I recently wrote a piece for the Horror Writers Association newsletter on Halloween memories. If you’re not an HWA member (it’s not just for writers—artists, editors, publishers, and fans can all join), check them out at hwa.org.
In retrospect, I should have titled this I REMEMBER HALLOWEEN. Never pass up an opportunity for a Misfits reference!
Asking me to settle on a single, measly memory of Halloween is like asking me to name my favorite taco shop (I can probably get it down to a top ten but that’s pushing it), but here goes nothing. My favorite memory of Halloween is the specials!
Anyone who’s heard me pontificate on my influences for any length of time knows that I’m a huge fan of GARFIELD’S HALLOWEEN ADVENTURE. That, along with KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE and the Scary Stories books are my earliest horror memories. I remember ripping open the Sunday paper the week of Halloween, scanning the network listings to see what cartoon specials were spookily displacing their regularly-scheduled programming, and then circling them all with a magic marker so my dad would know what he needed to tape on our BetaMax unit (the last time he was ever an early adopter of anything—fool me once and all that). Garfield and his pirate ghosts were always a particular favorite—there are some legitimately great scares in there, from the opening scene with the unhinged and terrifying Binky the Clown to the King in Yellow-inspired fakeouts during the jazzy Lou Rawls number “Scaredy Cat.” And for my money, I’ve never felt quite the same flavor of dread as when Garfield and Odie are desperately searching for a place to hide in the old man’s house, knowing the pirate ghosts will be there any minute and there is nothing they can do to stop their return.
There were a bunch of other ones I loved too, from IT’S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN to THE HALLOWEEN TREE to some of the stuff the Disney Channel reliably showed year-after-year: their eponymous HALLOWEEN TREAT AND MR. BOOGEDY (weirdly, the sequel, BRIDGE OF BOOGEDY, has a similar build to JASON GOES TO HELL, if I remember correctly). The best was going out trick-or-treating, coming back with a sackful of fun-size candy bars, and binging on both sweets and BetaMax-taped Halloween content until I passed out on the couch. Good times!