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Halloween Watchlist: Horror Films and TV to Creep You Out

Sweet, sweet October; harvest-time, crunchy leaves, the calming scent of pumpkin-spice, and of course films and TV shows to warm your heart (WITH TERROR). You don't have to celebrate Halloween to enjoy the chills and frights of horror films and TV.

The following lists include quick descriptions of a variety of films and shows, their ratings, and their streaming platforms. They're organized by different categories in case your looking for something in particular. Many of these titles are graphic in nature, so please view the Parents Guide on their IMDB pages to check for trigger warnings by category (these guides are linked in each list item).

An important side note: for some of these titles, the themes/vocabulary/social beliefs they feature are outdated but do reflect the damaging societal attitudes of the times they were released. For example, in some of these titles, mental illness is associated with violence. The author (that would be me) does not condone such ideas/themes.

Rating symbols: 🔴R/TV-MA/Adults Only 🟡PG-13/TV-14 🟢PG/Family-Friendly

Lists in order: The Classics, Horror/Thriller Shows, Spooky/Thrilling Anime, Diverse Protagonists, 80s Horror, Family Friendly


The Classics

Psycho (1960)

🔴Rated R (could pass as PG-13) - Free on Peacock - Parents Guide

Alfred Hitchcock was barely able to get this film past the strict Hollywood censors of the time but released what is considered one of his greatest works. Based on the book of the same title by Robert Bloch, Psycho follows the story of an Arizona woman, Marion Crane, on the run who journeys into California and meets a charming motel manager named Norman Bates.

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

🔴Rated R/TV-MA (could also pass at PG-13) - Free on IMDB TV and TUBI - Parents Guide

This film can be filed under horror films with POC (People of Color) leads since Duane Jones plays the protagonist Ben. If you're already a fan of zombie flicks, you might be familiar with this pillar of the genre. George A. Romero's film follows a group of Pennsylvanians trapped in a farmhouse while cannibalistic ghouls (well, you know, "zombies") are trying to devour them.

Halloween (1978)

🔴Rated R - Rent from Prime Video, Apple TV, Vudu - Parents Guide

Michael Myers - no, not the actor who voices Shrek - MICHAEL MYERS - is a masked killer with an obsession with his hometown, Halloween, and Jamie Lee Curtis's character. Will the young protagonists make it to the end?

The Silence of The Lambs

🔴Rated R - Free on Peacock - Parents Guide

Imprisoned cannibal, Hannibal Lector, assists an FBI cadet in catching serial killer, Buffalo Bill (who for some reason reminds me of a young Bon Jovi,

but I digress). You'll never look at fava beans the same way.


Horror/Thriller Shows

The Twilight Zone (1959-1964)

🟢TV-PG - Hulu - Parents Guide

The IMDB description of this show reads, "Ordinary people find themselves in extraordinarily astounding situations, which they each try to solve in a remarkable manner." The show has since become a franchise that has spawned spin-offs, theme park attractions, and revival shows. Personally, out of all of the horror films I've watched over the years, PG-rated The Twilight Zone: The Movie from 1983 terrified me the most.

The X-Files (1993-2002, 2016-2018)

🟡TV-14 - Hulu - Parents Guide

FBI agents, Dana Scully and Fox Mulder, investigate strange cases involving suspicions of aliens, cryptids, psychic powers, to unethical experiments. Though I wouldn't call The X-Files a horror series, its elements of science fiction and paranormal cases are intriguing and at times quite creepy.

Hannibal (2013-2015)

🔴TV-MA - Available on Hulu - Parents Guide

This three-season show, deemed as one of (if not) the most violent series in the history of television, follows a younger Hannibal Lector as he works as a psychiatrist and his interactions with FBI profiler Will Graham. Each episode feels like a movie, and at times includes classical music and Food Network vibes.

Strangers from Hell (2019)

🔴TV-MA - Netflix - Parents Guide

Also called Hell Is Other People, a young man named Jongwoo moves into a cheap apartment in Seoul and soon starts to fear his strange neighbors including an intimidating and mysterious dentist.

Alice in Borderland (2020-)

🔴TV-MA - Netflix - Parents Guide

A group of friends in Tokyo discovers that all the people in the city have disappeared. They soon find themselves trapped in a survival game with other players within the city limits. Can they make it out alive and beat the game?

Chapelwaite (2021-)

🔴TV-MA - Epix and Epix channel on Prime Video - Parents Guide

Adrien Brody plays Captain Charles Boone, a mid-19th century man looking to uncover the secrets of his family's shadowy past. Based on the Stephen King short story, "Jerusalem's Lot", this slow-burn show will teach you a thing or two about what goes bump in the night. (FYI, this isn't going to be the only mention of Stephen King adaptations)

Squid Game (2021-)

🔴TV-MA - Netflix - Parents Guide

Could playing and winning children's games really make you a multi-millionaire? The players in this game are people from all walks of life who have run into serious financial trouble and have exhausted all other options of paying off their loans and bills. How far will the players go to win over $35million (or around 40billion won). This is the first Korean drama to be trending at #1 for Netflix USA, and it'll get you thinking about the horrors of greed.


Spooky/Thrilling Anime

Attack on Titan (2013-2022)

🔴TV-MA - Netflix, Hulu, TUBI - Parents Guide

One of the highest-rated TV shows on IMDB, Attack On Titan follows a post-apocalyptic world where giants (titans) roam the Earth, and citizens train and fight back to protect their towns.

Parasyte: the Maxim (2014-2015)

🔴TV-MA - Netflix, Hulu - Parents Guide

The IMDB description of this anime states, "17-year-old Shinichi Izumi is partially infected by a Parasyte, monsters that butcher and consume humans. He must learn to co-exist with the creature if he is to survive both the life of a Parasyte and a human as part monster, part person." This gory sci-fi anime will gross you out!

Tokyo Ghoul (2014)

🔴TV-MA - Funimation, Hulu - Parents Guide

College student Kaneki is attacked by a ghoul and is "turned" - he now craves human flesh and battles with his humanity.

Dorohedoro (2020-)

🔴TV-MA - Netflix - Parents Guide

In a world where magic and sorcerors exist, a man named Caiman is transformed into a part-reptilian creature who has no memory of the sorcerer who cast the spell on him. A kind girl named Nikaidou partners up with Caiman to hunt down the sorcerer while leaving a blood trail of other sorcerers who perform grotesque experiments on humans. However, the head of the sorcerers is willing to put up a fight.


Films with Diverse Protagonists (POC and Women)

Alien (1979)

🔴Rated R - AMC+ on Prime, Sling, YouTube TV - Parents Guide

In the year 2122, a space crew becomes stranded on their ship as a deadly alien stalks them. The main character, Ellen Ripley, doesn't fit the old Hollywood "damsel in distress" archetype but instead uses her wits and skills with a gun and machinery to fight like the baddie she is.

Blade (1998)

🔴R - Free on Peacock - Parents Guide

Based on the Marvel superhero, Blade is a half-human, half-immortal vampire slayer who the vampires are going after themselves! If you're a fan of one-liners and turn of the century CGI, this is the film for you.

Train to Busan (2016)

🔴Rated R - Free on Tubi, Crackle, Peacock, and Pluto TV - Parents Guide

Traveling by train can be fun but not when it's overrun by zombies. This train carries a father and his daughter as they try to escape a spreading zombie virus. This film also stars Choi Wooshik of Parasite who plays a high-school baseball player.

Get Out (2017)

🔴Rated R - rent on Youtube TV, Apple TV, Prime - Parents Guide

Chris is a Black man with a white girlfriend who is hesitant to meet her parents, but through reassurance, they travel to her parents' home. Will it be a nice getaway in the countryside? Or will he need to GET AWAY?


80s Horror Quick List

The Shining (1980)

🔴Rated R - HBO Max, Available to rent on Prime, Apple TV, YouTube, and others - Parents Guide

Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, a writer and his family spend a cold winter in an isolated hotel where their son begins to have disturbing psychic visions. Will Jack ever write his novel or will he struggle with a severe case of writer's block?

Friday the 13th (1980)

🔴Rated R - Free on Pluto TV, Subscription on Prime Video - Parents Guide

This franchise has released -wait for it- TWELVE MOVIES, as well as video games, shows, and merchandise. The majority of the film series takes place at Camp Crystal Lake where young camp counselors and campers are tormented by the vengeful Jason Voorhees. The first film gives background information about Jason and his history at the camp and even stars a young Kevin Bacon. Fact: If you want to see Jason wear the infamous hockey mask, you'll have to wait until Part III! (Bonus fun fact: five of the movies were actually released on Friday the 13th).

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

🔴Rated R - Free on Peacock - Parents Guide

Maybe staying up late isn't too bad? Because in this film, if you fall asleep, your dreams turn into nightmares where you can meet the bladed-glove-wielding Freddy Krueger. Can a young Johnny Depp help stop this nightmare?

Children of the Corn (1984)

🔴Rated R - Free on Tubi and Pluto TV, also available on Hulu - Parents Guide

Here's yet another Stephen King title and not the last! A young couple becomes stranded in a rural town overrun by a cultic group of children. It's a bit cheesy (or "corny" - pun intended), cringe-worthy, but the story is interesting.

Beetlejuice (1988)

🟢PG (could pass as PG-13) - Free on Peacock - Parents Guide

A young, newly deceased couple, haunt their own home and are bothered by a crude poltergeist named Beetlejuice. He calls himself a "bio-exorcist" - meaning he's pest-control and the pest is the family that has moved into the couple's home.

Pet Sematary (1989)

🔴R - Free on Tubi - Parents Guide

At this point, I think we can all agree that Stephen King's stories dominated horror in the 80s. A father discovers a sacred burial ground near his home that has the power to raise the dead. Hmm, a lot of trouble could've been prevented if only folks stay off of sacred land.


Family-Friendly Titles

Goosebumps (1995-1998)

🟢 Rated TV-Y7 (more like PG) - Netflix - Parents Guide

Based on the series by juvenile horror extraordinaire, R.L Stine, Goosebumps is a bit like American Horror Story but FOR KIDS! Like how AHS has a different plot every season, Goosebumps episodes have different scary stories. Childhood is just so much more thrilling when you can read a scary novel under the blankets, but imagine seeing the same stories on the screen. There's also a revival show in progress!

Spirited Away (2001)

🟢 Rated PG - HBO Max - Parents Guide

Though this isn't considered a horror film, it is filled with fantastical creatures and supernatural beings and takes the viewer on a magical journey. 10-year Chihiro discovers the world of the Kami spirits of the Shinto religion. She must save her parents who have been transformed into pigs by a witch.

The Haunted Mansion (2003)

🟢 PG - Disney+ - Parents Guide

This film is based on the Disneyland Parks attraction of the same name. Eddie Murphy plays a realtor who gets called to look at a mansion along with his family. Does its owner really want to sell or does he have other intentions? Can all the ghosts be trusted?

Monster House (2006)

🟢 Rated PG - Netflix - Parents Guide

The animation in Monster House is eye-catching and the jokes will have you giggling. The story follows a group of three young teens who discover that the creepy house down the lane is ALIVE.

Coco (2017)

🟢 Rated PG - Disney+ - Parents Guide

The IMDB description of this Dia de los Muertos-inspired Disney film reads, "Aspiring musician Miguel, confronted with his family's ancestral ban on music, enters the Land of the Dead to find his great-great-grandfather, a legendary singer." This is less of a scary film for kids and more of a film that explores culture and family; grab a box of tissues.

I hope this Halloween season you are able to enjoy and be thrilled by one or more of these titles. Looking for scary reads? Check out: "Scary Reads To Get You Into The Halloween Spirit" by Haley S.

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