Play Hard

The best scary Halloween films and TV shows

Written by Chris Kingston
Published 21.10.2023

Lights out, candles on, scary film – we love this autumn vibe. Here’s our pick of the best Halloween films and TV shows streaming right now for the ultimate scare.

 

CLASSIC HORROR MOVIES

The best scary Halloween films, movies and Tv shows

The Exorcist – 1975

50 years ago, the most terrifying horror movie in history landed on cinema screens around the world (well, it was scary at the time, maybe not by today’s standards).

Based on the novel by William Peter Blatty, a young girl named Regan is possessed by a mysterious entity. Her mother seeks the help of two priests to save her daughter. The movie has some remarkable special effects for its era, and it really does stand the test of time.

If you fancy some more supernatural action, then The Exorcist: Believer is also on at cinemas.

The Best Scary Halloween Films

The Shining – 1980

Another horror movie classic is Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of the bestselling novel by Steven King.

One of those movies where you either love it or hate it, at the time fans of the novel were outraged by the changes made to King’s beloved work – in fact Steven King himself famously isn’t a fan of the movie, but over the years it has ingrained itself into a horror movie classic.

It follows a family as they head to an isolated hotel called The Overlook for the winter where a sinister presence influences the father to commit acts of violence, while his son, who has a mysterious power called The Shining sees horrific forebodings from both the past and the future.

With an unforgettable over-the-top performance from Jack Nicholson who steals the show, this is a chilling movie with some of the most iconic scenes in movie history – it’s a truly terrifying watch.

The Best Scary Halloween Films Psycho

Psycho – 1960

One of the greatest films ever made (in our humble opinion) and one of the best movies on this list.

Featuring dark and twisted storytelling and masterful direction from the master of suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock, this movie follows Marion Crane who is trusted by her employer to bank forty thousand dollars. Seeking to start a new life, Marion decides to leave town with the money.

Tired after her drive she pulls into the Bates Motel and meets a quiet young man called Norman Bates – a man who seems to be dominated by his mother. If you are watching this movie for the first time, then you’re in for a real treat.

The now iconic shower scene paved the way for the slasher franchise that still thrives today.

The Best Scary Halloween Films

Halloween – 1978 

We’re not just recommending this one because it has Halloween as the title of the movie, in fact, we’ll never stop recommending this classic horror movie. From the iconic opening theme tune to Michael Myers who has to be one of the horror genre’s greatest villains.

The plot is simple to follow. 15 years after murdering his sister on Halloween night in 1963, Michael Myers escapes from a mental hospital and returns to the small town of Haddonfield, where he intends to kill again.

Halloween soon spawned a franchise that comprises 13 movies. The original will always be the best. although the recent trilogy does come in as a close second.

RECENT HORROR MOVIES

The Best Halloween Films and TV Shows Scary

Goodnight Mommy

Twin brothers arrive at their mother’s house and begin to suspect that something just isn’t right with her and she’s an impostor, following her recent surgery leaving her with a face wrapped in bandages.

Naomi Watts stars in this psychological horror that is based on the 2014 Austrian horror movie of the same name. If you get a chance, watch the original movie, but be warned that it is dark, violent and drenched in dread – perfect for fans of extreme horror. If you find you can’t hack it though, it might be a good idea to just stick with the remake.

In the tall grass best scary halloween films

Last Night in Soho

In this psychological thriller, an aspiring fashion designer named Eloise dreams herself into the 1960s where she meets a dazzling singer named Sandie played by the brilliant Anya Taylor Joy.

But her ritzy, nightly reverie soon starts to rip apart at the seams when her dreams of the past begin to crack and splinter into something much darker.

 

In the Tall Grass

This one is based on the short novella by father/son team Steven King and Joe Hill. After they hear a young boy’s cry for help, a sister and brother venture into a vast field of tall grass to rescue him. But they soon discover that there may be no way out and that something evil lurks within the grass that quickly disorients and separates them.

Cut off from the world beyond the grass and unable to escape the field’s tightening grip, they soon come to discover that the only thing worse than getting themselves lost, is actually being found.

Doctor Jekyll 2023 The Best Scary Halloween Films

Doctor Jekyll

Like Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolfman, etc, Doctor Jekyll keeps getting the modern re-imagining treatment and if Eddie Izzard’s new movie is anything to go by, we could be in for a real treat.

Based on the 1886 novella The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, Doctor Nina Jekyll made herself a fortune in the pharmaceutical industry, rubbing shoulders with the elite and also becoming a household name.

But success came at a cost, after a scandal forced her out of the spotlight she now lives in seclusion with her demons. In need of an assistant Jekyll hires Rob, an ex-convict straight out of rehab, trying to get back on his feet.

However, it soon becomes clear that there are evil forces at play, and Rob finds his wits tested in a game of cat and mouse with a mysterious and manipulative entity.

TV SHOWS

Goosebumps Disney Plus Best Halloween TV Shows

Goosebumps – Disney+

If you fancy something more light-hearted, look no further.

Based on the beloved and rather iconic horror adventure books by author R L Stine, this new 10-part series tells the story of five teenagers who accidentally disturb an evil force in the cellar of a haunted house.

When strange things start happening to them, they have no choice but to try and track down the spirit and unpack the mystery of why it’s tormenting them.

Think Stranger Things, but with more family-friendly vibes.

Burning Girls The Best Halloween TV Shows Scary

The Burning Girls – Paramount Plus

Based on the hit novel by CJ Tudor, a British horror thriller writer who has been described as a female Steven King.

This six-part series follows Reverend Jack Brooks and her daughter Flo as they arrive in the small village of Chapel Croft. Both are looking for a fresh start, however, what they find is a community that’s brimming with secrets, with two young girls having disappeared from the village 30 years prior.

The Burning Girls sees Jack and Flo delve deep into the history of Chapel Croft and become entangled in a dangerous ancient conspiracy.

The Fall of the House of Usher Best Halloween Scary Films

The Fall of The House of Usher – Netflix

The Fall of the House of Usher is based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe and follows two siblings battling for control of their father’s business empire.

Madeline Usher and her brother Roderick are visited by an old friend at their mansion and the friend finds that the two are sick – they both seem to have developed an unknown illness that has granted them unusual powers.

This eight-part series comes from director Mike Flanagan who has a great track record of producing creepy horror for Netflix and this will be his final series for the streaming service, with The Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting of Bly Manor and Midnight Mass to his name.

The Fall of The House of Usher looks set to be his best one yet. This series also has a touch of Succession to it…

Best Halloween Scary Films

Interview With the Vampire – BBC Two

Despite what you may think, this is not a story of a vampire applying for a night shift job at the local blood bank. It is in fact, the story of Louis de Pointe, a vampire who seeks to tell the story of his life (or afterlife) to renowned journalist Daniel Molloy.

Beginning in early 20th century New Orleans, Louis’ story follows his rather strange relationship with the vampire Lestat du Lioncourt and their new family.

Together, the vampire family endures a life of immortality.

Christopher Kingston
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