Years ago I posted a tribute to my favorite internet celebrity Doug Walker and his long running Nostalgia Critic web series. This series revolves around a very funny and over the top movie critic who always takes a comedic stab at reviewing films, but he also celebrates the art of film and even conveys creative criticism when it’s earned. Well, with the Halloween season upon us again, I wanted to talk a little more about the Nostalgia Critics series, particularly his long running Halloween episodes. Ever sense 2010 it’s become a tradition that every month in October will be a series of Nostalgia Critic Halloween episodes lovingly titled the “Nostalgia-Ween” series. It’s kind of become my new “Tree House of Horror”, and it’s something I look forward to every year. As of 2017 he’s had almost 40 “Nostalgia-Ween” episodes, some of them funny reviews, other times they’re fascinating editorials and most important of all is that they always put me in the mood for Halloween. To celebrate this long-lasting web-series, I wanted to countdown my personal favorite "Nostalgia-Ween" episodes and only the “Nostalgia-Ween” branded episodes, which is why I regrettably won’t be including his reviews of either “Alice in Wonderland” or “The Langoliers”, even though they both really should have been October reviews.
#10 Nostalgia Critic Editorial – “Is Sleepy Hollow Secretly Brilliant?”
This was actually the Critics closing “Nostalgia-Ween” review for a season, and honestly it was my favorite from that year. The 1999 Tim Burton Movie “Sleepy Hollow” is personally on of my all-time favorite Horror movies that I watch every Halloween. Surprisingly after watching the Nostalgia Critics editorial of the film, I discovered even more reasons as to why it makes for such a great monster movie. In this review, he brings up ideas and possible concepts behind the film that I’d never even thought of or noticed before, and now I just have new found respect for the film. Basically, the Critic describes it as a modern day British Hammer film, and while I’ve been aware and have even seen many of Britain’s gothic thrillers (Hammer Studio Productions), I’d never really connected them with Tim Burtons “Sleepy Hollow”. Now I can’t separate the two in my mind, because this film is very much in the style of a Hammer Horror film and a great one at that.
#9 Nostalgia Critic’s “Top 11 Scariest Performances”
The Critics very first Halloween review, and incidentally his very first countdown was of “The Top 11 Scariest Childhood Movie Moments”, and while that was very good for its time, it’s admittedly very dated now both from a production stand point, and really from what he has to comment on. Years later he released a new countdown highlighting the greatest scary movie performances, and this video has aged very well over the years. It’s a much smarter and more engaging discussion on what makes a truly terrifying character and performance. I especially like that he didn’t go for a list of cliched horror movie villains like Jason and Freddy Kruger, but instead focused on more human villains. I agreed with the majority of his choices on this countdown, some of them even took me by surprise, and I really admired his #1 pick for this countdown. It was really cool to find out that he and I share the exact same feelings about Hannibal Lecter from “Silence of the Lambs”. On a side note, this video features one of my favorite musical lead-ins to one of his countdowns he’s ever done, and it gets me hyped every time I hear it.
#8 Nostalgia Critic’s “2008 Halloween Special”
Going all the way back to one of the Critics very first Halloween video’s, he didn’t review a movie and instead created his own memorable short film that’s watched annually by us fans around the season. In this Halloween special, the critic finds himself kept awake after hours battling a demonically possessed Teddy Ruxpin doll. For such a silly concept, this video has a perfect balance of laughs and a spooky atmosphere. It was creative, funny, and the Teddy Ruxpin doll quickly became one of the most memorable one-shot characters in the shows run. Even the quality of the video has aged well over the years. It’s simply a special case in which an on-line celebrity can create a classic Halloween special on his own terms.
#7 Nostalgia Critic Editorial – “Is the Nightmare Before Christmas really that Great?”
Without a doubt, “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is one of my all-time favorite Halloween movies that I watch every year. Unfortunately, I’ve discovered more and more people that either hate this movie or don’t understand why it’s so special. Because of this, I’m so glad that the Critic put together this little editorial as to why so many people hold this film in such high regard. Basically, he describes it as a film short on compelling characters, or deep storytelling but an experience that captures the simplistic charm and magic of not one but two of our favorite holidays. That’s how I feel about it too, it’s all about the simplicity of experiencing the holiday, along with unforgettable songs and breakthrough stop-motion animation. It’s not a movie for everyone, but as the Critics addresses, “The Nightmare Before Christmas” is still one of the great holiday classics and why it has the power to last through the decades.
#6 Nostalgia Critic Review’s Stephen King's “IT (1990 Mini-Series)”
Widely regarded by fans as one of the Critics greatest reviews, this is the one that started his tradition of reviewing one Stephen King adaption every Halloween. After all these years, this is still one of his funniest reviews, largely thanks to his concept of watching this movie while playing a drinking game for every tired Stephen King cliché. This Mini-Series was also a special time capsule, in which several of us kids in the 90’s grew up with it, were scared by it, and subsequently for many of us were introduced to Stephen King through it. However, after watching the Critics review, it’s impossible to think of this film the same way again as it’s surprisingly funnier, and less scary then we realized. Of course, one of the reviews most memorable jokes is centered around Tim Curry’s performance as the clown and his “Waha, Waha, Waha” laugh. For the time, this was also one of the critics longest reviews, but it goes by so quickly as it’s consistently entertaining and still packs some good laughs.
#5 Nostalgia Critic’s “The Top 11 Gravity Falls Episodes”
While I still don’t think the TV show “Gravity Falls” is mandatory to discuss around October, this is undeniably one of the Critics greatest “Nostalgia-Ween” episodes, and one that means a lot to me personally. If it wasn’t for this countdown video, I would have never discovered or even watched “Gravity Falls” in the first place, so I have the Critic to thank for introducing me to what has become one of my all-time favorite programs, whether it be animated or not. Just about every episode he mentions is right on the money, and I just love when the Critic takes a break from his usual comedic antics for a heartfelt discussion on why something aimed at kids is still worth checking out even if you’re an adult. I especially love the opening of this video (as well as the whole season) in which the Critic creates a live-action rendition of the memorable “Gravity Falls” intro from the TV show. If your unfamiliar with the “Gravity Falls” TV series, check out this countdown video, and see if the show might interest you like it did with me.
#4 Nostalgia Critic’s “Top 11 Halloween Guilty Pleasures”
In an earlier season of “Nostalgia-Ween”, the critic counted down what he regarded as “The Top 11 Greatest New Halloween Classics”, but personally I agreed with less than half on that countdown. Then the following year he gave us this countdown of “The Top 11 Halloween Guilty Pleasures”, and surprisingly, this was the list that featured more of my favorite Halloween specials that I love watching year after year. I felt more of these belonged on his “The Top 11 Greatest New Halloween Classics” list. Even though the Critic has these specials labeled as “Guilty Pleasures”, he still talks very positively about them, and it’s just the kind of countdown to get me excited for Halloween, and all the awesome specials that go along with it. Also, his opening for this season in which he recreates the intro to the “Goosebumps” TV series is still one of his best.
While his review of Stephen King's “IT” got the ball rolling, I think it’s his review of the 1997 Mini-Series “The Shining” that set the gold standard for his funniest jabs at Stephen King's adapted work. Now I’ve never personally seen this mini-series, but I’m a longtime fan of the 1980’s classic “The Shining”, and judging from the clips of the mini-series, it’s probably best I skip it. The mini-series is actually so boring that the critic goes insane and ends up recreating all the classic scenes from the 1980’s movie “The Shining”. Watching the critic recapture the spirit of Jack Nicolson’s performance is every bit as funny and as entertaining as it sounds. In fact, I honestly think this is the best spoof of “The Shining” sense “The Simpsons” parody titled “The Shinning”. The review itself is also hilarious and features some of my favorite jokes, especially this one joke revolving around the kid character and his relationship with a guy named “Dick”. Finally, this review marks the premier of his greatest “Nostalgia-Ween” opening that’s based on “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and features a stop motion puppet of Jack Skellington all dressed up like the critic himself.
#2 Nostalgia Critic Editorial - “Should We Scare Our Kids?”
When I was just a child, I loved dark, spooky scenes from movies, and Halloween was always my favorite time of year … but I could never explain why. My parents were actually a little concerned as to why I loved so many dark and hunting things at a young age. Well, in this brilliant editorial, the Nostalgia Critic expresses why some kids might get into darker forms of entertainment, and why it’s even healthy on some level. No jokes, in this video he conveys a very personal and solid message that some parents may even be ignorant of. He also addresses the proper balance in which some kids should be exposed to creepy elements in film and most importantly how you can gain something valuable from the exposure. I think many parents question what’s good for their kids, and this editorial gives great incite on how to approach some scary material. While some of it may be too disturbing for some, others may gain something positive from it too. Usually I watch the Nostalgia Critics reviews for derivative fun, but it’s great when he has something meaningful to say, and the context of this editorial are very special for viewers young and old to ponder and maybe even take to heart.
Before I reveal my Favorite Episode, here are some quick Honorable Mentions …
Nostalgia Critic Reviews “The Haunting (1999)”, Nostalgia Critic’s “Top 11 Scariest Moments”
Nostalgia Critic’s “Top 11 New Halloween Classics”
Nostalgia Critic Editorial “Why Do We Love Zombies?”
Nostalgia Critic Reviews “Ernest Scared Stupid”
#1 Nostalgia Critic Reviews “Casper”
Over all the years of funny Nostalgia Critic Halloween reviews, nothing has quite stuck with me more than his early review of “Casper”. The movie itself was an okay film that I grew up with, but I didn't really think there was enough material in the film to make a very funny review out off. Well, not only do the jokes in this review work, but there some of his most memorable stabs at a spooky family film. The joke that makes this episode stand out is that a cartoon Casper is constantly picking at the Critic for reviewing his film, which is something we'd never seen before from his video's. This leads to one of his greatest climaxes ever where the Nostalgia Critic suits up in a Ghostbusters costume, battles the Casper cartoon, chases him down the street to a video game expo, and then has a full mob of costumed people behind him. This was his first time he appeared at a convention of any sort, and he definitely made a big splash ... quiet literally as it ends with him diving into a pool. At the time, it was one of the funniest things I'd ever seen on the internet, and while the critic still continues to make me laugh after all these years, there was just something special and unique about the comedy in this review that makes it my personal favorite Nostalgia-Ween review. If you've never seen any of his video's go to his YouTube channel, or the website "Channel Awesome" and see some for yourself, hopefully my own list will give you an idea on where to start.