By David Flynn

Dark nights with horror or at least the humour of horror was part of US television programmes in the past whenever Hallowe’en was in the air. Jack-O-Lanterns (pumpkins with eyes and mouth markings) and dark foggy nights sometimes featured in the stories, but scary situations always happened in the various episodes.

In their first season, The Beverly Hillbillies screened the episode, ‘Trick or Treat’ on Hallowe’en Night 1962. Grannie (Irene Ryan) wants to go back to her Southern home for Hallowe’en because she believes the Beverly Hills folk are not neighbourly when she sees nobody coming to visit.

Her son-in-law, Jed (Buddy Ebsen) convinces her to go call on the neighbours, and they find an amazing reaction at doors. They turn up in their Hillbilly clothes, and are given gifts by folk. The family don’t realise that the neighbours think they are playing Trick or Treat!

It was just one month before President John F. Kennedy was shot in 1963, when that western series Bonanza screened their Hallowe’en story, ‘Twilight Town’.

While his family is back on the Ponderosa Ranch, Little Joe (Michael Landon) is miles from home, when he is knocked unconscious and has his horse stolen by an outlaw. He finds an old ghost town that manages to look spooky.

Joe collapses again and finds himself being looked after by a beautiful young woman, played by actress Davey Davison. The town is known as Martinville, and it’s got a happy but mysterious population. The town folk take to Joe, but they all have their own spooky secrets that were revealed before the end of the episode.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own