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For years, I have been trying to track down information about a program I saw around Halloween time. This was probably a two-hour special, featuring four separate stories about 20 minutes in length, and held together by a host who wandered around a party in a posh hotel. The first three stories were basically "whodunnit" mysteries, but it was the fourth story that captured my attention and has remained ever since.

The lead-in was simple: our host said only, "And now, I leave you with a final nightmare."

We begin with a young boy, say 8 to 10 years old, having his birthday party. There is a birthday clown at the party, and he imparts to the boy a special gift. It is just a jack-in-the-box, one that reveals the image of a classic magician when it is opened: tuxedo, top hat, white gloves and a magic wand. The clown intimates somehow that this gift comes with a special wish for the boy.

Then we see that the boy has some serious problems at home. His parents are preparing to go out for the evening, and they are leaving him under the care of a local babysitter. The babysitter seems to be efficient and responsible, but after they leave, she shows her true colors.

When the parents are gone, the babysitter spends the rest of the evening systematically terrifying the boy. She shows a true flair for creating haunting effects, and she would have been quite a hit working for a haunted house attraction. As it was, she was a sadist who showed her power over the boy by frightening him out of his wits. She made scratching sounds against the walls, and echoed whispers and thumps through the vents. The most memorable scene came when she opened the door to his bedroom and stood in the doorway, with the hall light behind her. She wore a long wig that covered most of her face, and in her right hand, she held a kitchen cleaver painted as if by blood. In her left hand, she clutched another long wig, daubed with red as if it were a harvested scalp.

By the end of the evening, the boy is cowering in his closet, clutching the jack-in-the-box to his chest, saying "I wish ... I wish ... I wish..." over and over.

The babysitter has everything cleaned up by the time the parents arrive, and no one is any the wiser. After she returns home, however, she is disturbed by the sound of scratching in her own closet. She goes to investigate, and when the door is opened, a tall figure falls upon her. Stabbed by the knife in the figure's hand, she falls to the floor, and looks up as a man dressed like a stage magician descends with a knife in his hand.

Later, we have occasion to see the jack-in-the-box on the boy's bedroom dresser, open. Now the magician's wand, and his white glove, is stained red.

Has anybody else seen this program? Would anybody know the name of it, and if further information is available on the Internet?

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    Hmm. The Twilight ZoneTV reboot was active in 1985, and they had weekly episodes on October 26 and November 1, but they don't appear to have had a "Halloween Special". – Spencer Oct 27 '20 at 12:45
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I think what you're looking for is a show called "Scene of the Crime", hosted by Orson Welles. Specifically, the episode titled "The Babysitter".

I found this by Googling for "anthology film babysitter magician", which led me to someone else looking for it on The Straight Dope. The whole episode can be found on YouTube, though it's from a VHS and the quality isn't great.

Details which fit:

  • The show was on TV in 1984
  • There's a clown at a birthday party who gives the magician music box to the child
  • The wig and cleaver scene is at about 12 minutes in
  • The babysitter opens a closet and gets stabbed by a tall magician
  • The magician on the music box has blood on it at the end

Details which don't fit:

  • The victim is a little girl, not a little boy
  • It's a music box, not a jack-in-the-box
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  • Splendid! Thanks so much! – Michael Oct 28 '20 at 2:48

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