anything can happen on Halloween
When I was a kid, I thought The Worst Witch, a 1986 made-for-TV movie about an accident-prone witch at Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches, was just a dream I had. Halloween programming was scattershot back then—I couldn’t expect to see all my favorite programs every year, and I was too young to keep track of titles in hopes of finding them at Blockbuster in the non-October months. So, until adulthood, I had probably seen about 20-25 minutes of this 70-minute movie, including Tim Curry’s supremely campy and schlocky rendition of “Anything Can Happen on Halloween” that accompanies the movie’s climax. And while I like the fact that, until the advent of YouTube, my siblings and I would periodically ask each other, “Hey, was that ‘anything can happen on Halloween’ song something we made up, or did that really happen,” I prefer the breadth and depth of our contemporary access to seasonal trash entertainment. It might sap a little of the magic from holidays—there’s a little less chance of stumbling on to a show that might become a family favorite if most holiday programming is viewed on-demand—but any holiday worth its effort has more going for it than just its surrounding pop culture.
With that in mind, here’s a brief list of the spookiest things you can watch, listen to, and read to help get in the Halloween spirit:
- Mindhunter. This Netflix series details the creation of our contemporary understanding of serial killers. It begins in 1977 and focuses on Holden Ford and Bill Tench, two fictionalized analogues of John Douglas and Robert Ressler. The first two episodes are directed by David Fincher, and set a muted, creepy color palette and visual tone that is a worthy successor to Fincher’s Zodiac. Cameron Britton plays a compelling and monstrous version of real-life serial killer Edmund Kemper, and Anna Torv has probably never been more watchable as Dr. Wendy Carr, an academic who leaves a cushy post at a Boston university to manage Ford and Tench’s study of these convicted criminals. She is the real star of the show, and Mindhunter finds its best rhythm once she becomes a regular part of the action. And, like the best prestige dramas of the past decade, Mindhunter is unexpectedly hilarious at times. As soon as Tench and Ford get to Altoona and meet Detective Ocasek—hereafter known only as the meme “Goddamnit, Mark!”—this show becomes one of the funniest I’ve seen all year.
- Congressional Republicans, including the former heroes of the failed push to overturn the ACA, voted to kill a rule that made it easier for consumers to sue banks in class-action lawsuits. Because this fight was harder to message to regular people, it went largely unnoticed until it was too late. Spooky.
- The Babysitter. This collaboration between McG and Brian Duffield dropped on Netflix two weeks ago and is the perfect, over-the-top piece of Halloween garbage that even the easily-scared can enjoy. In this movie, a 12-year-old boy named Cole discovers his beautiful, friendly babysitter is also the leader of a kind of death cult that engages in ritual sacrifice to grant wishes to its members. Chaos and funny performances from C-list actors and A-list Vine stars ensue.
- Heaven’s Gate. This new podcast is a co-production between Stitcher and Pineapple Street Media, and is hosted by Snap Judgment’s own Glynn Washington. The series offers a nuanced, sympathetic interrogation of the Heaven’s Gate cult, 39 members of which committed suicide in 1997. Blended with this story is Washington’s own account of his early life as a follower of a religious cult. Only two episodes have been released so far, so there is plenty of time to join the conversation.
header image: "(hmm) happy halloween little ghost," aotaro / flickr