"Hallowe'en Party" is a Halloween-themed episode of the British detective series Agatha Christie's Poirot. It first aired in the United Kingdom on ITV 1 on October 27, 2010. The episode is an adaptation of Agatha Christie's 1969 novel of the same name but the action is moved to the 1930s and the plot is somewhat simplified.
The crime writer Ariadne Oliver attends a children's Halloween party at a large country house in the village of Woodleigh Common. One of the partygoers, a girl named Joyce Reynolds, boasts that she once witnessed a murder. Shortly afterwards, she is found drowned in an apple bobbing tub. Ms Oliver contacts her friend, the Belgian-born former police officer turned private detective Hercule Poirot, in the hope that he can find the murderer. Unlike almost everyone else, Poirot takes Joyce Reynolds' claim that she once saw a murder seriously and believes that it is the reason why she was killed. He soon finds out that several other people have died in mysterious circumstances in the village in recent years and gradually uncovers the sinister truth behind those deaths.
Ariadne Oliver, the famous crime writer, has come to the village of Woodleigh Common to visit her friend Judith Butler and her daughter Miranda. Mrs. Butler says that she is a widow and that her husband was a pilot who died in an accident.
On Halloween night, Ms Oliver is taken to a party at the largest house in the village, the home of Mrs. Rowena Drake and her grown up children Frances and Edmund. The party is also attended by the local vicar, the Reverend Cottrell, and several costumed children. It is briefly crashed by a woman named Mrs. Goodbody, who is wearing a witch costume and offers to tell the guests' fortunes, but she is soon forced to leave. One of the children at the party, a girl named Joyce Reynolds, tries to impress Ms Oliver by saying that she once saw somebody being murdered. Most of the other people at the party, including Joyce's brother Leopold, tell her to be quiet and stop lying.
Later, the children play a game called Snapdragon, in which they have to retrieve raisins from a bowl of lighted brandy. The room is in darkness, the only light coming from the blue flames in the bowl. During the game, Ariadne Oliver goes out into the hallway and sees Mrs. Drake drop a vase full of flowers, causing her to drench herself with water. After the game has finished and the lights are switched on again, Joyce Reynolds is found to be missing. She is found shortly afterwards in the library, lying with her face in the apple bobbing tub, dead.
In London, the detective Hercule Poirot listens to a ghost story on the radio for a short time before switching the program off in disgust. Poroit's butler, George, feels confused by what Poroit has done. The detective comments that in his native Belgium, the end of October and the beginning of November is a time of year for honoring the memory of the dead, not one for telling macabre stories. Soon afterwards, he receives a telephone call from his friend Ariadne Oliver, asking him to solve the mystery of Joyce Reynolds' death.
The following morning on the train to Woodleigh Common, Poirot meets a charming man who says that he is a gardener named Michael Garfield. Garfield says that he is also going to Woodleigh Common, his home, and that he has been away from England for some time and living in Greece. Poirot asks Garfield who the local gossip is in Woodleigh Common and he is advised to see Mrs. Goodbody, with the warning that she may be a witch.
Mrs. Goodbody tells Poirot that there have been three other mysterious deaths in the village recently, any one of which could possibly be the murder which Joyce Reynolds said that she saw. Mrs. Llewellyn-Smythe, the aunt of Mrs. Rowena Drake and the previous owner of the house where Rowena Drake now lives, died suddenly shortly after hiring a Czechoslovakian au pair girl named Olga Seminoff, who was brought to England by the Reverend Cottrell. Mr. Lesley Ferrier, a solicitor's clerk, was stabbed to death by an unknown killer. Miss Beatrice White, Joyce Reynold's former teacher, was found drowned in a pond. Many parents did not want Miss White to teach their children because they were suspicious of the nature of her close relationship with Miss Elizabeth Whittaker, the church organist.
The local police inspector, Timothy Raglan, believes that Joyce Reynold's murder was simply an opportunistic killing by a passing tramp and does not want any assistance from Poirot. Nevertheless, Poirot continues his investigation. Questioning Lesley Ferrier's former employer, Mr. Fullerton, Poirot is told that Ferrier had a criminal record and had served time in prison. He also finds out that Mrs. Llewellyn-Smythe's will was amended shortly before she died so that she left her home to Olga Seminoff. However, the codicil was later found to be a forgery, Rowena Drake inherited her aunt's house and Olga Seminoff disappeared almost immediately afterwards.
Everybody that Poirot speaks to tells him that Joyce Reynolds liked to exaggerate and tell tall stories. The Reverend Cottrell tells Poirot that one of Joyce's uncles went to India on vacation but Joyce later claimed that she had been there herself and told everyone abput all the elephants and tigers that she saw. The Reverend Cottrell later confirms that he arranged Olga Seminoff's job at Mrs. Llewellyn-Smyhthe's house as part of a program to find work for young Czechoslovakians in England. The program was cancelled after Olga disappeared. Olga never returned home and her parents continue to blame the vicar for her disappearance.
Poirot also finds out that Joyce's brother Leopold is not very bothered by her death and that he is wearing a new gold watch, which Leopold claims he bought himself after saving up his pocket money. Poirot also finds out that Michael Garfield is no longer employed as the gardener at Rowena Drake's house but that he continues to work in the garden anyway, against the wishes of Mrs. Drake who claims to hate him. From a comment which Elizabeth Whittaker makes, Poirot discovers that Beatrice White's drowning death was not murder but suicide.
When Leopold Reynolds is found drowned in the same spot where Beatrice White died, Inspector Raglan allows Poirot to help with the investigation. Having been given access to Lesley Ferrier's belongings, Poirot finds another codicil which also leaves Mrs. Llewellyn-Smythe's home to Olga Seminoff but it is genuine.
Remembering the vicar's comments about Joyce pretending that she went to India instead of her uncle, Poirot realizes that Joyce did not really see a murder but one of her friends did. The police arrive in time to save Miranda Butler, who really saw Olga Seminoff being murdered, before she is killed by Michael Garfield.
After Garfield's arrest, Poirot puts it to Mrs. Rowena Drake that she and Garfield were lovers and that the two of them were responsible for all the recent murders, which had been carried out in order for them to take and keep possession of Mrs. Llewellyn-Smythe's house. After having found out that Mrs. Llewellyn-Smythe planned to change her will, they poisoned her. Lesley Ferrier was told to make a deliberately bad forged codicil which would make suspicion fall on Olga Seminoff. Lesley Ferrier was killed to ensure his silence and Olga Seminoff was killed to make it look as if she had fled to escape punishment for the death of Mrs. Llewellyn-Smythe. Her body was buried in the garden by Garfield. That was witnessed by Miranda Butler and she later confided the details of it to Joyce Reynolds. At the Halloween party, Joyce told all the details of the murder in the garden to Rowena Drake. She drowned Joyce, becoming drenched in water in the process, and deliberately dropped the vase of flowers in order to cover up her crime. Joyce's brother Leopold witnessed his sister's murder. For a while, Rowena Drake bought his silence, giving him the money which he used to buy the gold watch, but eventually decided it would be safer to kill him as well. Garfield confirms what Poirot says.
Poirot adds that Garfield never really loved Rowena Drake. The love of his life was Judith Butler and he is Miranda Butler's real father. Poirot explains that he has figured out that Judith's husband, the brave pilot, never existed because there is not a single photograph of him in Judith's house. Poroit goes on to comment that there was a natural bond between Miranda and Garfield, although it did not prevent him from contemplating her murder. After hearing this, Edmund and Frances Drake are both shocked. A desperate Mrs. Drake yells at Miranda and tries to kill the girl, who is now weeping, but Inspetor Raglan stops her. She cries and begs Garfield to tell everyone that what Poirot said is not true. However, Garfield rejects her request coldly. He reveals that all he wants is money to build a garden on a Greek island. He adds that he loved Judith once but abandonned her when she lost her beauty. Inspector Raglan arrests Mrs. Drake and takes her and Garfield away.
The next day, with the help of Poirot, the police find Olga's corpse in Mrs. Drake's garden. The episode ends with Poirot saying once again that the time of year is better suited to honoring the memory of the dead rather than telling horror stories. He suggests to Judith Butler and Ariadne Oliver that they go to church to light a candle. The final shot is of a rotting jack-o-lantern which is still hanging on the gate of Mrs. Drake's house.
- Hercule Poirot - David Suchet
- Ariadne Oliver - Zoë Wanamaker
- Rowena Drake - Deborah Findlay
- Judith Butler - Amelia Bullmore
- Miranda Butler - Mary Higgins
- Michael Garfield - Julian Rhind-Tutt
- Leopold Reynolds - Richard Breislin
- Mrs. Goodbody - Paola Dionisotti
- Rev. Cottrell - Timothy West
- Olga Seminoff - Vera Filatova
- Mrs. Llewellyn-Smythe - Phyllida Law
- Mr. Fullerton - Eric Sykes
- Frances Drake - Georgia King
- Edmund Drake - Ian Harrald
- Inspector Raglan - Paul Thornley
- Joyce Reynolds - Macy Nyman
- George the butler - David Yelland
- Ellezabeth Whittaker - Fenella Woolgar
- Mrs. Reynolds - Sophie Thompson