One of the spookiest and most memorable Halloween episodes I remember from my childhood was from an unexpected source: “Little House on the Prairie.” The episode was titled “The Monster of Walnut Grove.”
Right from the start, the show brings on the creepy: Following the traditional happy opening credits with Pa and Ma Ingalls pulling up on the wagon to watch their girls come running down the hill, the scene cuts to the darkened night outside the Oleson’s Mercantile and pans in eerily on a jack o’ lantern.
Laura is then reading “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” to her little sister as her older sister Mary waits for her to go “soaping windows” in town. As a youth familiar with the tradition of “Mischief Night” (Halloween’s eve when kids were known to get into well… mischief – throwing eggs and such) merely putting soap on windows struck me as such a tame prank.
The crux of the episode centers around what happens when the young Laura actually gets to the mercantile. Too late to get the good windows out front, she heads around back where she overhears Mr. and Mrs. Oleson in an argument over swords he purchased. Then in a “Rear Window”-style twist, she witnesses him swing the sword down and behead the seated woman in front of him.
No one believes her when she tells and the ensuing plot turns only serve to feed into Laura’s suspicions. Her nightmares, a cemetery scene, candlelight, locked doors, screams and the actions of the hitherto-innocent-seeming Mr. Nels Oleson add more great bits of spookiness with a fun cameo to conclude.
Watch the full episode yourself below.
Fun fact: Star/producer Michael Landon (Charles “Pa” Ingalls) was born on Halloween night Oct. 31, 1936.
I spent a lot of time at Woolworth as a kid. As a young kid I would get ice cream and grilled cheese there with my Grandmother and as a college student I would buy cheap supplies and grilled cheese to get me through the lean times. It was a dark day when they finally shut their doors. So for all of you who had a great time at America’s corner store, perhaps you got your first Halloween costume there, here is a vintage Woolworth Halloween Ad that will take you back to their golden age.
Nothing like early B&W cartoons to set the mood for Halloween and this Charles Mintz “Scrappy” cartoon certainly fits the bill. Filled with creepy visuals and great Halloween music, it is sometimes a mystery to me why it is not more well known.
How the world has changed. Back in 1958, when this ad ran, regular Pepsi was being sold as a diet drink? Pure sugar is the diet alternative drink to what? Lard-tinis? Bacon Daiquiris? Weird. Well I guess she needs to keep the pounds off so that she can fit into her skin tight costume. What is she supposed to be? It looks like she just went into her trunk and came up with bohemian-ballerina with pink heart and mask. Oh I know, she doesn’t care, she is one of those free spirits who is trying to express herself and if you question her costume, your the jerk and she mocks your hobo costume all night. Even though you forgot it was a costume party and just wore your work cloths to the party.
Well she can laugh, because I know a secret. That clown she is going to dance with? He is a horrible dancer and is gonna step all over those ballet slippers. You thought I was going to go all dark on you there, didn’t you? Well I zigged when you thought I would zag. Viva Coke!