In observance of that autumn spell when we celebrate the primal, compulsive instinct of fear, Rainestorm highlights 31 days of spooky scares to season the eerie atmosphere of Halloween.
Reign of terror: 1966
The horror… the horror: At least for my generation, this is the definitive Halloween family film. An absolute must for repeated viewing all month long. It begins with a comically gruesome prologue featuring Linus watching in stunned horror as older sister Lucy guts a freshly picked pumpkin, to a wonderfully spooky opening credits sequence, which has the sheeted Peanuts gang running back and forth across an abstract background from flying witches, bobbing jack-o-lanterns, dancing skeletons and a flip-flopping black cat. The bizarre storyline revolves around Linus’ insistence that a mysterious Great Pumpkin will rise out of the most sincere pumpkin patch in the world to deliver presents like some grim Santa Claus. Exactly what constitutes a “sincere” pumpkin patch is unclear but that’s part of the charm. Even more than A Charlie Brown Christmas, this is probably the most iconic Charlie Brown special ever conceived. Fun side note: luckless Charlie Brown may have once again failed to kick the football from under Lucy’s duplicitous fingers, but he did manage to walk away with more than just rocks from concerned viewers who, after the show’s first airing, sent bags and boxes of candy just for him.
Halloween haunt: The delightful nighttime neighborhood where the kids go about their trick-or-treating, Linus’s peculiarly sincere pumpkin patch, and Snoopy’s hauntingly imaginary trek across the World War I French countryside.
Tastiest treat: Big sister Lucy fetching her baby brother’s cold, sleeping body from the pumpkin patch and putting him sweetly to bed.
Check the candy for: Lucy lounging on the living room chair reading the TV Guide that bears her picture.
Devilish discourse: “I got a rock.”
Goes great with: Claws for Alarm (1954). In this amusing episode of Merrie Melodies, Porky Pig decides to rest for the night in a deserted town, blissfully unaware the place is being “haunted” by a gang of malevolent mice. A speechless and terrified Sylvester the cat spends a sleepless night protecting Porky from the various dangers that arise whenever his attention wanes.