After trick or treating as a kid in the 1990s, my absolute favorite thing to do was to stay up and watch Halloween specials, mostly on Nickelodeon. I’m pretty sure that my ability to watch scary TV/movies got stunted somewhere around 1996 because I somehow couldn’t sleep with the lights off for 6 months after watching M. Night Shamalamadingdong’s The Village.
Anyway, in honor of one of my absolute favorite holidays, I have thrown together yet another spooktacular list, but this time of all the Halloween television specials I could find online without downloading!
I’m sure eventually that copyright detectives will sniff these out and make the channels take them down, but until then, enjoy some silly scares and nightmarish nostalgia!
Clarissa Explains It All: The Darling Wars (1992)
- Clarissa and Ferguson are left home for the night and try to scare each other with a huge war of spooky pranks. However, they both end up being scared out of their wits when someone tries to invade the house.
- Way more fun than anything even remotely scary, but still so great!
Pete and Pete: Halloweenie (1994)
- Nona Mecklenberg is banned from going trick-or-treating because of a dangerous group of kids known as the Pumpkin Eaters. Younger Pete plans to break the record of number of houses visited in one night. Meanwhile, older Pete is wanted by the Pumpkin Eaters.
Salute Your Shorts: Zeke the Plumber (1991)
- Budnick tells the gang a ghost story about the camp’s old custodian, Zeke. It is said that Zeke, who had lost his nose in an accident, was unable to smell a gas leak which killed him. Budnick tells the group that whomever touches Zeke’s plunger will have horrible nightmares haunted by Zeke.
- Kind of legitimately terrifying to me, not gonna lie. This was one of my favorites to watch when I was a kid, but it pushed the limits of my scariness threshold (such as it is).
Are You Afraid of the Dark? The Tale of Laughing in the Dark (1992)
- A kid named Josh decides to prove that a fun house isn’t haunted by stealing the nose of the clown who is supposed to haunt the place. He learns that the story isn’t fiction when Zeebo pays him a little visit.
- This one actually scares the shit out of me still, to this day, and I am as impressed with a few of these cinematography tricks as I am terrified of clowns.
Are You Afraid of the Dark? The Tale of the Dead Man’s Float (1995)
- Zeke and Clorice find an abandoned swimming pool inside their basement where a secret is contained.
- Again, this one is completely disgusting/terrifying to me.
Are You Afraid of the Dark? The Tale of the Twisted Claw (1991)
- In a twist of “The Monkey’s Paw,” two boys scare an old lady to death the night before Halloween just as the next night they receive a hand granting them wishes with consequences.
Honorable Mentions/Non-Nickelodeon shows:
Home Improvement: The Haunting of the Taylor House (1992)
- On Tool Time: Tim is demonstrating how to make a brick wall. Since it’s Halloween, he also dresses up as a monster in an attempt to scare Al. Together, they carve jack-o-lanterns. Except that Tim has invented a new method for achieving the same result – with, you guessed it, more power! With predictable results. At home: Tim has turned the basement into a “haunted house” for Brad’s Halloween party. Brad has agreed to dress up as “Raggedy Andy” because Jennifer is coming as Raggedy Ann. But Brad is stunned when she comes as a biker chick with another boy, having changed her mind because she claims Brad had been insensitive to her.
- This is the first of 6 Halloween specials from Home Improvement; they did one every year from 1992-1998!
Boy Meets World: And Then There Was Shawn (1998)
- Cory, Shawn, Topanga, Angela, and Kenny all get detention together. Things get scary when they discover someone dead and a bloody warning on the black board “NO ONE GETS OUT ALIVE”. When Jack and Eric arrive, they all work together to try to find out who the killer is. At first they think its the creepy janitor, then Feeny, then the new girl – Jennifer Love Feffermen. But, when they all get killed, too, the remaining realize it must be one of them!
Wishbone: The Legend of Creepy Collars (1997)
- “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’ dominates as Halloween comes to Oakdale. Wishbone is Ichabod Crane while Joe and friends do a scavenger hunt.
- No good librarian who grew up in the 1990s would dare create a list of Halloween specials without including Wishbone!