8 Trick-or-Treating Scenes We Love

By  · Published on October 28th, 2012

Three more days ’til Halloween (silver shamrock), but the dressing up and trick-or-treating has already begun for those who prefer to get the major celebrating done on the weekend. If your Wednesday evening will now lack door-to-door activity or involve fewer kids coming to your house for goodies, perhaps you would like to watch others partake in costumed candy hunting via this crop of trick-or-treating scenes from films. Or, maybe you just want another excuse to watch the scene from E.T. I will admit, this is my primary reason for compiling this week’s installment of Scenes We Love. But I promise the other videos are worth a look, too.

E.T. Disguised as Gertie Dressed Up as a Ghost from E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial

Let’s get this one out of the way, though this could be a bad idea since you might just want to replay it over and over rather than moving on to the next scene. Here, everyone’s favorite little alien is using the holiday’s tradition as a way to get out of the house and into the forest clearing so that he can phone home. Joining Elliot as a zombie or ghoul and Michael as a hobo with a knife through his head (owwwch), E.T. wears a simple sheet with eyes cut out – which make for some terrific POV shots as the trio walk through the neighborhood. Some of the other costumes encountered in the street are indistinct to baffling, but everyone remembers the moment when E.T. sees a kid dressed as Yoda and believes him to be a real fellow alien. The scene was given new (albeit jokingly referential) meaning when E.T.’s race was represented in the Galactic Senate in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.

Cigarettes are Still Better Than Dead Rats from Spaced Invaders

Like E.T., the aliens in this far-less popular movie have the benefit of it being Halloween. But instead of the advantage being that they can wear crappy disguises, people already just assume their odd looks and uniforms are the costumes (why didn’t E.T. think of that?). The clip below doesn’t actually feature any of the aliens. Instead, we get a short example of the movie’s humor, via a moment sure to be identifiable to most of us, which exaggerates the idea of that one house on your route that gave out something awful. We learn that last year’s “treat” was a dead rat, so this year’s pack of cigarettes is sort of an improvement. And in turn they also make a bag of pennies or sheet of stickers or burnt brownie seem like a great gift.

“I Got a Rock” from It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Did anyone else have the experience of not just getting uncool items from some houses but getting different items than others from the same house? In this bit from the classic “Peanuts” short, Charlie Brown keeps getting rocks from people. Good grief! Is it because he has a messed up ghost costume? I’m not sure if it’s weirder to me that kids would get good or bad items depending on their costume or that all the kids would get completely different stuff – a chocolate bar or a popcorn ball or a pack of gum – from the same person. In my day most houses didn’t even have a mix of different candy. You’d have one house with nothing but peanut butter cups, another house with only butterfingers, etc. Thankfully nobody really gave out rocks. At least, not in my neighborhood.

“The Most Horrible” from Meet Me in St. Louis

Speaking of Halloween experiences I’m not personally familiar with, the early 20th century traditions seen in Vincente Minnelli’s adaptation of Sally Benson’s autobiographical stories are quite dangerous, not to mention mean. First of all, there’s the apparent acceptance of little children throwing furniture into a giant bonfire in the street. Then there’s the practice of going to houses and throwing flour in people’s faces instead of requesting candy – which is not the “trick” part of trick-or-treating; they call it “killing” the person. And if that weren’t enough, the kids also play such pranks as putting fake bodies in the path of trolley cars in order to sabotage them. That last part is not in the only clip available (which isn’t even embeddable – watch it here), nor is the part where Tootie is injured while fighting a man attempting to help them get away with their dirty deed. Aren’t you glad all we had to worry about was the threat, if not reality, of razorblades in our candy?

“I’m Harvey Pekar” from American Splendor

At least the kids in Meet Me in St. Louis wore costumes, which is more than can be said for the apparently always grouchy Harvey Pekar. At the beginning of the outstanding adaptation of Pekar’s comics, we see him as a young boy (Elf’s Daniel Tay) trick-or-treating on Halloween. While the other kids are dressed as superheroes, he’s just dressed as himself. Sure, it foreshadows his cynical curmudgeonly adult persona, but it’s also a brilliant foreshadowing of the non-hero, autobiographical indie comic books that would come thanks to him and others.

Legless Girl Dressed as a Girl Getting Her Legs Sawed Off from My Flesh and Blood

If you have trouble laughing at yourself and your troubles, you ought to see this documentary about a family consisting of 11 adopted children, all of them with conditions that made them unwanted by others. The early Halloween scene is especially noteworthy for showing the joy these kids have in spite of their disabilities or diseases and, specifically, how one girl without legs has a great sense of humor regarding her costume. Watch the video below at about 3:45 on. Or just start it from the beginning and get hooked (but rent it properly, please).

Trick-or-Treating on November 1st from A Perfect World

In this film by Clint Eastwood, a kidnap victim confesses that he’s never gone trick-or-treating on account of his family being Jehovah’s Witnesses. Kidnapper Kevin Costner doesn’t like the sound of this, so he steals the boy a Casper costume and introduces him to the experience believed to be every American’s right. But it’s the day after Halloween, which means no more candy. Instead, the woman at the door, after seeing Costner’s gun, offers some other items, such as food and money. Unfortunately this scene isn’t online, but here’s another clip of the boy in his costume (he’s in it for the rest of the film) being introduced to another American right: riding atop a station wagon pretending it’s a roller coaster.

Donald Duck Picks Trick Over Treat from Disney’s Trick or Treat

In this 60-year-old Halloween-set animated short, Huey, Dewey and Louie go trick-or-treating as a witch, a ghost and a devil (whether that’s respectively, I have no idea). When they get to their Uncle Donald’s house, he decides to give them firecrackers rather than candy. What a jerk! The boys get help from a real witch in order to take revenge with real ghosts and other scares, but Donald still won’t give them a thing. What happens next? Just watch the full eight-minute film below, and let it be a lesson to you not to be “stingy, or your nightmares will come true.”

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.