The Horror Honeys: HSM ~ Top 5 Halloween Episodes of Non-Horror TV Shows

HSM ~ Top 5 Halloween Episodes of Non-Horror TV Shows

A Horror Honey Switch Month Horror TV Honey Top 5 List by Jennica

The holidays might be over but the candle inside our jack-o-lantern shaped hearts still flickers here at The Horror Honeys. After spending the Halloween season (and let's be honest, the rest of the holiday season too) watching our favorite horror cult classics and Halloween horror shows, it seemed appropriate to give praise to the television specials that we sometimes forget.

The most magical aspect of Halloween is that it is an all-inclusive "holiday." Anyone is welcome to celebrate the night of ghosts and ghouls no matter their age, religion, or the country in which they reside. And the horror film and television producers are not the only ones who enjoy cashing in on this holiday. Even family shows, sitcoms, and teen dramas take the night off from life lessons and growing pains to pay tribute to the horror genre and spread a little holiday fear. Here are my top 5 Halloween episodes of non-horror TV shows...

1) The Simpsons - "Treehouse of Horror III"

Poking fun at pop culture since 1989, one of America's longest running television series The Simpsons does not miss a beat with its annual Treehouse of Horror episodes (see the Head Honey's favorites HERE). Introduced by Alfred Hitchcock... I mean Alfred Homer... no, wait, Homer Simpson, this Treehouse of Horror episode follows suit with the previous two seasons' specials with the traditional opening credits in the spirit of Halloween, assigning spooky nicknames to the cast and crew. In this Season 3 special, the Simpson family gather around the living room with the neighbor kids to tell scary stories incorporating fan favorite characters and referencing classic horror cinema at every opportunity.

The first story, told by Lisa Simpson, is centered around a cursed Krusty the Clown doll that Homer buys for Bart's birthday. As to be expected, Homer cannot have a moment's peace alone with the doll without risking his life. Pro tip: when purchasing a cursed doll, make sure the switch in the back is set to "Good," not "Evil."

Hey, he came with free frozen yogurt... Also cursed. 
The next tale is a direct parody of the 1933 King Kong that is even set in black and white, starring the nurturing Marge as the damsel in distress and Homer as the big dumb animal. Really, the tale is just a parallel universe representing the nature of Marge and Homer's relationship.

The final tale is one for the books. When Bart is forced to redo his book report, he happens upon a book in the library that contains an incantation that will raise the dead. As the town of Springfield is taken over by its deceased-- including random historical figures for added humor-- Bart learns that sometimes reading is a necessary evil. Long before Shaun of the Dead, this episode of Treehouse of Horror was teaching us that we are already mindless zombies in life as we stare at our moving picture boxes in our living rooms and occasionally grunt and groan at each other.

2) Modern Family - "Halloween"

In a time when it seemed reasonable to declare comedy television officially dead, Modern Family rose to the occasion. It was different from most shows before it with its diversity, approach of unacknowledged social quirks and concerns, and its breakage of the fourth wall that had only previously been done by reality television. Only, Modern Family is far from reality television; it's just fictional accounts inspired by real talk.

More importantly, there are plenty of TV families that love Halloween, but not like the Dunphys and the Pritchetts... or maybe just Phil and Claire. Or just Claire. In Season 2: Episode 6, horror nut Claire is determined to turn her home into a haunted house attraction for trick 'r treaters involving a role for each member of her family. But when she has one daughter with her nose in a book and another who scares her with sexy costumes, a wet blanket brother-in-law, and a self-conscious stepmother, the only thing haunting the house is the negative energy. Is having the perfect Halloween too much to ask?
We fond your lack of Halloween.... disturbing.
In the simplest of monologues, Claire becomes the voice of many horror fans' frustrations come every October, especially for those of us who stand alone as the black sheep of Halloween enthusiasm in our families. It is not that we don't enjoy ever other holiday in the year. We look forward to family and good eats on Thanksgiving. We look forward to the looks of joy on our relatives' faces while opening presents on [enter winter holiday here]. But Halloween is our day. It is the one day of year when being our usual spooky, gory, dark-humored selves is celebrated by all. Ruin that for us and you're crossed off our holiday card lists.

3) Bob's Burgers - "Full Bars"

Although Bob's Burgers has referenced numerous horror classics, the childhood spirit of Halloween really shines through in the second episode of Season 3.

When Tina, Louise, and Gene decide that they are old enough to trick 'r treat without their parents, Bob and Linda reluctantly attend a party at diner regular Teddy's. The pooper of the party, Bob is forced to wear an obnoxious costume which turns out to be a deadly weapon. On their own and disappointed in their neighbors' poor excuses for sweets, they step off their usual path to collect candy like kings-- or queens-- on an island of the privileged. But when the Hell Hunters, a pack of ruthless teenagers, try to pee on their parade, the kids are ready to defend their treats and the other trick 'r treater's by any means necessary.
I love a costume with an inspiring backstory. 
The brilliance of this particular episode of Bob's Burgers lies within its ability to resonate with Halloweenies at each stage of the holiday spirit's slow burn. We see the adults drinking and socializing with people of little interest, feeling silly in costumes. We see the teenagers dangling in limbo between thinking they are above costumes and candy and yet simultaneously clinging to their youth. They attempt to ruin the special night for younger generations because they fear that they will soon be expected to grow up. Finally, we see the kids doing what we all long for every Halloween: wearing imaginitive costumes and knocking on doors for our favorite goodies without receiving confused glances.

4) Freaks and Geeks - "Tricks and Treats"

Puberty. One of life's most horrifying phases. Your body is transforming like a werewolf's and your mind is impulsive like Frankenstein's monster's. The age of innocence is in its final days as you struggle to decide who and what you want to be. While the rest of the Halloween episodes on this list show the various ways to celebrate, this episode of the short-lived series Freaks and Geeks gives the bah humbug side of the holiday.

Lindsay and her mother have kept tradition alive in the Weir household by dressing up and handing out candy to the neighbor kids. Only this year, Lindsay is given a chance to be one of the cool kids when she's invited to wreak havoc and stomp on the Halloween spirit of others. Lindsay's little brother Sam decides that he longs for costumes and trick 'r treating and convinces his friends to join hom for one last hurrah. Meanwhile, their mother is left to be ridiculed for her homemade treats by concerned parents. As Same returns home with egg on his face at the hands of his sister, he accepts his fate of hanging up his costume for good and Lindsay is faced with the reality that popularity will never be worth cruelty.

Being a self-conscious teenager creates quite a dilemma come All Hallow's Eve. It's tradition to get high on sugar and dress like a freak but if you dress like a freak, your "friends" might think you're a geek. And if they think you're a geek, life as you know it is totally over, right? But whether or not you are ashamed to admit it, dressing up and pretending to be someone else is fun. All costumes aside, it's what most teenagers do in high school every other day of the year anyway.
We need more parents in costume.
5) That 70s Show - "Too Old to Trick or Treat, Too Young to Die"

Another Halloween TV special paying homage to the master of suspence, Season 3: Episode 5 of That 70s Show is an anthology parodying each of Hitchcock's classic thrillers, each story linked to the next by a touch of Vertigo.

As in most That 70s Show episodes, someone gets hurt because it's funny when people get hurt. And this time, it's Eric. And Fez. After falling from the roof, Fez is wheelchair-bound while Eric gets vertigo. Learning the art of peeping, Fez believes that he sees nextdoor neighbor Bob commit a murder. Meanwhile, Kelso is stuck in a case of mistaken identity with the local paperboy only before being attacked by his girlfriend in the shower. With a house full of distressed teenagers, Kitty leaves to feed her crazy neighbor's birds as a favor. But when one bird flies into a window to its death, the rest of the flock look to Kitty as someone to blame.
He's just a sweet transvestite from...
wait... where is he from?

What Treehouse of Horror III perfects through animation, this episode of That 70s Show absolutely nails in cinematography. It is clear from the direction and signature Hitchcockian camera angles that director David Trainor and cinematographer Ronald W. Browne possess expertise which extends far beyond the boundaries of comedy television. Of course, setting aside the fancy camera angles, this episode earns applause for the cleverly layered storytelling as if it were a collage of Hitchcock's most praised works of art glued together to make one largely witty memento.

D'oh! Am I missing one of your favorite 
non-horror Halloween specials?