While there was never an actual Columbo Halloween episode (aside from a costume party in Death Hits the Jackpot of course), the show has enough spooky connections to warrant a seasonal special.
So do sit back with a pumpkin-spice latte and peruse through the vault of horror as we consider Columbo‘s spookiest stars! I’m not by any means a student of classic horror so it’s conceivable I’ve missed dozens of others. Please put forward your suggestions in the comments section below!
One of the genre’s most ubiquitous and iconic figures, Vincent Price appeared in dozens of horror films over several decades. The King of Horror delighted Columbo fans with his all-too-brief role as David Lang in 1973’s Lovely but Lethal.
She was perhaps the iconic horror film victim of all time as Marion Crane in 1960’s Psycho before going on to commit murder in the role of Grace Wheeler in Forgotten Lady 15 years later.
Miles co-starred as Janet Leigh’s sister Lila in Psycho – evidently enjoying the experience sufficiently to reprise the role in Psycho 2 more than 20 years later. Columbo fans know her best for her uber-stylish portrayal of murderer Viveca Scott in Lovely but Lethal.
I’ve never actually seen this, so can’t comment on how similar (or otherwise) Pleasence’s psychiatrist Dr Sam Loomis in Halloween was to Adrian Carsini in Any Old Port in a Storm. He must have enjoyed his time going head to head with psychopath Mike Myers, though, as he appeared in four further Halloween sequels. Gotta pay for that LIQUID FILTH somehow, eh Donald?
Jamie Lee Curtis
A year before Halloween helped launch her into the big-time, Jamie Lee Curtis followed mother Janet’s footsteps by appearing in Columbo. Her unforgettable cameo as a surly waitress in 1977’s Bye-Bye Sky High IQ Murder Case raises a smile every time.
Legendary Hitchcock chiller The Birds featured Pleshette as Annie Hayworth – the noble teacher slain by unruly flock while saving school children. She excelled as sad divorcee Helen Stewart in Dead Weight from Columbo‘s first season – and fortunately avoided a grisly demise.
Try & Catch Me’s killer grandma has previous at being bad, as she exemplified perfectly in Rosemary’s Baby in 1968. Gordon’s unforgettable Minnie Castevet was so wickedly wicked that she earned an Oscar for it. And even if her Abigail Mitchell was a shade more sympathetic, it just goes to prove that age is no barrier to being an on-screen bad ass…
Thanks to JetPackSam for pointing out this omission from the original article
Ruth Gordon’s co-star in Rosemary’s Baby, Cassavetes played ‘Guy’, the lover of the titular Rosemary, who was complicit in her being impregnated by the Devil himself. Bad-boy tendencies obviously die hard, as Cassavetes was committing multiple sins in Columbo 4 years later in the role of adulterous murderer Alex Benedict in Etude in Black.
The usually jovial McDowall was cast as down-on-his-luck TV show host / vampire hunter Peter Vincent in 1985 cult classic Fright Night. Roddy’s most terrifying screen moment, however, undoubtedly came in 1971’s Columbo Short Fuse, though. His skintight sky blue trousers are still the stuff of nightmare nearly 50 years on…
Thanks again to JetPackSam for this one
Gorgeous George’s amazingly smooth good looks were put to excellent use in 1979 horror spoof Love at First Bite, which saw his Count Dracula up sticks to New York in search of a new bride. Hamilton was twice a Columbo killer: in 1975’s A Deadly State of Mind; and Caution: Murder Can Be Hazardous to Your Health in 1991.
Comedy legend Leslie Nielsen also got in on the Dracula act in Mel Brooks’ spoof Dracula: Dead and Loving It from 1995. Columbo viewers were able to take him a shade more seriously in his twin outings: Lady in Waiting (1971) and Identity Crisis (1975), where he was brutally slain by Patrick McGoohan.
Not forgetting… the SCARECUT BRIGADE!
Columbo chronicled some seriously bad haircuts over the years, particularly in the 1970s. Here’s a horrifying round-up of some of the scariest cuts ever immortalised on TV…
And there’s (predictably) just one more thing…
Peter Falk never appeared in a horror film that I’m aware of (disabuse me, by all means, if you know better), although he was active in a beyond-the-grave role as a benevolent angel in Wings of Desire. He starred in spoof murder-mystery Murder by Death and also had a tiny cameo in the music video to Ghostbusters (right near the end), so is worthy of inclusion in this article after all. HUZZAH and HURRAH!
So thanks for reading and here’s wishing a Happy Happy Halloween to Columbo fans everywhere (spooky Vincent Price laughter to fade)…