Halloween is a little different this year. Not only do you have the incredibly rare Hunter’s Moon this year (aka a Blue Moon) but you also have a global pandemic that makes it difficult to celebrate Halloween as normal. Or to celebrate at all, really.
With everything going on right now, staying home on Halloween sounds like a solid idea. While hanging out at home, the question of “what can I do to have some fun and enjoy myself” is bound to crop up.
In a previous feature, we talked about spooky games for you to play this Halloween weekend, but we understand that sometimes you don’t want to play something.
Sometimes you’d rather microwave yourself a bowl of popcorn, grab a drink, plop down on the couch, and watch a movie like Hocus Pocus.
What if you’re out of ideas when it comes to things to watch? No worries, we’ve got you covered.
In this feature, each member of the Prima team will run through their top five recommendations in regards to what we think you should watch on Halloween.
We’ll explain why we think they’re worth watching, and whether you can watch them on streaming services you already have like Netflix or Prime Video.
We all have very different tastes, so we hope you’re able to discover something that appeals to you that you (hopefully) haven’t seen before. Fingers crossed.
With that out of the way, here are our recommendations!
Prima Picks | What to Watch on Halloween
The ultimate horror slashler classic, at least for just about everyone around my age. Even today Scream feels like a bonafide classic; a horror movie that wasn't afraid to be a little sarcastic, a little self-aware. Most people remember Scream for daring to kill Drew Barrymore in the opening scene, but I remember it best for it being one of the best-written slasher movies out there. Scream actually tells a story, and uses its grounded-feeling characters to do so.
2. The Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn
Sam Raimi's Evil Dead II isn't just a classic of practical effects, nor is it just the movie that led to Army of Darkness. It's the gold standard for horror comedy, a movie that perfectly blends serious horror conventions with visual humor and Three Stooges-style slapstick. It's weird, it's gross, it's genuinely hilarious. There are few movies out there to nail this goofy horror subgenre as well as Evil Dead 2 does.
3. Devilman Crybaby
It's hard to classify Devilman Crybaby as a straight horror show, although the story is largely about humanity being overtaken by violent demons. Based on the classic 1970s manga by Go Nagai, Devilman Crybaby is only one of many adaptations of that formative work, but it's easily the most thought-provoking and visually arresting of the bunch.
The reality of Devilman Crybaby is constantly in flux and things that don't seem real or even believable just sort of happen at times, but underneath the "weird" on the surface is a fascinating story that can be read through several aspects of real life experiences, each interpretation having value well beyond the pages of the manga.
4. John Dies at the End
Yeah, back to horror comedy. Based on a book by ex-Cracked editor David Wong, John Dies at the End is about a pair of terminal slackers turned into paranormal investigators due to a mysterious drug called "Soy Sauce." After being exposed just once, the secrets of the universe are revealed to John and Dave, secrets that were right in front of them the whole time. Also, a ghost turns a doorknob into a penis when someone tries to open it, and that's just funny.
5. Three Extremes
I don't always have the attention span for full movies or anime series, but I love anthologies. Three Extremes is one of the best in horror, featuring three of the most talented writers and directors from Asia each bringing their own individual and cultural flavor to the mix.
There's Japanese legend Takashi Miike, the younger but still powerful Park Chan-wook (Oldboy), and China's award-winning Fruit Chan, known for combining outlandish aspects of life with the mundane for heavy, but relevant material. All three of these movies are super intense, and Fruit Chan's "Dumplings" also has a full-length treatment which is even more brutal than the version in this anthology.
Halloweentown, the Disney Channel Original Movie, is a staple of my Halloween/Shocktober lineup. It’s fun, friendly, has a great cast of monsters and creatures alike, and provides a child-friendly movie. Not to mention it’s on Disney+, so once you’re done watching The Mandolorian Season 2 today, you can just click a few buttons and go to Halloweentown.
2. Friday the 13th
The original Friday the 13th is actually still a solid slasher film. Sure, it begins to really go off the rails by the time Jason takes Manhattan, but the original story at Camp Crystal Lake is still a classic. I recently rewatched it, and it still holds up. The practical effects and blood are certainly dated, but it helps cement it as a proper film of its time.
3. Ready or Not
Now this one isn’t really a Halloween movie, but it’s a good comedy/thriller about a family playing a deadly game of hide & seek to appease Satan. It’s weird, funny, charming, and genuinely has some pretty gross scenes in it. This is a great movie regardless of what time of year it is, but an easy recommendation, especially during October.
4. Happy Death Day
Similar to Ready or Not, this isn’t a Halloween movie, but it’s one I think got swept under the rug. Both this film and its sequel have some genuinely goofy and horrifying moments. Sorority girl and generally bad person Tree Gelbman gets murdered while on her way to a party. Now she’s trapped reliving the day she dies over and over as she tries to figure out who the killer is.
5. Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island
Look, I told you I’m a scaredy-cat, so why would you think I would have a giant list of scary films to watch. Scooby-Doo is a banger, and this movie rules. It’s a classic, and it’s also one of like four movies I actually own. Also like, Third Eye Blind does the theme song, so it’s a certified banger.
1. Doctor Sleep
I feel like a lot of people missed out on this one and as a die-hard Stephen King fan I just have to say, Doctor Sleep is one of the best King adaptations ever made. It plays homage to The Shining while also establishing itself as something new.
All of the actors do an amazing jobs in the roles they're given, and I think the film is a must-watch for anyone who loved The Shining and are curious as to what happened to little Danny Torrance after he survived the nightmare hellscape that was the Overlook Hotel.
You can check out Doctor Sleep on a number of streaming platforms from Hulu to Prime Video. In the event the film isn't there, you can also pay to rent the movie and I really, genuinely, recommend it. I feel like it's worth it.
I have a love/hate relationship with Marianne. I think it's one of the coolest horror TV shows I've ever watched, but I hate that they decided to not renew the show for a second season. Technically you could say the first season has a decent ending, but the show was so good it left me wanting more.
Marianne is French show that you can watch on Netflix. You don't have to read subtitles, the show has "dubs" where English voice actors speak over the French actors and it's nifty if you aren't in the mood to read anything. I promised myself I wouldn't bring Stephen King into every recommendation but the writing of the show did feel Stephen King-esque. I feel like King fans will really enjoy Marianne, and honestly just horror fans in general.
The show is great... even if it is only one season. Ugh, Netflix, why are you so cruel?
3. Junji Ito Collection
As a huge Junji Ito fan, I have to say right off the bat that the Junji Ito Collection will disappoint you. "Why recommend it?" Because Ito's brilliant stories are still there even if the art style fails to live up to Ito's work in a big way.
If you are completely, totally unfamiliar with Junji Ito, you'll probably end up really loving the Junji Ito Collection. In that event, I highly recommend checking out Ito's books like Tomie, Gyo, Uzumaki, and also Yon & Mu if you're a fan of cats and want something a bit more lighthearted.
You can check out the Junji Ito Collection on most anime streaming services including Funimation and Crunchyroll. Again, the show is far from perfect, but it's enjoyable for the stories themselves at the very least.
Kingdom is a South Korean horror TV series and one of Netflix's first original Korean series. On the surface, Kingdom may seem like your standard show about zombies, but I feel like it does "zombie horror" better than anything else I've seen.
It's absolutely brutal, dark, creepy, and most importantly, interesting. The story itself is fantastic, it's not glossed over in favor of zombies being zombies. If you're a little weak to horror and gore, you may not enjoy Kingdom.
The show wastes no time in showing you how terrifying its zombies are, and when you first see the zombies come into play, it can be a little overwhelming. If you think you have the stomach, you can watch Kingdom on Netflix.
5. Unsolved Mysteries
I wouldn't say that Unsolved Mysteries is a "horror" show, but it's certainly pretty dark.
The reboot of Unsolved Mysteries on Netflix has been handled really well. Each episode pulls you in and makes you think hard about what could have happened. The subject matter is pretty grim with disappearances, murder mysteries, and there's even an episode in the latest season that deals with ghosts after the 2011 tsunami that hit Japan.
I'm deathly afraid of tsunamis (as silly as that might sound given that I live in Maine). Watching the tsunami footage shown at the beginning of that particular episode was difficult for me to the point where I actually had to look away. Zombies and gore aren't things that bother me, but for some reason, tsunamis do.
The scariest part of Unsolved Mysteries however is the fact that these are all true stories. All of these are real people who've disappeared, or died, or who've endured trauma like the 2011 tsunami. If you want something without ghosts and zombies that'll scare you just as much (if not more so), definitely check out the new Unsolved Mysteries on Netflix.
Happy Halloween from the Prima Team!