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  • Writer's pictureHannah Pearson and Susannah Powers Stengel

What's in your Tellyfish Trick or Treat Bag?

By Hannah Pearson AND Susannah Powers Stengel


RANKING/REC


Spoilers For: Safe to indulge.



You’re ten years old and you’re wearing that weird superhero costume your mom just made tonight. It’s not her best work, but she got the colors right, so you give her a pass. You’ve traipsed the neighborhood wide all night long, and now, you’re ready to survey the bounty. You dump each bag of candy onto your bed, your eyes frantically scanning for all your favorites. You feast more than your fill and fall asleep with a stomach ache— just like your dad predicted.


Who doesn’t miss the thrill of Halloween night? The excitement of exploring your collected sweet treats, the trophies from every doorbell rung. You might even miss the little old ladies saying “Oh, aren’t you scary?!!” Sadly, for most of us, even before this pandemic hit, the days of trick-or-treating were long gone. But fear not, Tellyfish has your back. We’ve shared our favorite haunted, layered, scary good Halloween show picks.


Satisfy your horror sweet tooth with spooky TV as delicious as candy. Crave with us.

So hold out your bag, and get ready to scream “TRICK-OR-TREAT!”



1. Lovecraft Country S1, E6: “Meet Me in Degue”

Or, the EVERLASTING GOBSTOPPER



With its outer coating of impenetrable systemic racism, Lovecraft Country brings color-changing magic to a 1950’s segregated Chicago frame. The show is brittle and unyielding, but with an occasional burst of sweetness, lent by the complexity of its chameleon, mostly BIPOC cast. This compelling one-off side-character-dark-secret episode captures the series proper’s wild, shifting, fluid content, with themes so impossible, they’ll chip your teeth.



2. Saturday Night Live S 42, E4 :

Tom Hanks as David S. Pumpkins

Or, the CANY CORN


Ah, Candy Corn, you either love it or you hate it, much like SNL’s oddball sketch about a haunted ride attraction named David S. Pumpkins and his two skeleton hype-men. Both the tricolored treat and Pumpkins have gained a cult-like status here of late, and any confusion about who or what this pumpkin-suit-wearing car salesman only fuels the sketch’s humor engine. Not to mention you can find a wax version of Tom Hanks at Madame Toussand’s in Orlando and it probably tastes the same as the Candy Corn.


We have no questions.



3. Buffy the Vampire Slayer S4, E4: “Fear, Itself”

Or, the MIDNIGHT MILKY WAY (Fun Size)


“Fear, Itself” nestles at the glorious Whedonverse interstice of terrifying horror and gleeful delight, with layers of accepting friendship nestled between dark danger. A haunted house of hidden truths delivers a psychological slap to each of the Scoobies. Much like its layers of vanilla nougat offset a Milky Way Midnight’s bitter dark chocolate, we’ve got Oz AND Anya. I mean. Need I say more? Sweet ensemble symphony.

Image Credit: Scooby Gang Tumblr


The “Full Bars” BTVS Halloween Experience:

Watch Season 2, Episode 6 “Halloween” AND Season 4, Episode 4 “Fear, Itself” AND Season 6, Episode 6 “All the Way” AND FINALLY diehards finish it out with Season 5, Episode 5 of Angel “Life of the Party.” Glut yourself on Whedon treats and rejoice.

Full bars. Buff itself.

Image Credit: Persephone Magazine


4. PEN15 S2 E3: “Vendy Wiccany”

Or, FUN DIP


Image Credit: Collecting Candy, Wonka Year 2000 & Reddit

PEN15 captures the pubescent potpourri of middle school—rage, horniness, and mercurial mood swings—and makes us laugh-cringe hard. The show’s thirty-something creators, Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle, also dip their age-discordant toes into the lead 7th grader roles. This episode is a romp through the mad performativity of teen witchcraft, your perfect Halloween(ish) PEN15 entry point. Like Fun Dip, you’ll choose your own adventure when you watch, and, like the dip, you’ll lick up every strange sugar crystal--dark, hormonal, attention-seeking, playful, unhinged, angry, and horny. Plus, nothing makes us think of seventh grade more than sticking out your tongue and asking if it’s blue.



5. Ash v. Evil Dead S1, E3: “Books from Beyond"

Or, NERDS ROPE


Bursting with off-the-wall, colorful flavor (and maybe a chunk or two of viscera) Sam Raimi resurrects his Evil Dead horror film franchise as a genre-bending tv show. This episode is your perfect toe dip into the series. Our hero Ash is now 50ish and out of glory, but still he dominates the insidious army of Deadites hellbent on his demise. Taste the gelatin gore-core comedy as it congeals in a muscular rope of action sequences--action sequences bathed in crystallized puddles of dyed corn syrup. Silly. Good. Gross.



6. The Simpsons S6, E6: “Treehouse of Horror V”

OR, BUTTERFINGER


A Halloween list without an episode from The Simpsons would be terrifying. You expect to see it there waiting for you, just like you expect a sprinkling of half-sized, peanut-buttery flakes, wrapped in chocolate coating, mingled in with the rest of the bag at the end of your neighborhood raid. V pays homage to Stephen King’s The Shining and has Homer slowly dissolving into madness without the comforts of his former life. The same thing would happen to us if anybody laid a finger on our Butterfinger!


“No TV and no beer make Homer go crazy!”




7. The Haunting of Hill House S1, E5 : “The Bent-Neck Lady”

OR, WARHEAD


This ghastly ghost story of the Crane Family’s never-ending nightmare caused by a house crept into our home in late 2018, and has been haunting our memories ever since. No episode packed the punch like the reveal of the Bent-Neck Lady in episode 5. Like a Warhead, it drew all our focus to the intensity of the situation, was

agonizing but rewarding, and the aftertaste lingered on longer than we could have anticipated. The tragic fate of the real bent-neck lady was a bitter lemon flavor in our mouths, but damn did we love the pain.



8. The X-Files S1, E11: “Eve”

Or, SOUR PUNCH STRAWS



Whether you need a punch of nostalgia or a satisfying strand of suspense, The X Files still delivers. The truth’s out there, and once you believe it, every fun treat has a trick up its sleeve. Reality bends like a sour straw when you watch Mulder and Scully, and what was once a flimsy bundle of sugar becomes a new way of seeing, a new way of sipping in the world. For fans of layered truth and unexpected long roads, you can’t go wrong with the eerie, sticky-smart innovation of an abduction narrative in this seminal early episode “Eve.” Believe, sip deep, and enjoy.



9. The Adventures of Pete and Pete S2, E6: “Halloweenie”

Or, TWIX


“Halloweenie” is about a last Halloween for the brothers Red and they are going big before they go home. Little Pete is determined to beat a record for candy collected, and even though big Pete hates Halloween, he’s got his lil bro’s back. Thank goodness, cause someone is out to destroy the holiday for everyone and is doing it one smashed pumpkin at a time. Pete and Pete have their best moments together, side by side, just like the chewy caramel goodness of a pack of Twix bars.


10. Mindhunter S1, E10: “Episode 10”

Or, MILK DUDS


When you open a box of Milk Duds, it’s always an act of hope. To open the box is to invest in sweet dollops of caramel and cocoa--what you’re not prepared for is the sticky, insidious layers you are left, lingering globules at the back of your throat. This experience is much akin to Mindhunter, a riveting look at the FBI’s intrepid hunt to understand serial killer behavior. This season one finale still cripples me with dread at the mere thought, as our dark hero Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) fully opens the box of Ed Kemper’s mind--a rapist, a cannibal, and a necrophile. I adore the way this episode sticks to the back of my mind, sharp and wrong and delicious.


Image Credit: Merrick Morton/Netflix



11. Over the Garden Wall S1, E2: “Hard Times at the Huskin’ Bee”

Or, A TOOTSIE POP


How many licks does it take to get this series quality press? Over the Garden Wall boasts a hero’s journey narrative structure sure to stimulate and surprise even the most fervent of fairy tale haters. There’s something unknown and foggy and hopeful at the center of this quest story--like that weird chewy chocolate at the center of your Tootsie Pop. This episode in particular is a one-off journey to a town so Spooktoberish, it’ll scare the living pumpkins out of you. Get to the center of this unexpected masterpiece. Happy crunching.



12. Los Espookys S1, E1: “El Exorcismo”

Or, PLASTIC VAMPIRE TEETH


Los Espooky’s isn’t like other shows, just like plastic vampire teeth aren't actually candy. But just like the show, you’re glad it found its way into your bag. Los Espooky’s is what happens when a telenovela has a baby with a B horror movie, and they give that baby to Fred Armisen, Julio Torres, and Ana Fabrega to raise. In the opening episode the gang puts on a passionate performance to help out a local priest drum up some business. The vampire teeth are a little cheesy but you can’t say you don’t have fun with them!


“Exorcisms are on the decline.”



13. Community S3, E5: “Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps” AND Community S2, E6: “Epidemiology”

Or, REESE'S PEANUT BUTTER PUMPKINS


Community is known for being conceptional, paying homage, and sparing no detail when it comes to a theme. For Season Two’s Halloween episode they delivered a zombie movie tribute that would make Romero proud. The study group has a knack for taking something already amazing and dressing it up for the occasion. Just like Hershey’s does with its pumpkin shaped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups!



Image Sources:


BTVS:


PEN15:


Mindhunter:


Hanunting of Hill House:


Community

https://www.pastemagazine.com/tv/community-review-epidemiology-26/





What’s your favorite scary good TV candy? Comment below!

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