Christmas variety show specials led by celebrity hosts from PeeWee Herman to Julie Andrews conjure up images of yesteryear, cozy alongside a crackling fire. The Boulet Brothers didn’t want the October Children to be left out in the cold, so they’ve set out to conjure up a feeling of a different sort with their brand new The Boulet Brothers’ Halfway to Halloween TV Special. The Boulets describe it as “A scripted variety show, we’re the hosts of it, and we actually wrote and directed most of it, too. It’s sort of like Saturday Night Live mixed with those old-school ’80s Christmas specials that you’d see on CBS or ABC, where they get all their network stars together and put on a big variety show. It’s just a huge Halloween celebration for people who love Halloween and horror and don’t want to wait until October 31 to get their fix.” The partnership between The Boulet Brothers and Shudder has already proven plenty fruitful, with The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula and The Boulet Brothers’ Dragula: Titans breaking viewership records for the streaming platform.

While a variety show format is different from the competition-style fare we’ve seen from the Brothers on Shudder in the past, it seems they have been building to this moment since the inception. Between their live events and their existing shows on Shudder, a Halloween-focused variety show seems like the perfect marriage of all the best bits of The Boulets. “I feel like it’s the perfect thing for us to do, and a lot of other people gel with it. It really does feel like one of those specials, too, and you’ll see the styling of it. You’ll get it when we first introduce all the guests and everything at the beginning. It’s very much in line with those specials and that sort of branding.”

And what’s a variety show without a star-studded lineup? The Halfway to Halloween TV Special will feature a horrific guest list, including genre favorites Matthew Lillard, Barbara Crampton, and musical act Twin Temple, plus tons more. When it came down to deciding who to call in for this, the Boulets say it came down to their ideas for various potential guests. “We had this idea for Felissa [Rose] I wanted to do forever. This is the perfect opportunity, she was down, and we made it happen. So it was just kismet and energy.”

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David Dastmalchian is one of the special’s spooky guests, a former Dragula guest judge, and his newly founded production company, Good Fiend Films, is also associated with the Halloween special. “It’s so rare to meet someone who genuinely speaks your language, sees the world through the same weird prism that you do, but also can be a cheerleader for you, and applaud your successes. He does that for us, and we do that for him. So it’s one of these rare, precious friendships and working relationships I will protect at all costs because it was just such a joy to work with him, and I can’t wait to do more.”

Drac likens Dastmalchian to another favorite icon, “I really think of David as almost the Christopher Lee in the making of our time because he’s in everything. He finds a way to get into things that are just so fitting for his brand, and he loves horror. He does so much for the community, just out of the goodness of his heart, and I feel like we’re seeing a horror icon in the making happening. But not as a character, as who he is.”

More often than not, a running theme in those vintage Christmas specials was a fun premise that failed to deliver. “The packaging was always fantastic, and it got me so excited. But then I would watch them, and half the time, they would be total flops. For whatever reason, the content wasn’t entertaining, and you’re like, ‘This is boring and weird.'”

To combat that, The Boulets focused on writing and creating fun bits for their guests and kept the special to a one-hour runtime. “It’s so easy to get 45 minutes in, and you’re like, okay, I don’t know if I could bear another 45 minutes of these skits because you love it, but it can be exhausting. So we made sure this is fast. It’s electric. It feels warm and fuzzy. It’s so dead wrong. The humor is so dark. It leaves you really wanting more.”

The biggest inspiration for the special isn’t what you’d call “dud-free,” but the Boulets found things to love and be inspired by. Drac recalls, “The one that I love is The Paul Lynde Halloween Special, and it is a dud. It’s a dud from start to finish.” Swan enthusiastically shares the sentiment, “Exactly. It’s Paul Lynde for me, but it is chock-full of duds. I mean, the whole thing is!”

The last time we caught up with The Boulets, they teased a new project coming down the pipeline in April. The shift to a Halloween variety show was a last-minute whim, different from the original plan they teased in the last chat, but Shudder was on board with the switch, and then it was full-steam ahead to the finish line. But during our talk this week, the Boulets did share another surprise currently in the works. Drac teased, “So this [variety show] is one of the projects, the other project we still can’t say anything about. I can say we are working on another TV show with Blumhouse, but we can’t say what it is yet.” Two things for us uglies to be wildly excited about! The Boulet Brothers’ Halfway to Halloween TV Special and the unnamed Boulet and Blumhouse collaboration.

While we wait for more information about that secret Blumhouse project, we at least have the Halfway to Halloween special to look forward to. “It’s very fun. That’s one thing we want to tell people. It’s not serious. So we do want people to know that before they go in. It’s very fun. It’s like you’re hanging out with the horror community and just having fun, making content about Halloween that’s totally just goofy and dark. Bitingly dark humor.”

The Boulet Brothers’ Halfway to Halloween TV Special will premiere on Shudder, AMC Networks’ premium streaming service for horror, thrillers and the supernatural, and AMC+ on Tuesday, April 25. Take a look at the official trailer below.

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