BY JOSEPH WALTER
Really, Halloween is just one weird holiday. Really weird. Weirder than celebrating "thanks," or putting a tree in your home, hoping to be visited by a jolly fat elf, and weirder than a dead guy coming back to life with a rabbit that births eggs. Or something.
Halloween is a celebration of the supernatural and the creeping horrors of death and the unknown.
But anyway, more on that later.
To help get me into the spirit, I watch a few Halloween movies that stuck with me, but also a few Halloween specials, mostly from Nickelodeon's legendary 90s line-up.
Leading up to Halloween (where I'll reveal what I consider to be the best of the best in regards to a Halloween special) I wanted to share some of my favorites.
Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, tonight's Halloween special is the Rugrats "Candy Bar Creep Show."
Me In 1993: Mom! How much longer until dinner is ready!!??!
Mom in 1993: One episode of Rugrats.
It also introduced the concept of crack and lust to whippersnappers such as myself in the form of the Reptar Bar.
A lot of the humor comes from the fact that the babies, quite realistically, have absolutely no idea about Halloween, what it is, and why it is the way it is, and that simply makes me, the viewer, realize just how weird the whole damn thing is, and how happy it makes me that the whole damn thing exists.
The titular Rugrats try and piece together the means to acquire the Reptar Bars and decide the best/only way to get them is to go into the make-shift haunted house and scream (because that's what it seems like the process is after observing the "big kids with two faces" i.e. Trick-or-Treaters, do it)
So, as with all Rugrats episodes, the kids bust out of their playpen and cause a ruckus.
One of my favorite parts of this episode (and, really, any Rugrats episode) is the presence of Grandpa Lou.
Stu, Drew and Didi are setting up the haunted house, and Grandpa barges in, scares the crap out of them with his monster mask, and then berates them with tales of his bravery as a youngster, to a very incredulous Drew and Stu.
According to Grandpa Lou nothing could scare him or his brother, Sparky. In fact, when he was trick-or-treating back in his day, it was fifteen miles to the next house. And there were real tricks and real ghosts.
Real tricks. Real ghosts.
This line always bring this giddy joy to my face. The way he delivers this it is so convincing. He has such conviction about the fifteen miles, but especially that there were REAL ghosts and REAL tricks. This wasn't the kid-friendly Halloween we all have now. No, this was real.
Angelica, dressed hyper-ironically as an angel, goes in with her friends, only to have her worst nightmares come true in the form of unholy necro-spawn, feeding off the fear of her group.
…. and by unholy necro-spawn, I mean that the babies have entangled themselves so well within the set-up of the haunted house that it actually seems haunted.
Grandpa Lou comes in to see what all the ruckus is about, only to fall to his knees when viewing the hideous cosmic horrors of snake-haired zombies (Phil and Lil), a true ghost, fueled by a hate of the living (Tommy) and even the poor codger's mask, which has now seemingly sprung to life, possessed by a devil or perhaps many demons (Chuckie, wearing it over his body by accident)
After his sanity is shattered, Grandpa runs out of the haunt, leaving the Rugrats free to take the loot from Angelica and her friends' Halloween bags, which were dropped due to sheer fright. The kids are "rewarded" with the sacred Reptar Bars after screaming in the haunted house, go figure.
In the final sequence, Grandpa and Angelica are desperately describing the other-worldly, mind-breaking horrors they witnessed to a still-incredulous Drew and Stu. Grandpa has the last laugh, though, challenging them to go see for themselves what the trouble was. A challenge that goes unanswered by the suddenly-nervous duo.
All in all, Rugrats has an undeniable charm and a certain brilliance with its writing. Seeing the perspective of the babies on what the adult world considers to be old hat is always a treat, especially with this episode's focus on Halloween goodness.
If you're in the mood for quick burst of nostalgia, or are interested in remembering what makes Halloween fun in the first place, I can't help but recommend this short-but-sweet romp.
And seriously. I've been screaming in haunted houses for years and I've never gotten my Reptar Bar. What the hell?