Thirty must-watch movies are great, but there’s still some time before Halloween, so why not take a look at some great television shows to binge, too?
The Twilight Zone (1959-1964)
The Twilight Zone is almost synonymous to Halloween, thanks to several decades of television marathons of the show on the holiday. All 156 episodes of this show are self-contained and the series is known for its twist endings. Although not every episode focuses expressly on horror there are quite a few, and last October we took a look at some of the best horror episodes. Although some episodes may seem a little cheesy today, it’s aged remarkably well and still has relevance even in its social commentary and horrors.
The Twilight Zone is available on both Hulu and Netflix, though later reboots of the show are exceptionally difficult to find. The movie sometimes shows up on Netflix as well.
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! (1969-1970)
Halloween isn’t all about being scared–it can be fun, too! Just in case you’re the last person on the planet who isn’t aware of the talking Great Dane Scooby-Doo, the show is about four teenagers and their dog driving around in their van solving mysteries. There’s a theory that the teens are travelling around in the Great Depression or a dystopian future, which explains why so many adults in the show think that dressing like a ghost to scare people off property is a feasible business plan.
Scooby-Doo is Hannah Barbera’s cash cow. You should be able to find the original Scooby-Doo at any time of the year on Cartoon Network and more recent versions of the mystery show on Netflix and Hulu. You can pick up hard copies of almost any of the iterations of Scooby-Doo easily as well.
Tales From the Crypt (1989-1995)
Anthology horror shows had a resurgence in the eighties with shows like Tales From the Darkside, Monsters, and Freddy’s Nightmares. But the champion was Tales From the Crypt, which inspired countless spin-offs, including a Saturday-morning cartoon.
The stories were introduced by the decaying Crypt Keeper, and sometimes relied on a twist ending. Because the show was originally aired on HBO, it upped the ante for allowable violence and risque content. The series drew inspiration from a fifties DC horror comic series of the same name that had a similar format, which was given a death sentence when censors cracked down on comic book content. Censors weren’t a fan of the violence and risque content of the original comic series–isn’t irony fun?
Some of this series is available via Amazon Prime, as well as the series DVD box set. Outside of that, this series is unexpectedly difficult to find, considering its cult following (seriously–Disney Adventures magazine ran a feature on it once).
Are You Afraid of the Dark? (1990-2000)
If you were a nineties kid, you probably have a strong opinion on the Are You Afraid of the Dark? versus Goosebumps debate. This show was similar, though it featured a recurring cast of kids telling different horror stories in the woods, and eventually led to an overarching story.
Unlike Goosebumps, Are You Afraid of the Dark? wasn’t based on a specific brand of books, though sometimes the stories were more modern takes on tales that had fallen into the public domain. Are You Afraid of the Dark? also had a later time slot, so it could get away with more scares and less camp, and anyone who watched it as a kid probably remembers at least one episode that gave them nightmares.
This series can be found on DVD, though it may take some scouting (check the disc region before buying). Last November, Nickelodeon announced a movie based on the property.
The X-Files (1993-2002)
Many cases that seem to involve cryptids, ghosts, or other inexplicable phenomena get thrown into the FBI slush pile for Mulder and Scully to solve. Although there are overarching stories, the essential idea is that they’re solving these individual, more-often-than-not supernatural cases and slowly uncovering unusual behavior within their own government. Some episodes are essential for the overall story, but there are just as many “monster-of-the-week” episodes, which can usually be watched whenever, and are oftentimes a bit more fun.
The X-Files can be found on Netflix and in hard copy–hard copy of any form. I bet there are LaserDisc pressings of episodes out there somewhere, it was that popular in its heyday. The show was brought back for a short revival recently and received the same outpouring of fan love as ever. The two movies didn’t quite get the same response.
The Outer Limits (1995-2002)
The original run of The Outer Limits overlapped with the original Twilight Zone’s run, and although it had its own definite personality, comparisons to Rod Serling’s show sunk it. However, its reboot has done better than any TZ reboot to date.
Each episode stands alone, sometimes features a twist (though they don’t tend to be quite as dramatic as your average TZ twist) and usually has a sci-fi bent, with elements of mystery that can lead to horror. Many episodes of the original series from the sixties were remade and adjusted to fit contemporary issues (you know, communists became terrorists, and so on). The original series does push the boundaries of fifties-sixties campy, so the remade episodes deserve prioritization.
Both the original and reboot of the series are available on Hulu and in box sets, hard copy. Episodes of the show sometimes air late at night or extremely early in the morning on Comet TV, which also hosted a marathon of the show on July 4, playing original episodes and their remakes back-to-back.
Harper’s Island (2009)
A local island has a dark history, but that doesn’t mean you can’t host a wedding there! Friends and family convene for the happy day, which is fun until guests start getting picked off. A great–and genuinely unpredictable–example of suspense/horror TV.
I’ve only ever seen this one on DVD, but it’s worth the buy.
American Horror Story (2011-Present)
Each season of this show acts as its own (mostly) self-contained story based on common horror tropes, such as haunted houses, asylums, circus freak shows, etc. Although this seems to be one of those shows that everyone claims to have stopped watching, it has made it to season 8, so there must be something there. Even former fans agree that the first season (Murder House) is one of the finest pieces of serialized horror out there. Definitely try out the first season if you haven’t seen it yet.
American Horror Story can be bought in hard copy, but it’s also readily available on both Hulu and Netflix.
Encounters With Evil (2016)
If true crime is your cup of tea, this ten-episode documentary series will most likely be up your alley. Each episode has a particular theme, such as cults, and discusses the most infamous folks related to them. Most episodes provide a close look at the often deeply disturbing cases discussed.
Encounters with Evil is currently available on Netflix.
Nightmare High (Also known as Nightmare Teacher) (2016)
This Korean miniseries follows the lives of several high school students after a mysterious new teacher is hired at their school. He seems to have the power to give students whatever they want–at a price, of course. Each student gets a two-episode arc, with an overarching story that receives a satisfying conclusion as well.
Nightmare High is currently available on Netflix.
Do you think this list will satisfy your Halloween cravings until the actual holiday? Are there any must-watches you think we missed? Let us know in the comments below–we’d love to check them out!