After replying to the upteenth Reddit post asking for recommendations for Halloween/horror content for specific audiences, inspiration dawned on me to contribute yet ANOTHER list of Halloween movies and TV shows that I personally recommend.
What makes this one different though, is the format. When I see the now-ubiquitous “31 days of Halloween” watch lists pop up around this time of year, I am always a little surprised to see that the same person is watching Halloweentown High one night and Hell Fest the next. So, rather than simply ranking the thing, I’ll be dividing this list up into tiers that correspond to the level of intensity you, or your friends, or your children are likely to be comfortable with.
Obligatory Disclaimer: This is a subjective guide only. Your particular childrens’ comfort level with scary movies may differ from this list. Consult the IMDB Parent’s Guide for detailed content descriptions. Also, there are certainly omissions here, intentional or otherwise. Deal with it.
Appropriate for virtually everyone. If you’re old enough to comprehend stories in filmed entertainment, these are highly unlikely to have anything objectionable.
- Halloweentown (Series)
- Garfield’s Halloween
- It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
- Toy Story of Terror
- The Halloween Tree
- Super Monsters (series)
Appropriate for most young children, but may have moments that are considered scary for some kids.
- The Nightmare Before Christmas
- Hocus Pocus
- Goosebumps (Series)
Still in the realm of children’s entertainment, but may contain semi-intense scary scenes.
- Ernest Scared Stupid
- Goosebumps (movie)
- The House with a Clock in its Walls
Recommended for Pre-teen and early teen audiences. May contain light vulgarity and semi-intense scenes of non-gory horror.
- The Monster Squad
- The Addams Family (Live action films)
- Universal Monsters Films (1930’s/40’s)
- The Simpsons Halloween Specials (series)
For teen audiences or especially brave pre-teens. May contain intense scares and mild blood/violence, but no nudity or strong sexual content. *Please note, most of these are considered exceptionally scary despite not containing R-rated material.
- The Conjuring (Film series)
- The Haunting of Hill House (series)
- Paranormal Activity (film series)
- The Ring
- The Grudge (2004)
Introduction to R-rated territory. Adult language, blood and gore, and light nudity may be present, but nothing extreme.
- Halloween (1978)
- Halloween 3: Season of the Witch
- Night of the Living Dead (1968)
- Trick R Treat
- A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
- Scream (1996)
- The Witch
- Night of the Creeps
- It Follows
Strong R Rated content, but largely cartoonish or comedic/exaggerated gore. May contain explicit nudity and strong language.
- Evil Dead (1980)
- Evil Dead 2
- Return of the Living Dead
- Tales of Halloween
- Creepshow (film)
- Creepshow (series)
- The Thing (1982)
- Night of the Demons (1988)
- Tales From the Crypt (series)
- Child’s Play (1988)
- Friday the 13th (film series)
Exceptionally gory and/or intense scares. May contain explicit nudity, strong sexual content, and sexual violence. Approaching the upper limits of the R rating.
- The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
- The Exorcist
- The Fly (1986)
- Halloween (2018)
- The Autopsy of Jane Doe
- Evil Dead (2013)
For fans of extreme horror cinema only. Typically unrated or NC-17. (I don’t consider any of these Halloween viewing, but some do)
- The Human Centipede (film series)
- Martyrs (2008)
- A Serbian Film
- Bone Tomahawk
- Green Inferno
- Cannibal Holocaust