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10 kooky and spooky animated Halloween specials from the 1970s

Images: The Everett Collection

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown remains the gold standard of animated Halloween specials. That 1966 production has aired annually for more than half a century.

But it is hardly alone when it comes to trick-or-treating animated treats.

The 1970s churned out dozens of Halloween specials, both live-action and animated. Here are some forgotten and overlooked cartoon television specials from the era.


Festival of Family Classics: Jack O' Lantern


Thanks to perennial favorites Rudolph and Frosty, Rankin/Bass Productions is best known for its Christmas specials. But the animation studio loved Halloween, too, dating back to its stop-motion feature film Mad Monster Party? in 1967. Rankin/Bass launched a television series called Festival of Family Classics in 1972-73, retelling classic fairy tales and celebrating holidays. This toon managed to tie  Halloween into St. Pat's Day, as it explained that talking jack o' lanterns (with Irish accents) were born from leprechauns hibernating as pumpkin seeds during the winter.

Image: NBCUniversal Television Distribution


Mad Mad Mad Monsters


This Rankin/Bass animated television movie had it all: Frankenstein, Dracula, a werewolf, a mummy, Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. They all got together for the wedding of Baron Henry von Frankenstein and his fiancée. But things don't go as planned, as his assistant Igor wants to steal the bride-to-be.

Image: Rankin/Bass Productions


The Scooby-Doo Show: "The Headless Horseman of Halloween"


Really, all of Scooby-Doo could be considered Halloween fare, what with all the monsters and creepy costumes. But this episode in particular of The Scooby-Doo Show sticks out in our mind, when Shag and Scoob encounter the headless horseman at a Halloween party. Of course — spoiler alert — the "headless horseman" is merely a disgruntled relative looking for a diamond necklace. And he would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for those meddling kids!

Image: Hanna-Barbera / Warner Bros.


The Fat Albert Halloween Special


Hey, hey, hey! This was one of three prime-time specials spun-off from the Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids cartoon series (the others celebrating Easter and Christmas). 

Image: The Everett Collection


Halloween Is Grinch Night


Eleven years after the classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas! stole America's hearts, this Dr. Seuss sequel hit ABC. It's a wonder it took so long, as the Grinch seems tailor-made for Halloween. The story explains that Whoville has a Grinch Night when the "Sour-Sweet Wind" blows. It would go on to win the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Children's Program.

Image: DePatie–Freleng Enterprises


Bugs Bunny's Howl-oween Special


The Looney Tunes all-stars gathered together for a series of classic shorts, including "A-Haunting We Will Go," "Broom-Stick Bunny" and "Hyde and Hare."

Image: The Everett Collection


Witch's Night Out


Two of the original members of Saturday Night Live, Dan Aykroyd and Gilda Radner, lent their voices to this animated special. The story centers around two kids who recruit a witch to help them find the scariest Halloween costumes around. But chaos ensues when the witch (Radner) loses her wand. The vibrant, monochrome characters remind us of Inside Out or a pack of Spree candy in your trick-or-treat bag.


Casper's Halloween Special


With its laugh track and groovy human fashions, this was typical of the Hanna-Barbera cartoons of the era. Casper refuses to join Hairy Scarey, Winifred Witch and Screech Ghost in scaring children. Instead, the Friendly Ghost disguised himself a boy to give trick-or-treating a try.

Image: The Everett Collection


Raggedy Ann and Andy in The Pumpkin Who Couldn't Smile


That title is more of a mouthful than three fun-sized Snickers. Produced by Looney Tunes master Chuck Jones, this special was a follow-up to 1978's Raggedy Ann and Andy in the Great Santa Claus Caper, which brought the stuffed dolls to renewed popularity half a century after their debut.

Image: The Everett Collection


The Flintstones Meet Rockula and Frankenstone


After winning a game show, Fred and Wilma head to Rocksylvania, where — surprise, surprise — they encounter classic monsters with punny names. The voice cast was impressive. Ted Cassidy, best known as Lurch from The Addams Family, gleefully grunted as Frankenstone, in one of his final roles. He had died in early 1979. Though it aired in 1980, we included this overlooked Halloween gem for that reason.

Image: The Everett Collection

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