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5 Kids Halloween Movies from the 80s That Still Rock (And One Honorable Mention)

Some may be cheesy, but that’s part of their charm!

By Crysta CoburnPublished 6 years ago 6 min read
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Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. My house is basically always decorated for Halloween (inside, at least), and I think nothing of wearing spooky clothing any day of the year. Luckily, I found a partner who feels the same way I do! And we celebrate Halloween in a big way. One of our favorite things to do is watch Halloween-themed movies.

Here are some favorites from my 80s childhood that I rewatch to this day. If you are also a child of the 80s, this may bring back some terrific memories. If that’s a little early for you, bask in the retro glow that is 80s Halloween.

'Garfield’s Halloween Adventure' 1985

Cartoon animals acting like people—check. Pirates—check. Treasure—check. Ghost pirates—check and check! This was often aired alongside the Peanuts special It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

Believe it or not, this Garfield Halloween special won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program. It also features the song (because of course there are songs) "This is the Night (Trick or Treat)" performed by Lou Rawls. The story was written by Jim Davis and features Garfield’s usual tricks and a lengthier out-of-house adventure. Garfield convinces Odie into going trick-or-treating with him, after which Garfield’s greed leads them to cross the river to hit up more houses, only to find a creepy old man who tells them a story about pirates returning from the grave to retrieve their long-buried treasure that just so happens to be located in that very house, and the ghosts are due any minute. Spooky!

While most people claim the Peanuts special is a better movie, I completely disagree. Garfield is way spookier and features ghost pirates. I mean, come on! No contest.

'The Worst Witch' 1986

Based on the book series by Jill Murphy, The Worst Witch is about a young witch named Mildred Hubble (played by Fairuza Balk—yes, really), a student at Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches. (It’s ok if you are thinking of Hogwarts. It’s a little like that, but Miss Cackle’s came first.)

Mildred is a terrible witch, constantly screwing up her spells, and gets bullied as a result, mainly by the nasty Miss Perfect, Ethel Hallow. Alongside the witches’ school day, you see a group of colorfully dressed evil witches led by Miss Cackle’s evil twin sister Agatha who plots to take over the school and turn all the “good little witches” bad. Both Miss Cackle and Agatha are played by Charlotte Rae (aka Mrs. Garrett from “Diff'rent Strokes” and its spin-off “The Facts of Life”). She sings a happy and inclusive song about being filthy, smelly, evil, wicked, and cruel. Tim Curry appears as the Grand Wizard who basically every witch in the school, students and teachers, has the hots for, and he also has a song about Halloween that is, according to several of my friends, the stuff of nightmares.

This film basically shaped my life. I wanted nothing more as a child than to go away to school at Miss Cackle’s. I was beyond excited when I discovered a few years ago that there have been two TV series made out of the books as well, and last Halloween I binged the first season of the 2017 series. There is also a spin-off about Mildred in college called, appropriately, “Weirdsister College.”

'Mr. Boogedy' 1986

Mr. Boogedy aired as an episode of the “Disney Sunday Movie” and is about a family who moves to the totally not ominously named New England town of Lucifer Falls. Spooky hijinks ensue. It is Disney, after all. Think Haunted Mansion—the ride, not the movie.

Naturally, the home that the Davis family moves into is haunted by ghosts from the colonial period. One is nicknamed Mr. Boogedy because he’s a jerk. The other ghost inside the house is a young boy named Jonathan, and the third is Jonathan’s mother, the widow Marion, who is barred from the house, so hangs around outside, often sobbing because she misses her son. Jonathon’s tell is that he sneezes all the time because he had a cold when he died (wouldn’t that suck?). Mr. Boogedy is a jerk who tries to scare the Davis family away. He is also the reason the three ghosts are there in the first place, having used a cloak he obtained in a Faustian pact to gain magical powers that he then used to attempt to win the heart of the widow Marion by kidnapping her son and blowing them all up. (I do not recommend this brand of courtship.)

While I was in love with this movie as a kid, my husband confessed to being scared by it, and he is not thrilled to watch “Mr. Boogedy” with me every year at Halloween.

'Bride of Boogedy' 1987

Oh sweet yes, there is a sequel. This one also aired as an episode of the “Disney Sunday Movie,” and seems to have had a higher budget as the setting has moved from the Davis house to the town of Lucifer Falls and a nearby graveyard with its own microclimate of perpetual thunderstorms and fog.

Without ruining the ending of the previous movie, Mr. Boogedy is back, or rather is still trapped, barred from the afterlife, and still out to get the Davis family. Throw in a grumpy rival business owner Mr. Lynch (Eugene Levy), curiously named graveyard caretaker Lazarus (Vincent Schiavelli), and biker chick/fortune teller Madeleinska (Karen Kondazian), and you have a masterpiece, my friend.

I used to be obsessed with the costumes in this movie. I would love to see a group cosplay at a con one day.

'The Monster Squad' 1987

This movie was not a hit in its day, but has since become a cult classic. Count Dracula leads the classic Universal Monsters in a search for a magical amulet in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Who is going to stop these fiends from completing their goal and taking over the world? A group of five nerdy kids, obviously. Oh yeah, and Scary German Guy, who translates Van Helsing’s diary for them so that they might defeat Dracula and company, thus restoring balance to the Force, err, I mean world. The incantation must be read by a female virgin for gag reasons.

Funny story. The virgin bit led to years of me misunderstanding the word. When I asked my mother what a virgin was, the only part of the plot of this movie that I didn’t understand at the time, she told me it was a girl who is 16 or older. (Incidentally, that is the age of consent in Michigan. Not sure if that’s why she picked it or not.)

Honorable Mention: 'The Halloween That Almost Wasn’t' (AKA 'The Night Dracula Saved the World') 1979

This is another “gather all the classic horror movie monsters we can in one place” movie. (Except the Witch. I can’t think of any movies about her, iconic as her image is.) This is comedy gold, people!

The plot is slightly improbable, but just go with it. A newscaster on TV claims that Count Dracula (Judd Hirsch) is going to cancel Halloween, worrying a family somewhere in Transylvania (luckily, they all speak perfect American English). Offended because “Halloween is my national holiday!” Dracula calls the world’s monsters to his castle (also in Transylvania) to figure out where this rumor began. It turns out the Witch started it because she is sick of not getting as much attention as the other monsters, despite Halloween being incapable of starting without her riding her broomstick across the moon at midnight. She reads a list of demands that must be met in order for her to agree to ride again, but is rebuked and returns to her own castle after a goofy chase scene. Dracula leads the monsters after her in a bid to persuade her and save Halloween.

I don’t want to spoil anything, but there’s a disco party with Dracula in a white disco suit. Magnificent. This movie is highly quotable and one of my absolute favorite Halloween movies ever.

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About the Creator

Crysta Coburn

Crysta K. Coburn has been writing award-winning stories her whole life. She is a journalist, fiction writer, blogger, poet, editor, podcast co-host, and one-time rock lyrics writer.

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