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Any good film that has Halloween in the story has to have a trick or treat scene and over the years, some great moments have come from this holiday tradition. From the ghost costume moments in E.T. The Extra-terrestrial (1982) and A Perfect World (1993) to the frightening scenes in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) and the funny Hocus Pocus (1993). Here are two moments we’d like to go trick or treating with you.
Film Summary: Trick ‘r Treat chronicles the exploits of several strangers as each celebrate in their own way on Halloween night. There is a high school principal (Dylan Baker) who has a dark secret, a sweet virgin (Anna Paquin) waiting for someone special for her first time, a couple trying to get through Halloween without annoying each other too much, a group of preteens who take part in an unforgivable prank and a little boy named Sam (Quinn Lord) wearing a costume consisting of orange pajamas and a burlap sack mask with buttons sewn on it for eyes who is always nearby . . . watching.
The Moment: There is one particularly nasty boy that has been walking up and down the streets, smashing pumpkins as he passes them and stealing candy: his version of trick-or-treating. When he reaches the high school principal’s door, he gets caught red handed in his mischief. The principal gets the kid to sit down on the front porch beside him, hands the kid a chocolate bar and says that he was just like that kid until his dad taught him to respect Halloween. It’s the night when the dead, and other things, are on the prowl. Furthermore, all the things that we take for granted on Halloween like wearing costumes, carving pumpkins and giving out candy were originally done to protect us from the evil spirits but no one cares anymore. As he goes on the kid starts coughing. The principal asks if the kid is okay and then says, “There’s another tradition. A very important one. Always check your candy. Trick or . . . ”
The kid vomits up a black and red tar; a mix of blood and chocolate. He keeps going, vomiting all over the front steps until he falls over . . . unconscious.
Why it Matters: As much as there are some of us that truly love and respect Halloween, there are always people out there to ruin it for everyone else. There is always that one kid that smashes pumpkins and eggs houses. There’s also always that one house that leaves the candy outside in a bowl and that one kid who takes the whole bowl of candy instead of one piece. Sometimes in horror films it’s nice to see that person get their comeuppance and even though the real monster here is the principal for poisoning the child, we can’t help but root for him because we really hated this kid and all the other kids out there like him. Halloween is a time of year when the monsters and the evil spirits come out to play so it makes all the more sense that we would be more sympathetic to them. This principal is undeniably a murderer; he kills this kid without a second thought and there is no doubt in our minds that he’s done this before but we can’t help but find him slightly endearing as he struggles to carry this really overweight kid into the house and gets even more chocolatey blood all over him. It’s only at Halloween that we tend to root for the villain and it’s actually a lot of fun.
Film Summary: Every Halloween night, Linus Van Pelt (voiced by Christopher Shea) writes a letter to The Great Pumpkin and then takes to the local pumpkin patch rather than trick-or-treating, believing that the holiday figure will arrive and give presets, though none of his friends believe him, often ridiculing him for wasting his time. Meanwhile, the others are planning a night of trick-or-treating and a Halloween party where everyone is invited, even the “lovable loser” Charlie Brown (Peter Robbins), despite being told his invitation is a mistake by Lucy (Sally Dryer), who continually toys with her nemesis with her football stunt that fools Charlie into thinking he can kick the ball before she pulls it away.
The Moment: Okay, so this is not technically a movie and was first shown on U.S. television as an animated special based on the popular Charles M. Schultz comic strip, it is for many, a standard for the holiday and, much like the Peanuts Christmas Special, a defining part of the celebration. In the story, our hero Charlie Brown is excited to receive a letter of invitation to the big Halloween party, even dancing at the prospect of being included in the fun, despite Lucy arguing that there has been a mix-up in the mailing. Like many of the other children attending party, he decides to wear a ghost costume, though unlike the others, can’t seem to use scissors properly and ends up cutting a dozen holes into his sheet and looks more like block of Swiss cheese. Still, this is fairly standard for Charlie and he wears it anyway. The evening’s plan is straightforward. The group will go out together and walk through the neighborhood knocking on doors and then head to the party.
After the first house, the gang stops on the sidewalk to compare their loot. Some get chocolate bars, some get candy, some get cookies. Charlie Brown gets a rock. So too at the next house. And the next. Every house they go to, it’s the same story. Only rocks.
Why it Matters: The whole purpose of the Charlie Brown character is to suffer a bit. Schultz claimed that he was the archetype for the average person, one we can all identify with, even if his troubles are rudimentary and over-simplified. In this running gag for Halloween, the fact that he gets a rock each time isn’t what matters. Nobody is handing out rocks for trick-or-treat. It’s that Charlie is disappointed. Like much in life, expectation versus reality are not always equal, and as we saw Charlie dancing with joy at being invited to participate in Halloween this year, his expectation was very high. It probably wouldn’t matter what was tossed in his bag. Nothing would have matched his earlier happiness. What’s really interesting is how none of the other kids in his gang even make a comment. That’s because there is no rock, just a candy he doesn’t want. But Charlie is also undaunted and never quits. That’s why he remains so beloved. He recognizes his foibles and hurdles and deals with them, sometimes not learning, just like us, but always doing, always thinking the next time will be better. This is a great trick-or-trick moment.