I always was a fan of when TV dramas would take the plunge and place their heroes in spooky and supernatural situations. It was the absolute best when a mystery would be solved a ‘la Scooby Doo only to have the final moments of the show reveal a real supernatural presents. Some shows at the time didn’t need to wait until Halloween to play their supernatural cards, an episode of Love Boat springs to mind where a widows dead husband tags along her cruise as a ghost. But to most shows they waited until the witching month of October to get spooky.
These episodes are far from spooky like the ones I mentioned above. These are the best of what we loved about ’80s television….cheese and outlandish plots. Mullets, Subliminal backwards recordings, and Elvira are all added bonuses.
1. Knight Rider – Halloween Knight (’84)
After moving into a new apartment, and suffering from the flu. Bonnie witnesses a strangulation of a woman at a neighbors Halloween party by a person in a gorilla suit. Michael and Devon chalk up it up to Bonnie’s fever and don’t believe her. After some close call accidents and a projected demon with backward recorded messages are revealed to be part of a plan to scare her off (or kill her). All of this added flare is so the villain can find a key hidden in the apartment Bonnie now rents. Michael saves the day all while dressed as a southern gentleman (Col. Sanders just more douchy). The only real supernatural thing here though is the typical sex-pot ’80s neighbor that could be witch or not. She brings a pot of food to the celebratory dinner that Michael wants K.I.T.T. to scan. K.I.T.T.’s response is “You don’t want to know what’s in it Michael”. As the witchy sex-pot makes her way up to the apartment building, flowers fall over dead (?) while comedic sound effects play over the scene.
2. The Fall Guy – October the 31st (’84)
What more can you ask for, Colt Seavers teaming up with Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. In a star studded episode, Colt and his team are doing the stunts on a new horror TV special being filmed in the spooky and haunted mansion of Preston Deauville (John Carradine). Unbeknownst to him, Deauville’s wife arranged the shooting to happen at their home. Preston is so outraged by this that he fires his personal staff (all played by Carradine’s sons Robert, Keith, and David). As the episode continues, Preston dies of an apparent heart attack and spooky shit starts happening. It is later revealed that Preston’s death was at the hands of his wife and his twin brother. The best part of this episode is when Colt Seavers is attacked by a ghost. It is a ghoulish animated ghost that chokes, flies around, and throws Colt around. As the camera pulls back it is shown to be the filming of the TV special. I never knew they animated shit like this at the same time it was being filmed? Awesome…I love movie magic. Also the generic monster Colt is dressed as at the beginning of the episode is super top notch.
3. CHiPs – Rock Devil Rock (’82)
See that picture there? The dude that looks like he’s cosplaying Gene Simmons crossed with Violent J, that’s Donny Most (aka. Ralph the Mouth from Happy Days). Most played Moloch, a satanic rocker, in probably his most acting-ist acting job EVER. Ponch and Bobby are assigned to protect Moloch from rapid fans and protestors only to uncover a plot to murder him. Moloch is plagued with backward recorded messages saying they are going to kill him (love the ’80s and the power of Satan through a backward playing tape deck) and a cloud of toxic gas that fills his 666 emblazon hearse. It’s soon discovered that the whole murder plot was hatched by his manager to sell more records after Moloch’s death, because Moloch wants to quit. In the “B” story we follow Ponch and Bobby as they get ready for a Halloween party that features Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Like backward recordings, Elvira was everywhere in the ’80s.
4. Dukes of Hazzard – The Hazzardville Horror (’80)
In another straight from Scooby Doo type plot, thieves steal Boss Hogs silver and hide out in an old house to smelt it down before high-tailing it outta town. In a simple twist of fate, a woman (young, beautiful) that was willed the house comes to begin cleaning it up (also a friend of Daisy). Before just using their bad guy “gut instinct” and kill her, the thieves decide to make scary noises, move furniture around, and drip red paint down a creepy painting. From here the episode breaks down into normal high speed chases through the back woods of Hazzard County, where every other bridge has been demolished into an awesome ramp. Side note, one of the villains in the episode is none other than Andrew Robinson. Robinson was the villain in classic movies like Dirty Harry and Hellraiser.
5. MacGyver – Halloween Knights (’89)
Wow, ok…where to start. The most outrageous thing about this episode isn’t Richard Dean Anderson’s mullet. MacGyver is approached (well trapped in a cage) by his number one arch-villain Murdoc to save his sister. Not just save her, but save her from the clutches of a international group of assassins who use Halloween night as a causal costume party and murder game. And by murder game I mean elaborate super villain traps and trials. Like pits of snakes, robotic gunman in a full sized shooting gallery, and a WWII (I think) based room with sentry guns. All the while the villains are dressed in their best Halloween costumes. Damn, I miss the ’80s.