It’s spooky season, and that means all things that go bump in the night are coming out to boogie. Where’s that party at? The Hellmouth of course, located in Sunnydale, California. In “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” lore, it’s said that demons and vampires really prefer to take Halloween off — after all, it can be hard to identify the tastiest snacks when they’re covered in glittery masks. However, the title character and monster maven, Buffy Summers, has a way of attracting mischief even on monster meditation night. Check out these cult-classic Halloween specials to make your spooks more slayer-ful.
Season 2 Episode 6: “Halloween”
Worth watching, even for first-time customers of the Hellmouth Hotel
Halloween is all about having the freedom to be what you’re not, so of course an interesting question to explore is who would you be if you weren’t you? Characters in this episodes become their costumes and literally forget their previous lives. While it’s goofy — and mildly unsettling — to watch a superhero become a princess or an awkward teenage boy transform into a disciplined soldier, it also opens up some fun introspection on how even the parts of ourselves we don’t like are crucial to our identities.
Season 4 Episode 4: “Fear, Itself”
Fun for anyone, including newbie vampire slayers
“Fear, Itself” has many merits, the primary one being its unapologetic relatability. The twist on Halloween this time around centers on fear. We all have a few go-to’s when it comes to what we’re afraid of — the dark, spiders, finals and so on — but when we think of our deepest, most unsettling terrors, they’re likely to have some basis in our insecurities. In this episode, the Scooby Gang, a running nickname for Buffy and her friends, get trapped inside a fraternity house that actualizes their deepest insecurities. At the end, the characters have a little more understanding of how they are all struggling in their transition to adulthood, and they even kill a demon to boot.
Season 6 Episode 6: “All the Way”
For experienced creatures of the night only
“All the Way” is another Halloween special, but it makes more use of internal drama than external spell-casting. In it, the characters all hash out relationship issues. Willow and Tara fight about Willow’s excess use of magic, and Dawn runs off to cause mischief with a boy who’s hiding his true identity behind more than a costume. Of all the Halloween specials, “All the Way” is pretty plot-heavy, so I would only recommend this episode if you’ve seen more than just a few episodes of “Buffy” before.
Photo: C. Falize