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Friday, March 1, 2024
The Observer

What to Watch this Halloween

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" — "Who Got Dee Pregnant?"

This episode was not scary in the typical Halloween horror sense, but was perhaps frightening because it hit too close to home for its college-age audience. The hilarious episode is a sort of murder-mystery, where the cast tries to piece together their sparse memories to figure out what the heck happened at their recent Halloween party. In this case, however, the mystery at hand is the identity of the man who impregnated Dee. The episode spawned a host of new costume ideas (i.e. Man Spider), as well as a healthy dose of Halloween one-liners.

"The House of the Devil"

"The House of the Devil" is outrageously scary. It features traditional horror-movie lore – a babysitter shows up to a remote, creepy house and becomes involved in a satanic ritual. Although it relies on traditional themes, this movie is far from tired. The film's heroine is not your typical horror-movie protagonist. Her decisions are all somewhat intelligent and more like what a real person would do in her situation. The style of the movie is also decidedly throwback, which gives the movie a rad ‘80s vibe. It's a Halloween must-see, just don't do so alone.

"How I Met Your Mother" — "Slutty Pumpkin"

Hopeless romantic Ted Mosby is no less hopeless on Halloween. In season one of the series, Ted returns to the rooftop party he attends every year in hopes of re-meeting the girl of his dreams. Years before, Ted met a woman who will forever be known as "the slutty pumpkin." When he got her number, she wrote it down on a candy bar that was then given away to a trick-or-treater. Every year since then Ted has returned to the same party in the same costume — a hanging chad a la the 2000 presidential election. Meanwhile Ted's friend Barney hilariously tries to pick up the ladies while making at least three costume changes. Tune in tonight to see the saga of the slutty pumpkin continue.

"The Middle" — "Halloween II"

"The Middle," one of TV's most underrated family sitcoms, had one of the most heartwarming Halloween episodes this year. Sue Heck, the extremely socially awkward freshman, attended a Halloween party as a die. Needless to say, the large cardboard box engulfing her body didn't attract the men. She comes home and tries to talk to her dad, Mike Heck, about what boys want. Needless to say Mike freaks out and gives some of the worst parental advice of all time. At the same time, Frankie Heck, the matriarch of the Heck family, is forced to drag son Brick and his social group trick or treating. After attaching them all to a leash and trying to make the best of the situation, Frankie flips out on a woman who doesn't say, "That's okay," after Frankie apologizes for being in her way. Oldest son Axl and his friends serve as the neighborhood superheroes as well in this altogether charming Halloween episode.

"Modern Family" — "Halloween"

Even though they didn't offer a new Halloween episode this year, "Modern Family" re-ran their fantastic episode from last year. Phil and Claire Dunphy turn their house into a house of horrors for trick-or-treaters, but everything in the process seems to ruin Claire's favorite holiday. Her daughter Haley comes down the stairs in a string of unbelievably inappropriate costumes — including an attractive Mother Theresa. Her husband won't leave her alone because he's spooked by their neighbor's sudden divorce. Her brother Mitch and his partner Cam refuse to dress up. Cam won't stop talking about how rough Halloween is for him. To top it off, her dad Jay and his wife Gloria are fighting because Jay said that sometimes it's difficult to understand what Gloria is saying with such a thick Colombian accent. It all culminates in a disastrous first run of their trick-or-treat performance. In true sitcom fashion, however, everything wraps up perfectly in the end.

"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" — "Halloween"

We all know that you're supposed to dress up as someone or something else on Halloween. But what if you actually turned into your costume? This episode from the second season of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" answers that, when a spell transforms the Scooby Gang and everyone else in Sunnydale. Willow becomes a ghost, Xander a soldier, and Buffy is helpless as she turns into a noblewoman from the 18th century. Similar to the season six episode "Tabula Rasa," there are great comedic moments to be had in changing identities.

"Parks and Recreation" — "Greg Pikitis" and "Meet ‘n' Greet"

The second season Halloween episode of "Parks and Recreation" pits the protagonist, Leslie Knope, against the forces of wily teen prankster Greg Pikitis. It is an epic contest of wills, made all the more interesting by the involvement of Leslie's then-boyfriend, a police offer portrayed by the hilarious Louis C.K. This season's Halloween episode featured April and Andy throwing their first Halloween party as a married couple, causing some problems for their roommate Ben. Also in turmoil are Leslie's campaign and Tom's business venture, Entertainment 720. The episode is available to watch on Hulu, and it is just the sort of Halloween hilarity that will make even Monday better.

"The Ring"

Of all the horror films that kept people awake at night when they were in elementary school, "The Ring" is a classic film that is still both scary and good. It's what a good movie should have — an engaging plot, suspense, drama — as well as what makes a good scary movie — creepy images, risk of death, action and the pop-up-and-scare moments. The movie has great acting, unforgettable moments (like the distorted faces of the dead, Samara's long hair and freakish crawling, and the horrifying video tape sequence) and leaves the audience afraid to answer their phone or be alone in the room with a television.

"Rocky Horror Picture Show"

A retro cult favorite, this film makes movie-watching cinema an active event every year for enthusiastic participants. Acting troupes' live reenactments, throwing toilet paper, squirting water guns and shouting at the screen are some of the attractions this famous movie has to offer. Additionally, the combination of naïve and strange characters (Brad, Janet, the confident Dr. Frank-N-Furter, Rocky) allows for many moments of comedy with a plot that is pretty good on its own. And of course, the fun and catchy rock music literally has audiences dancing in the aisles.

"Hocus Pocus"

This classic ‘90s film probably played a big role in your childhood Halloween celebrations — and for good reason. "Hocus Pocus," about three dastardly witch sisters and the kids who bring them back one Halloween, captures the true spirit of Halloween. It mixes humor and gags with witches, ghosts and a book of spells for the perfect Halloween movie. A skeptical teenager is made a believer when he, his sister and his crush-worthy classmate accidentally bring back the Sanderson Sisters, intent on prolonging their life by sucking out the souls of the local children. With the help of a talking cat and a vengeful zombie, the three kids try to stop the devious witches before they can get their fill.

"Community" — "Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps"

In one of the best Halloween episodes this year, the students of "Community" come together on Halloween to solve a mystery — which one of them is a psychopath. When Britta asks her classmates to fill out an anonymous personality survey for her psychology class, one indicates a severe personality disorder. Britta organizes a Halloween party where everyone will tell a scary story to determine who the psychopath is. Each story, told with typical "Community" flair, is more ridiculous than the next and the results might just surprise you.

"The Exorcist"

Nearly 40 years later, "The Exorcist" is still considered one of the scariest films of all time. Movie theaters reported audience members fainting or getting sick during the film about a young girl who is possessed by the devil. With infamous scenes, like the one involving pea soup, and a shocking story, "The Exorcist" is a powerful film about the dangers of the devil that is guaranteed to shock even the bravest viewer.

"Paranormal Activity"

The third iteration of this popular film series is in theaters now. But before heading to the cinema, check out the game-changing original film as and its sequel. The films utilize handheld cameras and surveillance camera footage to create the most eerily realistic depiction of horrifying events since "The Blair Witch Project." The original sets up the story of a couple terrorized by a demon while the second acts as a direct prequel that explains how the events of the original film came to be. The third film is a prequel to both, giving background on the central characters of the first two films and their haunted history with the supernatural. These films are some of the most-clever scary movies to come out in years and keep you on the edge of your seat the whole time.


Alfred Hitchcock's classic, which features that infamous shower-stabbing scene, is a thrilling look into the deranged mind of one man and his mommy problems. "Psycho" is, perhaps, the scariest of Hitchcock's films and revels in crawling under your skin and holding you in suspense rather than shocking you with blood and gore. This black-and-white classic holds up even against the most gore-tastic films of recent Hollywood output.

"Psych" — "This Episode Sucks"

The current societal obsession with vampires finally took hold of "Psych" in this season's Halloween-themed episode. The latest murders in Santa Barbara appear to be the work of a vampire, at least according to Shawn and Gus, who love the idea of vampires. When even Detective Lassiter agrees with their crazy idea, you know the episode is destined to be one to remember. Hijinx, of course, ensue as everyone tries to solve the murder and avoid being bitten by a vampire.

"It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown"

This Halloween classic just never gets old. This TV-special based on Charles Schulz's comic strip, "Peanuts," follows the Peanuts gang as they prepare for the holiday festivities surrounding Halloween. Linus writes a letter to the Great Pumpkin, despite great ridicule from all his friends, and then spends Halloween in a pumpkin patch rather than trick-or-treating. The story is endearing and heartwarming, even as Charlie Brown receives only rocks at every house he stops at. The episode is short and available on Hulu for the holiday season.