Tales from the 17th Floor: The Top 8-ish SNL “Scary” sketches



Sorry, maniacal laughter doesn’t translate well in the printed form. Anyway, welcome to Halloweekend (Because—let’s face it—who wants to celebrate it on a Monday?), and with all the trickin’, treatin’ and unlikely “sexy” costumes there is to offer, I’ve reached the point in my life where it’s all played out vis a vis wearing an “Adult” costume; but at the same time, I still want to mark the occasion in a way that doesn’t involve vandalism. So with that, this week’s list is going to look at some of the times SNL made us laugh by playing up the “Scary” angle.


CRITERIA: Sketches that aired in the month of October get an Automatic berth; otherwise, if the premise of the sketch involves Halloween or something/someone “Scary” in general, it counts. As usual, no recurring stuff allowed—so, as much as I WANT to include Irwin Mainway, Lovitz’s Devil, “Goth Talk”, any other pre-existing character’s Halloween sketches, or Bill Hader’s “Vincent Price” sketches among others, as always it would be too easy to do. Further; as a bit of a time saving measure, you are going to see a couple of entries that I have already featured on the main S.O.S.N.L. Page. If you want to read about them again, just look for the Date of the entry that I give you—In short, this is less a “Top 8” list, and more of a “Top 7 & 1/4ths List”. Other than that, let’s go Trick or Treating…



  1. DUELING SIAS (10/26/2014) – Just about everything in this one was well-paced, built up the right tempos & crescendos, and actually had a somewhat decent punchline—not to mention the fact that Kate teams up with Jim Carrey, that alone is potential for a comedy fight to the death. I know a lot of us want to compare and contrast certain sketches to each other (seriously, I was about to call this a “Dancer in the Dark” ripoff), but Jim & Kate moving around 8H was in a class by itself—right down to the Lorne cameo and even (musical guest) Iggy Azelea getting in on it. Even the stuff at the beginning was funny—from Kyle looking like a Peach Anus to Aidy being accidentally teased by Vanessa, it was all gold…Speaking of which, The ONLY thing that’s keeping this one from being 100% perfect is Vanessa’s part. Seriously, Vanessa, will you STOP looking directly into the camera as you speak! Otherwise, who cares if Jim & Kate are chewing more scenery than a famine victim; they’re having a damn good time doing so, and so are we by watching them.


  1. DEVIL CAN’T WRITE NO LOVE SONG (11/13/1999) – Ah, Garth Brooks…A lot of us thought he was gonna be the kind of person who would host SNL Multiple times for years & years…….And then, Tina Fey had to Ruin it for Everybody…but that’s NOT what this is about. This is about Will Ferrell pretty much selling the shit out of his (Figuratively & Literally) densely layered performance as one Mr. B.L. Zebub while Garth stares at him in disbelief over just how crappy a songwriter he is. The sketch itself is ok, but when you see the kind of Makeup job Ferrell put himself through just to perform here, that alone is worth the price of admission (Just ask Kate McKinnon).


  1. EXORCIST II (12/13/1975) – Just mentioned this a few weeks ago on the Main Page; see it again on the “10/11/2016” entry…”YOUR MAMA SEWES SOCKS THAT SMELL!!” (Which I’m just NOW realizing almost rhymes with “Sucks C***s in Hell”…cute.)


  1. (TIE) THE COTERIE OF SINISTER INTRUDERS & HALLOWEEN CANDY (10/25/2013) – Halloween episodes are guaranteed at least One memorable sketch…Edward Norton’s show in 2013 has the benefit of having two. ”Sinister Intruders” pretty much said it all when they got to the fake NYT Blurb; “You had me at ‘Wes Anderson’”. This was a pretty spot on spoof of all of his movies, right down to the use of a Paul Simon soundtrack. Norton did an uncanny Owen Wilson, Alec Baldwin’s appearance was a nice bonus—though by the time the sketch aired, Baldwin signed some sort of Exclusivity deal with NBC (a deal that must’ve ended recently if he were to host “Match Game” on ABC, but I digress). Even Non-Wes Anderson fans will enjoy this one without saying “I Don’t get it”. As for “Candy”, Although this is TECHNICALLY a re-hash of a sketch Steve Buscemi did two years earlier (only for Michael Keaton to do Again 2 years later), It hasn’t repeated enough times in order for it to warrant the “Recurring” label…also, this is the ONLY one of these types of sketches to air on Halloween, so…screw it, it counts. I always enjoy a good non-sequitur or two…enty, especially in this sketch–largely because there does not seem to be any rhyme or reason of a plot other than to show off certain items in an otherwise amusing way…which, to be honest, can be hit or miss. Don’t get me wrong, this WAS Funny…but there are other questions to ask while watching this–Is Norton channeling John Waters and/or Kevin Spacey in his performance? Is Bobby playing an extension of his “Kitty Guy” with the Diego character? Is Aidy channeling Kathy Bates while playing “Adult Ruth”? Tune in Never to find out the answers to these questions.


  1. THE OintMENt (10/30/1976) – I spelled it that way on purpose because They spelled it that way too. Anyway, at the time, the show was still trying to refine themselves as a movie parody factory—this was a step in the right direction, give or take a little mis-casting (Sorry Buck Henry, but only Gregory Peck can be Gregory Peck). For the most part, this was a pretty decent parody of “The Omen” (Which was released in the same year, so points for being relevant). But what put this over the top (Aside from the twist that Belushi’s “Damien” is the byproduct of both Satan and……a Dog?) was a series of rapid-fires between Buck, Aykroyd as the put-upon priest & the about to quit Chevy. I know I gave Chevy a lot of Shit a few weeks ago, but the one thing I’ll credit him for in this sketch is just how well timed some of the exchanges are.

*This was the same episode as the infamous “Samurai Stockbroker” incident, Everybody was wearing a Bandage by the end of the episode in solidarity.


  1. DARK SHADOWS (12/15/1979) – Believe it or not, this was the first sketch I saw that had Gilda Radner In it. What’s more; I first saw this sketch on the 1994 edition of their Halloween specials, which was actually a rerun of one hosted by Carvey & Myers as Wayne & Garth a few years earlier (“PEOPLE GET KILLED BY MUNG!”). So back then, you could say this was a “formative” sketch to see—because up to that point my ONLY knowledge of the so-called “classic” years were Aykroyd, Chevy, Jane & Murray—this was essentially a crash course in just how sweetly versatile Gilda was…especially in a sketch like this where her ability to play a child works to her advantage. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that Alan Zweibel is co-responsible for this sketch along with Gilda (after all, she’s the lead & He’s [supposedly] the knife wielding maniac at the end), but don’t quote me. Part of the reason why this worked so well was the escalating fears Gilda was experiencing, and the escalating reactions both Jane & (host) Martin Sheen had in return—especially once we got to the random Gypsy camp living under Gilda’s bed and the parents treating it as if it was a normal thing…I always liked “just because” jokes like that. Of course that final scene with Gilda finding that Zweibel-looking killer in the closet was what gave it the biggest laugh of the sketch, and probably SNL’s Longest at that point.


  1. TRICK OR TREAT (10/25/2008) – Once again; See the Main Page, look for the “8/1/16” entry…Seriously, this might’ve been Forte at his SNL peak (To this day, I’m still a little squeamish about “Potato Chip Thief”).


  1. CHRISTOPHER LEE’S HORROR MOVIE TRAILERS (3/25/1978) – Although this was part of his Monologue, just the fact that a Monster Movie Maestro like Christopher Lee ever hosted the show At All is a feat in itself. But then after a seemingly self-deprecating monologue where Lee complains that he keeps getting Z-Grade movie scripts to things like “The Creature from the Black Studies Program” et. al., we are then treated to further examples of said Z-Grade horror movies; including the legendary Belushi piece, “The Thing that Wouldn’t Leave”. But while that piece is the most iconic part of the collection, it’s not the funniest. First as an appetizer, we get a Dr. Moreau parody in the form of “The Island of Lost Luggage”; which, when you combine Garrett being fiendish, Larraine letting out a decent scream, and Gilda giving a hunchback some Roseannadanna DNA, the parody is capable enough. Then Belushi pretty much playing a version of himself much to Murray and (Especially) Jane’s dismay—hilarity ensues. But for me, the best one was the 3rd Parody—a Jekyll & Hyde piece where Aykroyd plays Vincent Price as the Doctor who drinks the potion–despite more screaming from Larraine—as the piece evolves into “Dr. Jekyll & MR. ROGERS”. For whatever reason, the audience loses its mind over the reveal, and who could blame them? All 3 trailers are made more special thanks to the over-the-top trailer voice that Writer/sometime performer Tom Davis gave in each of the pieces (and thanks to fellow WordPresser “Hot off the Press” for that tidbit). Of course, this was just ONE moment of simulated scares from a classic episode—if the Entire episode was nothing but Horror homages, I would probably have the episode itself as number one. Unfortunately, those moments were more scattered throughout and are forced to occupy a few “Honorable” spots……




TWO OTHER CHRISTOPHER LEE SKETCHES: First, “Mr. Death”; a little girl (Larraine, again) befriends the grim reaper…I could’ve sworn this became an idea for a “Cartoon Network” show years later—Oh, Wait…The other is a sketch where Lee essentially plays “Van Helsing” in an effort to stop Richard Nixon from publishing his Memoirs……..It made more sense back then. There’s also a good story in the updated Shales/Miller book about how Gilda almost played the girl in “Death”, but because Larraine threatened to quit over that casting, she wound up taking that part from her—pretty shrewd.


COLD AS ICE BY GARY WEIS: One more from the Lee episode, only this time veteran actor Stacy Keach is seen getting attacked by a beautiful woman while the song by Foreigner plays…….This too must’ve made more sense back then—and it also makes me wonder why this episode aired in March of that year, instead of it belonging more obviously in October.


THE SKETCHES THAT JUST AIRED THIS YEAR: It may be too soon to tell just how classic Tom Hanks as “David S. Pumpkins” or Cecily/Aidy/Vanessa pretty much becoming Hot Messes in “A Girls Halloween” can be; but considering how crazy social media is going for these two sketches as of this writing, it wouldn’t surprise me either one of them became mainstays in future clip shows.


THE FRUITING (1987): One of my Favorite SNL “Bait & Switches”; you think it’s a commercial for Produce, then you realize that “Monty Python” may have been right the whole time about defending yourself against a piece of fruit. The atmosphere of 80s horror movies is there, but the premise itself might’ve been a little TOO silly…especially when using a can of peaches as spiritual incense to ward off evil spirits.


THE CURSE OF THE WOLFMAN (1991): Some time in the future, I want to discuss why I enjoy “So Bad, It’s Good” movies; but until then, I’d like to call this sketch w/Christian Slater “Patient Zero” as to why I do. It makes fun of just how low budget Z-Grade movies can be sometimes. Unfortunately, this is one of those times when a Transcript doesn’t give the sketch much justice—Trust me, the purposely bad line readings from Slater is what makes this work. And speaking of our favorite Jack Nicholson impersonator…


CHRISTIAN SLATER’S MONOLOGUE (1993): Though not quite good enough to make the cut of my previous Monologues list, there’s something about “Mr. Robot” (and Farley) acting like a giddy little kid going trick or treating around 8H that seems kind of quaint in hindsight.


BRIDE OF BLACKENSTEIN (2011): I’ll be honest, I don’t really care for Nikki Minaj the singer, but DAMN if Nikki the actress doesn’t give it her all on this one.



As usual, I have a feeling I missed a number of REALLY good ones; but as usual, there was limited space and limited memories to remember. So if YOU have any favorites worth mentioning, please do below in that box where you comment on things. I promise I won’t give you any Razorbladed apples.


NEXT WEEK: At Long Last—with just Days to go until America’s Final Election, no less—a look at some of the Greatest non-debate Political sketches in SNL history. But TOMORROW, since there’s actually going to Be an “SNL Vintage” tonight, you’ll be seeing a Bonus review from me. Until then, remember–Mung is the Scariest thing imaginable. Happy Pumpkin Day!


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