into a Halloween special itself one day.

So pour yourself a cup of cider, break out the candy corn, and come look around! I hope these shows bring back as many good memories for you as they do for me!


Anonymous said...

I just posted on today about making your own Halloween special and had similar feelings about how there are 10 billion channels and the Halloween special has become lost.

Kudos to you sir.

Adam Selzer said...

Well, Steve, have you heard that Barack Obama bought an hour of primetime airspace for Oct 29? Please, oh please, let it be The Barack Obama Halloween Special!

Alejandro Mejia said...

What's the name of that cartoon pic you have on you blog's header right next to "halloween" ????? I think that is the one HW cartoons I've been looking for my whole life since I was little.

Adam Selzer said...

Alejandro - it's "Witch's Night Out." You're the third person to ask this week!

Unknown said...

Imagine my delight at finding this gem of a blog site right before October is about to unveil itself. I'm about 30 years old so pretty much all of the stuff on your site consists of things I search for when this time of year comes. I usually find a couple of cool things on You Tube (Charlie Brown, Garfield) but I'm rediscovering things here I haven't seen since the late 80's (Witch's Night Out - WOW). Even though most of it is bad after viewing, its all about the nostalgia. It reminds me of that magical, brooding feeling of the autumn setting when I'd walk home from the school bus stop. I'd get home and put on Disney and these kind of specials prepared me for the great atmosphere of fall and the Halloween spirit. Thanks for putting this together, I'll be adding some input in the next few weeks and hopefully some useful links.

Adam Selzer said...

Jimmy - you've got it exactly right. These specials may not stand up too well to us as adults on any grounds except nostalgia and evoking that "october atmosphere," but that's more than enough. There are a handful of specials that were actually very good, but our generation was no different than the current crop of six year olds - they'll watch pretty much anything, just like we did!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the list, it's awesome!
Would Mad Monster Party be considered a Halloween Special?
I'm still not sure if the movie i'm looking for is Which Witch is which or Witch's night out...even with your screenshots...I can't remember.


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