Halloween Movies and TV Shows for Every Audience

Here is a list of films and shows to make your Halloween night special, whether you just want to laugh, or to scare yourself silly.

Lighthearted/Less Scary Movies:

Beetlejuice (1988)

In this classic Halloween movie, Michael Keaton is a tiny maniac, Winona Ryder is a goth icon, and Alec Baldwin and Geena Davis haunt a house. It’s directed by the king of spooky himself, Tim Burton, so you know it’s going to be a strange ride. Though this film is definitely a product of its time, it’s funny, wild, and gives off strong Halloween vibes.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

Another film by Tim Burton, this animated story follows Jack Skellington, who is the king of Halloween Town. When he stumbles across Christmas Town, he is enamoured and attempts to bring Christmas to his own home. This movie is charming and weird with a great soundtrack, and it works for multiple holidays!

Ghostbusters (1984)

This is another classic, with a theme song that has been circulating on Halloween playlists for years. It follows three parapsychology professors who decide to make ghost hunting their business. The somewhat cheesy but still cool special effects are one of the best things about this movie. Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis are the dream team and will crack you up.

Coco (2018)

Coco follows Miguel, a young boy determined to become a musician against all odds. On El Dia de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead), a surprising turn of events brings Miguel to The Land of the Dead, where hijinks ensue as he runs around looking for someone who can help him return home. Coco has a phenomenal voice cast, a foot-tapping soundtrack, and the most vibrant animation Pixar has created in years. The story digs deep into the meanings we attach to roots and culture, and the traditions we maintain to keep departed loved ones alive through our memories.

The Haunted Mansion (2003)

Wholesome family film meets mystery and horror to make this childhood classic. Drawing and departing from the Disney ride it was inspired by, the plot focuses on the Evers’ family as they make a pit stop at Gracey Manor before taking a vacation. The witty dialogue, special effects, and cheesy acting make for a fun watch. Plus, a comedy that brings Eddie Murphy and Wallace Shawn together? Sign me up!

Makdee (2002)

Though Chunni and Munni are twins, they couldn’t be more different — Chunni is a rambunctious prankster while Munni is a dutiful student and daughter. After one of Chunni’s pranks goes awry, Munni ends up trapped in a mansion that, rumor has it, is haunted by a witch known as Makdee (spider). This delightful and spooky tale is an ode to sisters, childhood, and moving forward in spite of fear. You can’t help but smile at this film that takes its young characters seriously, appreciating their spirit and constantly rooting for them.

Monster House (2006)

DJ lives across the street from a creepy house with a cranky old man to boot. After he and his friends discover that the house not only comes to life but also eats people, they must figure out what makes it tick. This film more than does justice to the awkwardness, fear, and pluck of kids (particularly when the nearby adults are useless).

Lighthearted/Less Scary Shows:

The Owl House (2020)

Disney’s The Owl House follows Luz Noceda, a spirited and imaginative teenager, who is sent to a camp that will supposedly teach her to be a responsible adult. But Luz doesn’t make it that far because she follows a portal into a demon realm where she bumps into Eda, a sassy and sharp witch who agrees to teach Luz magic. This show explores the idea of being an outsider and finding your home in people, places, and your own abilities. The dialogue is witty and self-aware, making this story relatable and fun for audiences young and old.

What We Do in the Shadows (2019)

This mockumentary is based off of the 2014 movie of the same name (which is also amazing). It follows the daily lives of a group of vampires living together on Staten Island. The dry and absurd humor really makes this show, and it is hilarious to watch these vampires who have been around for centuries try to fit into modern life.

Scary Shows:

The Haunting of Hill House (2018)

This show centers around five siblings across two different timelines as they’re forced to revisit traumatic experiences from their childhood home. Mike Flanagan subverts the haunted house trope with this slow burning and psychological tale, telling us that we (and those closest to home) create some of our own ghosts. Hill House is personified into a living, breathing, hostile entity that uses its knowledge of each character to get to them, often making us question what’s real. The power it holds doesn’t vanish even when members of the Crain family are miles and miles away, and it lingers with the audience in a similar way.

The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020)

This gothic horror story is a new interpretation of Henry James’ The Turning of the Screw. It is about an au pair hired to care for two orphaned children, with the help of the chef, groundskeeper, and housekeeper. The house has a secretive past and so do the characters, each with a unique and important role to play. Although this show doesn’t include as many horror elements as Hill House, the in-depth look into the characters’ minds and histories is what drives the sense of dread and delirium right from the beginning. The heart of the show is that our memories, though flawed, give us the power to remember people and influence the decisions we make.

Paranormal Lockdown (2016)

If you like ghost hunting shows, this is one of the best out there and is way scarier than most. Seasoned ghost hunters Nick Groff and Katrina Weidman travel the country and stay inside haunted locations for 72 hours straight. They use a variety of technologies to track paranormal phenomena, the coolest one being the GeoPort.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018)

The first season of this show is perfect for Halloween. It’s a darker take on the series from the 90’s, blending the line between good and bad magic, while exploring what it means to be both a high schooler and a witch. Come for Kiernan Shipka’s Sabrina, stay for Miranda Otto and Lucy Davis as Zelda and Hilda.

Lovecraft Country (2020)

In pursuit of his missing father, Black veteran Atticus Freeman travels from Chicago to his ancestral home in rural Massachusetts with his friend Leti and uncle George in tow. They are faced with the real-life horrors of the Jim Crow era along with Lovecraftian terrors from the stories that Atticus holds dear. The timely series centers key parts of Black history and culture with references to Lovecraft’s work, providing a thought-provoking clapback on the late author’s notorious racism.

Marianne (2019)

This chilling French series follows a horror author who writes about her childhood, where she was haunted by a witch named Marianne. When she must suddenly return to her hometown, she finds that Marianne is still very much a threat. This show hooks you in right away and doesn’t let go, with its unsettling story, multifaceted characters, and a truly scary villain.

Scary Movies:

Sinister (2012)

Tired of striking out with his career, a true-crime novelist decides to solve a gruesome murder by moving his family to the place where it happened. After he discovers a box of home movies in the attic, things take a darker turn than he could have imagined. Every kid has been scared of watching something and having it come to life, and Sinister capitalizes on that fear and makes it more visceral. This movie draws you in with the suspense and excitement of solving murders, but the added supernatural elements make it especially unsettling. The events are made all the more unnerving by one of the most groundbreaking horror scores in existence, most notably the frantic percussion and weird synth sounds.

IT (2017)

This is based on Stephen King’s novel and the miniseries from 1990 where a group of children must defend their town from Pennywise, an evil clown. Giving its antagonist the ability to poke inside the minds of kids, It takes the concept of “face your fears” to a whole new level. Pennywise takes a seemingly innocent form that dupes unsuspecting kids and then distorts into something truly bloodcurdling. Bill Skarsgård is the stuff of nightmares as the demonic clown that awakens every 27 years to prey on children, and the CGI in this adaptation really adds to the terror. The story touches on many aspects of horror: jump scares, gore, psychological thrills, childhood phobias, and more.

Insidious (2011)

A young boy becomes comatose while strange paranormal events build around him in the Lambert family’s home. It turns out that Dalton’s ability to mentally travel in his sleep has landed him in The Further, a realm of ghosts. This film explores astral projection, an already mysterious concept, and makes it terrifying. The Further is a foggy, dreamlike hellscape, and what lies within it will stick with you long after the movie ends. Patrick Wilson lives up to his reputation of ‘Scream King’ in his role as Josh, who must face his own demons in order to save his son.

It Follows (2015)

This is an indie film with a unique and enthralling concept. A paranormal being is transferred through sex and finds its way to a group of friends, who must do their best to stay alive while seeking a way to get rid of it for good. This film lures the viewer into a false sense of security until suddenly the invisible killer attacks, even during the day in seemingly peaceful moments. The slow burn allows us to learn about the characters, making us relate to their franticness as they ricochet between safe, not safe, and questioning safety.

Get Out (2017)

Chris, a young Black man, is nervous about meeting his white girlfriend Rose’s family for the first time. Soon after he arrives at their home for a weekend getaway, he is disconcerted by a series of bizarre goings-on. Get Out is a geniusly made satirical film about how racism permeates white American society in subtle yet harmful ways, even among those who truly believe themselves to be progressive. Director Jordan Peele is very deliberate about the pace of the story, knowing exactly when to pause to make us scratch our heads and when to petrify us.

Oculus (2014)

After the mysterious death of his parents, a young boy is believed to be the murderer and convicted. His sister hopes to prove his innocence, convinced that the culprit is actually a supernatural mirror. This is another brilliant horror story helmed by the inimitable Mike Flanagan. Like some of his other work, Oculus taps into the trauma of family dysfunction mixed with the fear of not being able to distinguish fantasy from reality. Be warned, you might want to cover your mirror after watching this one.

Crimson Peak (2015)

This is an underrated horror film directed by Guillermo del Toro. A young author who has always been sensitive to spirits falls in love with a mysterious baronet, and is whisked away to his family’s decaying mansion in the countryside. The longer that she is there, the more she realizes that this house has disturbing stories to tell. Del Toro’s creatures have a dark fantasy quality to them, and the ghosts in this story exemplify that creepy, odd beauty. This film blends romance, mystery, and fear, building up to an explosive end. It’s also hard to unsee Jessica Chastain’s performance as the baronet’s psychotic sister.

Poltergeist (1982)

A family moves into a new home and begins experiencing increasingly aggressive paranormal activity, which comes to a head when their daughter disappears into a different realm. The film’s primary horror comes from an innocent source right within the home: a television set. Since TVs are supposed to be beacons of entertainment, Poltergeist made us feel that nowhere was safe! Unlike other horror movie families, the Freelings are pretty sensible and explore the paranormal things going on in their home instead of denying them or running away. The humor, special effects, and bizarre turns in this movie make it feel both whimsical and disturbing. Poltergeist is a landmark horror film that set the stage for future franchises, especially those that feature children as gateways into other-wordly dimensions. Fun fact: it is the first film that scared the wits out of Aakanksha, enough to make her chuck the VHS tape out a window.

What are your favorite Halloween movies and shows? Let us know in the comments!

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Originally published on our WordPress website on October 31, 2020.

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We are two best friends who share a passion for media, looking to spark discussions and share our takes with fellow enthusiasts.