Today’s Halloween Horrors series comes from a contributor who has been with this series since Day 1. Hell, he’s had my back, and the site’s “back”, pretty much since Day 1. What can I say? Baby’s got back… and no one backs Baby into a corner!! I have no clue where the Hell I’m going with this.

Please welcome my friend, Mat Herndon, back to another year of the Halloween Horrors series. Once again, Mat knew this year’s theme well before all of you, so that should say something about my trust and respect for the man. To be fair, my wife (Mandi) and Paul Ashford (from Little Rubber Monsters) knew about the theme before anyone, but those two will get their own spotlights later on in the series. For now, we’re talking about the man that would risk his neck for his brother, man. Shaft! Err, Mat. Can you dig it?

I hope all of you that are reading this piece enjoy it as much as I truly did. Even though I was already becoming a teenager when this episode premiered, Mat took me right back to the neighborhood(s) of my childhood, wandering the streets under darkened skies with siblings and friends, enjoying everything that Halloween night had to offer. Even though I was pretty much scared of damn near everything as a child, I always felt like Halloween was one night when you were actually safe from all those spooky, scary things that go bump in the night.

“Rugrats Halloween” DVD Cover Art

ORIGINAL AIRDATE: October 6th, 1991

Before getting started, I’d like to thank Horror And Sons for allowing all of us to take a nostalgic trip with this year’s theme. For this year, I chose the Rugrats episode, “Candy Bar Creep Show/Monster in the Garage“. This is the first Halloween episode of a TV show that I recall watching. As a young kid, I saw the episode at the perfect time. I was just understanding the concept of Halloween and trick-or-treating. This episode is a big part of what I would come to love about the Halloween season.

The first half of the episode is called “Candy Bar Creep Show“. For anyone who has not seen the episode, it is set during the babies’ first Halloween. Tommy, Chucky, Phil, and Lil are introduced to Reptar bars by Tommy’s cousin, Angelica. Reptar bars were a candy bar in the show that turned your tongue green. Angelica, of course, teases the babies for not being old enough to go trick-or-treating.

Later than night, Tommy’s parents set up a haunted house in the garage filled with grape eyeballs and spaghetti worms. The babies see older kids get Reptar bars after going into the haunted house, so they make the trek to try to get some of their own. In the process, Tommy and the babies end up unintentionally becoming part of the haunted house show. Tommy becomes a spooky ghost after a sheet falls on him, Chucky accidentally makes a plastic skeleton shake after getting tied up in the ropes holding it, and Phil and Lil become zombies after getting spaghetti in their hair and standing in front of funhouse mirrors.

While all of this is happening, Angelica and a few other trick-or-treaters make their way through the garage to check out the haunted house. The babies end up scaring the older kids to the point of them dropping all their candy and running away. The babies get to enjoy Reptar bars after all!

A lot of the early expectations I had for Halloween as a special day are based on this episode. As a young child, I loved the idea that, for one day, we all got to dress up as something else. Seeing ninjas, Power Rangers, creepy clowns, and monsters walking around with bags of candy was the coolest thing to me. To be honest, it still is. Of course, the candy itself was exciting as a kid, but the decorations, the journey from neighborhood to neighborhood, and the idea that I would see cool costumes are what excited me the most.

Candy Bar Creep Show” also teaches a lesson that sometimes the things we see aren’t necessarily the truth. What appears to be eyeballs, ghosts, and worms are just everyday items. They were grapes, a sheet, and cooked spaghetti. Knowing this was key to being able to enjoy Halloween as a kid for me, while still not freaking out at the older kids’ more intense costumes. They weren’t psycho killers with bloody knives, they were kids in rubber masks and plastic accessories. I’m so thankful to have learned that at a younger age, and Rugrats was a huge part of that lesson.

Monster in the Garage” begins with strange sounds coming from the garage. Tommy’s dog, Spike, is accused of making the mess. However, after Tommy’s grandpa tells a story about a scary monster, the babies come to the conclusion that the same monster must be causing chaos. Instead of letting the destruction continue, Tommy suggests the babies go after the monster with all they have. They bravely go into the garage to tackle the monster head on. Once there, they come across a bunch of spooky shadows.  At the same time, the “monster” has the babies in its sights without their knowledge. In the middle of another creepy occurrence, the monster finally shows itself. A tiny, afraid mouse makes their acquaintance. The babies realize there was never anything to be afraid of.

This was another great lesson in fear and jumping to conclusions. As a child, there is something terrifying about what can be lurking in the dark. There’s also a natural elevation of that fear when Halloween and the fall darkness approaches. The shadows hang around just a little longer and the dark seems just a little deeper. Thanks in big part to Tommy and the babies though, we can see that approaching what makes us scared can actually be very beneficial. We don’t always have to assume the worst in that creepy basement or attic. We don’t have to clench our blankets so tight when a small noise wakes us in our sleep. With the right people around us, we can take our fears head on and come out just a bit braver. It’s the season of dark and creepy, and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Have fun, enjoy the Halloween season and all the extra spooky it brings.