With so many titles to choose from, Netflix Instant's library can be overwhelming. So we typically bring you this biweekly column as a tool to cut through the clutter by highlighting some now streaming titles that pair well with the latest theatrical releases. But with Halloween upon us, we decided to treat you all to a bonus column filled to the brim with scary cinema, terrifying TV shows, and spooky selections for all ages.
Halloween Viewing For Kids
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) This movie musical from the deranged mind of Tim Burton imagines what would happen if the ghosts and ghouls who make October 31st fun took over Christmas. Jack Skellington has grown bored with being the king of Halloween, so he kidnaps Santa Claus to take his place and bring joy to children all over the world Christmas morning. But when Jack's idea of gifts prove more horrifying than fun, he puts himself and the whole Christmas holiday at risk. Danny Elfman, Catherine O'Hara, Chris Sarandon, and William Hickey lend their voices. Henry Sellick directs.
ParaNorman (2012) The little town of Blithe Hollow has a rich history of spooky witch stories. But when these urban legends come to life, the only person who can save the residents from an vengeful witch is a little misfit named Norman, who has the unusual ability to be able to converse with the dead. Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, and Christopher Mintz-Plasse lend their voices; Chris Butler and Sam Fell direct.
DreamWorks Spooky Stories (2009-2011) The company behind such charming animated efforts as Shrek, Monsters vs. Aliens, and Megamind have created a series of spin-off shorts that have their wacky heroes engaging in a wide-array of Halloween shenanigans. Whatever your age, you'll like find these cartoons entertaining as they include mutant pumpkins, zombie carrots, and the ghost of Lord Farquaad. Volume 2 is also streaming.
Goosebumps (1995) Based on the popular books by R.L. Stine, this anthology series has children at the center of every creepy adventure. Aside from haunted houses, werewolves, vampires, and ghosts, this show also boasts tales about a cuckoo clock that changes the future, a family with a monstrous secret and a living ventriloquist dummy whose up to no good. All five seasons are now streaming.
DIY Movie Marathons
Scream (1996-2011) Revisit Woodsboro, where young Sidney Prescott and her movie-loving friends found themselves living out a horror film when the knife-wielding slasher Ghost Face began slaying their classmates. You can follow Sidney battles with this many-faced murderer as Scream 2, Scream 3, and Scream 4 are now streaming. Neve Campbell, David Arquette and Courtney Cox star; Wes Craven directs.
The Crow (1994-2005) When a pair of young lovers were brutally murdered by a drug-fueled gang, it seeded the resurrection of Eric Draven, who'd return to seek avenge his love with a bloody killing spree. But his was just the first story. The Crow: City of Angels, The Crow: Salvation, and The Crow: Wicked Prayer continued the mythos with more stories of love and death. Brandon Lee, Vincent Perez, Eric Mabius, and Edward Furlong star.
Universal Monsters Movies (1925-1941) For nearly four decades, Universal Pictures cornered the horror market with their slate of scary cinema starring Lon Chaney, Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, and Lon Chaney Jr. This Halloween, go old-school with your scares by revisiting iconic classics like Dracula, The Wolf Man, The Phantom of the Opera, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, and The Mummy.
Dark Shadows (1967) This soap opera became cult classic with its blend of werewolves, zombies, witches, warlocks, time travelers, and vampires all woven into the family drama of the Collins family, who lives in a massive mansion off the coast of Maine. 1241 episodes are now streaming. But be warned, this American Gothic drama is deadly addictive. Jonathan Frid, Grayson Hall, and Alexandra Isles co-star.
American Horror Story (2011) Witness horror more steeped in sex and scandal than you've ever seen before with the Los Angeles-set series created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. Season one--known as "Murder House"--is now streaming, and tells the tragedy-strewn tale of the Harmon family, whose destinies are sealed once they move into a house overflowing with ghosts and dark secrets. Jessica Lange, Connie Britton, and Dylan McDermott star.
666 Park Avenue (2012) This short-lived ABC series plays like a mix of American Horror Story and The Devil's Advocate. Centered in a historic and luxurious Manhattan apartment building, the drama follows its cursed inhabitants who one after another setup Faustian deals and are forced to pay terrible and often bloody prices for their dreams. Rachael Taylor, Dave Annable, and Robert Buckley star.
Terrifying TV Anthologies
Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955) The master of suspense took his skills for scares and his taste for macabre humor to television with this spectacular series. Seasons two and three are now streaming, and boast cryptic narratives of murder, mystery, and mayhem. Though nearly 60 years old, these twisted tales still pack a sickening punch.
The Twilight Zone (1959) Rod Serling gave the anthology genre his own heady spin with this celebrated series that scared viewers with science-fiction and fantasy stories of malevolent machines, abandoned astronauts, a forgetful killer, and a selfish bookworm. With 138 episodes now streaming, you can keep the chills coming well into Christmas. Just pace yourself.
Amazing Stories (1985) For something less menacing, dive into the Steven Spielberg-produced series that offers tales horror, fantasy and science fiction, featuring ghosts, monsters, extraterrestrials and more from directors like Joe Dante, Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese, Robert Zemeckis, and Brad Bird.
Best Worst Movie (2009) There's a special place in the heart of true horror fans for those entries in the genre that are so not scary that it's hilarious. Chief among these is the wildly gross and totally nonsensical Troll 2. As a boy Michael Stephenson starred in the laughably bad movie, and as an adult he tracked down his former cast mates and director to confront the flick's cult status and uncover how something this bonkers gets made.
The American Scream (2012) Stephenson's follow-up also earns a place on this list as it centers on the niche hobby of home haunts, basically amateur-made haunted houses built in backyards to entertain and terrify local trick or treaters. Every Halloween the sleepy Massachusetts town of Fairhaven becomes a spooky suburb flecked with these over-the-top constructions, and Stephenson's crew takes viewers behind the scenes to show how passion and plenty of improvisation bring these creepy spectacles together.
Room 237 (2012) This deeply eccentric doc earned plenty of buzz for its clever and thorough explorations of possible themes found with Stanley Kubrick's seminal horror film The Shining. Pet theories about genocide, Nazis, and a faked moon landing are presented with earnestness. But the most entertaining aspect of this fascinating feature is how director Rodney Ascher works around having no video of interviews, and instead relies on film footage from The Shining, other Kubrick works, and B-movies to fill in the gaps.
Cropsey (2009) For something seriously disturbing, I recommend this documentary made by Joshua Zeman and Barbara Brancaccio, two New York filmmakers who chased down the roots of an urban legend they'd been exposed to as kids in Staten Island, only to discover the sickening truth that lay behind it. It turns out a rash of child abductions in the 1970s and '80s were just the beginning.