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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 13 October 2011
The Halloween Special was a much anticipated viewing event for Psychoville fans when it was broadcast on BBC2 in October 2010, a perfect piece of `appointment television' for Halloween night.

The Gothic, so important to Psychoville's distinctive flavour across both series, is the narrative driving force here.

The abandoned, dilapidated former Ravenhill Psychiatric Hospital, full of foreboding shadows & empty, echoing rooms in the middle of the night, is the perfect gothic set up. The Special's main protagonists are Drew, a fragile, damaged young man and Phil Walker, a TV locations manager for a `Most Haunted' style TV show, who is doing a recce of Ravenhill. Drew grew up opposite the hospital and had the misfortune to encounter Nurse Ketchington, the flinty, sadist Governess of Ravenhill, when he broke into the place as a Halloween dare when he was a boy. Haunted by the events he saw and heard that night, he assumes the role of Phil's (& our) guide around Ravenhill.

This is the brilliantly atmospheric backdrop around which the portmanteau storytelling takes place. Mr Jelly, Joy & George Aston, Oscar Lomax & the Sowerbutts feature in four Halloween tales which blend urban myth, original spins on horror clichés and lovingly referenced classic and modern horror films, all shot through with the emotional resonances that Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton always bring to their characters.

A recurring theme running through the stories is established in the opening scenes by Nurse Ketchington, as she holds forth on the true traditions and meaning of Halloween - that the wearing of masks at Halloween is to ward off evil spirits and the thin dividing line between the living and the dead is at its closest on All Hallow's Eve. This thematic thread of masks, mirrors, reflections, disguises and the past haunting the present is cleverly interwoven throughout the Special and appears in subtle, telling ways to create chillingly memorable moments.

These moments engender a sense of dread, a feeling of being unsettled or a creeping uncomfortable tension. That they occur in a seemingly natural, unforced way as part of the storytelling is testimony to the brilliance of Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton. They're in complete command of the material, they know their horror intimately and know exactly what they're doing down to the most minute detail.

The Halloween Special is also brilliantly directed (by Matt Lipsey) and beautifully shot. Its visually arresting from the opening moment with Ravenhill Hospital seen at night, lit only by a full moon and a flash of lightening. Startling images abound & the memory of them has stayed with me - Mr Jelly's ghostly child tormentors in `Haunted Air' Halloween masks; Julian Bleach flowing slowly across a hospital room; a grisly, gory Jack-o-lantern; the masked inmates of Ravenhill; a human alarm system powered by electric shocks to the head.

It is also laugh out loud funny with hilariously cherishable lines & visual jokes, from the blackly comic to the purely silly. The Sowerbutts in particular shine in the hitchhiking scenes at the roadside & in the car.

The Halloween Special deserves to be as celebrated as The League of Gentlemen's Christmas Special as an outstanding creative piece of work inspired by a seasonal celebration. It shows the heights of creativity that television can achieve when imagination, unique talent and a dedicated production team are at the helm.

The dvd itself is good value with a nice selection of extras on it too including Phil Walker's location tour & Mr Jelly's Halloween. Created and shot by Reece and Steve in documentary interview style, Mr Jelly's simmering anger is both funny and unsettling close up on camera, whilst Phil Walker's chat about tv production work is a hilarious comment on the state of much of today's television.

The Psychoville Halloween Special is a fantastic stand alone creation, but also answers questions left by the S1 cliffhanger as well as priming fans for S2. It is thoughtful, clever and brilliant. The quality of it is such that rewatching it time and again is an enriching experience, for there are always things that await discovery that were missed on a first viewing, such is the scope of creativity & attention to detail on show.

Its very sad there is to be no more Psychoville, but it will always be remembered and cherished by fans as a brilliant work of unique storytelling and unforgettable characters.
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on 11 October 2011
Right firstly ignore the non 5 star ratings,this is pure gold.I have to confess and say I hadnt seen series 1 when this was broadcast,but seeing the trailers I couldnt resist watching.Well,I was then hooked(no pun intended Mr Jelly!),I then lapped up series 1 on DVD,and onto series 2.But back to this special,it stands as a link between the two series,but also works as a stand alone aswell.All the main characters appear,the afore mentioned Mr Jelly,David and Maureen,Mr Lomax,and Joy in stories not unlike the Hammer or other films of the 70s,with inter linking material.Funny,and scary in places,this is great stuff for a dark October evening.So,sit back,switch the lights off,and enjoy,Trick or Treat anybody?
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on 2 April 2016
This is NOT THE SAME VERSION featured on the SEASON 2 dvd set. This is the correct UK version with a whole 10 to 20 minutes of extra scenes that were not in the season 2 dvd (which featured the US version) This also has a Commentry track from Steve Pemberton & Reece Shearsmith which is also not available on the season two version. I did not know any of this when buying & upon realising i had bought The Halloween Special twice was initially miffed as it is not mentioned it was on Season two. But upon realising it had extras was very pleased indeed.
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on 7 November 2011
this is very good however if you have series 2 this halloween special is included as a special feature but is not mentioned when looking at product description
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on 8 August 2014
Bought this and then got the series 2 DVD which I didn't realise has the Halloween Special on a separate disc! Never mind, I can always give it to a charity shop.

This Halloween special has different stories like an anthology and is well worth the money.
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on 20 January 2016
Fans of Psychoville, you need this.

I don't suppose you'd really need to see the series first, you can jump in on this. Scary, a little bit gory, but mostly hilarious.

As usual, great work from Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton.
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on 1 April 2013
I enjoyed this very much thats because I liked the first two series of the program and I did not know that they made an halloween version so it was a surprise.I recommend any one who got thbe first two to get this one as well
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on 12 December 2013
As it says in the headline/summary. I remember watching it on BBC2 couple of years ago. A great DVD to watch on the night. It should be shown EVERY Halloween by the BBC.
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VINE VOICEon 6 October 2011
This Special should have been released with the Series 2 DVD set. For some reason, the BBC mistakenly used the edited US transmission for the DVD, instead of the full version as shown on BBC 2. So, it seems we are now expected to fork out again if we want to own the correct version of the show, even though the BBC was responsible for the error! I think thats a damn cheek, and they should have done a disc recall/exchange on the series 2 release to correct their mistake. This was a great show, so my one star rating is given to show my disgust at the ripoff.
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on 29 January 2014
Well worth the money as it had me in stitches throughout. The characters are all as mad as badgers nice to see we still have enough talented people who can produce stuff like this well done!
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